Stuart Taylor becomes the second inductee to the Official Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame, in partnership with The Retro Rovers Podcast!
Taylor's loyalty to the Gas spanned a career of 15 years and a record 546 league appearances.
Born in 1947, Taylor would grow to stand at 6ft 4.5 inches tall, becoming the tallest player to grace the English Football League for a decade as he featured consistently for the Gas as a reliable presence in defence.
His reliability and omnipresent nature in a Rovers shirt allowed Taylor to set records unlikely to ever be beaten in the modern game, with his 546 league appearances standing as a club record, which included 275 league appearances at Eastville, the most of any Rovers player. His incredible 38 FA-cup fixtures also sees him sit third in all-time appearances in the competition for the Gas. It was in the FA Cup where Taylor first found the net for his side, against local rivals Bristol City.
His sending-off in December 1972 brought to an end an incredible 207 consecutive league appearances for the club as he served his match ban for the red card, a post-war club record.
Taylor enjoyed success in the blue and white quarters over his illustrious career, aiding his sides challenge for the Watney Cup in 1972, coming out as victors over Sheffield United on penalties. The following campaign, Rovers demolished Brian Clough's Brighton side 8-2 live on TV before progressing to promotion from division three in that campaign.
Standing as tall as he did, it was no surprise that Taylor utilised his aerial ability at both ends of the pitch, scoring a number of goals from corners, one being the last-minute header to defeat Oxford United 1-0 at Eastville in March 1975. Local rivals Bristol City saw a £40,000 bid for his services turned down in 1979. A season later, Chelsea would confirm their interests in the defender, but instead, Taylor opted to shift his focus towards management, taking up a player-manager position at Bath City to end his 15 year run in the heart of Bristol Rovers’ defence.
Following retirement from football, Taylor managed The Crown public house in Old Market for three years from 1979 and worked in Coalpit Heath before resuming his plumbing work.
Through all of his later life though, Taylor would follow the Gas keenly and was a regular attendee at fixtures at the Memorial Stadium. He also made the trip to Wembley in 2007 to watch the Gas claim victory over Shrewsbury Town in the play-off final.
In 2015 he was awarded the Harry Bamford Trophy – a trophy presented to Bristol sportsmen to recognise sportsmanship and fair play.
Stuart Taylor passed away on the 10th October 2019, but his Rovers legacy was celebrated in early December when the Gas hosted a moment's silence at the Mem before going on to beat Southend United 4-2 dramatically. Supporters also joined in a moment of applause on the 72nd minute, moments later, Ed Upson fired the Gas into the lead.
As part of the Hall of Fame announcements, we are keen to collect views and stories from those who stood on the terraces to watch Stuart Taylor - therefore, we ask the younger generations of supporters to start conversations with their older relatives to not only bring families closer together in these tough times, but start a chat regarding one of the Gas greats.
Please screen record these chats and send them on to firstname.lastname@example.org, these will form part of videos to be used on social media and the big screen when the family of Taylor attend a game after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
As mentioned in the initial Hall of Fame announcement, artist 'Tonz' will be creating unique artwork for each of the 10 initial inductees which will decorate the Thatchers Bar as a permanent reminder of the Hall of Famer's legacy.
Finally, we would like to remind supporters this selection is initial, those not selected over the coming weeks stand plenty of chance to be included in the future, please respect the carefully considered selections from the Retro Rovers Podcast panel.
On Taylor joining the Hall of Fame, Retro Rovers Podcast said, " We are delighted to reveal Stuart Taylor as our second inductee for the Official Hall of Fame.
"Stuart's record number of appearances, much like Geoff Bradford's goal record, is unlikely to be beaten. We were unanimous in our decision that due to his fantastic achievements as a player and continued support of the club in his retirement that Stuart should be the second name in this exclusive club. His name will rightly be eternally linked to Bristol Rovers Football Club. UTG"