The Meaning of Lyle

Lyle Taylor in Action

Thanks to an introduction from my good friend, Nick, I have written the away fans’ page, The Other View, three times in recent years when Charlton played at AFC Wimbledon. This one from February 2019 focussed on Lyle Taylor. The Addicks won 2-1 courtesy of a Naby Sarr free-kick and Igor Vetokele injury-time winner.

Lyle Taylor’s arrival at Charlton in the summer from AFC Wimbledon was quite an understated affair: a free transfer of a well-travelled footballer who had shown flashes of prowess in the lower leagues and in Scotland. It’s been twelve long years since Charlton fell from the Premier League but fans still cling nostalgically to memories of the likes of Darren Bent and Paulo di Canio leading the front-line. We were not overly-excited.

My Dons mates were more agitated about the move. “He’s quite a character, but some say he can be disruptive,” was the report from one. “He scores goals which is what any club wants. A few caveats: He really cannot head a ball. He also tends to do backheels (often unnecessary and only occasionally successful). But we’d rather have kept him and he will be an asset to the Addicks,” reported my friend Nick, clearly a wannabe scout.

What none of us foresaw was the creation of the G&T partnership. Loaned to Crawley from January 2018, Academy prospect Karlan Ahearne-Grant was finding his confidence and his professional shooting boots with nine goals in 15 appearances. He returned to the Addicks for pre-season, dropping the shackles of his double-barrelled name.

Love at first strike between Grant and Taylor delivered four goals in the first three matches as Bowyer’s Charlton started this season brightly. They brought out the best in each other, with Taylor’s physical presence, close control and trickery cleverly creating space for Grant’s bursts of pace. They vied for the leading scorer spot, trading assists and running defences ragged.

We started to discover there was much more to Lyle than his on-pitch persona. In October he died his curly mop of hair pink and wore matching boots to raise awareness and money for breast cancer. He spoke eloquently about the cause. Within a very short time, Addicks fans had taken him to heart, even mentioning him in the same sentence as our last striking talisman, Yann Kermorgant. What’s more, he was proving to be very good in the air and I can’t remember a single backheel – sorry, Nick! Scoring at The Valley against AFC Wimbledon, ever respectful, he barely celebrated. Most magnanimously of all, with Charlton winning 2-0 away at Shrewsbury and his partner having missed three one-on-ones, he held out the ball for Grant to take a late penalty kick. The youngster scored and social media lit-up with praise for Taylor’s selfless act.

But all good things come to an early end at Duchâtelet’s Charlton. With January transfer rumours swirling around the front duo, we took on Accrington in a feisty affair at The Valley. Late on, Taylor backed into the keeper at a corner, both men landing on the floor. As Taylor struggled to get up, he flicked a leg – not unlike Beckham at Simeone. Despite kicks and stamps raining in from Accrington, Taylor saw red. The drama wasn’t over, though, as an injury-time penalty coolly converted by a confident Grant led to raucous scenes.

That moment of high emotion was the end of G&T. Grant, sold for £1.5M, departed for bright lights and late sub appearances at Premier League (for now) Huddersfield. The lack of an adequate replacement led Taylor to speak out in the local press about the “dark cloud” of an owner who doesn’t care hanging over The Valley.

On return from suspension last week, the Montserrat international cut a frustrated and rather petulant lone figure, picking up his ninth league booking. Charlton are struggling with just one goal and three points from the last four matches. The going has got tough for both the Addicks and our number nine. He’s after his thirteenth league goal today. I hope it’s his lucky number.

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