Reggie The Tea Boy

Something quite extraordinary happened here, as I read Watford Forever a colloboration with Elton John or as the Chelsea players of the mid-sixties knew him as “Reggie the Teaboy,” as Ron Harris wife, Lynne, worked in the same recording studio up the West End of which was once an exciting London Town:

The story goes that Graham Taylor the then manager of Lincoln City arrived home to hear his wife say, “A chap called Don Revie called and will call you back.”

Keeping in mind Taylor was doing a real good job up there close to Butlins Holiday Camp, where the Hudson and Mason clan would holiday each Summer.

My father took my brother and I to a coaching school there one afternoon, while my mother played her beloved Bingo, and we came across an “Old Man” – as I was a tiny nine-year-old at the time – who introduced himself to Billy Hudson as George Raynor, possibly the most famous and successful intenational manager that England failed to employ.

Yeah, another clanger!

I wouldnt find out until years later about the wonderful insight of Mr Raynor, who if you look up you’ll find that today’s managers couldn’t hold a candle to and, that includes Pep and all of those who stumble like amateur swimmers in his wake.

Mr Raynor was born, bred and self-educated in and around the Burton-on-Trent area, which is coincidentally as to the man always called “The Best Manager England Never had” was later around those parts with both Derby County and Nottigham Forest.

My choice, of course was and always will be our beloved Tony Waddington, who unlike Clough, would have stepped comfortably into the job inhabited by so many “frauds” given the job by those clowns in “suits” at Lancaster Gate and thereafter.

Moving on, for you Chelsea fans, my father saw Ian Hutchinson in a Southern League match play against my brother, John, in or around 1968ish.

He recommened him to the then Fulham manager Bobby Robson and I was on hand as Chelsea apprentice to witness such a recommendation.

Tommy Docherty let John go which remained a mystery in the prefab and beautifully secluded Hudson household. A mere prefab wich was where my long stormy career began, yeah the younger and quieter young Hudson brother and son of Bill and Babs.

Please trust me when I say it was the signing for Chelsea Football Club that changed my outlook on both football and the men who both manage and “direct” the club.

Had they been bus drivers they might have brought a new meaning to “directions” and I know a little about that as one family member, Harry Yewings, had the route off to a fine art, stopping to have breakfast, at home, while a packed bus awaited him.

Anyway, that cleared, Taylor could not get this off his mind wondering what was in store for him as he waited for the Leeds United manager to call him again.

And, when he did, you might say he was shellshocked as to Revie telling him, “I have had a chairman ask about you” and Taylor who was doing a marvellous job at Lincolm asked the million dollar question: “Who?”

Revie said, “Elton John at Watford,” and reading this I have since tried to come to terms with ‘Why on earth would one of my favourite all time rock-stars be in touch with the man who wrecked, along with Alf Ramsey, mine and many other players of a greater standing than those who now boast 60,70,80 even 100 international caps?

Graham, who I found to be one of football’s real “gentlemen” was bewildered as WBA had offered him their job with Bert Millichip the chairman, who I knew from our Under 23 days, offering him £9,000-a-year.

I recall the WBA chairman being aided onto an aircraft which I can only would/could be seen as an audition to our Chelsea team coming home from our truly amazing European success of 1971.

Sorry Bert, you NOT IN!

Taylor like many of us, wasn’t too pleased with someone who knew nothing about football and as I saw first handed led a line of “freeloaders” from Chelsea to Stoke City and back.

Fastforward to Graham visting Elton’s, in his words, “mansion” and come across a man I have met a couple of times and not only loved his company but his second-to-none music with the helping hand of Bernie Taupin, who oddly enough, Elton compared that sitting down for the First time with Taylor was like sitting down with Taupin.

I must admit that is something that had Taylor not taken the England job I could understand being handed such a valuable job, Taylor mentioned his father, as to not believing him getting a job in a million.

I always say that is true because like in many clubs failure brings you more financial gain than the success at club level. And, let’s be right about it, Graham Taylor was fine manager in League football as he proved at both Watford and Aston Villa – but I am afraid, like so many others – found international football, like Chelsea, “A Bridge Too Far” for managers these days.

Elton made it abundantly clear he wanted Taylor after the first failed attempt over the phone and his £20,000-a-year offer sewed the seeds for a spectacular partnership, only to be eqalled, in some ways by Wimbledon.

Taylor, before agreeing to join Reggie, asked, this time a more important million dollar question, and recieved a million pound answer from the rock superstar.

Reggie was asked, when he told Taylor his intention was, “to win the First Division and then the European Cup,” which was truly his boyhood dream.

And Taylor was asked how much would that cost?” only to be told by Taylor a mere, in Elton’s world, “A £1million.”

Unlike Sinatra and Martin these two most opposite of humans took it on and so nearly pulled that dream off, which would not have been undeserved.

I was at AFC Wimbledon last week for their FA Cup match and although the game has changed dramatically – and there isn’t no Reggie Dwight in the country today – and those also rans around the country from Hollywood will never live anything like what Elton achieved as chairman and like as mentioned in the very close to my heart, ‘The Waddington Years,’ Waddington and Hudson being like the horse way back in a rundown USA, Seabiscuit and his handler, Tom Smith, at the bottom of the front cover it’s written: How Graham Taylor and Elton John Saved a Football Club, a Town and Each Other.

Fantastic story which reminded me of my great friend Tommy Wisbey’s book ‘The Wrong Side of the Tracks’ had their partnership had failed instead of being one of a greatest fairy-style type stories in modern history.

I came across all of these men along my path through life and despite the immense and cruel undeserved treatment I recieve constantly from certain corners of that world – “like water off a duck’s back” – I write this from the heart because that’s what these people did and if it’s not in your heart then don’t bother chasing your dream.


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