The former England, Aston Villa and Watford manager Graham Taylor passed away last week, leading to tributes from figures across the football world – and local councillor Jim Tenanty has recalled receiving some special correspondence from the football great.
Taylor died of a suspected heart attack aged 72 six days ago and the sadness that has met the news of his passing has been echoed all across the game in England and further afield.
A Watford supporter, Tenanty has made countless trips across the channel to follow his beloved Hornets over the years and he provided ThisIsArdee.ie with correspondence he received from the former England boss after one of their encounters back in 2001.
Tenanty had met the Taylor during a trip to Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium in April 2001. Taylor was taking charge of one of his last games as Watford manager, having three weeks earlier announced his decision to retire from football management.
On the trip, Tenanty presented Taylor with a bottle of red wine – his favourite tipple – and the two discussed the manager’s recent decison to walk away from football management after 29 years at four clubs and of course, the England national team.
The letter, which came direct from Taylor’s office and was signed by the Watford boss, read:
I really must thank you for your very kind gift when you met me prior to our game against Preston North End.
I really do appreciate your generosity and could you please pass on my thanks to your family.
There is no one particular reason as to why I have decided to retire from club management, more a gut feeling that this is the right time.
I am looking forward to the next stage of my life with a degree of excitement, as for the very first time I have nothing planned. As the saying goes – ‘we shall see!’
Once again Jim, many thanks for your gift – it is much appreciated.”
Of course, Taylor couldn’t stay away from football for long after his retirement. Less than a year later, he was back in the hotseat at Aston Villa for a 15 month stint at Villa Park. In his later years, he worked in the media including much work for BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I had no idea how he knew my name,” Tenanty recalls when asked about receiving the letter from the revered Watford manager. “I was carrying a bag with L. Tenanty & Sons on it, so he must have looked up the membership. It was an awul lot of trouble for a busy football manager to go to – an incredible gesture.
“I met him four times. He was a kind and very generous person. He was very fond of Ireland, too,” Tenanty told ThisIsArdee.ie.
Over the course of the last week, countless other football supporters have published their own personal correspondence from Taylor on social media.