An interview with Super-Bob

In modern day football there are not many professionals that can truly say they loved the club they played for, and in return, were loved back. One such professional is Bob Taylor or 'Super Bob' as he's known worldwide to Baggies fans, and the club which he holds a special place in his heart for is West Bromwich Albion.

In this interview we follow Super Bob through his career, from his first spell at West Brom to his move to the Premiership, back again to West Brom and now to his current club, Cheltenham Town.

"I first joined West Brom from Bristol City. To be fair I'd been very successful at Bristol, scored about 50 goals and we got promoted to the First Division," Taylor said.

"Things were going well, but the manager left and the new manager brought in a few new faces - I dropped down the pecking order.

"I was living in Newcastle at the time, my mom had just died and I had a six month old baby, so travelling for 5 hours a day was too much. The manager came to me one day and said the club had accepted an offer from West Brom for £300,000, which was a lot of money in 1992.

"I didn't really want to go, but I spoke to Bobby Gould, the manager as West Brom, and within a few days I'd signed for the club."


Things did not start that well for Bob at West Brom and within six months of signing Bobby Gould was sacked. The board of directors replaced Gould with Argentinean legend Ozzie Ardilies.


"We all knew about Ozzie when he took over from Bobby. To be honest I'd wondered what I'd got myself into," he added


"I'd played against Ozzie's teams before, so I knew the style of play he used. The motto was 'if they score 4 then we'll score 5'.

"I was a little bit worried though, because I didn't know if I'd be good enough to play in his team - but luckily enough everything worked out fine, and in a football sense, he was the best manager that I've played for."


As a result of Ardilies' appointment, West Brom secured promotion via the Play-Off Final at Wembley in the 1993/94 season with a 3-0 win over Port Vale. In that season it was Bob who first got the nickname of 'Super' by scoring 37 goals and building up a striking partnership with Andy Hunt, who had signed from Newcastle.

The partnership lasted for the next few seasons.

"Me and Hunty hit it off straight away. Andy was a bit like me, the fans liked him and he was level headed, but he never got above his status.

"If one of us wasn't scoring then the other one was. We also read each others game really well, which helped a lot. We never worked on it either, we just clicked, the only time I can remember us working on our game was when we used to do shooting practice in training."


Although the Taylor and Hunt partnership blossomed, West Brom didn't and struggled for the next few seasons. As a result, both Hunt and Taylor left the First Division for the Premiership. At first Bob was pessimistic about leaving but it turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life.


Bob added: "There was a lot of issues within the club. The manager wanted me to go on loan - I didn't want to go. It was a major wrench to leave but, in the end, I went out on loan to the Premiership to Bolton. I loved it, I scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford and against the Villa at their place. I was living out my dreams."

"I played a few games for them, scored a few goals as well. I was never going to win the F.A Cup or anything like that but it's what you dream about as a kid."


Taylor
signed permanently the next season for Bolton Wanderers and played over 80 games scoring 24 goals for the Trotters.


However Taylor returned to his footballing home, The Hawthorns, on transfer deadline day in 2000 on the same day as 4 other players. With West Brom poised to be relegated, Taylor's 5 goals in 8 games kept the Baggies safe from relegation.


"I got a phone call asking me if I'd like to go back to West Brom and I jumped at the chance. I didn't even think about it, my heart ruled my head really.

"When we secured safety on the final game of the season against Charlton it was a great day. To see the fans Boing-Boinging again was fabulous. I did an interview after the match and I said that a club of the size of West Brom shouldn't be celebrating staying in Division One."


In the next two seasons that followed, under manager Gary Megson, West Brom finished in the Play-Offs and then got promoted automatically, with Taylor scoring the goal against Crystal Palace that secured promotion to the Premier League. Unfortunately for Bob he only played six games for the Baggies in the Premier League.

"I'd have liked to have played more. I've played in the Premiership before with Bolton but to play there with West Brom was special. I'd worked hard for 10 years of my life to get there and to play in the first game against Man United was special for me. My only wish was if I could have got a goal for West Brom, which really would have been the icing on the cake for me."


Bob's contract ran out at the end of that season - his testimonial year - and the club decided not to renew his contract. Bob played his last game for his beloved club on the last game of the season at home to his home town club Newcastle United.

"There was a clip on the video of me walking off when I was being subbed with tears in my eyes. It wasn't really that it was to be my last game for the club, it was because my testimonial was in 2 days time and I didn't know if I'd be fit, so I was really disappointed."


Bob left the club a true fans' favourite after playing over 300 games for the Baggies and signed for the manager who ironically first signed him for West Brom, Bobby Gould. The proverb tells us that lightning never strikes twice but unfortunately it did for Bobby Gould and he was sacked only weeks after Taylor had arrived at Cheltenham.


"I signed for Cheltenham at the start of the season, after having an operation on my knee in the summer. I'd only been here for two months and Bobby got the sack, I think I must have the curse on him!" Taylor joked.

Although Bobby Gould left the club earlier in his Robins career Taylor still feels that Cheltenham can still have a good season.

"When I signed for the club we stood a good chance of bouncing back up to Division Two but the club released a lot of professionals in the summer and there is a really young squad here now. When I first came it was like training with the Albion again because of all of the youngsters here, but hopefully we'll have a good season."


Bob is undecided where he will go at the end of the season and hasn't ruled out retiring from football and going into coaching or even fulfilling every Albion fans' dream of once again returning to the Hawthorns.

"I'm not looking beyond this season. I'm really going to struggle with fitness because of my operation in the summer. But if I can score a few goals and keep my fitness up then who knows. If my body can take another pre-season then I'd definitely play on, but I don't know how long my legs can take running after those 20 year olds!


"After I left West Brom the first time I said I'd never go back, so I'm never going to say never. I've got the 1st part of the UEFA (coaching) Badge but I need to do the other part to complete it.


"I'd like to work my way up, starting with coaching kids and then up from there. Coaches need respect, and you only get that by working your way up.

"I'd love to half believe that one day I'd return to West Brom. It would be difficult though - I would hate to think that if I didn't succeed that the club or the fans would turn against me."


Bob Taylor is regarded as a West Brom legend and in generations to come, sons will ask their fathers, "Where were you when Super Bob scored the goal which got us promoted?" One thing is for sure though, if Bob Taylor were to return to the Hawthorns the fans certainly wouldn't turn against him!