Sammy Taylor: Left-winger who helped Preston North End give Wolves a run for their money at the top of the table

 

Sammy Taylor was an industrious imp of a footballer, a goal-scoring winger who prospered with Preston North End during the best years of their modern history in the late 1950s, when twice they entertained hopes of winning the League. Had he been born half a century later, he would surely have accumulated a substantial collection of Scottish caps. As it was, the irrepressibly chirpy little fellow from the Gorbals district of Glasgow found himself stymied internationally by the exploits of such illustrious rival flankmen as Gordon Smith, Alex Scott, Graham Leggat and Tommy Ring.

Taylor made his first senior mark with Falkirk in 1954-55, when he helped the Bairns scrape clear of a six-team relegation dogfight which resulted in Motherwell taking the drop. Alerted by his burgeoning potential, Preston boss Frank Hill signed the nimble, sharp-shooting 21-year-old for a bargain £8,500 – and the promise of a floodlit game between the two clubs. His senior entrance came in Finney's absence in August in a 4-3 home victory over Newcastle United, and he notched the first of his 48 goals in 166 appearances in a 3-2 away defeat by Manchester United weeks later.

In 1956-57, with Taylor having replaced Morrison as the regular left-winger despite his preference for the opposite touchline, the side now bossed by Cliff Britton soared to third in the championship race, eight points adrift of United at the top. In the February, Taylor hit the first of three hat-tricks for North End in a 7-1 drubbing of Portsmouth at Deepdale, adding two more threesomes on his home turf, Chelsea and Birmingham City his victims.

Britton's men continued to improve, finishing as runners-up to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1957-58. That was as good as it got for Taylor and Preston, who had nosedived calamitously to bottom spot by 1960-61.

The sunny, diminutive Glaswegian was let go that summer by new boss Jimmy Milne. In June 1961, he joined Carlisle United, and shared in a frenetic period with the Brunton Park club, experiencing promotion to the Third Division in both his firstand third term.

In July 1964, Taylor, who had completed a century of league and cup outings for the Cumbrians and supplied 17 goals, moved on to Fourth Division Southport, then non-League Morecambe, where he completed his playing days. His heart remained with Preston, though, and he was one of the first to join the club's former players' association.

Samuel McGregor Taylor, footballer; born Glasgow, 23 September 1933; married; died Preston, Lancashire 6 November 2013.

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