Graham Taylor made his debut for Grimsby Town on 14 September 1963 against Newcastle United. Later, as manager of Watford, he would make a number of other, less obvious trips to St James’ Park.
If Watford didn’t have a midweek fixture, the Hornets’ boss would often park his car at Kings Cross after taking training and catch the train up to Newcastle to watch them in action – partly for fun, partly on the lookout for players. He would stand among the supporters, having paid for a ticket like the rest of the fans and it was on trips like these that GT would in his words “learn never to under-estimate the knowledge of the average football fan.”
Taylor would get the sleeper train back to London after the game, arriving in plenty of time to take Watford training at 9am. He could have made the trips official, claimed expenses and a free ticket. Mingled with the Directors in the boardroom and enjoyed a complimentary meal. Instead he chose to experience these matches in a way that showed him for exactly what he was. An honest, caring, hard working, disciplined and principled man, who deeply, deeply loved football.