Not a lot upsets me in the game anymore however I was devastated to hear of the sad passing of Graham Taylor last week.
Graham was a genuinely honest humble man who loved nothing more than talking about the game he loved and adored; football.
He was absolutely brilliant to me as a journalist during his time here in the West Midlands as he was with many others. Nothing was too much trouble and he never ever refused an interview win lose or draw.
One story sums him, and his humility, up perfectly. One Friday night on BRMB’s famous football phone in fans were complaining and moaning about Paul Gascoigne not being in the England team. Graham who was the England manager at the time and was on his way home to Sutton Coldfield decided to call in and make his point about why Gascoigne had not played. However he didn’t come the big “I am the England manager” with the phone answerer he just gave his name and waited in the queue along with the other callers. How about that for class?
A short time ago after he had decided to move back down south to be closer to his family a few of us media men took Graham out to Cielos’ Italian Restaurant for a farewell meal. John Wragg, David Harrison, Martin Swain, Pat Murphy, Me along with former Villa director Steve Stride had an amazing afternoon swapping memories and stories.
We journalists and broadcasters in the media earn our living from the game and have a right to watch over the game and report and criticise where necessary. I hope those national newspapers who ridiculed Graham and personally abused him when he was going through a tough time as England manager are feeling ashamed of themselves-however somehow I doubt it and that is yet another example of how low some parts of the game have sunk.
Graham always had time for everyone be they millionaires, players, directors, media or fans he treated them all the same.
RIP Graham, “a proper bloke”.