Thomas Taylor (29 January 1932 – 6 February 1958) was an English footballer, who was known for his aerial ability. He was one of the eight Manchester United players who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster.
He was born in Smithies, near Barnsley, in January 1932, one of six children born to Charles and Violet Taylor. He was a pupil at Raley Secondary Modern School where he attended after failing his eleven-plus.
Taylor began his career playing for a local coal mining team at the colliery where he worked. At the age of just 16, local scouts offered him the chance to play for Barnsley, whom he joined in July 1949. He made his first team debut on 7 October 1950, in a 3–1 home win against Grimsby Town. In his next match, on 4 November 1950, Taylor scored a hat-trick in a 7–0 victory against Queens Park Rangers. In all he scored seven goals in twelve appearances in 1950–51. While playing for Barnsley, he carried out national service in the British Army.
After scoring 28 goals in 46 games for Barnsley, who had been unable to progress beyond the Second Division, Taylor was transferred to defending First Division champions Manchester United in March 1953 for the unusual fee of £29,999. Matt Busby did not want to burden Taylor as being a "£30,000 player", so he took a £1 note from his wallet and handed it to the lady who had been serving tea during the negotiations. At the time, he was one of the most expensive players in British football and had also been subject of interest from clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
He got off to a great start, scoring twice on his debut. By the end of the 1952–53 season, Taylor had scored seven goals in his first 11 games for United. He eventually led the team to league titles in 1955–56 and 1956–57 and scored in the 1957 FA Cup Final, when United were denied the Double as they lost 2–1 to Aston Villa (winners of the competition for a then record seventh time). Such was Taylor's worth that Matt Busby decided to reject an offer of £65,000 for him from Internazionale in 1957. Had the deal gone through, then it would have broken the world transfer record.
At the time of his emergence, many saw Taylor as the perfect eventual replacement for the ageing Nat Lofthouse in the England side. In all, he played 19 times for England, scoring 16 goals. His first cap came on 17 May 1953 and a week later he found the net for the first time at senior international level in a 2–1 friendly win over Chile. He managed two hat-tricks for the England team, the first in a 5–2 win over Denmark on 5 December 1956, the second in a 5–1 win over Republic of Ireland on 8 May 1957. His last appearance for England came on 27 November 1957 against France, in which he scored twice in a 4–0 win.
He is buried at Monk Bretton Cemetery in his hometown Barnsley.
On 8 July 2011, a blue plaque was unveiled at 22 Greatstone Road in Stretford. This was a boarding house in the 1950s and Manchester United used it as lodgings for their single players. Taylor lived there with David Pegg and (briefly) Mark Jones until these players were killed at Munich, by which time Jones had already married and left the house. The plaque is sponsored by Stretford High School (which is only 50 yards away) and came about as a result of a local history project undertaken by the pupils at the school. The plaque was unveiled by Dickie Bird, who was at school with Taylor in Barnsley.