Nine seasons ago Scott Taylor was in simply scintillating goalscoring form for Blackpool in the best campaign of a career that has taken him from his native surroundings and back again, illustrated in part by a musical rendition he gave during his unforgettable time with Tranmere.
It was in 1998 that the ex-Millwall forward left Bolton Wanderers for John Aldridge’s Tranmere Rovers for a spell that would spawn a number of magnificent moments. A couple of months into his days as a new recruit on Merseyside he was called upon to dust down his vocal arrangement for his new teammates and the song he chose is one synonymous with his part of the world.
“When I was at Tranmere Rovers any new signing had to sing in front of the team on our Christmas dos, so my song when I first signed was ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ as I was the only Londoner playing for the club. It was the most nervous I’ve been, more nervous than playing in front of 20,000 people!’’
Scott’s days at Prenton Park saw the club famously reach the Worthington Cup final in 2000, the last League Cup showpiece at the old Wembley before construction began on the new stadium. He played the full game as Division One Rovers were beaten 2-1 by Premier League Leicester City by virtue of two goals from Foxes skipper Matt Elliott after David Kelly had levelled late on for the Birkenhead side. There were over 74,000 in attendance that day and Tranmere had to play a sizeable part of the second half with ten men after defender Clint Hill was sent off. That same season Rovers reached the FA Cup quarter-final only to be defeated by another top flight outfit, Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle United by three goals to two at Prenton Park. One of Scott’s former teammates during those cup runs was recently-retired defender Reuben Hazell who discussed those memories on here last year. Another of Scott’s colleagues at the club was a player who slid in a winning goal that no Tranmere fan is ever likely to forget, to seal a 4-3 victory over Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round in 2001 after the team had incredibly trailed 3-0. The scenes from the home fans in the televised game after the strike were delirious and the player, who also represented the likes of Everton, Oldham and Wigan, impressed Scott in a different way when they worked together.
“Stuart Barlow who I played with at Tranmere always made his own songs up, his own funny lyrics which always went down well and were always the most memorable.’’
Scott spent close to three years with Tranmere before a move to Stockport County in the summer of 2001 and he described the most enjoyable factors of that period.
“Tranmere was amazing – we had tremendous cup runs knocking out some of the top Premiership sides. I got to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 2000 and the Worthington Cup final at Wembley the same year, which is a boyhood dream come true.
“What I liked most about Prenton Park and Tranmere was it was a real family club with fantastic fans and people, and the ground was nice and close to the pitch which created an amazing atmosphere at games. I would say that Tranmere and Blackpool were my all-time favourite clubs and I always look out for them, to be fair I look out for all my old teams.’’
A current Crystal Palace frontman and one of Scott’s former counterparts is the man he names as the most impressive individual for his choice of tracks, and he is someone who Welsh international defender Danny Gabbidon also praised for his music on here last month.
“Most of my teammates like the old r&b so I’m all good with that. Aaron Wilbraham, who I was with at Stockport and MK Dons, had quality taste in music.
“He always played good stuff in the changing room and also made compilations for matchday music, mostly r&b and a bit of soul music too.’’
Scott’s own preferences include some of Wilbraham’s favoured genres, as well as some other distinguished artists.
“I generally like all kinds of music and can turn my ear to anything. I like r&b and soul music, I’m into a bit of Michael Bublé too.
“I love some old stuff my Dad listened to as well such as Level 42, Eric Clapton, Robert Palmer etc. but in general I love most music. (The first record he bought) I think it was ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson, I can’t remember my age though!
“The last concert I went to was Michael Bublé at the O2 (Arena). He was class to be fair and got involved with the audience too.’’
Starting out in the game with Staines Town, Scott moved to Millwall in 1995 as a teenager before his switch a year later to Bolton Wanderers. After loans with Rotherham United and Blackpool he joined up with Tranmere for that hugely noteworthy stay from 1998 to 2001. Just over six months at Stockport ensued before he signed for his previous loan employers Blackpool permanently in January 2002.
Under the management of ex-Liverpool and England midfielder Steve McMahon, Scott won the LDV Vans Trophy (Football League Trophy) two months after signing, scoring the final goal at the Millennium Stadium as Blackpool beat Cambridge United 4-1. In his first full season with the Seasiders he built on the goals at the back-end of the 2001/02 campaign to finish as the club’s top scorer with 16 in total. The 2003/04 season was to be the most prolific of Scott’s Football League career as he hit 27 goals in 41 games, with 16 of these coming in Division Two for the Tangerines. Injury ended his season prematurely in February 2004 but his goals had helped the team to the LDV Vans Trophy final, which they won in his absence.
There are two goals of Scott’s that season I remember most prominently, the first of which came in November 2003 when as a 13-year-old I was at Hillsborough to see Scott score the winner against my team Sheffield Wednesday late on as he finished past David Lucas at the Leppings Lane end.
“I remember that goal too like it was yesterday. I was gutted I got injured that year as I think I would have got into the 30s for goals as I was on 27 at the time.
“My best memories were of scoring so many and thinking every time I went out to play I was going to score. Also getting to the LDV Vans Trophy (final) again that year was incredible and a fantastic atmosphere, just gutted I couldn’t play in that one.
“I was in good form because Steve McMahon played me as a striker which is where I always wanted to play. I had a good team around me always picking out my runs I made in the likes of Martin Bullock and Richie Wellens in particular.’’
Scott also scored against Wednesday in the first leg of the LDV Vans Trophy Northern Section final at Bloomfield Road, the only goal as Blackpool secured a foothold in the tie before finishing the job at Hillsborough in the second leg, by which time Scott was injured. His form that season prompted Wednesday manager Chris Turner to highlight Scott as one of his two main transfer targets up front for the 2004/05 campaign. Owls fans were expecting to see Scott paired with Luton striker Steve Howard in the blue and white but neither deal came to fruition, the latter the subject of a farcical episode in which Wednesday initially reported that they had received a fax accepting their offer, only for Luton to deny it. With Scott, Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston at the time commented that he saw Wednesday’s approach for him as a ploy to sell season tickets and rejected their advances. Scott explains how the story went.
“Yes I remember it well, I remember Chris Turner being in touch and interested and I was very interested in coming. I wanted to sort something out as it’s a massive club with a fantastic stadium and I wanted to be a bit closer to London as it’s only an hour and a half to Surrey as opposed to four hours from Blackpool.
“My Dad was very ill at the time, being an hour and a half away would have been a lot easier to get home after training days to be able to see him a lot more and help him. Sadly he has passed away now.”
“Karl (Oyston) was asking too much money and Chris eventually said ‘I’m sorry Scott, I can’t do any more’.’’
Scott stayed at Blackpool under new boss and ex-Scotland captain Colin Hendry and scored 14 times in the first half of the season before a move to Championship Plymouth Argyle at the very end of 2004. After just over a year with the Pilgrims he joined MK Dons in January 2006, where he would spend two years, including loans with Rochdale and Brentford. Spells outside of the Football League with Grays Athletic and Lewes preceded a return to his first club Staines Town in 2009, completing a full circle after 14 years away.
The Blue Square Bet South outfit are managed by ex-Jamaica and Wimbledon man Marcus Gayle and Scott, now 36, is still in action on the pitch, while also becoming an electrician.
“Yes currently a player/coach now at Staines Town FC where my career began all those years ago before they sold me to Millwall. I love the club and am delighted that Marcus Gayle has offered me the role to learn the ropes from the other side of the fence.
“He has been a terrific player in his days before moving on to coaching Wimbledon reserves so it’s a great opportunity for me to take on the new role working and learning under Marcus. I’ve finished my college course and passed all my exams with distinctions, which I was really proud of.
“I have to take a test called an AM2 soon, which if I pass I will be fully qualified.’’
For a player who performed at Wembley and the Millennium Stadium, as well as being someone I remember watching score the winner at Hillsborough before hoping we would sign him the following summer, I asked Scott two questions. What were the biggest lessons that his professional career taught him and how does life change once you drop out of the Football League?
“The biggest thing I’ve learnt in football and life is that you have to work hard for your dreams, never give up and also have a good attitude and a willingness to learn. With none of these attributes you won’t go very far in life!
“Plan for the future as football is such a short career. The biggest change (outside the professional game) is that you only train twice a week so fitness is one thing and also working now during the days.
“It’s a lot of hard work but loving football so much you don’t mind.’’
In typical fashion we round off the interview with the four best players Scott has ever worked with who he would pick alongside himself in a 5-a-side team.
“Goalkeeper – Jussi Jääskeläinen, I was with him at Bolton and he was a fantastic keeper and shot-stopper and went on to have a great career at Bolton. In defence – Colin Hendry, I was fortunate enough to play with him when he came to Blackpool on loan.
“He threw his body on the line and in front of everything even in training – a true centre-half. He also came back as my manager there and is one of the nicest men you will meet in football.
“In midfield – Richie Wellens. I was with him at Blackpool and he was one of the main players setting me up with all my goals – a great player.
“Forward – Peter Beardsley, say no more. I was a young lad at Bolton Wanderers when he came and what a player, he could pick a pass out and see things no one else can see and his attitude and work-rate at his age then was amazing.
“A great role model for the younger players.’’