THST Board member Rob White, whose connection with the Club goes back to the days of another legend, his father John White, led our work on the project. Trust co-chair Martin Cloake spoke to him ahead of the unveiling.
A: The idea first came to me a few years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by football street art, mainly inspired by trips abroad, and began to wonder why there was not much in the UK. I’ve also thought that, for whatever reason, there’s sometimes a disconnect between football clubs and the communities that they are situated in. Haringey has one of the most diverse populations in Europe, many of whom might not fully appreciate the history and players of Spurs. Murals are a great way of being able to raise awareness of great players, and great moments.
About five years ago Pete Haine [THST Secretary], the author Julie Welch and I plotted out a two-hour Spurs history walk which goes from Tottenham Hale and finishes at the Antwerp Arms on Church Road, N17. The hope is that this Ledley King mural will be the first in a series along that route and in the vicinity of the stadium that help to share and celebrate the history of Spurs.
Q: This has been a long time in the making, hasn’t it?
A: Yes, it’s taken about 18 months. We started with identifying potential sites, finding out who owned them, then looking to get permission for the project. For a variety of reasons, this is not as simple as it sounds. Especially when introducing a relatively new concept to an area. The hope is that once this first mural is in place, other people will come forward with suitable sites.
The artwork itself took three days to complete: one day for the base coat to be applied, one day and night for the rough artwork to be marked out and painted, and one day to add in detail, typography and the finishing touches.
A: The project has been done in collaboration with MurWalls, who have installed quite a few other street art projects with other football clubs. Part of the mystery about the world that MurWalls work in is not to reveal the specific names of the artists.
Q: What was Ledley King’s reaction when he first heard?
A: We had a meeting with Ledley and Tony Stevens from the Club at the end of November 2021, where we put the idea to Ledley and showed him the concepts. It’s fair to say that he was delighted and humbled by the idea. I also think that it’s quite an abstract concept when you are first approached for something like this, but then it all becomes a bit more focused when you see the scale of the project. It’s also really nice for Ledley to think that this fans tribute will be in place for a long time.
Q: The Club was very supportive too, wasn’t it?
A: The Club has been extremely supportive of the project, and they have really got behind the Ledley mural. I know that this project has inspired them, and that they’re looking to use this experience to build on some more heritage and Spurs history ideas in the local area.
Q: What does Ledley think of the finished project?
A: On seeing the completed mural for the first time, Ledley said: “It is a true honour for me to have a tribute like this in the heart of a community that means so much to me.
“I have always shared an incredible relationship with the Club and its fans, who have supported me through thick and thin, and would like to thank the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust and MurWalls for their fantastic work on the mural.
“To know that I am thought of in this way by our fans makes me incredibly proud and shows why this Club – my one and only Club - is so special.”
A: When I first came up with the idea I (naively) thought it was as simple as finding a wall, finding an artist, finding some funding then getting the thing painted… How wrong I was! There are lots of things that need to be taken into consideration. The most difficult thing is location. Although you might find a great site it’s then a question of finding out who owns it, and then trying to convince them to give you permission to use the wall.
In the immediate vicinity of the stadium, the majority of good spaces are either owned by Haringey Council or by the Club. For a variety of reasons, this can prove problematic.
When we started the project, Haringey Council was in the process of putting together a policy document on granting permissions on its properties, and we were told that this could take up to six months to complete. Also, with the amount of redevelopment work that is scheduled to happen in the area in the next five years, there are a lot of potential sites that might be demolished.
There are also things like traffic management for when the work is taking place. Depending on the location, that can have a major impact on the overall budget.
It’s also worth noting that on most Homes for Haringey properties there is, quite rightly, a consultation process with local residents that needs to be followed. And we also need to respect the fact that not every legend, or their family, necessarily wants to have a mural.
A: Yes, this is a response to the calls to pay tribute to Club legends. It’s also a really good way of engaging with the local community. The long-term vision is to have about 10 to 12 pieces of Spurs history artwork throughout Haringey, which help to tell the story of the Club. The pieces do not all need to be the size of the Ledley mural but could form part of a history/ heritage trail and some could also tell the stories of the lesser-known characters. This could be funded by various fan groups, overseas or in the UK, who would then decide on who or what they wanted to see.
Q: You’re a local resident as well as a Spurs fan. Does the local community value projects such as this?
A: From being on site recently whilst the Ledley mural was being painted, I can say that the reaction of the local community has been really, really positive. I think that this sort of project can work on many levels, for the Club, for the local community, for the wider Spurs fan base, and can be really inspirational.
A: The mural is being officially shown to Ledley on Monday 10th January 2022. There should be lots of social media around the event, and we have been working alongside MurWalls and the Club to produce a couple of videos, which will be shown on the weekend of the North London Derby.
We had wanted to keep it as secret as possible, but that’s quite tricky with a project that is this size. The whole piece is roughly 8.5 metres by 9.5 metres! The location is Tottenham Community Sports Centre, 701-703 High Road, N17 8AD.
Visit the mural, take pictures, post them on social media and hashtag them #KingOfN17 to enable fellow fans to easily find them.
If you have a suitable site within the environs of the stadium that you would like to be considered for a Spurs mural, please email Rob.White@THSTOfficial.com
Any UK-based or Overseas Fan Groups who’d like to suggest ideas for future murals or help with funding future projects should also email Rob.White@THSTOfficial.com
10 January 2022