Tay­lor was truly a man of the peo­ple

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

AS SOME­ONE re­marked on Ra­dio 5 live yesterday, Gra­ham Tay­lor would have been faintly amused by the minute’s clapping that rang round ev­ery ma­jor foot­ball sta­dium in Eng­land in hon­our of his pass­ing.

For Gra­ham was a lit­tle old-fash­ioned. He be­lieved in hon­our, in­tegrity, re­spect, do­ing your best in the cir­cum­stances and a minute’s si­lence.

Yes, he could be an­gry, he could oc­ca­sion­ally be ruth­less , he could be fiercely com­pet­i­tive... all at­tributes he needed to climb to the very top of a tough, of­ten heart­less, pro­fes­sion.

And climb to the top he did as man­ager of Wat­ford and Eng­land, and a record of seven pro­mo­tions with sides from Lin­coln City to Aston Villa.

But all the while he re­mained the es­sen­tial foot­ball man, nur­tured through the lower leagues and un­der­stand­ing that ev­ery­one had a worth from the clean­ing lady to the su­per­star striker.

His in­nate com­mon­sense struck a chord with Wat­ford chair­man El­ton John who had also bat­tled his way to the peak of his pro­fes­sion. With typ­i­cal forthright­ness, Gra­ham once in­vited El­ton to his fam­ily home for Sun­day lunch and plonked a bot­tle of brandy on his place mat.

“That’s your usual lunch, isn’t it?” said Gra­ham and the pop mil­lion­aire later ad­mit­ted it made him con­sider his lifestyle.

No-one would have blamed Tayor had he turned to drink af­ter his promis­ing Eng­land ca­reer ended in a sav­age wreck­age, cap­tured so vividly by a Chan­nel 4 doc­u­men­tary, and hu­mil­i­a­tion in print where The Sun vied with other tabloids to heap the in­sults.

‘That’s yer al­lot­ment... Turnip Tay­lor turns up his toes at last’ they trum­peted on the front page the day he quit the job he cher­ished above all oth­ers. It was un­wit­tingly vi­cious, caus­ing pain to Tay­lor’s wife Rita and their two daugh­ters, and bring­ing threats of per­son­sal vi­o­lence in the streets.

Tay­lor rode through. The imp­ish smile didn’t flash as of­ten, and for a while he be­came more guarded where he had been so open. Those scars never truly healed. Yet he hid them be­hind hu­mour and self-dep­re­ca­tion.

For­tu­nately, his en­gag­ing per­son­al­ity and knowl­edge of the game en­riched BBC 5 live in re­cent years. There is no doubt foot­ball has lost one of its great sup­port­ers. And I, like so many oth­ers, have lost a friend.

DAVID EMERY, Editor-in-chief

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.