We thought it time for a tribute to ex England, Lincoln, Watford, Wolves and Villa manager Graham Taylor.
Born in Worksop 15/9/1944 Graham is very much a local lad. The son of Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph`s sports reporter he would go on to make 189 professional appearances for The Cods before moving up in the world to Lincoln in 1968. A hard no nonsense fullback Graham went on to play 150 times for the Imps at full back scoring one goal before a serious hip injury finished him at 26. Here the records started, Graham becoming the youngest person to become a qualified coach at 27 and youngest manager at 28.
Now it was time to reinvent the Imps on and off the pitch as Graham blazed a trail that would take him from the Imps to the pinnacle of the domestic game. Getting the players out into the community was the ethos Graham reasoned if provincial sides like Lincoln were to thrive. The players would visit schools, hospitals and truly engage with the people of Lincoln. Graham became the youngest ever manager to win a league at 32. He also set the record for most Div 4 wins (32), least losses (4) and most points (74 when only 2 points for a win). GT`s side mixed it up with quality all over the Park as well as the ability to be breathtakingly direct at times. The ‘Lincoln our City our community our club` was set to rock the nation.
Then Elton John and Watford (1977 – 1987) nicked him and he led then from Division 4 to the top flight in five years. That first season in League Division one saw them finish second only to a magnificent Liverpool side. The Uefa cup the following season saw them reach the third round and lose the FA cup Final to Everton, arguably one of the teams of the eighties. (Games 466 W210 D114 L142)
After guiding Watford to a ninth-place finish in 1986-87 he left for Villa Park(1987-1990) . Proud Villa, European champions 6 years before had been relegated and Deadly Doug demanded a quick fix. Taylor duly obliged with promotion at the first attempt and runner up by season 3. (Games 142 W65 D35 L42)
England (1990-93) came knocking and his patriotic heart ruled his head as he made his first mistake. A proud, honest, down to earth decent chap was turned into Turnip Taylor by the gutter press. They clearly knew nothing of his true track record -the visionary practices at Lincoln and Watford. They should perhaps try the poison challis of either the Englamd job or managing on a shoestring one day. England qualified for Euro 92 and surprise surprise the millionaires under performed. Ditto in the world cup qualifiers. Ask yourself is this such a bad record?
P38 W18 D13 L7 F62 A32
Win Percentage: 47.36%
A success starved Wolves (1994-95) rejuvenated by Jack Haywards millions was probably mistake number 2 for an unpopular ex England Manager. Another poison challis so to speak even though, at the first attempt, Taylor saw Wolves into the Division One playoffs – their highest league finish since the early 1980s. (Games 87 W36 D27 L24)
So it was home to Watford (1996-2001) and his old chum Elton, pardon the pun. In true Taylor fashion promotion to the Premier league was achieved, where Watford were relegated after one season. Watford finished 9th in Division One at the end of the 2000-01 season, at this point Graham decided to hang up the tracky bottoms and wellies and retire. During this final season Taylor had become only the third manager to manage 1000 league games in England after Cloughie and Jim Smith. (Games275 W104 D80 L91)
Aston Villa (2002 – 2003). Deadly Doug begged him to come out of retirement and overhaul the club. GT agreed to do so achieving 16th place amid heated exchanges at top level. A sad end to a fantastic career saw a post payoff interview where he told of his tensions with Ellis and how it was the people at the top that really needed to be overhauled if Villa were to become a big club. He will soon be proved right, as Randy removes Deadly in the hot seat. I`m sure this is just a coincidence but weren`t Villa last League and euro champs in two of the three seasons they managed to get Ellis out of the boardroom. (Games 60 W19 L14 D27)
In 2003 Graham Taylor became life Vice President of Scunthorpe, a team very much on the up. Graham continues to work in the media and good causes arena. Last season he did an evening with GT in the Trust Suite and donated two season tickets to the trust for the coming season for fans to share. GT hasn`t completely got rid of his wellies either managing a team of celebrities for Sky One’s annual series, The Match.
1962-1968 Grimsby Town Aps 189 (2)
1968-1972 Lincoln City Aps 150 (1)
1972-1977 Lincoln City
1987-1990 Aston Villa
1994-1995 Wolverhampton Wanderers
2002-2003 Aston Villa