If you’ve been along Vicarage Road recently, chances are you’ve seen the incredible mural artwork of the great Graham Taylor on a wall opposite the turnstiles next to the hospital.

It’s become a bit of a selfie hot-spot for fans and undoubtedly catches the eye, making Vicarage Road feel even more Watford FC than it did before.

If you accessed Vicarage Road from the town centre, then you may have seen more Hornets-themed murals on the walls of the underpass, and only last week a new, stunning painting of Sir Elton John appeared on a wall at the stadium.

The artwork is as fresh and original as it is lovingly true to those club heroes. But how did it happen?

It’s all the work of a company called MurWalls, and the man that founded it is Marc Silver. A West Ham United fan, his first piece of football artwork was on a smaller scale than those seen around Vicarage Road.

"I had accumulated a number of West Ham kits over the years. I was having my house done up and I wanted to decorate my son’s bedroom, and thought there was a chance to put the kits out on display rather than just have them in a box,” he explained.

“I thought about perspexing the wall and then realised I couldn’t change them, and also they would fade in the light. Then I had the idea to make his bedroom look like a changing room, and hang the shirts up and change them regularly.

“But it was obvious the room wasn’t big enough for a bench and all that stuff, so we did it as an image. I got a street artist to come in and spray paint the walls in 3D to look like a football changing room. We didn't paint any shirts, we put real pegs in the wall and hung the actual shirts on the pegs.”

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As well as being an extremely loving and creative Dad, there must have been a large amount of art know-how too.

“I’m a graphic designer and artist,” said Marc. “I studied art all the way through to university. I gave up the painting side of things and went into graphic design because as an artist, you don’t tend to make money until you’re dead! Commercial art has become much more desirable and readily accessible.

“I felt there was an opportunity, and we should do it properly. When we did the bedroom it was all done unofficially, but I wanted West Ham fans – and football fans in general – to look at it and think it was something good.

“Because of being busy with my main job, it took me three years to take the pictures of the bedroom to West Ham. I met their head of retail, they were pretty stunned and thought it was really good. They brought in the head of licensing, their reaction was the same and on the spot I was offered a two-year contract.

“Then they introduced me to Liverpool. They weren't worried about competition because fans of one club aren’t going to ask for a design of another club. We knew if Liverpool were interested and promoted it, then that would open a lot of other doors.

“Our concept was to bring street art into people’s homes using official licences from the football world. Now we work with West Ham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion on an official basis. Then we have relationships with other clubs such as Watford and Tottenham Hotpsur. We’re also officially licenced by the Rugby Football Union for England Rugby.”

Watford Observer:

The Graham Taylor mural while it was being painted

How did MurWalls’ work with Watford come about?

Marc said: “I had a friend who introduced me to Richard Johnson. He invited me to come to the club. I was shown around the stadium and Richard said they would really like to get our street art somewhere.

“The area that really got me excited was the wall just outside the Sir Elton John Suite. It was crying out to have a pair of Elton John’s trademark glasses on that wall!

“But then Covid hit, then Watford were relegated and it moved down the list of priorities. Then I was introduced to the club’s Community Trust, and they asked if we’d be willing to donate a mural to the Trust. Graham Taylor’s links with the club’s work in the community meant he was the obvious choice for the image, and I saw that whole idea as a great way to start our relationship with Watford.

“Once we had finished the portrait it was officially unveiled by Graham’s wife, Rita. It was great for us to meet her and hear her stories.”

The GT image was the next one to appear.

"Yes the Graham Taylor image is on the side of Cornerstone Church in Vicarage Road. The pastor there was an old friend of Mr Meana, one of our artists – he made the introductions and offered us the wall. He’s also a Watford fan, which helped!

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Troy Deeney is one of the Hornets' greats depicted in the underpass mural

“The underpass that goes under the ring road and into Vicarage Road came about from our work with Herts County Council. We’d done underpasses for them in Hemel Hempstead and Elstree, and they asked about the one in Watford. When I saw where it was the theme for the artwork was obvious.

“So I introduced the county council to the football club, then Watford Council got involved too and it became a total collaboration.”

It was during the work on the underpass that the opportunity for another large mural near the stadium appeared.

“While we were doing the underpass a lady came past and was really amazed with what we were doing. She had a house by the stadium, and said if we wanted to we could paint on it. That immediately shouted Elton John to me, as that was a piece of artwork I’d always wanted to do,” explained Marc.

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“That was the idea until less than two months ago. As we started the plans, there was an old telephone wiring box in front of the house and I wanted to check permissions. It turned out it was a conservation area, and we weren’t aware of that. To my horror, I was told there was a 14-week process involved in requesting permission and even then it wasn’t guaranteed.

“Then we were on a mission to find a location, Elton John’s management team had already approved the image and the design so we had to get an alternative place to paint.

“We were struggling to find anywhere, and I sent one of our artists to just go and have a look at the stadium. I asked him to also go and ask if he could speak to a couple of people at the club. He Facetimed me while he was walking up Occupation Road and as we were chatting I told him to stop and turn around. There was this great space and I hadn’t clicked it was on the side of the stand that bears Elton’s name. It was just an ideal space.

“We spoke to the club and the council, and we got a unanimous yes back from both Scott Duxbury and Watford’s Mayor pretty quickly. I was gutted when our initial plan had to be scrapped, but maybe this was meant to be. In hindsight, I don’t think we could have found a better location.”

Fans attending the two Elton John concerts at the stadium on Sunday and Monday will have the chance to see the image of the legendary rock star, and Marc is very hopeful there will be more of his work for Hornets fans to enjoy.

“We’re talking to the club about other opportunities and obviously the 100th anniversary of the first game at Vicarage Road is coming up. I’d like to think it’s an ongoing relationship. As long as the club and the fans like what we’re doing, we’re very happy to carry on.”

So if you’ve got a bedroom, a blank wall or something totally different – and the idea of street art appeals to you – then you can look at examples of MurWalls’ work at murwalls.com, and contact them from there.