There are a few players who you can say directly influenced your decision as a kid to follow your team. The folk heroes are the usual ones, those with something different, something which made them stand out from the crowd, like a shot of ferocious venom, someone, in fact like Colin â€œThe Cannonballâ€ Taylor.
Walsallâ€™s barrel chested, ginger haired, goal scoring left winger of the 1960â€™s was always one of my boyhood heroes. He joined the club in 1958, from his home town club, Birmingham League Stourbridge, and made his Saddlers debut not long afterwards against Millwall in August of that year.
For the next five years, he made the left wing spot his own, with his pacy, strong direct running, cannonball shooting and crosses which only Tony Richards was brave enough to get a head on (or so Richards always joked). He, from that left wing berth, scored an incredible 21 goals in our promotion season of 1959/60, then manged to top that the following season as we climbed to the heights of the then Division Two, with another 33!
It was too good to last, of course, and he was snapped up by Newcastle United in 1963, only to return some twelve months later to write another chapter in his Walsall career. He spent another three and a half successful years with us, so successful, in fact, that e earned a move to Crystal Palace in 1968, only to return again the following year for his third spell, which finally terminated in him leaving for non league Kidderminster in 1973.
Colinâ€™s final record with the Saddlers was 491 appearances, with 11 as sub, with an incredible total of 190 goals.
And thatâ€™s what made him special â€“ those goals. He had the hardest shot Iâ€™ve ever seen â€“ period. He could (and did) score from virtually the half way line. I even played against him in a charity match years later â€“ he scord a blinder, of course. With his barrel chested shape, shock of red hair and direct style, he was the sort of player legends are made of â€“ which is a good job, as thatâ€™s what heâ€™ll always be â€“ Colin Taylor, Walsall Legend, RIP.