Tag Archives: Barry Ashby

Robert Taylor – a legend in our lunchtime

17 Oct

ImageAs Brentford fans may be aware, this Saturday sees the club hosting a special ‘Lunch with a Legend’ event. Robert ‘Bob’ Taylor will be the star guest in the hospitality lounge for the game against Colchester United. Signed from Leyton Orient in 1994, he went on to become part of the devastating ‘FT Index’, alongside Nicky Forster (with additional support from Marcus Bent and Carl Asaba). I was fortunate enough to catch up with Robert a few seasons ago for the match day programme and given his impending return now have the chance to revisit, online, what he told us then about his time at Griffin Park. Warning: contains play-offs!

Late in the 1993/94 season, manager David Webb signed Bob from Leyton Orient. Was a move across London from East to West something that he had been particularly looking for?  “I think the club at the time were in financial difficulty and were looking to offload players. I turned out to be the ‘asset’, going for £100,000. It was a lot of money to pay. I knew Dave Webb had been watching in some of the games and sent a scout down to watch me. Then the club accepted the bid when it came in. They got their hundred grand and I moved to Brentford – simple as that.”

‘Simple as that’ seems somewhat of an understatement when you think what was to follow. Bob seemed to hit the ground running. In his first full season he and Nicky just clicked although he is quick to pay tribute to the entire team rather than any individual. “The main thing is that you get on well with everybody. The whole side at Brentford got on well together. We were a tight knit group and we enjoyed playing with each other. It’s one of those things where, like I said earlier on, you have a team who want to play well and who want to win matches. People for whom wanting to play for a manager is the biggest thing.

You feel more comfortable in training. You feel at ease. You can relax and enjoy yourself. We felt like that being there. We all stayed together and enjoyed our time. We couldn’t wait to come into training and there wasn’t one person there you didn’t like. We just got on well with each other and enjoyed our company in the training sessions each day. Dave Webb is a tough man to play under and a lot of the boys were scared of him. That probably gave you the edge of wanting to win on a Saturday – you were scared to lose – but we had success there and that was good.”

Success equates to two superb seasons out of four. League restructuring meant Brentford reached the play off semis in 1994/95, Robert’s first full campaign, despite coming second behind Birmingham City (“We couldn’t believe it. It was the only year the league did it”). Two seasons later The Bees made it to the final itself. His assessment of that particular game is brutally honest. “We turned up at Wembley and played absolutely cr*p on the day. We were absolutely terrible and I don’t think we had one shot on target in the whole game. Crewe were about fifteen points behind us in the league and went on to beat us 1-0. That was the most frustrating part of it.”

ImageWhilst some people were scared of manager Webb, to the supporters his tactics in the run up to that game, and the final itself, seemed a little bit’ (and for the sake of a family website) let’s just say, ‘surprising’. For us mere mortals in the stand it was a struggle to figure out what was going on but as players, did they have more of an idea? “We couldn’t work our why he played Dave McGhee up front with me and then Carl Asaba out on the left wing. We couldn’t understand it either. I don’t know what went on. We turned up for the game and didn’t even know what the team was until we got there. It was the team he put out and we thought it was very, very strange.

As players, you’ve got to go out there and try to do your best. The team was unbalanced, we thought, and we always talked afterwards about it. People weren’t happy playing in those positions as you just wanted to go out and win the games. We didn’t understand it at the time but that’s what the manger is there for, to pick the team and do what he thinks is best.”

With this unusual strategy, did the players question Webb or just follow his word and try to make the most of the cards they had been dealt?  “No, you just accept what the manager is telling you to do. You don’t argue with him. You accept his words and have to get on with it to the best of your ability but it wasn’t our day and wasn’t meant to be.”

Despite the heartbreak of the Wembley performance against Crewe, it seems a bit easier to think of it now. “I played there twice and managed to score there once aswell (for Gillingham in a play of defeat to Manchester City). You look back on your career and it goes just like that. You’ve got to try and remember things all the time.

Are there any goals that Rob does recall which really stand out? “There’s some I do have on videotape, that’s how long ago it was, but we don’t have a video recorder anymore. There was one against Cambridge at home from about 35 yards. I remember also scoring in the semi final play offs against Bristol City, bending it into the top corner.”

If Bristol City had been a successful play off semi, our previous appearance against Huddersfield United in 1994/95 had been anything but …“Ohhh God, yeah”, he groans, as we talk about the first leg chance he managed to put over in front of the travelling Bee’s fans, most of whom were already on their feet celebrating the ‘winner’.

“ I did miss a sitter. Put it on the roof of the net. I don’t know what’s happened, to be honest with you. It was one of those where it has come across and it wasn’t exactly on the floor. Nicky put it across to me and I don’t know what happened – it just came off the top of my foot and I put it up in the air. I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that had happened, on that day. I felt absolutely gutted. I was glad I scored the penalty at home as it got rid of a lot of demons but, then again, if I had scored we would have been 2-1 up and gone through if you look at it that way.

At then end of the day, those things happen. I couldn’t change it, I couldn’t rectify it and so I just had to try and get through the second leg. It went to penalties, I stood up to take one and scored it, which made me feel a little better, although we lost the game and I was very upset. I saw the video ages ago and it’s on there – me sitting down afterwards and crying my eyes out like a big baby.

I tell you, it does get you when you’ve worked hard all season to get here and then get a kick in the teeth like that. It’s the most horrible feeling in the world.”

After coming so close in two attempts at the play offs, season 1997/98 saw the team relegated and Rob leave to join Gillingham after we had gone down. Why did he choose to go to the Priestfield? “The reason behind my departure is that things were promised at the start. At the end of the season before, when we got relegated, I scored 18-20 goals even though we went down. They said they were going to bring players in. Then suddenly, the club fell apart. People left. We had Mickey Adams come in and another one, Eddie May. It all seemed to go pear shaped and we got relegated. The following season, Ron Noades took over and things were moving quite quickly for everybody.

They even offered me a lot of money to stay at the club but I just didn’t feel that it was going to go anywhere at that time. Obviously a lot of the boys disappeared and went to Gillingham – Paul Smith, Brian Statham and Barry Ashby. I’d played with them all and they left the club. It was down heartening for me because all my mates had left. I thought to myself that I had a chance to be with my mates again, I enjoyed playing with them and that is the reason why I left. It’s got nothing to do with the supporters. It was just the way the club was going at the time with players disappearing. I just thought it was best for myself to go and enjoy my football.”

For those that may not have seen him play, how would Robert describe himself for that time he was at Brentford? “I just went out and tried to give 110% in every game. I always wanted to score goals and was a team player. There were a couple of younger players who joined and were all for themselves, so you had to knock them down a peg or two. This is the real world, it’s a team game and not for individuals.

I thought I was part of the team because if you are an individual, the players won’t accept you. To get on with everybody then you have to become a team player –that is the biggest thing in football, period. If you think you are better than what you are then you’ll never get on and it will give you an unbalanced side aswell.

Me, I just wanted to win every game. I loved being around all the boys at the club and had a good camaraderie with them. The boys were superb and it’s a shame that when you get to the end of your career you lose all their numbers and don’t speak to them again. That’s the sad thing about it. We all should get together and have an old man’s football match…”


Robert Taylor – coming back to Griffin Park on Saturday