Women's Team

Taylor: Team ethic key to Wembley ’99 comeback

Taylor: Team ethic key to Wembley ’99 comeback
Gareth Taylor says togetherness and team ethic were key to City’s incredible comeback in the 1998/99 Division Two Play-Off Final.

In the most dramatic of comebacks, Joe Royle’s men fought from 2-0 down in injury time to salvage a draw and force the game into extra-time, before triumphing on penalties in one of the most dramatic games in the Club’s history.

The victory – fittingly representative of a topsy-turvy campaign – lifted City back into Division One, beginning our ascent back to the promised land of the Premier League.

Donning the iconic yellow and navy stripes, Taylor played a role in both goals at Wembley.

More than 20 years on, he returns to the national stadium in a coaching capacity, leading City’s women’s team out in the Women’s FA Cup on Sunday to face Everton.

Looking back on the remarkable win over Gillingham, he explained team spirit and a never-say-die attitude was the secret to his side’s success.

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“That’s going back a few years!” he laughed.

“One thing that does sit with me is that we were heavy favourites (going into the game).

“We were heavily supported every game but sometimes, winning wasn’t enough – you had to win by a cricket score!

“That’s not easy and the pressure we were under was big.

“After 85 minutes (at 2-0 down at Wembley, against Gillingham), it didn’t look good.

“It was such a contrast of emotions. When we got back into the game at 2-1, we felt an opportunity and then when we got the second, I’d never been more convinced of winning a football game.

“It was amazing. I still keep in contact with a lot of that team. We didn’t have major stars but we had a team of guys who pulled together in the right direction.

“We had a really good team ethic, which helped on that day.”

WATCH: Road to the Final: Women's FA Cup

Though he will not be donning his boots this time around, Taylor hopes to see his side demonstrate the same qualities on Sunday in the Women’s FA Cup, but advises his players must ‘play the game and not the occasion.’

“Sometimes, it’s strange,” he said. “It can affect you in different ways.

“The first time I played at Wembley, the first five or 10 minutes passed me by – I was looking at the surroundings!

“The pitch dimensions are the same, there are two goals and it’s a game of football! You have to block that out and play the game – not the occasion.

“With our experience, we should be able to do that.

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“It will be a different experience (for me). There will be nerves, I’m not going to lie. It’s about keeping things calm, following processes.

“It’s just a game at the end of the day. We understand the importance and what it means to us but we have to keep our emotions in check and make sure we fulfil our opportunity to win a trophy.

“We’ll do that by keeping things simple.

“Winning the FA Cup would help us a lot. It would be a real confidence booster.

“We’ve played eight games in various competitions and we’re not a million miles away from where we want to be – but it would give us a boost, for sure.

“Straight after, we have the Continental Cup on Wednesday and then the FA Women’s Super League at the weekend.

“That’s what we want – games left, right and centre.

“Sunday’s game is a big one for us and it’s one we’re really looking forward to.”

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