Phil Taylor had been connected with Liverpool Football Club for over 20 years when he was asked to succeed Don Welsh at the end of the 1955-56 season. Born in Bristol, he had been a schoolboy international for England before playing for one of his home-town clubs (Rovers) as first an amateur and later a professional. He was signed by Liverpool in March 1936 for Â£5,000, which was not an insignificant sum for an 18 year old at the time.
Already a first-team regular when barely out of his teens, Phil’s professional playing career was cut short by the Second World War as it was for many of his contemporaries. But while many of his colleagues were too old to play again when the war was over, Phil was relatively young at 27 with many good playing years still in front of him. His best period was immediately after the war when he won a championship winners’ medal (1947) and played in an F.A. cup final (1950). His three full England caps came in 1947 as well. He was a solid and reliable half-back and a natural choice to replace Jack Balmer as club captain.
Good players though do not necessarily make good managers. Phil had two years on the coaching staff at Liverpool before being invited to take over the role of manager but this was a completely different responsibility. Sometimes people are ‘˜too nice to be a manager’, the suggestion being that you need a bit of a ruthless streak in you because it is such a risky and competitive business. Maybe not so much in the 1950’s as in more modern times but perhaps this applied to Phil ? Perhaps he found it difficult being remote from players he had been on the same level with just a short time earlier ? Whatever the reasons, Phil found the pressure of getting Liverpool back into the top division almost intolerable. A 3rd place finish in 1957 followed by a 4th place finish in 1958 might have been satisfactory enough at some other clubs but not at Liverpool where a new chairman appointed in 1956 Tom (T.V.) Williams had ambitions that certainly surpassed some of his predecessors. Although Taylor hung on until November, 1959 one suspects that a terrible F.A. cup defeat to non-League Worcester City earlier in the same year hastened his departure from the manager’s seat.
Phil Taylor took a complete break from football and became a sales representative for a while. It was a shame things hadn’t worked out for him as Liverpool manager but being the manager of the same club where you have been such a successful player will always be a hard act to follow. The act that would follow Phil though would change the fortunes of Liverpool Football Club for ever.
Profile by Chris Wood, January 2005