In June 2013 Cambridge United were preparing for their nineth season in the Conference when Richard Money signed 23-year-old left back Greg Taylor from Luton. Greg had been part of the Luton team that had beaten Norwich at Carrow Road in the fourth round of the FA cup earlier that year, the first time ever a Premier League team had been beaten by a non-league side.
Greg had offers from League clubs, but was won over by United’s ambition and by the squad Richard Money and Jez George had assembled: Eight other new, young signings had arrived at the Abbey that summer. U’s fans were starting to get excited; was this the year United finally got back into the Football League? A few days after he joined, Jez looked to manage expectations: “When bringing in young players with potential,” he told the Cambridge News, “you hope everyone is going to turn out like Harrison Dunk, but the fact of the matter is they won’t all be like that.” Who could ever hope to emulate Harrison Dunk?!
Greg’s debut in black and amber was televised by BT Sport – how many U’s debuts have been on national TV? He starred as United opened their season with a 5-1 thrashing of Halifax Town at the Abbey. The touchpaper had been lit on one of the most momentous seasons in the club’s history. Not only did Cambridge United claw their way back into the Football League, they also won their first ever national knock-out cup, the FA Trophy. That both were achieved at Wembley was a bonus for Greg; he had twice before missed out on playing there; being cup-tied with Darlington and injured with Luton. Greg went on to play in all but one of the 61 first team games that season. Nobody played more. Not even Harrison Dunk!
Greg was first choice left back as United began life back in the ‘Big Time’, missing just seven of 54 games of the 2014-15 season that included those two celebrated games against Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Greg’s goals were like an eclipse of the sun: rare but well worth waiting for. Everyone inside the Abbey on Saturday 17th December 2016 will remember his goal against Crewe: He won the ball from a defender just outside the opposition box, took a touch to set himself and hammered an unstoppable left foot drive into the top corner at the Newmarket Road end. Fittingly it proved to be the winner. Greg scored another winner, the only goal in a genuine relegation six-pointer at Notts County in 2019.
When Jake Carroll was preferred at left back Shaun Derry tried Greg as a holding midfielder – other U’s managers were quite content to do the same over the years – and then as a centre back, and this is where he spent the second phase of his United career. In 2021-22 Greg captained United to a second promotion, to League One, under Mark Bonner. A bad ankle injury, sustained at Plymouth in only the third game of the following season, cruelly ruled him out for that whole campaign, denying him the chance to show off his talents in the higher division.
With added competition at centre back, Greg was restricted to only limited appearances as the club struggled in 2022-23, and an era drew to a close at the end of that season when he was released, and he moved on to Woking.
To mark 10 loyal and highly successful years at Cambridge United Greg was granted a testimonial. As a boyhood Hammers fan, it was entirely appropriate that West Ham should provide the opposition for his testimonial match, and that they should bring a near full strength team to the Abbey for the occasion.
In total, across all competitions, Greg made 373 first team appearances in black and amber, and scored six goals. Only ten players have made more appearances for Cambridge United. Over and above all this, putting the football aside, anyone who has had the pleasure of chatting to Greg over the years will know that he is one of the nicest guys you are ever likely to meet, and he will grace the United Hall of Fame..
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I'm the living embodiment of the spirit of the U's, and I'll be blogging whenever I've got news for you, as long as I don't miss my tea.