If you were to ask Aston Villa fans who their favourite midfielder of the Premier League era is you are almost guaranteed to hear just one name, Ian Taylor. You hear the phrase so many times, “no one man is ever greater than a football club” - but if one man epitomises it, then for Aston Villa, it’s Ian Taylor.
Taylor grew up in Birmingham, and was a Villa fan that stood in the Holte end watching his team as a child. In 1994 he moved to Villa, and rarely does a player ever make such an impact at a club.
He wasn’t the most technically gifted, flamboyant, or talented player to grace the club, but he was a player who gave his all for the club he supported, something hard to find these days. The fans loved him from the off; having a player who wanted the club to win because he was a fan rather than just earning money at the end of the day didn’t come around very often in football players.
You hear the phrase so many times, “no one man is ever greater than a football club” - but if one man epitomises it, then for Aston Villa, it’s Ian Taylor.
Being born in 1988 and having not got into football until my early teens, I only managed to see the end of Taylor’s Villa career, but I still remember the day that I truly fell in love with him. In October 2005, stories emerged from Villa fans that Ian Taylor attended the match as your day to day fan, in the away end with all the other Villa fans, no executive box for the man with claret and blue blood, an act he has repeated several times since. All this while still playing for Derby County until 2005, and Northampton Town until 2007.
He made over 250 appearances in a Villa career which lasted 9 years, and perfected the art of scoring rather crucial goals. After helping Villa to narrowly avoid relegation in his first season, he scored in wins over Manchester United, Leeds United, Southampton and Wimbledon, in a season which Villa finished 4th. He also played, and scored, in the 3-0 League Cup final victory over Leeds United, Villa’s most recent domestic honour. As well as this, he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over local rivals Coventry City in the 1998-99 season.
The truth is, for Taylor, it was a pleasure and not a job to play for his own football club, something many fans harbour desires of and few rarely get to fulfil. He gave his all in every game and this endeavoured the fans to him instantly. He soon became the engine of Villa’s midfield, and one they relied on heavily, not just for his engine but also for his goals. His connection to the club didn’t end when his playing career did in 2003 though, as you’d expect being a fan. He is an ambassador to the club to this day, and is regularly seen in the away end slumming it with the regular fans. He performed a charity skydive recently to raise money for Villa’s chosen charity, Acorns, and is often found doing interviews on AVTV or giving his opinion on club matters in the local media.
In October 2005, stories emerged from Villa fans that Ian Taylor attended the match as your day to day fan, in the away end with all the other Villa fan. No executive box for the man with claret and blue blood.
If there is ever a Villa fan from the last 20 years who doesn’t name him in their best 11, call them a liar, they aren’t a real fan.
And so the chant goes, “there’s only one Ian Taylor”. It still rings around the stadium today, but we really should have created a better chant for someone of such cult status.
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