5 CFC Games Played
5 CFC Goals
By Glenn McFarlane:
Herbie Taylor ran out of time. It was as simple as that.
The young man with a middle name given in honour of Lord Kitchener – one of England’s most famous soldiers and administrators – enlisted in the Australian Army on October 12, 1918. The war was rushing to a climax, though no one knew just how close that was when 19-year-old Taylor went into the recruiting office and signed his name on the dotted line.
Having had his apprenticeship indentures as a leadlight worker at a stained glass studio in Melbourne cancelled so he could join the AIF, Taylor’s days as a soldier were effectively over before they had started. He would not get to fight; he would not even get to leave Australia. By the time of his discharge – with the reason given “in consequence of demobilisation” – he had served only 74 days in khaki.
For the rest of his life, Taylor would be listed as having served in the First World War, but his benefits would not be the same as those men who had actually made it to the battlefields.
It wasn’t Taylor’s fault that he hadn’t made it in time. It was just that when the Armistice was signed, he was still at Broadmeadows trying to prepare for a war that he would never get to see.
In the years after the war, Taylor would come to play football with the Collingwood District side and his good form led him towards selection in the Magpies’ senior side midway through the 1923 season. He was 24 by that stage, and Jock McHale gave the youngster his chance for the game against Melbourne at Victoria Park in Round 9, after three players were forced out of the team with flu. Taylor was named in the centre for his debut and on the wing a week later when the team lost to South Melbourne by 21 points.
His third game of VFL football would be his best. With Gordon Coventry out injured for the match against Essendon at Windy Hill – then only in its second year as a league venue – Taylor was moved to full-forward for the day. He responded brilliantly, kicking four goals.
The Argus gave a great description of Taylor’s first goal in VFL football: “Collingwood’s second goal was obtained peculiarly, Taylor kicked the goal off the ground and how it passed several players and then rolled through was amazing.” It was the start of four consecutive Collingwood goals from Taylor and it was no surprise that he was named in the best players that day.
He did not kick a goal the following week in the 12-point win over St Kilda, but nailed a single major in the 46-point loss to Geelong at Corio Oval in his final game of league football. He returned to the Collingwood District side for the remainder of the season, playing mainly as a full-forward.
Taylor did not have a long football career with Collingwood, but he at least got his chance to take part, which is something that didn’t happen when it came to his soldiering.
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