By Billy Stephenson
Watford fans were left to mourn the death of their greatest ever manager Graham Taylor as he passed away on the 12th January 2017 at the age of 72. Taylor managed the Hertfordshire club on two occasions, first coming to Vicarage Road in 1977, before departing for Aston Villa in 1987.
After he passed away, in the 72nd minute of every game saw Watford fans applauding but recently it stopped. It was a very 50/50 divide between the fans whether this should have happened due to him being very successful but some fans thought that they had already paid enough respect to Taylor.
One stand at Vicarage Road is named after the legend himself and the fans paid respect to him on the anniversary of his death in January.
Watford fan Ollie Ford believes that the applause should stop, he said: “I think we should’ve stopped because although he is the man that has shaped our club, it would be more meaningful to do it once a year maybe on the day he died as a mark of respect.
“You don’t see Manchester United clapping every game for the busby babes or Liverpool clapping for the Hillsborough disaster.”
His first spell saw him take Watford from the Fourth Division to the First Division in five seasons, also taking them to their first FA Cup final. He then returned back to Vicarage Road where he took the Hornets up to the Premier League following back to back promotions.
It is said that Taylor turned down the West Bromwich Albion job to come to Watford where Elton John hired him. In his first season, he won the Division Four title by 11 points and only losing five games.
When Taylor got Watford to the First Division, the club had one of the most successful seasons in the clubs’ history, with a double over Arsenal, an away win at Tottenham and wins against Liverpool and Everton, finishing runners up to Liverpool.
This saw the Hornets embark on a European tour, as Taylor led Watford to the third round of the UEFA Cup, as well as making it to Wembley in the FA Cup Final where they lost 2-0 to Everton.
Nine years later, Taylor couldn’t resist coming back to Hertfordshire and even more success beckoned. Another Wembley trip came for the players and fans as they got to the Division One Play-off final beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0.
From all the success and memories, he gave both fans and players, people can see why there are calls to continues the minutes applause, but lifelong supporter of the Hornets Nicholas Smith thinks differently.
He stated: “Yes I do think the applause should stop, it has been over a year since Taylor died and I feel the club and the fans have paid their respects to the man.
It is now time to move on. The odd game here and there is fair enough, but I don’t think it should be at every game”
Smith was one of the lucky fans who witnessed Graham Taylor take Watford to the Premier League in the 1999 play-off final, saying that the spell ‘epitomised’ Taylor and that under the management of him, Watford were always in safe hands.
Watford were not the only club where Graham Taylor is close to their heart, as well as managing Watford, he also took charge of Lincoln City, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, also taking charge on the international stage, spending three years in charge of England in the 90’s.
YouTuber Jacob Culshaw has been following Watford since 2006, He currently runs a YouTube channel which gives Watford supporters a chance to express their opinions after the game. He gave his opinion on this situation and thinks that it’s a shame that it has started to fade out.
Culshaw said: “The applause in the 72nd minute was a really nice touch at the start to remember Graham Taylor, it is a shame that it has started to fade out but it is very hard to maintain for the whole season.”
A lot of Watford fans were not lucky to see Graham Taylor as manager and see the best seasons the Hertfordshire club ever had. Chris Pyrke used to run a supporter’s club when Graham Taylor was in charge at Vicarage Road and has seen all the good memories that Taylor gave to the club. When speaking about the applause he feels that these things have a time limit. He said: “In play situations can inevitably cut across the timing of the applause.
Going forward, an annual tribute on or near the anniversary of his death will probably be more appropriate.”
This is the first sort of thing which has happened in football and from people seeing about this, it may cause some debate to whether or not you should keep the applause going even one year after that person passes away.
Taylor is and probably will be the best manager Watford have ever had. Memories will always be there for the man that made Watford who they are today.