Robert Taylor (born 3 February 1967, Easington, Durham), better known as Bob Taylor, is West Bromwich Albion’s eighth highest goalscorer of all-time. Known by supporters as Super Bob, Superbob or simply SuperBob scored more than 250 goals in a professional career that comprised almost 750 games in 20 years.
Bob Taylor was primarily a goal-scoring centre-forward. His goals were often unspectacular, and he lacked the pace necessary to chase long balls. Instead he relied heavily on his sense of timing; of being in the right place at the right time. He was also adept at holding the ball up in order to bring other players into the game. Taylor was “all effort” and did not shy away from the physical side of football.
He began his professional career at Leeds United, making his debut in 1986 at the age of 19. In 1989 he moved to Bristol City, before joining West Bromwich Albion in 1992. Taylor signed for Bolton Wanderers in 1998 following two successful loans spells at the club, but in 2000 returned to West Bromwich Albion, where he remained for a further three seasons. He then moved to Cheltenham Town before ending his career at non-league sides Tamworth and Kidderminster Harriers.
Bob Taylor, the son of a miner, was born in Littlethorpe Hospital in Easington, and brought up in the small mining community of nearby Horden. He attended Dene House School in Peterlee, where he proved to be a useful cricketer.
He was also a successful schoolboy footballer and captained his school team; he played initially at full-back, but later became a striker, the position he would go on to play for his entire professional career. Taylor had unsuccessful trials at both Hartlepool United and Newcastle United.
At the age of 17 he joined his local non-league club, Horden Colliery Welfare. In March 1986, after only a few months there, Taylor turned professional by signing for Leeds United, at that time managed by Billy Bremner.
He gradually worked his way into the Leeds first team, making his professional debut against Millwall on 12 April 1986, and was part of the Leeds squad that lost the 1986-87 Division One playoff final, losing to Charlton Athletic in a replay. By the 1987-88 season he had become a regular in the side.
However when Howard Wilkinson succeeded Bremner as Leeds manager in 1988, the young centre-forward found himself surplus to requirements. Taylor believed that this was because Wilkinson wanted immediate success, and needed to bring in established, experienced players in order to achieve this. in March 1989 Taylor moved to Bristol City, with Carl Shutt moving to Leeds as part of the deal.
Taylor made an instant impact at his new club, scoring eight goals in 12 games during the remainder of the season. In 1989-90, his first full season at City, he helped the club achieve promotion to Division Two. Taylor finished as Division Three leading goalscorer with 27 league goals (34 in total) and was also named Bristol City Player of the Year.
Although the following season proved to be less prolific for Taylor, he nevertheless attracted the attention of West Bromwich Albion. It was Albion manager Bobby Gould who brought him to The Hawthorns for a £300,000 fee in January 1992. Taylor was seen as a replacement for Don Goodman, who had been sold to Sunderland earlier in the season.
Taylor scored on his debut against Brentford in a 2-0 Hawthorns win, and added another two on his away debut as Albion beat local rivals Birmingham City 3-0 at St. Andrews. Initially nicknamed “Trigger” (due to a perceived resemblance to the character in the television comedy Only Fools and Horses), Taylor soon became known as “Super Bob”, a moniker he was first given by fans of Bristol City during his spell there, and scored eight times in 19 games during the second half of 1991-92.
During the 1992-93 season, Taylor capitalised fully on the attacking football Albion played under manager Ossie Ardiles, finishing as Division Two’s top goalscorer with 30 league goals, and scoring 37 in all competitions.
This was despite having a succession of different strike partners throughout the season, including Simon Garner, Luther Blissett, David Speedie and even midfielder Gary Robson.
However when Andy Hunt arrived at Albion in March 1993, he and Taylor quickly forged a successful striking partnership that would last several seasons. Hunt and Taylor were part of the Baggies team that beat Port Vale at Wembley in the Division Two playoff final, to secure promotion to Division One.
In the second half, with the game still goalless, Taylor was through on goal when he was brought down by former Leeds team-mate Peter Swan. Swan’s subsequent dismissal proved to be the turning point in the game, with Hunt scoring the first goal in a 3-0 victory.
Taylor was the club’s top league goalscorer once again in 1993-94, scoring 18 goals. Albion however struggled in Division One and only avoided relegation on the last day of the season. Taylor scored several goals in local derbies during his time at Albion, including a diving header against Wolves to seal a 2-0 win in March 1995; he later described it as the best goal of his career.
His only hat-trick for Albion, in a 4-4 draw against Watford on 12 March 1996, helped him to finish as Albion’s top league goalscorer for the third time, finding the net on 17 occasions in 1995-96. He captained the side for the second half of that season and scored his 100th goal for the club in the final league game of the campaign, against Derby County.
Things changed however in 1998, when Denis Smith succeeded Ray Harford as manager. Recovering from an ankle injury and struggling with his fitness, Taylor was sent out on loan to Premiership club Bolton Wanderers. When Albion were only prepared to offer him a one-year contract, Taylor moved to Bolton permanently in July 1998 for a £90,000 fee.
He was the Wanderers’ top scorer in the 1998-99 season, partnering Eiður Guðjohnsen as Bolton reached the First Division promotion play-offs.. However when Sam Allardyce arrived as Bolton manager in 1999-2000, Taylor found his chances limited.
With West Bromwich Albion struggling near the foot of Division One, manager Gary Megson signed Taylor in a £90,000 deal, making the striker one of four deadline-day signings by the club. Taylor’s return to the Hawthorns paid off as he scored five goals in eight games, including one in a last day 2-0 victory over Charlton Athletic, to keep Albion in Division 1. His goal against former club Bolton – an overhead kick in a 4-4 draw – was voted as Albion’s goal of the season for 1999-2000.
The following season (2000-01) then saw Albion exceed all expectations, reaching the Division 1 playoffs, where they lost in the semi-final to Bolton. Taylor became the 100th Albion player to be sent off in a first team match when he received a red card against Barnsley on 28 October 2001.
After scoring vital goals in the final few games of the 2001-02 season against Nottingham Forest, Coventry and Rotherham, he sealed Albion’s promotion to the Premiership with the second goal in a final-day 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. “I’ve got my beloved Baggies to the promised land.” – Bob Taylor.
Albion struggled in their first season in the Premiership however, with Taylor starting only one game. In March 2003, he expressed his unhappiness at his lack of first team action, saying that he was forced to train with the Albion youth team, and that he hadn’t spoken to manager Gary Megson for four months.
Albion were already relegated by the time. Bob Taylor made his 377th and final appearance for them, in a 2-2 draw against Newcastle United on 11 May, 2003. In what was only his second start of the season, Taylor was substituted due to injury after half an hour, but left the field to a standing ovation. Bob Taylor’s testimonial match was played at The Hawthorns on 13 May 2003, in front of 12,000 fans. It marked the end of his second and final spell at West Bromwich Albion, who had released him the day before.
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