It is with deep sadness that we have learnt of the death former manager and Club Patron, Graham Taylor OBE.
The best tribute we can pay to Graham Taylor is to say you got your due reward at Sincil Bank and for that we will be forever grateful. “I demand nothing from you as the Supporters. I am not in a position to do that. You have that privilege. However, I would ask of you that before you make any demands you try and assess everything as fairly as possible.
I have had 12 years in football and won nothing. I am fully aware of Lincoln City’s decline during a similar period of time. In terms of lack of success we are in the same boat. However, I refuse to become obsessed with the idea of immediate success (but I do know what I am working for) but I find that obsessions can be dangerous.
If things do not go as planned that can lead to frustration, bitterness, and irrational thinking. So that eventually one has little chance of achieving anything. Therefore all that I and my players can do on your behalf is to try and work at our best at all times and to keep fingers crossed that this will bring its due reward not only to ourselves but to all genuine good City Supporters.”
This is an extract from Graham Taylor’s first programme notes as City manager in December 1972, a game we lost 3-2 against Barnsley:
His achievements weren’t forgotten by former clubs as a stand at Watford was renamed the Graham Taylor Stand in 2014 and he was honorary life president of the club whilst he was made Club Patron here at Lincoln in November 2001 just a month before he was awarded an OBE for services to football.
After retiring he worked as a respected pundit on Radio 5 Live and helped raise funds for various good causes by running the London Marathon in 2004 and cycling from London to Paris in 2010 for the RBL Poppy Appeal.
In total he managed 1,075 times in the Football/Premier League winning 461 games, drawing 285 and losing 329. As England manager he won 18 of his 38 matches in charge with 13 draws and seven defeats.
His achievements after leaving Sincil Bank are well documented with great success at Watford (his first appearance back at Sincil Bank saw his them demolish City 5-0 in 1978) taking them into the First Division, Europe and an FA Cup Final, a second place finish in Division One with Aston Villa in 1989/90, three years as England manager and then later spells at Wolves and back again at Watford and Aston Villa before retiring in 2003.
He had been in charge of 209 Football League games winning 97, drawing 60 and losing 52 with City but it wasn’t just on the pitch that he had transformed the Club as off it he had helped form a bond between Club and fans with the players regularly visiting supporters in their workplace, schools, hospitals etc.
Back in Division 3 for the first time since 1962 the team finished ninth and despite signing a new three-year contract the lure of a five-year deal reportedly worth £125,000 and the resources of Elton John understandably proved too much and he departed for Vicarage Road in June 1977 with City receiving a fee of £20,000 in compensation.
The following season 1973/74 saw a drop back to 12th but existing players were being replaced by his own choices and in 1974/75 only a poor run at the end of the season and a last match defeat at Southport denied the Club promotion but the following season will forever remain a high point in the history of Lincoln City as records tumbled and the side he built romped to promotion scoring 111 Football League goals, losing just four games and setting a Football League record under the two points for a win system of 74. Not surprisingly he was voted Division 4 Manager of the Season.
His managerial career though did not get off to a good start as it wasn’t until the 12th game that a victory was achieved with Terry Branston scoring an 87th minute winner against Darlington but the Board and especially Heneage Dove kept faith with the young manager and gradually things improved with just three more defeats following in the remaining 13 games as the team finished 10th.
Already interested in the coaching side of the game having become the youngest ever FA Staff Coach at the age of 22, he was appointed player-coach under David Herd in 1972 and when Herd was sacked in December he became at the age of 28 the youngest manager in the Football League and, already hampered by a hip injury, almost immediately stopped playing.
He scored on his debut for the Imps in a 5-0 home victory over Notts County in August 1968 but that proved to be his only FL goal in 150+1 appearances although he did score a goal in a League Cup defeat at Scunthorpe later in the same season but that was his only cup goal in 19 ties for us.
It was the first of 189 Football League games, many as captain from 1966 onwards, and nearly all at full back although he once played at centre forward until he joined Lincoln in the summer of 1968 for a fee of £4,000. He scored three goals for Town and played in a further 26 cup ties without scoring.
He made his Town reserve team debut against Spalding United on Boxing Day 1962 with his first team debut following in September 1963 as the Mariners beat Newcastle United 2-1 in a Division 2 fixture.
Graham attended Scunthorpe Grammar School and played the for school, town, county and the England Grammar School sides and was an amateur with Scunthorpe United before leaving after a year in sixth form (and receiving as he later put the biggest b********g of his life off the school’s headmaster who told him grammar school boys do not become footballers!) to join Grimsby Town although he did continue his studies at night school at Grimsby College with the Professional Footballers Association funding his courses.
Although born in Worksop, Graham Taylor lived in Scunthorpe from an early age where his father Tom was a sports reporter who covered the Iron for the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph.
Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack and our thoughts are with Rita and the family at this difficult time.
By Gary Parle. Sources: Who’s Who of Lincoln City, Past Imperfect, Lincoln City programmes, www.tes.com, Who’s Who of Grimsby Town