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Players & managers: Tributes:
Graham Taylor
Watford v The Rest of the World
(well, certainly England)
1977-87, 1990-93, 1996-2001

By Martin Blanc

To compress it all into one match, to make ninety golden minutes stand for something that is such a part of one's on-going life, is no more possible for me than picking my favourite song.

He was written up as a young buck, a sexy newcomer, until we reached Division One. Then it all changed, and we were interlopers, novices above our lowly station. We did it our way, his way, for five glorious years, and like a good teacher, or a stolen kiss, they will truly stay with us then-teenagers for the rest of our days.

Three years later, we all felt like we were managing England. Not something we were prepared for, really. And although much was shat out by parrots and pond scum, we winced with every blow, just like the man himself. For us, it was character-building. But then we were only twentysomethings.

And still he came back, offering us new inspiration just as we were wondering what this grown-up number was all about. Every game taught us something. We watched them all more closely. Then just as we get a handle on it, he retires. That's fine, Graham. We're all right now. We'll take it from here. But we couldn't have done it without you.