Tributes pour in to footballer killed in Newington Green cycle crash

FRIENDS and team-mates of a popular local man who died following a bicycle accident over Easter have paid tribute to an infectious character with a wonderful passion for football, music and life.

Gavin Taylor, 40, passed away in the early hours of Good Friday after a collision in Wolsey Road, Newington Green - just round the corner from his home in St Paul’s Road - as he made his way back from the Nobody Inn pub with two friends.

The self-employed property developer was Director of Football at The Hoxton Casuals, who play in Market Road, Holloway - and the club has now decided to name its Player of the Year award after him.

Mike Pritchard, club captain at the Hoxton Casuals, said: “Gavin came to North London around 2001 from Dunstable and in those 10 years typified a lot of the best in Islington and Camden.

“Whilst born a Luton fan, he also became an Arsenal season ticket holder and a passionate believer in the style and purpose of Arsene Wenger. He was a great debater and philosopher, who discussion of the merits of 4-3-3 was given the same level of analysis as great art. His passion for life also included music and particularly jazz, and he was a regular at The Vortex, Cafe Oto, and many other purveyors of fine jazz.”

Mr Taylor, who had a girlfriend but no children, began his career as a carpenter and went on to set up his own property business developing flats and houses in and around Islington. He worked with all sorts of great characters from the local building trade, and friends say that his life was centred around an amazing love and understanding of the human condition. “Anyone who worked or played with Gav was made to feel special, and in return he generated great love and loyalty from many, many people,” said Mr Pritchard. “His smile and laugh were infectious and his compassion and earthy spiritualism was a lesson for all. He travelled widely and recently had become a decent surfer, but he always returned to the bars, pubs, stadiums and jazz clubs of North London to enjoy and contribute to the rich tapestry of London life. We miss you mate.”

Joe Phelan, another Hoxton Casuals team-mate, added: “Gav had a lovely quiet assurance - on the pitch and in conversation. He was observant of people - and would switch between no-nonsense humour and bursts of rhetoric that revealed his passions and the artistic way he looked at some subjects.

Most Read

“I remember him being passionate about football - specifically how all the greats cared about was the ball, and passionate about music. In their most expressive forms, I think he saw them as being about the same thing. Though if I said that to him he’d have given me a strange look and called me a w**ker.”

Friend Phil Dent said: “Gav was an extremely gifted listener and communicator and instinctively knew how to bring the best out of people. You always felt so special when you were with him.”

The first Gavin Taylor Player of the Year award will be handed out at the end of this season, and the Hoxton Casuals will hold a minute’s silence in his memory at the club’s annual end of season friendly.

A post mortem into Mr Taylor’s death was due to take place today.