A West Chiltington man has paid a heartfelt tribute to his former Watford colleague Graham Taylor, describing him as a ‘marvellous man’.
The ex-England, Aston Villa and Wolves boss, who Watford called their ‘greatest manager of all time’ died suddenly last week at the age of 72.
Eddie Plumley, 82, was the Watford chief executive working alongside Tayor and then chairman Elton John, during his two reigns at The Hornets.
Plumley moved to West Chilltington 21 years ago after retiring and has recalled his time working alongside Taylor as some of the best of his career in football administration.
They helped achieve John’s dream of taking the club from the fourth division to the first in just five years.
Plumley said: “It was a terrific shock on Thursday morning when we were told and I could not believe it. It’s one of those things that happens to take me back to my time when I joined Watford in 1978, during the 77/78 season.
“I joined them as a third member of a senior three and Graham brought in Bertie Mee as his assistant, alongside Elton John.
“Graham led from the front. He had great leadership and was someone that stuck out a mile. He was without doubt a marvellous leader, a gentleman and a family man - it is so very sad for his wife Rita and the girls that they have lost him too soon.
“The players always had fantastic admiration for him. Graham was just a one off. It is sometimes hard to find the right words to describe him as he was just a terrific guy.”
Taylor took Watford from the Fourth Division to a second-placed finish in the top flight in five seasons.
He also guided the club to the only FA Cup final of their history - a 2-0 defeat against Everton in 1984 - and European football.
Plumley revealed: “We were given the job by Elton of picking the club back up. It was in the Fourth Division in those days and we all thought it would take ten years to achieve what Elton wanted.
“That was reaching the First Division and we did it under Graham in just five - it was some achievement.
“It was a real pleasure working with him. We lost him to Villa and England, but then he came back to us.
“With England it was a new team and he came in after Bobby Robson, who had taken them as far as he could. Graham tried to remould things and it didn’t quite work out. On a club side I never worked with anyone like him, he just knew every aspect of the club.”
Plumley, a former goalkeeper at Birmingham City, has held administration roles at the Blues, Leicester City and Coventry City, the latter alongside close friend, the late Jimmy Hill.
One of his sons Gary also made a one-off appearance for Watford under Taylor.
The former Newport County goalkeeper came out of retirement to play in the 1987 FA Cup semi-final with Tony Coton and Steve Sherwood both injured as they lost 4-1 to Tottenham Hotspur.