“It’s been a privilege” | Jim Taylor
Speak to anyone and everyone who’s been in and around Glasgow Warriors over the last decade or so, and you can guarantee they’ll have a story to tell you about Jim Taylor.
Whether it’s the sound of the bell the man himself used to ring following successfully closing a deal, or whether it’s the sight of him, side by side with wife Sandra, chatting away to members of the Business Club on game day, there aren’t many people in the club’s professional history that have served the club with more distinction over as long a period of time.
This Saturday we welcome @BlueBullsRugby to Scotstoun Stadium for the very first time.
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) October 3, 2022
Yet were it not for a twist of fate, way back before the professional club we know and love was even dreamt about, it could have been on the floor of the London Stock Exchange that Taylor forged his reputation.
“Oddly enough, I never had any designs on going into the world of rugby,” he said.
“When I was starting out, I wanted to go into the stock exchange, but through circumstance that never happened – I’d applied for a job with both a stockbroker and the Bank of Scotland, and Bank of Scotland came back first offering me a job that I accepted. The stockbroker then came back offering me a job, to which my old man said ‘you’ve committed to the bank, you’ll honour that commitment’.
“That was a week after I left school, and I was there until I turned 51. I absolutely loved my time there. We became the top sales team in the west of Scotland, a title we held for six months in a row at one point. It was just a great group of people.”
Indeed, even when the opportunity arose with the Warriors, it wasn’t all plain sailing to begin with.
“I was originally employed by Kenny Baillie, who was our Managing Director at the time, but my contract took a bit of a longer time to arrive than we’d thought so Kenny and I agreed that I’d stop until that got sorted out,” explained Taylor.
“There was then a bit of a personnel shift, and Kenny phoned me a bit later and said ‘if I get the contract sorted out, can you start on Monday?’. I said ‘absolutely’ and the rest is history as they say!”
Fast forward 12 years, and the mark Taylor has left on the club is both undeniable and indelible.
One of the key drivers of the club’s commercial growth in the past decade, it’s the club’s culture that remained at the heart of everything throughout his time at first Firhill, then Scotstoun.
“It’s as easy as something like shaking everyone’s hand when you come into work each day,” explained Taylor.
“I remember showing a Business Club Member around when Gregor [Townsend] was in charge, and Gregor and Jonny [Gray] both came up to him and shook his hand. You could see the effect it had on him, he was almost awestruck that these two stars had come over and taken an interest in him.
“When I started out, I was mainly focused on player appearances around clubs, the regions and so on. Back then it was a bit more of a challenge to get people to buy in to the club, as pro rugby wasn’t as established as it is now in Glasgow. The evolution of the club is something I’m so proud to have been a part of. You played to everyone’s strengths, and that’s where I’ve been so incredibly lucky – I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic people who are really top-rate at their job.
“The buy-in from the players nowadays, too, is great to see – they all see the benefits, both short-term to the club and long-term to them furthering any future career aspirations.
“The key to it is just being yourself, really. I haven’t really studied that many courses or anything on it, but if I’m doing a job I want to be doing it to the highest quality. That’s probably down to the competitive streak I’ve got, to be honest!
“It does just come naturally, though. If you say you’re going to phone someone back, then one way or the other you should phone them back. Being transparent is the biggest thing. If you’re open and honest, then they trust you and you trust them. That helps massively, and that’s something that transfers across every part of the club, from off the field to the players on the pitch.
“The club’s mantra is ‘Whatever It Takes’, and that’s always been at the heart of things for me really – doing Whatever It Takes to get the job done.”
Nowhere does that mantra ring more truly than in the hospitality shown by both Jim and Sandra to new Warriors over the years. Unseen by the vast majority of supporters, it was far from an uncommon occurrence for a new arrival to be welcomed with open arms at chez Taylor.
“Connor [Braid] was the first one,” said Taylor.
“He was originally staying with big Naks [Leone Nakarawa], which I think lasted for two days! Connor was looking to get his head down and study, and DTH [van der Merwe] approached me and asked if he could have a look at our spare room.
“Connor was a perfect house guest, honestly. He was with us for about a year and a half or so and you couldn’t have asked for anything more. He’d always leave you a note if you weren’t going to see him, saying things like he’d pick up milk on the way home, or not to wait for him for dinner and so on. Chicken, sweet potato and broccoli, that was his staple! He’d study every night for his property exams, and it’s obviously paid off because he’s flying now back in Canada, he’s doing really well.
“We had Nick Grigg staying with us for a while, too, and I always remember Squigs [Grigg] running down the stairs when he heard the car in the driveway and asking Sandra and myself if we wanted a cup of tea or anything, and putting the kettle on. He was another top guy.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a few of the boys stay with us, and it just evolved naturally really – they’re a great group of boys, and even though I’m probably older than some of their grandparents, you could always have a good laugh with them.”
It’s not just with the players, that both Jim and Sandra have become well-kent faces, either.
“One of my other roles was I used to sign in the players’ families, so you got to know their wives, their parents, their kids and so on,” he explained.
“I’m still lucky enough to call many of them my friends – the Eddies, the Jacksons, the Fusaros, the list goes on.
“Another thing that I’ve always been grateful for is just being treated the same as everyone else. James Eddie’s always called me Wheels, and when Ulster fans were singing ‘Stand Up for the Ulstermen’ at that semi-final, Fergus Wallace came away with the line ‘would it not take a miracle for you to stand up, Jim?’!
“That’s part of what makes this club so special, and it’s been a privilege to be a part of that.
“That’s probably one of the things I’m proudest of during my time at the club, to be honest. The players gave me a real fair crack of the whip. They’re not just players to me, they’re friends. Whether they’re still here or whether they’ve moved on, they’ll still pick up the phone to you and you can still pick up the phone to them. You can’t buy better than that.”
However, whilst his time at the Warriors may now have come to an end, that by no means is the end of Taylor’s story.
“I’ve got a few irons in the fire, let’s say that,” he says with a trademark grin.
“We’ll see what happens. I’m not hanging up the wheels just yet, though!”
Wherever he ends up next, though, one thing remains for certain.
Once a Warrior. Always a Warrior.
This interview first appeared in Issue 14 of Warrior, the Official Magazine of Glasgow Warriors. Read more by clicking here.