Book Review – Graham Taylor: In His Own Words

I bought this book from sports journalist Lionel Birnie (who helped Graham Taylor in writing his story) when he gave an inspiring talk at a Watford Writers meeting in March 2018.  I reported this on my blog at the time (see https://peatmore.wordpress.com/2018/03) but such is the length of my reading list it is only now that I have managed to read the book in its entirety.

I have not read many books by sports celebrities because I feel that most seem to be written to enhance the subjects’ own, often shallow, personalities.  But this story is clearly an exception as Taylor was a giant among his contemporary football managers.  As one who has competed at a very amateur level and watched many more, sporting outcome is often dependent on luck.  In general good luck and bad luck will balance itself out and class will shine through.  But the history of international English football has shown that this has rarely been the case.  During his time managing the English football team, Taylor suffered more than his fair share of bad luck and in this book he shows that he accepted this along with the mistakes he made.  But what is extremely unfair was the way he was vilified by the media for England’s failure to qualify for two major sporting competitions and the cruel insults by caricature that were depicted on the front pages of many popular newspapers.

This account also shows what an exceptional club manager he was.  In taking Watford Football Club from obscurity under the Chairmanship of Pop singer Elton John he proved how good he was at man management.  He discovered two major football stars in John Barnes (while at Watford) and David Platt (while managing Aston Villa) and these two went on to have successful international careers and excelled at other major football clubs.  Anyone who has worked with people at all levels will understand the skills needed to be successful and by reading his book will see that Taylor had those in abundance.  It is a tragedy that he died so young as he clearly had so much more to offer in life and to football.  Football is not just a sport; it is the heart of many British communities.  I have been living in Watford for only a few years but I can see clearly how he was much loved by the town.  Taylor’s own words are well worth the read.

Keith Jahans

Graham Taylor In His Own Words: The autobiography
is published by Peloton Publishing Ltd and is available in hardback and as an ebook

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