Class from Wolves
Wolves showed their class as they worked around the clock to make sure there was a fitting tribute to Graham Taylor ahead of the derby.
Despite the weekend result at Molineux, you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the swift way they acted in light of Taylor’s death at the age of 72 on the eve of the game.
Taylor bossed both clubs and earned great respect for the job he did for the claret and blue and the gold and black.
The Wolves media team actually stopped the print run of the matchday programme and recalled it – so they could include a four-page spread to GT in the Villa edition.
And the tribute just before kick-off was also brilliantly handled, with a minute’s applause proudly observed – as well as former players Mark Delaney, Rob Edwards and Tony Daley – all who played under Taylor – heading on to the pitch to lay a wreath symbolising Taylor’s time with Villa, Wolves and England.
Taylor the cover star
Graham Taylor will adorn the front of this weekend’s matchday programme – as we remember our popular ex-manager.
The News & Record will also contain eight pages of tributes to the two-time claret and blue boss.
We will remember GT’s huge impact through a special gallery of images in our popular ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ feature.
As well as that, you’ll be able to read about classic memories of Graham from former players and staff who worked with him here at B6.
Graham’s wife Rita has confirmed the family will attend as special guests of the club and we’re inviting former players who played under Graham to attend the match and be positioned pitchside for the minute’s applause which will take place before kick-off.
Steve Staunton, who was last captain to play under Graham, will lay a wreath on the centre circle after both teams have emerged from the tunnel.
Alan McInally says that Villa toasted a successful 1987/88 season – before the final game away game at Swindon Town.
Villa needed results to go their way on that final afternoon in May 1988 as we headed for the County Ground.
But, on the eve of the encounter laced with plenty of nerves, Taylor cracked open the champagne on the Bodymoor Heath training pitch after the final session.
McInally recalls: “We were gunning for promotion and there was some tension in the air because we knew we had to get this huge club back into the top-flight.
“So, as you can imagine, we were all shocked when we were offered champagne after we had finished training on the Friday.
“Graham just said ‘Whatever happens tomorrow lads, it’s been a very good season and you’ve done me proud. Now let’s go out there and finish the job.
“That gesture lightened the mood and I think it was a very clever bit of man-management from Graham, which should have come as no shock because he was brilliant at that!”
McInally will be here on Saturday – after making a request to Sky Sports.
McInally joined Villa from Celtic in the summer of 1987 as manager Taylor attempted to build a squad capable of bouncing back from Division Two following the club’s relegation the previous season.
Taylor saw his £225,000 capture as vital for the claret and blues – as he won the hearts and minds of fans during a two-season spell where he was dubbed ‘Rambo’.
In fact, his impressive scoring exploits earned him a £1.1m move to German giants Bayern Munich in the summer of 1989.
McInally spoke to Sky Sports on the day of Taylor’s death to praise GT for his “excellent man-management skills”.
McInally, now a pundit with Sky Sports, was due in their London studio this weekend for the popular Soccer Saturday programme with Jeff Stelling.
However, after speaking with the programme's producer Ian Condron, about a roaming role at B6 instead - so he could be here to remember Taylor - Sky Sports thankfully agreed.
In fact, likeable Condron added: "I think you need to be there!"
My Beckenbauer exclusive
Rob Bishop says Graham Taylor was his favourite Villa manager to work with – even if his best-ever story came with GT’s departure.
During the summer of 1990, Rob tells me he exclusively predicted that Villa were about to appoint a foreign manager for the first time in their history.
Dr Josef Venglos wasn’t the man Rob had in mind when he wrote the story.
His tip was legendary German defender, Franz Beckenbauer.
Like any reporter, Bish had come across his fair share of ‘scoops’ down the years yet whenever he comes across any former colleagues of that era, they invariably remind him about the one he got wrong, big-time.
In his defence, Bish didn’t say he was going to be appointed…just that he was being targeted to take over from GT.
He tells us: “Wrong or not, the story sent my reputation soaring with my colleagues at the Birmingham Mail.
“Even when I confided that I wasn’t totally convinced Beckenbauer was bound for Birmingham, he simply responded ‘Doesn’t matter mate. Even if it’s not right, what a great story!’
“Thankfully when Dr Jo was paraded in front of a slightly bewildered press corps, I was safely out of the way on holiday.”
The ultimate irony is that Bish was absolutely spot on…as he found out years later.
He added: “In his autobiography ‘Deadly’ eight years later, Doug Ellis wrote: ‘After Graham Taylor left, I made an attempt to offer Franz the job of manager of Aston Villa.’
“Sometimes you can believe what you read in the paper – even if it doesn’t actually happen!”
Word on the Tweet
Mark Pougatch, chief presenter with ITV Sport, is a highly respected sports journalist – and he undoubtedly enhanced his reputation with this stunning tribute to Graham Taylor.
Pougatch voiced the piece, complete with pictures of GT – and the message contained within the piece is something to really consider in our quieter moments.
The idea of being a mascot is always appealing to wide-eyed young fans.
But coping with the situation is not quite so easy.
Older kids usually savour the occasion but sometimes the occasion is simply too much for toddlers as they run from the tunnel to be greeted by a huge roar from the crowd.
This youngster clearly wasn’t too happy.
But, as was his kind way, Graham Taylor came to the rescue by picking him up and giving him a hug – with a linesman also helping to cheer him up.
The image was taken from the popular book 'The Weir and the Wonderful'.