New Beginnings – Joel Taylor Interview

After a period that was just shy of two years as a Notts County player, the club confirmed the departure of full-back Joel Taylor last week, following a mutual agreement to terminate the 26-year-old’s contract.

Joel arrived at the club ahead of the 21-22 Vanarama National League season, the first for the club under the management of former head coach, Ian Burchnall. He arrived from local rivals Chesterfield, and suddenly found himself in a direct comparison with Calvin Miller, who went the other way following the conclusion of his previous loan spell at Meadow Lane.

I this past week was fortunate enough to have a one-to-one sit-down chat with Joel Taylor, where we discussed his time at Meadow Lane, his loan spell at Dagenham and Redbridge and his most recent permanent move to play-off chasing Wealdstone.

We began with what was most certainly Taylor’s finest moment in our black and white stripes, his wondergoal against Maidenhead United at the beginning of this season. The strike nestled in the top left corner in front of the KOP before wheeling away in celebration and it appears that it will be a long-lasting memory for the full-back:

“Coming off the back of the season prior where I was not getting a lot of minutes, to start this season and obviously in the way I did just felt phenomenal and as the games continued it was a disappointed to not be as involved as I wanted to be during the start of the season but I had a great start, as you could tell from that goal.”

The start of the new season could not have got off to a better start for Taylor, as he was named in the line-up the following week against Boreham Wood it appeared that the left wing-back spot may have been tied down from the get-go. However, that did not happen to be the case as the next time Taylor featured in a Notts shirt beyond the 2-2 draw at Meadow Park, he did not feature again until the FA Cup game against Coalville Town and it appeared that the situation was a tough one to take:

“As any footballer would tell you, it is very difficult not being part of a team, especially when they are doing well.

“For me to be out the team after the first two games, where I thought I played pretty well, it was very demotivating and deteriorating but as a footballer you just have to get your head down and take your chance when it comes.”

With minutes being limited, and with the willingness that every professional footballer possesses to get as many games as possible in under their belts, Taylor eventually decided it was time to go out on loan in order to begin enjoying first-team football again. The eventual move was to Dagenham and Redbridge, but I was intrigued to find out when the time arrived where the loan move became available.

“At the end of this season, my contract was up so for me not to play any games towards the end of the season would have been a big downfall for my career and it would have been a lot harder for me to move on into any team around this level if I had not have played much this season.

“So, for me, I had to have a proper conversation with the staff at Notts County, where if I was not in their plans, I would go elsewhere to find some game time.”

Taylor spent three months at Dagenham and Redbridge following the completion of the deal on November 12, 2022. The full-back originally agreed a two-month loan spell, but the Daggers had a request of an extra month accepted. When asked about how he felt his loan move went, here is how Taylor responded:

“The first two months were pretty good. I went there when they were on a run of pretty bad form and I think we picked up four wins out of six, which put us in a play-off position. 

“As the games went on, results began to not go in our way and I would say the last month was the only bad time I had there where I did not get as much gametime as I had obviously hoped to get, whereas in the first two months I did. I am happy they took me on loan, they reached out and took me down there.”

During his time as a Daggers player, Taylor spent a lot of time in the presence of Junior Morias, who now is a Notts County player after signing a three-year-deal. From a player who has played alongside Morias, I was keen to get an understanding of the kind of person/player the 27-year-old is: 

“He is a proper bubbly person around the changing room, the players will love him there. In fact, the whole club will love him there to be honest and from my experiences of playing with him, he is a proper hard worker, will die for the team on the pitch and he will score goals for you.

“I feel like Ruben, Macca, Ceds, Sammy, they will all gel with him really well. He is a very good player.”

As previously mentioned, Taylor is now permanently a Wealdstone player. Returning from his loan at Dagenham and Redbridge, it appeared that the Stones ensured they made their interest known very quickly for the full-back:

“When I returned from Dagenham, I always had it mind that I still wanted to have something to give to Notts. When I got back, I spoke to the gaffer and to be honest with you he just said ‘look, the team are doing very well and there is not much he could change’ and I agreed with that I could not come back and suggest I should be playing with the team doing so well. 

“So, then I began training again and it just felt too similar to how it did at the start of the season and within myself I just felt I could not do this anymore. As far as the Wealdstone move, it all happened within two days, two three days maximum. Once they found out I left Notts, I spoke to them on the same day and the next day I signed for them.”

It was all about feeling important for Taylor again, and moving into an environment that is still competitive and there was no better for him currently than to a Wealdstone side that find themselves lurking around the entrance into the Vanarama National League table:

“To move to a club that wanted me and made that clear was massively important and it gives you a real confidence boost and obviously the more you have confidence, the better you play.

“A lot of people would probably say that Wealdstone are overachieving but me personally being there and playing against them as well, I can see how much of a good footballing team they are. Maybe it is because they’re not as big a club as a lot of clubs in this league, but we certainly do have the players to push on at this level and I do believe that we can make these play-offs.”

Wealdstone still remain a part time and as a full-time professional footballer that Joel is, I wondered if this fact played any sort of cast of concern in the move to Grosvenor Vale:

“At a point it was only because I am so used to playing full-time of course so when a team comes to me and they are part time I do have to question it myself but like I said I spoke to the gaffer and he spoke about the club and how they play, and it suited the way that I play.

“Also, I recently just had a new-born daughter so for me, at this moment of time, part-time is a lot better for me because I get to spend a lot more time with my daughter which is, again, a huge bonus.”

It was clear to me that Taylor felt that now was the best time to move on from Meadow Lane, after almost two years as a Notts player. It is fair to say the spell did not go how all had hoped but, the full-back concluded with some very complimentary words for the club:

“I have no bad words against Notts, I really do hope they go up this season as although I have not played a big part of it, I still feel a big part of it.

“I am really going to miss all of the lads and the staff, it felt like a family to me. I became close with so many people there and I wish them well, honestly really hoping they get promoted.

“Notts win the title, all day Notts, all day. I think that it comes down to the game against Wrexham. Notts will beat Wrexham and it is all over from there. 100%”

So, as Notts move forward in their bid for automatic promotion and Joel Taylor moves on as a Wealdstone player, it is fair to say in the end it was a move that suited both parties with it being of high importance for Taylor to go and re-establish himself as a first-choice starter elsewhere.

With this being the case, I can only wish Joel nothing but the best in his future endeavours and thank him hugely for such a smooth and easy interview! 

*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).

*Main image @Official_NCFC Joel Taylor found first team football limited at Notts County.

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