Michael “Kingo” Taylor: Mr Consistent
Michael hails from Kingston, in the South East of South Australia, hence the subsequent nickname (geez it stuck, very rare to hear Michael not referred to as Kingo).
Kingo was ahead of his time with his extraordinary fitness levels that enabled him to get to contest after contest. He wasn’t brilliant and flashy but just so consistent, there was no such thing as Kingo having a shocker; he was either good, very good or excellent, and wow, what a CV! http://www.redlegsmuseum.com.au/ON_FIELD/PLAYERS/TAYLOR__Michael.aspx
Let’s go back to the beginning. Ironically, Kingo was first approached by Bob McLean of Port Adelaide fame when he was 13, but thankfully his parents said he was too young and he stayed at Kingston. A couple of years later, Kingo’s uncle knew Wally Miller, his parents were introduced, and the seeds were sown. He ventured down to Adelaide, with part of the deal being he would work at
Metro Meats as it was along the farming lines he had grown up with, and with which Kingo had confidence. By his own admission he was not overly scholastic. Michael lived at Carmel Court (if only those walls could talk), which was run by Annie Carman (yep Fabulous Phil’s mum).
Michael’s parents and Annie got on like a house on fire, this helped the Taylor family’s confidence in the Norwood FC as Michael had moved to the big smoke so young. Michael played Under 17s under Malcolm Smith, then in the Under 19 1971 Premiership side (we defeated Port Adelaide by a point) under Bob Farnham. Kingo was runner up in the Under 19s Best & Fairest, and made his Norwood SANFL senior debut in the opening round of the 1972 season, playing 13 league games and seven reserves games.
Kingo won the Best & Fairest in 1974 at the age of 20, playing mainly back pocket. Fast forwarding to the fantastic day in 1975, Kingo severely hurt his ankle early in the Grand Final against Glenelg. In any other game he would have come off; instead Kingo had eight painkilling injections and still contributed playing at half forward before being forced off in the last quarter. While Kingo was indebted to coach Bob Hammond and elated in playing in the Redlegs first senior flag in 25 years, there was frustration that he could not contribute more (thanks Fred Phillis 0.6!). Norwood 9.10-64 def Glenelg 7.10-52.
Now, Norwood faithful, what other incredible thing happened in this game? Roger Woodcock kicked one of his seven RIGHT foot goals of the 602 lovely sausage rolls Woody kicked in his career (congratulations Roger re. the RSL end being now the Roger Woodcock End!). Kingo was runner up in the Best & Fairest in 1976, and also a huge contributor in the 1977 Ardath Cup win (a night series where we defeated East Perth in the grand final played at the home of night football, Norwood Oval).
In 1978, Norwood Football Club’s centenary year, Kingo was appointed Captain. Let’s fast forward to Grand Final day, while all the focus has been on Sturt’s kicking for goal: final score Norwood 16.15-111 def Sturt 14.26-110 (isn’t that beautiful), and Des Foster paying that magical mark to Phil Gallagher, I wish to highlight a lack of, let’s say respect, by a Sturt player before the game to Kingo. It may have fuelled that fraction of extra fire in Kingo’s belly. A brilliant best on ground effort in a one point win, we will never know whether that contributed to the Norwood upset win (Sturt only had lost one game prior to the Grand Final for the entire season). It is arguably the Redlegs’ finest hour!!
Kingo was easily our best player for the season and won another Best & Fairest. Our Centenary flag in 1978, I have a confession to make I wasn’t there; it was a Norwood High School camp and my parents made me go (yes I am still spewing that I missed it), of course I had my radio and when the siren went I was thrown in a dam I emerged triumphant with my Norwood scarf above
(I may have watched the game and highlights since once or twice, ok a thousand times, watching Norwood premierships was an Xmas afternoon highlight at the Wilson household!)
1979 was a disappointing premiership defence but yet again Kingo was Mr Consistent, and winner of the Best & Fairest. In 1980 Kingo was truly remarkable and had his finest season for Norwood, and if ever a player should have won the Magarey Medal, it was Michael “Kingo” Taylor. To Russell Ebert’s eternal credit (the winner), he has openly said in public that it was a dead set farce that Kingo didn’t win it. Norwood stormed home from 5th spot, charging into the Grand Final. If not for a work accident to Ugo Colasante before the preliminary final we might have pinched it. Ugo was having a purple patch in the ruck at the time in easily his best season for the club. In the Grand Final Taylor destroyed Ebert in the middle and also produced the individual highlight of the game.
(what a dob!)
Grand Final night in 1980, I spent a fair bit of it with Kingo, having plenty of beers trying to drown the sorrows. Kingo was inconsolable blaming himself re bloody Kym Kinnear intercepting a hand ball meant for Danny Jenkins (it was really well done by Kinnear) when we had a run on in the last quarter. It was a privilege for me to observe how much the Norwood footy club meant to Kingo, he was truly red and blue blooded.
So after five Best and Fairests and two runners up, in 1981 Mr Consistency ventured over the border to join Collingwood.
Kingo again showed his remarkable consistency and durability at the Pies, playing 92 games. Kingo won the most determined award for Collingwood for the 1981 season, then was runner up for the Pies Best & Fairest, the Copeland Trophy, in 1982 and 1983. Tony Shaw has publicly made the point that he believes it was only interstate bias that prevented Kingo from being a dual Copeland winner. Kingo’s final game for the black and white was the losing preliminary final in 1984.
Kingo returned to The Parade for the 1985 season, it was like he had never left the place, and he even added a 6th best and fairest in 1986, with his last appearance in our beloved red and blue colours in our qualifying final win against Port Adelaide, but he copped a bad corky from, of all people, Darren Smith, and missed our finals losses to Glenelg and North Adelaide.
So a stellar playing career finished with 289 SANFL games for Norwood, 92 VFL for Collingwood and 13 state games for SA. Plus just a casual nine Advertiser team of the year selections. If he had been a stats man he could have easily played another year to get the esteemed 400 senior games, but Kingo was never concerned with any thing like that.
Kingo returned to Collingwood to be the Reserves coach between 1988 and 1990, with the primary role to get youth through to the senior side. He was a playing coach and on more than one occasion Leigh Mathews basically begged him to play, to which Kingo always replied “nup, I have had my time, I was appointed to help and promote the youth and that’s what I am sticking to”, this includes an intra-club game where Kingo, well in to his thirties, pantsed the late Darren Millane (yes pun intended). Kingo could really have been a Michael Tuck, Dustin Fletcher type re. longevity if he had desired in my opinion.
Kingo returned to Adelaide to be Graham Cornes’s assistant coach at the Crows between 1991 and 1995 (geez, imagine being Cornesy’s assistant, is that your greatest test of will power Kingo?). From 1996 to 2000 Kingo coached West Adelaide, in which time they made two finals appearances. In 2001 Kingo returned home to be assistant coach at the Norwood FC from 2001 to 2005. Kingo then turned his dulcet tones to the radio and was an expert analyst for the ABC for four years. He then returned to Norwood, helping out in a variety of roles and serving as football director and on the board of the club from 2013 till 2016. Michael was married to Bridgette (although separated they remain very good friends, having two children Adam and Lea). For the majority of his working life he has worked in the packaging industry.
Summing up, Michael “Kingo” Taylor has been a incredible footballer. An obvious inclusion in the Norwood team of the century and South Australian football Hall of Fame, but he is as an honourable and honest person I have ever met, always has time for a chat and will converse with anyone and everyone. Thank you for being such a incredible servant of the Norwood FC and the game, and thank goodness you ended up at The Parade!!
A man with red and blue blood oozing through the veins, thanks Kingo, it was an absolute pleasure to write this article.
PLEASE share, not only with Norwood and Collingwood followers, but footy and sports lovers in general, and yep I would love a comment. THANK YOU
*Footnote* The Norwood FC board has very recently made the decision to award the
Winner of the best & fairest The Michael Taylor Medal, a fitting tribute to a true champion and just like The Bradman Medal in SA District Cricket, this adds that extra bit of prestige and any player will be rapt and proud to win the award!