FOOTBALL matches across the High Peak were preceded by a minute’s silence at the weekend as a mark of respect to the late Norman Taylor.
Leading the tributes, Tony Tomlinson, Chairman of Buxton Football Club, said: “Norman was for many years a good friend of Buxton FC. His written match reports of years ago were always fair and well-judged, as were his radio comments when acting as a match-day summariser.
“Another service provided for Buxton FC by Norman were his caricatures of players, managers and club officials, drawn to a professionally high standard and very well received.
“Their nature reflected Norman’s character – accurate, good-humoured, but never spiteful nor unkind. We will miss him.”
A spokesperson for New Mills AFC said: “Norman, did a great deal for all local sports in the area and in particular we at New Mills are forever grateful for his support for our club spanning over ten years.
“The very first interview he carried out for the station was here at Church Lane and he ensured that we featured in all his milestones after that such as the 100th, 200th etc, as well as many in between. He also began contributing to this season’s match programme.
“Saturday afternoons will never seem quite the same on the local sports programme on High Peak Radio, but we will forever remember a true follower of sport and indeed life itself with a passion that few can claim to have had.”
Darryl Hall, Whaley Bridge FC Head Coach, added: “Norman was not only a terrific sportsman in his younger years but a very knowledgable local sports journalist and character. He was a true gentleman. A very well-liked and respected man.”
* “We won’t see his like again,” was the poignant tribute paid to Norman Taylor by Mike Brown, from the Peak Sports Derbyshire & Cheshire Cricket League.
Mike, the league’s honorary secretary, said: “I first came across Norman in 2005 personally when I was at Old Trafford watching England against Australia in the Ashes and he rang me up wanting a radio interview. After that every six months on the dot he would be again in touch.
“He always took a very keen interest in the league, and will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him. We won’t see his like again.”
* Norman was also a staunch supporter of the traditional Longnor Wakes Races.
On behalf of Buxton & District Athletic Club, he was in charge of the event’s fell race and ‘Dream Mile’ fun run in addition to providing commentary.
In 2010, he said: “I have been coming to Longnor Sports since they reinstated the foot races – I can’t remember when that was although dates don’t register when you’re enjoying yourself!”
That same year, Norman became the inaugural recipient of the George & Irene Memorial Trophy in recognition of his services to the event.
Paying tribute this week, Longnor Sports Secretary Heidi Bradbury said: “We are all very sorry to hear about Norman’s death. He was a lovely character, always happy and smiling, and took a very keen interest in Longnor Sports.”
* Norman made a name for himself as a highly-acclaimed caricaturist.
Football clubs across the country were among those to enjoy his life-like drawings, which he produced from photographs.
Over the years, he captured the images of top soccer legends such as Tommy Docherty, Denis Law and former Scottish team boss Craig Brown. He also drew Aston Villa’s extrovert winger David Ginola when he played for Newcastle United, and Coventry City’s former star defender Ally Pickering – now manager of New Mills AFC.
Regulars to sports grounds around the High Peak will have also seen him put his skills to the test.
His work appeared as centrefolds in match-day programmes and in newspapers including the Buxton Advertiser, but were also produced for individuals who saw it as a great honour to be given the ‘Norman Taylor’ treatment.
Speaking in 2000, Norman said: “I always thought sport and humour have to go together. One thing that is certain in sport is that you are bound to lose sometimes so you might as well enjoy it.”
In 1989, a special display of his work was held at Buxton Library.