The Golden Fleece pub reopens with new owners and tribute to famous footballer in place
A local pub is reopening post-lockdown with a whole new look, and a tribute to one of the area’s most famous residents.
This week, a new mural in honour of SAFC legend Bobby Gurney was unveiled by renowned Sunderland street artist Frank Styles.
He spent six weeks up scaffolding on the gable end of the Golden Fleece pub, in Silksworth Terrace, New Silksworth, perfecting the tribute to the Silksworth-born SAFC player who took to the pitch in the mid-1930s and is still, to this day, the club’s all time leading goalscorer.
It’s not the only new development at the pub, however.
Prior to lockdown, the pub was bought by husband and wife team, Eddy and Colleen Bland. They’d only been open a fortnight before the country went into lockdown, forcing the closure of pubs, but in that time had already attracted plenty of drinkers.
They’ve spent lockdown investing in a complete refurbishment of the pub, which they’re hoping will impress locals when they reopen their doors on Saturday, July 4.
As well as a new beer garden, drinkers can look forward to a new look inside and a pool room decorated with SAFC tops from through the years. Social distancing measures have also been put in place, and patrons will be greeted at the door of the bar and seated.
Eddy, who helped to top up the funds needed to pay for the Bobby Gurney mural, said: “We’ve spent a fortune refurbishing and repainting the place. We’ve been posting updates on our Facebook page and the response has been really positive.”
Eddy also commissioned artist Frank to create a portrait of Bobby which hangs pride of place inside the bar.
He said: “I think a lot of people don’t know Bobby’s name, but they should. He achieved so much for the club and even scored more goals than Kevin Phillips. I think the organiser of the mural, Gav Willis, had been looking for a suitable place for the mural for a while, but when he approached me, I was more than happy for it to be here.”
The mural is a stone’s throw from Stewart Street where Bobby grew up. It’s the second mural Frank has created in Silksworth, with a tribute to the area’s coalmining heritage created at Donkin’s pub in Blind Lane 2019. Perhaps his most well-known piece in Sunderland is his tribute to Raich Carter on the side of the Blue House pub in Hendon, which has been seen by millions in Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
Frank pays an incredible amount of attention to detail in his works and, as in the case of Bobby mural, slightly distorts the face so that it appears in proportion when viewed from the ground.
The professional artist travelled to London before lockdown to create a striking public art work on the steps to Wembley. Titled One in Four, the new artwork highlights that one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year.
See our guide to where you can see Frank’s murals in Sunderland here.