Governor, sportsman, lollipop man, fundraiser, local hero - there are many titles that applied to Jack Taylor, but for us as a club, we have just one – Icon!
Born in 1924 and raised in Norwich, Jack joined the RAF, becoming a Wellington radio operator and serving during the Second World War.
In 1947, he married Benita Howard and settled down in West Yorkshire, and another amazing chapter in his life began.
A keen sportsman, he had a passion for both football and cricket, and at Kirk Deighton, he found clubs that would indulge both these loves.
Jack Taylor, second left, top row 1955-1956.
The first mention of his name in Rangers' colours was on the 20th September 1952, when he played in the 3-3 draw against local rivals Wetherby Athletic Reserves in a Harrogate & District League Three match. It is possible however that he appeared the week before during the 9-2 defeat to Wetherby's main team in the Harrogate & District League Hulme Cup.
Local media reports are sparse when it comes to naming scorers from our matches, but it appears that Jack had to wait until the 29th December 1956 to score his first goal when he helped to beat Pannal 5-2 in a Harrogate & District League Three match. Like the appearances, however, he may have been on the scoresheet a few weeks earlier, but not mentioned by the papers.
One trait that was highlighted was his leadership qualities, and it wasn't long before he was given the captaincy. This drive and his footballing talent helped transform the team, and it wasn't long before trophies came Rangers' way with Division Three titles collected during the 1956/1957 and 1958/1959 seasons.
He continued to play during the 1960s, but age and injuries finally took their toll, and his final full season for the main team was the 1966/1967 campaign, although he would play once more at the ripe old age (for a footballer) of 44 against Ripon Y.M.C.A on the 2nd November 1968.
Despite not playing for the first-team, Jack turned out for the Reserves, enjoying another two seasons until calling it a day following the dawn of a new decade.
Jack Taylor holding the Harrogate & District League 3 Championship Cup that Rangers won in the 56/57 season.
At present, a definitive total of appearances and goals is unknown, but a guestimate would put him in the two hundred plus appearance bracket, which for a player in the 1950s and 60s is an impressive total.
He played an important part off the pitch as well, being both Treasurer and Secretary for many years. He also saw the re-initiation of junior teams into the club, and would later become the president of the Harrogate & District Football League for 20 years.
Remembering the kind of shrewdness that he showed both on and off the pitch, former teammate Allan Honeyman recalls the day that Taylor learnt that Barr Field was available, "He was straight there at the crack of dawn measuring up to see if you could get a pitch on the land. Happy that you could, he was off arranging for the club to get the ground. That was the type of man Jack was."
As well as football, he would duplicate a playing and non-playing role for Kirk Deighton Cricket Club as well! A local sporting legend without a doubt!
In later life, he combined a love of walking with duties as Governer at Wetherby High School and then Deighton Gates Primary School, taking pupils for their Duke of Edinburgh awards, setting and completing school-sponsored walks, and raising funds by walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats and beyond. While at Deighton Gates, he walked from the school to Paris! The school looked so fondly on him that they have a bronze bust of him, and annually award a student the Jack Taylor award.
His involvement with the area also saw him work with the Wetherby Weir Preservation team rebuilding the weir and mill wheel, as well as painting the town pole. He was a Justice of the Peace in Wetherby and Leeds Crown Court, a Town Councillor, Townsperson of the Year 1991, and an active member of Wetherby Methodist Church.
In 2000 he received an MBE for his services to the community, and for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, he carried the baton for the Queen’s Jubilee Relay.
Jack passed away at the age of 92 on the 23rd May 2016 but will be remembered by many for all the work he did, especially at Kirk Deighton Rangers AFC.