Alan Taylor (footballer, born 1953)
|Full name||Alan David Taylor|
|Date of birth||14 November 1953|
|Place of birth||Hinckley, England|
|1974–1979||West Ham United||98||(25)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Alan Taylor (born 14 November 1953 in Hinckley, Leicestershire) is an English former professional footballer best known for his goalscoring exploits with West Ham United in their FA Cup success of 1975, culminating in two goals in that season's final.
Taylor, a quick centre forward, was rejected by Preston North End as a youth player and drifted into non-league football in Lancashire. Eventually his reputation with Morecambe and Lancaster City as a goalscorer prompted Rochdale into making a move for him, taking Taylor into the full-time game for the first time.
At the end of 1974, West Ham manager John Lyall decided to trust his judgement and pay Rochdale £40,000 after seeing Taylor score ten goals in five games for Rochdale. Taylor signed for the club on his 21st birthday. With some good fortune, Taylor was able to play in West Ham's FA Cup campaign when they joined the competition at the third round stage in January 1975, even though Rochdale's lower league status meant that they had started two rounds earlier. Taylor had been injured during Rochdale's FA Cup matches and was therefore not cup-tied.
An FA Cup legend
West Ham made progress to the quarter finals and Taylor scored both goals as they beat Arsenal 2–0 at Highbury. The semi-final against Ipswich Town ended goalless and went to a replay at Stamford Bridge, with Taylor again scoring both goals in a 2–1 win, the second of which clinched a place in the Wembley final with just eight minutes to go.
In the final, West Ham played Fulham, who were a division below them, and the game was tightly-contested until Taylor stepped in with two goals which won West Ham the FA Cup.
In the 61st minute, Billy Jennings hit a low, outswinging shot from 25 yards which Fulham goalkeeper Peter Mellor could only parry across his goal. Taylor, following up, had to check his run to reach the rebound, but managed to get his foot around the ball and plant a low drive through the unfortunate Mellor's legs and into the net.
Three minutes later, Graham Paddon again hit a vicious shot from a wide left position at the Fulham goal, but this time it was more directly at Mellor, who stopped it but failed to hold on. Once more, Taylor was following up and he instinctively guided the rebound into the top of the net. It has been widely claimed that Mellor made two goalkeeping errors which gave Taylor his moments of glory, although in truth only on the second occasion was Taylor given a chance to score as a result of Mellor making an error. On the first occasion, Mellor's mistake came in trying to save Taylor's shot, as opposed to presenting Taylor with the chance in the first place.
Taylor made all the headlines as West Ham won 2–0, especially as he had scored three consecutive FA Cup braces and had been a player in the lowest division of English football just six months previously. He was subjected to much "rags to riches"-style features in the press in the days after the final.
His West Ham career quickly peaked with 13 goals the following season and a contribution towards West Ham's consequent European Cup Winners' Cup campaign, coming on as a substitute in the final against Anderlecht, which the Belgian side won 4–2.
Around the clubs
Injuries took their toll on Taylor afterwards and he lost his place at West Ham, who were relegated in 1978. Taylor left for Norwich City in 1979, and had subsequent periods at Cambridge United, Hull City, Burnley and Bury, plus some time in Canada at Vancouver Whitecaps. He ended his career back at Norwich.
Back to work
Taylor retired in 1989. He now runs a newsagents business in Norwich with his wife Jeanette, whom he married a month after the Wembley victory. They have a son, Gary.
It took eleven years before another player — Ian Rush in 1986 – scored two goals in the FA Cup Final, although two (Ricardo Villa in 1981 and Bryan Robson in 1983) had done so in replays in the interim.
- West Ham United
- Winners, 1974–75 FA Cup
- Runners-Up, 1975–76 European Cup Winners' Cup