Like much of the football community, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Graham Taylor this week. For England, his spell in charge was little short of a disaster. But as a club manager, he was an undoubted success. More importantly, as a person, he is unanimously regarded as one of the nicest men in the game.
His treatment by the media, in particular the Scum – sorry, Sun – was utterly disgraceful. OK, he didn’t do a great job as a football manager. So he lost his job, fair one. Does that justify the caricatures, the personal abuse? In what other job would that be the consequence of failure? Those responsible should be ashamed, yet probably won’t. Selling papers was more important than truth, fairness or dignity. Plus ca change.
That Graham was able to rise above it, although it clearly hurt him, was testament to his character. He went back into club management and continued to be a success, particularly at Watford, who he took back to the Premier League at the expense of my own team, Bolton, in 1999.
At Football-England we were never fortunate enough to meet him, but those fans who did speak of a polite, charming and intelligent man who always had time to speak to supporters and who was genuinely interested in their opinions. His passing is a sad loss to football, at a time when there are too few decent people in the game.
Graham Taylor, rest in peace.