Manchester City fans making their way to and from the Etihad via Ashton New Road on Sunday couldn’t have missed the new painted mural on the side of Maine Road Chippy.
It was a day of celebration for supporters at the weekend as they saw their side crowned Premier League champions for a third year in a row and, after the 1-0 victory over Chelsea, captain Ilkay Gundogan proudly lifted the trophy on the pitch. Most fans stayed late on a sunny Manchester afternoon to see the stars parade the piece of silverware around the stadium, while some in attendance sported the club’s new 2023/24 home jersey that was unveiled last week.
As part of kit release, City and Puma commissioned a temporary mural that was painted on the wall of the takeaway across the road from the Etihad and features Ederson, Esme Morgan and Jack Grealish eating fish and chips,. However, what fans may have missed is the Erling Haaland canvas on the side of the stadium which has a hidden joke.
“The idea is Haaland grabbing chips from Esme Morgan,” Danny Lennon, City’s creative design lead, told ManchesterWorld. “I looked over as I was making my way to my seat for the Chelsea match and I saw people looking. I was thinking ‘they’ve seen it, they’ve got it’.
Danny, a City fan from south Manchester, came up with the concept after he was approached with the idea of using street art to promote the new jersey. “When I saw the angle of the photo showing the chip shop and the side of the stadium, I couldn’t stop staring at the stadium and I quickly drew a sketch onto a white board and showed how they could interact with each other,” he explained.
“I wanted to get the chippie element in there. They didn’t want a standard kit launch and we tried to do something funny, a little outside the box. I like that thought of finding Easter eggs rather than the standard graffiti. It’s that little bit extra.”
After Danny commissioned the artwork, it was over to Mary Axon-Smith, a freelance digital illustrator who turned the concept into reality. Mary sketched the image which is now emblazoned on the side of the chip shop, and Puma’s street artists painted the mural last week.
“It got approved on Friday and I had it drawn by Monday,” Mary explained. “I drew Haaland on one side and the chip shop on the other. It all happened so fast. It’s just crazy to see it up there.”
“There is a lot of art in sport and if you use it well it can be really powerful,” added the City fan from Bolton. “Social media helps with that and it can create a powerful message, although maybe that doesn’t apply to Jack Grealish eating chips! But people can go and take pictures and it brings people together.”
Mary, who has created designs for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Formula One and the Ryder Cup, has worked on several art projects at City, including graphics of Kalvin Phillips’ tattoos when the midfielder signed from Leeds United last summer. But it’s the chip shop mural which has by far led to her biggest interaction with City fans.
“This is the most engagement I’ve had on Twitter for anything I’ve done. I have a lot of fans getting in touch which is lovely,” she said. “Someone showed me their little lad in front of Haaland pointing at it. I didn’t know them but that one picture really resonated with me. It was a really proud moment. It’s great that fans have noticed the Haaland joke and how clever it is, and it’s fantastic the club want to be a part of it and don’t take themselves too seriously.”