FORMER York City boss John Ward has reasoned that the legacy of his old friend Graham Taylor will live on through one-time Bootham Crescent favourites such as Jon McCarthy, Paul Stancliffe and Dean Kiely.

Ward attended the poignant funeral of former England boss Taylor this week following his sudden death from a heart attack at the age of 72 last month.

The pair had been close pals ever since their days as Lincoln City team-mates during the 1970s.

Ward would go on to play for the Imps during Taylor’s first stint in management before becoming his assistant at Watford and Aston Villa and freely admits that he went on to replicate many of his mentor’s methods when he took up his first post with the Minstermen.

Unwittingly, therefore, the likes of McCarthy, who is carving out a fine reputation as an up-and-coming chief at Chester where he had just penned a two-and-a-half year contract, Doncaster youth-coach Stancliffe and Norwich goalkeeping-coach Kiely are still likely to be preaching the Taylor way.

“I often said to Graham that, if he’d have stood behind a tree and watched me work, he would have laughed, because he would have seen a lot of himself in the sessions,” Ward smiled. “You couldn’t emulate his character, but you could copy some of the things he did.

“You have to look to learn off somebody as good as him and put that to the best use. The way I coached will have also rubbed off on people, who are now working in that side of the game and all that started with Graham Taylor in the 1970s, so his work will live on in that respect.

“People say that Graham was ahead of his time and there are things I do with Walsall under-21s now that have stood the test of time. I’m pretty satisfied with the career I’ve had and a lot of that is down to working with him.”

From first sharing a dugout with Taylor at Vicarage Road in 1982, Ward has enjoyed 35 almost uninterrupted years in coaching and management.

But he also revealed that in his first position as a number one, the then national team boss had an influence on matters at Bootham Crescent, as Ward assembled a squad that would go on to gain promotion in the play-off final at Wembley two months before his departure for Bristol Rovers in 1993.

“I leant on him quite a lot during those early days without trying to bore or annoy him,” Ward explained. “I was never shy of asking Graham something and he was never shy of giving me an honest answer.

“He didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, but what he felt was the right thing to say. He would give me ideas without telling me what to do, just making suggestions and asking if I’d ever thought about doing it this way or that.

“He also got me involved in the LMA, where I’m now a committee member and those meetings were a great place to make contacts with other managers and coaches.”

It is a well-documented story, meanwhile, that a telephone conversation with Taylor persuaded then City chairman Douglas Craig to give Ward his first big break despite Billy McEwan, who would need to wait another 13 years to land the job, being poised to succeed John Bird.

In a measure of their relationship, it was not something the two men ever felt the need to discuss with Ward adding: “He never told me that he’d put a word in for me and I never asked him if he had.

“I spoke to the chairman at York and Graham was down as one of my references, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he spoke on my behalf. We all need that bit of help to get on the career ladder and, if he did that for me, I’m very grateful.”

Taylor’s willingness to help Ward was evident from the moment the latter was signed for Lincoln at the age of 19.

Recalling that meeting and the blossoming of their working relationship and friendship, the former Bristol Rovers and Carlisle boss said: “I was asked to get changed next to the captain, who was Graham.

“He moved some of his gear and welcomed me and we got on very well and remained friends right until January 12 when we lost him. The thing that struck you most about Graham was that he cared about and looked after people.

“He visited my mum when he was captain of Lincoln and wanted to assure her that he would help me along in my career if she was alright with that. It had been two years since my dad had died and I lived at home but, after meeting Graham, she told me to go and work with that man and he had that effect on people.

“He would have said that he was an average full-back at that lower-league level and I was similar – an average forward who got a goal or two. But we were both hard-working people who made careers for ourselves by making the best of what we had.

“Graham was always interested in coaching and he got myself and Ian Branfoot, who was a Lincoln player back then, involved as well. The three of us, along with the club’s coach Bert Loxley, launched the Lincoln & District Coaching Association.

“I was the youngest so started out as secretary. We got people like Jackie Charlton down and held open sessions and demonstrations for local school teachers and club coaches at the training ground, which was next to the stadium at Sincil Bank back then.”

At 65, Ward intends to continue passing on the wisdom he first accrued four decades ago, but is ruling out a return to senior management.

“I love coaching and have gone full circle, because you always learn your trade working with youngsters and I won’t go back now,” he declared. “I want to get as many into the professional game as I can and, from the four we gave terms to last season, three have gone on to play for the first team.

“Like York, we are surrounded by bigger clubs such as West Brown, Aston Villa and Wolves, so it’s important that we produce our own talent and maybe pick up lads that have been released by them as well.”

Elsewhere, Sean Newton has won his second Press Player of the Month award.

The versatile 28-year-old, who scooped the honours in November, was also our January winner, pipping nearest rival Kyle Letheren by a point.

Newton’s status as our second-highest rated player during last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Aldershot earned him two points towards the standings to secure top spot.

The Press’ man-of-the-match Vadaine Oliver (three points) and third-highest rated performer Dan Parslow (one) were rewarded for their efforts too at the Recreation Ground.

Oliver and Parslow, meanwhile, shared the two bonus Player of the Month points on offer after jointly receiving the most man-of-the-match votes from our Twitter poll.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Letheren 28, Whittle 20, Connolly 16, Heslop 13, Brodie 12, Newton 12, Kamdjo 10, Parkin 9, Flinders 8, Fry 8, Klukowski 8, Higgins 7, Lappin 7, Felix 5, Galbraith 5, Rooney 5, Racine 4, Holmes 3, Morgan-Smith 3, Murphy 3, Oliver 3, Parslow 3, Clappison 2, Dixon 2, Wright 2, Cooper 1, Nti 1, Oyebanjo 1, Rzonca 1, Simpson 1, Walton 1.

The Press Player of the Month for January final standings: Newton 7, Letheren 6, Parkin 5, Parslow 5, Oliver 4, Whittle 4, Morgan-Smith 3, Racine 2, Rooney 2, Lappin 1, Moke 1.

Goals: Brodie 7, Heslop 4, Connolly 3, Fry 2, Klukowski 2, Morgan-Smith 2, Own Goals 2, Parkin 2, Fenwick 1, Galbraith 1, Kamdjo 1, Murphy 1, Newton 1, Nti 1, Racine 1, Rooney 1, Rzonca 1, Wright 1.

Assists: Connolly 6, Rooney 4, Felix 2, Galbraith 2, Klukowski 2, Newton 2, Parkin 2, Whittle 2, Wright 2, Cooper 1, Fenwick 1, Fry 1, Heslop 1, Higgins 1, Holmes 1, Morgan-Smith 1, Murphy 1, Parslow 1, Racine 1.

Bad boys: Brodie, Rooney both nine yellow cards; Heslop one red, four yellow; Higgins five yellow; Fry four yellow; Nti one red, two yellow; Fenwick, Whittle, Wright all three yellow; Parkin one red, one yellow; Connolly, Kamdjo, Klukowski, Newton all two yellow; Moke one red; Clappison, Dixon, Galbraith, Johnson, Lappin, Letheren, McDaid, Murphy, Racine, Thompson all one yellow.