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Watford fans owe it all to Graham Taylor

No one has done more for the club

9 June ~ On May 30, Watford announced that Graham Taylor would be stepping down from his role as chairman of the board, a position he had held since December 2009. He had accepted the role when the club was facing another serious financial crisis that threatened its immediate future. But Taylor had no intention of returning to a formal role in the long term. In two separate spells as manager, he took the club into the top flight, starting from the fourth tier in 1977 and the third in 1997. Without Taylor, Watford would be unrecognisable.

It has always been difficult for Watford fans to reconcile the father-like character who built their club with the man who became a hate figure during and after his doomed international career. As manager of Wolves in 1995 he was spat on by a Sheffield United fan, a shocking act of indefensible cowardice and spite against a man who had valued the role of supporters when others had lined up to demonise them. It’s easy to forget the way football was perceived in 1980s England, but while Ken Bates wanted electrified fences to control fans, Taylor’s Watford were reaching out to the local community.  

His methods were always going to annoy purists, but Taylor has always had the football club at the heart of his philosophy. He loves football clubs because of their importance to the fans and the social function they provide, so he would never want to see Watford left to rot.  

During his brief spell as chairman there was a well-documented falling out with current owner Laurence Bassini. Taylor criticised Bassini’s failure to attend a fans forum and answer their questions about his long-term intentions for the club. The rift was patched up, but it is doubtful there was much mutual admiration between the two men.

Does Taylor’s decision to step down mean he is satisfied the club is in safe hands, or that it is not his fight any more? The club had a much better 2011-12 season than many had expected, and insolvency does not appear to be an immediate threat. There may never be a right time for Taylor to say goodbye, but the waters are certainly calmer. Indeed, as hard as it is to contemplate, Watford fans should hope they do not need to look to Taylor’s leadership again. No one has done more for Watford, but the club must learn to cope without him. Michael Moruzzi @Regista_blog

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