There will only ever be one Graham Taylor.
And 72 is no age to leave us.
We all feel robbed right now.
But during those 72 years Graham Taylor made his mark, time and time again.
He has left many legacies.
Wonderful footprints that helped shape not just football, but footballers, journalists, fans, tea ladies, and the man on the street too.
In fact every corner of football has celebrated Graham Taylor and his achievements over the last few days.
The sight of fans at Vicarage Road with tears in their eyes is genuine. It’s tangible.
It’s testament to the incredibly positive effect he had on people.
People smiled around GT.
His smile was infectious.
His honesty, loyalty, integrity and and empathy have been the words of choice when describing ‘Mr Watford’.
I only met him once. Briefly.
It was in Wolverhampton on a cold Tuesday night, when the likes of Wilf Rostron, Ross Jenkins, Luther Blisset adorned the yellow jersey.
Watford had lost to a George Berry goal, if I remember correctly.
On our way back to the car after the game, my brother, his mate and I soon realised our car was not where we had left it.
It was stolen. And we were stranded, miles from home.
We reported the car stolen to the police, and asked if they could assist us getting home.
Obviously the answer was ‘no’.
So there I was. 15 years of age. Cold, wet and miles from our home in Bedfordshire.
I had an idea.
We could sneak a lift from Watford FC. At least we’ll be that bit closer to home.
I entered the stadium car park just as the hornets were ready to set off back to Watford.
Climbing up the steps of the coach, I looked to my right and saw the Watford players looking pretty damned depressed. Nobody was talking. It was like a morgue.
The coach driver asked me to step off, just as Graham Taylor came forward down the aisle.
I asked Graham if he could give the three of us lads a lift back to Watford as our car had been nicked.
“Let me have a word”.
Graham asked the coach driver, but the answer was no.
“It’s the insurance. We can’t do that”, said the driver.
“Sorry son, it’s not possible. I would if I could. But the coach company won’t allow it”.
That’s all I recall of the conversation. I blurred out.
I didn’t process any further conversation.
I was lost in Wolverhampton, approaching midnight with my brother and his mate, and with no money.
Eventually we did get home. Thumbing a lift on the motorway slip road. A guy stopped and gave all 3 of us a lift to Luton. Who gives 3 young guys a lift in a car? Thankfully the businessman did. And was grateful beyond belief.
We explained our story to our folks. And my mum put pen to paper to Watford FC.
A few days later a letter dropped on the doormat.
It was from Graham Taylor.
Three seat tickets were tucked in the letter.
Concerned of our experience, he invited us to the next Watford game, as his guests.
That’s the character of the man.
And Watford, in those crazy exciting days of attacking, relentless football will always stay with me.
I was there, on the pitch when Watford won promotion to the 1st division.
I was there when Watford beat Sunderland 8-0.
I was there when Watford beat Southampton 7-1 in the League Cup 2nd round (having been 4-0 down from the 1st leg!)
I was there when Watford beat Luton 4-3 in the FA Cup Third round.
I was there when Watford beat Kaiserslautern 4-3 in the 2nd leg of the UEFA Cup (having been 3-1 down in the 1st leg).
The chant of ‘Elton John’s Taylor made army’ was constant.
As was the midfield powerhouse that relentlessly snapped at the heels of the opposition.
It was exciting, positive football.
Where the ball was constantly in the opposition box.
“You can’t score if you’re not in the opposition box.”
I can hear him now.
The man talked sense.
He was an innovator.
And a gentle man.
The ‘Taylor way’.
The entertaining way.
The right way, in my opinion.
There’s only one Graham Taylor.