Here's why former England boss Graham Taylor should be remembered as a Watford legend
Graham Taylor might be best remembered by some for his doomed spell as England manager in the 1990s, but his troubles on the international stage could never overshadow everything he achieved with Watford.
Taylor, who has died at the age of 72, enjoyed a respectable playing career with Grimsby Town and Lincoln City before moving into management – and it was at Watford that he did great things as a coach.
From division four to Europe
Having guided Lincoln City to the Fourth Division title in 1976, Taylor caught the attention of Watford chairman Elton John on the recommendation of England manager Don Revie.
With the Hornets languishing in the division Taylor had just won promotion from, Taylor seemed unconvinced, telling the Watford chairman it would take around a million pounds to achieve the dreams of Europe he spoke of. Sir Elton replied: “Right, let’s give it a go.”
Fast forward five seasons and, inspired by a youthful John Barnes and the goalscoring Luther Blissett, Watford finished second in the First Division, qualifying for the Uefa Cup.
Watford and the community
Taylor made Watford a success both on the pitch and off it, ensuring his team were an engaging force in their community.
Taylor was keen to ask the fans on the streets for their opinion (can you imagine Arsene Wenger poking his head in at Arsenal Fan TV?) and under his stewardship the players visited fans without the need for marketing gimmicks.
The Hornets became a glowing example of what the virtues of a football club could be in a time of hooliganism and disharmony.
Taylor returned to Watford in 1996 at the same time John did, with the former England boss becoming general manager – a year later he took on the role of manager, and won promotion to the First Division immediately.
Taylor managed the feat of back-to-back promotions once again as he took the Hornets up via the play-offs the next season, although the team failed to cope with Premiership football, going straight back down to the First Division.
Watford began well but faded to finish ninth in the second tier of English football, and Taylor decided to retire from management.
Chairman and Freeman of the borough
Taylor didn’t shy away from involvement in football during his retirement, however, helping Watford through financial difficulty and becoming the club’s chairman between the years of 2009 and 2012.
He remained a valuable member of the community as well, and was known for his involvement with charities. A stand at Vicarage Road was named after him in 2014, and he was made an Honorary Freeman of the borough in 2001.
Taylor was a man famous for his time as manager of England, but loved for his commitment to Watford.