Stuart Taylor: 'My family were distraught to be leaving Limerick - but it was the right time to resign'

Sat, May 27 2017

None Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

Wolverhampton Wanderers first-team coach Stuart Taylor is one of the many Scots to have enhanced the League of Ireland as a player or manager.


In addition to doing both, Stuart has also enjoyed a lengthy career in his homeland and various coaching roles elsewhere, as he recounts here for extratime.ie.


Taylor became a senior player for St. Mirren in 1992, spending six years with the Paisley outfit.


From there he joined Airdrieonians, where he got his first taste of coaching and won back-to-back Scottish Challenge Cups in 2000/01 and 2001/02.


Despite a strong connection with the Diamonds, Stuart yearned for an interlude away from Scottish football’s demands and signed for Drogheda United in July, 2002.


“We went through liquidation at Airdrie. As well as playing, I was the club’s spokesperson, dealing with the media and liquidators. It was a difficult time.


“I thought that getting out of Scotland for a short break was needed, to get back into football and away from all the other nonsense.


“I met Harry McCue, who was an absolute gentleman. After speaking to him, I knew what kind of person I would be working with and we still keep in touch.”


Following his brief spell with Drogs, the midfielder returned home to assist Falkirk in capturing the 2002/03 Scottish Football League First Division, but still missed out on promotion.


“I scored several goals in a short space of time. John Hughes and Owen Coyle had taken over not long after I’d signed and it was their first management job. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t go up due to stadium’s ineligibility.”


After single seasons with Partick Thistle, St. Johnstone, Ross County and a second stint at Airdrie, Taylor became player/assistant manager with Hamilton Academical under Billy Reid in 2007. During his first season in South Lanarkshire, they clinched the Scottish First Division and held their own in the topflight thereafter.


“Going from a player to an assistant manager is huge. Even as an experienced footballer, it’s only when you take that step, you realise what it’s like on the other side.


“I managed the under-19s and reserves, racking up as many hours as I could on the training field. We won the First Division on a miniscule budget, but then stayed in the SPL for three years.


“The great thing about Hamilton was the conveyor belt of talent. Because of the AstroTurf there, the kids used to play on the main pitch all the way up.


“When we secured the league, those youngsters done the lap of honour with us. It gave them a sense of being part of the club and that success.


“We went into the SPL with fantastic players like James McCarthy and James McArthur. It was satisfying for us coaches, knowing that we were doing right.”


One of the more exotic roles the Glaswegian has filled since retiring from playing was when he became a coach at Qatari side Al-Khor Sports Club in 2012.


“I thought it was an opportunity to try a different lifestyle and culture. I had offers to stay in Scotland, but that interested me more. I did it, but then realised that I wanted something more challenging for me as a coach.”


In early 2013, Stuart was named Limerick manager, in spite of his predecessor Pat Scully leading them to the Premier Division the previous season, following a 20-year absence.


“You don’t think about what’s happened before when you go into a new job. Lots of credit is due to the preceding management because winning any league is difficult.


“Taking any club into a different division was always going to be tough. I went in slightly later than was ideal, so it was testing.”


Taylor guided the Munster side to a comfortable seventh position in his maiden season, but surprised many when he departed after 18 months in charge.


“I never actually signed a contract and handed in my resignation because there were things I wasn’t happy with. I had a great background staff, who knew what was happening.


“It will stand to me in good stead, but it was the right time to resign, even though my family were distraught to be leaving Limerick. I’d also like to thank the supporters for the time I was there and to keep getting behind Limerick.”


As someone who was attracted to coaching at a relatively tender age, Stuart reveals what first peaked his interest.


“I worked with a manager at St. Mirren called Jimmy Bone when I was young. When we were on the training pitch, I loved what he was doing and thought it was something that I would get into.


“I was learning something new every day and still have the belief that players should progress themselves. And the same goes for coaches. A lot of it goes back to the SFA coaching.


“The guys up there were always trying to get you to be the best you can be. These kind of people have always been just a phone call away throughout my coaching career. They have a great knowledge about football and life as well.”


Taylor is currently a first-team coach at Wolves, managed by Paul Lambert, who he formerly worked with at Aston Villa and remains focused on this position for the foreseeable future.


“I’ve learned loads from Paul. A lot of my work as a coach has been under a Spanish style. I went there to quite a few clubs – not just to understand about first-team football, but also their academies and philosophies.


“Paul has a German belief and I’m gaining heaps from that ethos, putting it towards what I’ve seen before. It’s a wonderful combination for me. Having said that, you can’t rule anything out in football.”


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