Ex Imps Wednesday: Graeme Taylor This Is Your Life
Taylor the Enticer a Sincil Bank legend. GT went to the very peak of the national game with England and daily duels at Aston Villa with Deadly Doug. He dragged Watford, dripping with Elton John's bling, through the divisions, but it was at the beloved Imps that the community club ethos was forme. It was good old GT as opposed to G & T, a lot less ice and far more of a slice, that took us on a rollercoaster show that even Elton John, showman extraordinaire, was bowled over by. Graham Taylor, or the Enticer as Impdom knew you This is your Lincoln City Mad life… Born in Worksop on 15th September 1944 GT is very much the Lincolnshire lad personified. Always unassuming, never brash, he is a raconteur to boot. Football, well sport at least, was in the family genes to such an extent it paid for his nappies, let alone his first pair of half length football shorts. But he made good use of them as the son of Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph’s sports reporter went on to make 189 professional appearances for Grimsby Town 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 just 26. Yet he through off the diapointment, seeing it more as an opportunity to get a head-start in coaching and management. The records started too , Graham becoming the youngest qualified coach at 27 and the youngest manager at 28. Now for some honours with ‘bling’. GT became the youngest ever manager to win a league at 32, with the Mighty Imps, also setting the record for most Div 4 wins (32), least losses (4) and most points (74 when only 2 points for a win). Though KA has been credited with the accolade for giving Lincoln our nickname it was Taylor’s side that was first christened Long Ball Lincoln. Many have cited lack of ambition with the board but the wordsmith with the wonga and platforms, Elton John and Watford (1977 - 1987) nicked him. Oh what could have been as he replicated his community ethos in Hertfordshire and led then from Division 4 to the top flight in five years. That first season in League Division One (doesn’t the Premiership sound so much better and thus expensive though?) 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 should try the poison challis 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 – at the time their highest league finish since the early 1980s. (Games 87 W36 D27 L24) So it was back 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, but 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. (Games 275 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 helping to bring a series of promotions, albeit with a couple of relegations by the looks of things. GT hasn’t completely got rid of his wellies either managing a team of celebrities for Sky One's annual series, The Match. Graham is also a non executive board member at Watford the club for whom he left us all those years ago stepping in as chairman during the turbulence of December 2009. GT has never completely cut ties with us and even purchased a couple of season tickets last season for any needy fans that could not get to games due to the climate. He was also back at the club to celebrate the 35th anniversary of that record breaking 1075/76 season two weeks ago. The pre easter egg-straviganza also included appearances from his assistant George Kerr, Percy Freeman, John Ward, Plil Neale, Jimmy Gordon, Dennis Leigh and last but never least Dennis Booth. Undoubtedly a great ambassador and with so much good in his heart, GT still finds time to support Sense, the National Deafblind and Rubella Association, based in Birmingham, even running the London Marathon in 2004.
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