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Farewell to a legend

 Published on: 17th January 2017   |   By: Nik Allen

Last week we said goodbye to a really great man.

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have spent several occasions in the company of Watford legend Graham Taylor who died suddenly last week.

He wasn’t just a great football manager who put the club on the map with his successes in the late seventies and early eighties.

Far more than that he was, as the hundreds of tributes following his death have highlighted, an incredibly decent, generous and warm hearted man.

He was welcoming, friendly with a gift for making people feel at ease and good about themselves.

He never declined a request for an interview with us despite being an incredibly busy man.

He’d always say ‘of course I have five minutes for a chat’. Those five minutes usually lasted a lot longer as he talked openly, energetically and honestly about anything to do with football and of course his beloved Watford FC.

I remember one occasion when me and one of my reporters were due ‘five minutes’ with Graham after a breakfast time event at Vicarage Road.

What followed was one of the most interesting, honest and insightful hours of my publishing career. He even checked with us that we had enough to do an article on – my reporter said to me afterwards: ‘We’ve enough to write a book!’ He was one of our favourite interviewees.

For a man so vilified by sections of the media Graham always treated us with respect and generosity.

The same can’t be said for several of the managers who succeeded him at the helm of the Hornets.

One in particular (since sacked from a couple of his most recent jobs) would think nothing of making reporters wait for an hour and then when he did grace them with his presence he’d often be terse, guarded and a little bit too full of his own self importance.

Graham was the polar opposite of this.

He is without doubt the most important person in the history of Watford FC and his football legacy is everywhere at Vicarage Road and across the town.

But for me and thousands of others who had the privilege to meet him the lasting memory will be of his kindness, great sense of humour, genuine nature and his enthusiasm for life.

Rest in Peace Graham. You were a true gentleman.

Thanks for reading,

Nik

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