Scott Taylor reflects on his best Hull FC moments, his testimonial year and enjoying his rugby league again.
“There’s no one more proud to play for Hull FC than me.” That was Scott Taylor speaking to Hull Live way back in 2016. The Airlie Birds had just hammered St Helens 47-18 in their first step to Challenge Cup glory and a few months later, they would do the unthinkable at Wembley, beating Warrington Wolves 12-10 to send everyone in Black and White who packed out North London into sheer delirium.
Taylor led from the front that year. He was unbelievable. England honours followed next and the following season the Black and Whites repeated their Wembley feat. But even now seven years on and with his testimonial about to begin, nothing will ever top the feeling of the first. For Taylor, the boyhood Hull FC fanatic who first stood on the Boulevard terraces and then sat in the MKM Stadium’s South Stand, it meant everything.
It was the completion of a journey, one that started at local rivals Hull KR, before going on to Wigan, Salford, and finally Hull FC. There was never a doubt for Taylor, even when winning the double at the Warriors in 2013, that his goal to represent his beloved club would one day become a reality.
“I still enjoyed it but I knew in my head how much of a better feeling it would be to do it with Hull FC,” Taylor told Hull Live on his success at Wigan. “It was always in the back of my mind, imagine doing that at the team you’ve loved and supported all of your life.
“It was always my dream to run out as a Hull FC player and do it at the right time. It was just set in stone that the first year I came back home and played for my hometown team would be 2016 and the first year that we’d go on and win at Wembley. It was written in the stars for me really.
“Before I signed I remember bumping into Adam Pearson and having a good chat with him. He said he wanted all the best players from Hull playing for Hull FC and that he wanted the future leaders of the club to be all from Hull and who would be proud to be from Hull, to support Hull, and play for Hull. I told him that my number one dream was always to play for Hull FC if it was the right timing and the right move. I’d done three years over at Wigan and Salford and things fell into place.
“It was a perfect time to come back home, I was missing home, people say it’s only two and a half hours down the road but it’s a long way to drive there and back when you’re sore, tired, and playing every week. You don’t see your family anywhere near as much as you would like. I was missing my family and my friends and things just all subsequently fell into place.”
But Hull could have won more. There were agonisingly defeated in consecutive Super League semi-finals at Wigan and then Leeds despite being the best team in the land by far, and even now, nearly seven years on, there is that feeling of what if. That’s how much it means and that’s how close Hull came.
“When I look back at my regrets, that’s one that I do have,” Taylor said when asked about those Super League semi-finals. “I feel like we had the best team and squad in ’16 and ’17. It was a massive opportunity missed.
“We won at Wembley and that was the main goal to win there and get rid of that song but I just wish that we kicked on, hit our potential, and gone on and won the Grand Final. We got to that semi-final having had the better of Wigan all year. We should have won the Grand Final. We had the squad and the potential to do it.
“I look back at ’16 and ’17 and they were the best memories of my career but I also look back and think ‘ we missed out there’, ‘we should have kicked on.’ It’s gone now, though, and you can’t always think like that. It’s about the here and now and what we can do now.”
To 2023 and it’s a massive year for both Hull FC and Scott Taylor. With so much going on in rugby league with IMG and the licensing era all but set for a return, the club knows that they need to deliver both on and off the pitch. For Taylor, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Monday, it’s also his testimonial year. The prop has a full twelve months as a reward for his services to rugby league, having played his 300th professional game towards the end of last season.
Beginning on April 1, the prop has numerous events lined up and intends to enjoy them simultaneously with what Hull FC are producing in Super League this season. Under Tony Smith, there is a feel-good factor around the club once again with the side winning their first two games. But it’s about more than on-field results this year – it’s about getting better and better and enjoying the journey again, coming together, and having a dig every week whatever the outcomes.
“We’re not going out there making any mad statements saying we’re going to win everything or anything like that,” Taylor said of this season. “We just want to give our best every week now, just keep training hard, progress, and make sure that we hit form at the right time while playing well.
“Tony’s biggest thing is about us performing well, not always winning, but performing and improving, and hopefully, then we can hit some form at the right time. Nothing is won in February or March but you can really put some good foundations in place, keep learning and get better.
“It’s a really different feel to how it has been the last few years and I know a few people have been saying look at the last few years they’ve started red hot and then fallen off the cliff, well I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year. We’re picking up some wins now but we’re far from our best.
“There is so much more room for improvement. We’re under a new coach with a lot of experience. We’ve only had a few months under him and it’s going to take time. They might be a blip here and there but we want fans just to get behind us, stay patient and hopefully see us keep improving every week.”
As for Taylor, it really is about the basic fundamentals. Opening up to Hull Live back in pre-season, the prop is in the best shape he’s been in for a long time. There are no injuries, no niggles, nothing. That has been reflected in his start to the year. Powerful, it’s the Taylor of old, ready to put behind him the pain of missing out due to injury and all that came with it.
Asked what he wants out of this year, Taylor said: “It’s just that love for the game, playing with a smile on my face, turning up to training every day bouncing, getting that buzz, feeling good, feeling fresh, not carrying any injuries, niggles, or being in pain just putting my boots on. Just have that feel-good factor and really enjoy this year. I’ve had my first child, a boy, he’s four months old now and that’s changed my life altogether and flipped it upside down.
“This testimonial year, I’m looking forward to having events, but also being able to see my son in the stands and realise why all these years I’ve sacrificed so much. I want to create some memories with him now at rugby but also outside of rugby and really enjoy this year. Hopefully, we’ll have a really good year on the field, a successful year, but also enjoy everything that comes with that as well.”
And as for his testimonial itself, to say Taylor is as proud as he was in 2016 would be an understatement. This is his club, his time, and whilst it hasn’t always been easy, it’s nothing but positive energy from now on.
“I’m just over the moon to get it out there,” Taylor added. “It sounds cliche but when you start playing rugby a testimonial seems so far away. It’s something that doesn’t get handed out very often so to be given one on the back of my contributions to the professional game, from amateur to playing internationally, to playing over 300 games, and to get the full year, I’m very appreciative of it and very humbled and honoured by it. I’m looking forward to doing it now. I’m getting excited to get some events and enjoy a really good year.
“I’ve given everything to rugby but rugby has given everything to me from starting playing as a six-year-old to being a season pass holder at Hull FC. All the best memories from my childhood and my adult life involve rugby league. I’ve given everything to the game, my body, and my full commitment, especially in the last 15 years as a first-team player.
“Rugby has given me so much. I owe everything to it. The places I’ve been to, it’s taken me all over the world, the memories it’s created for me and my family, and the position it’s put me in now, I’m just forever in debt to the game of rugby league.
“A big special mention will always go to Hull FC and the last seven years, I had some great memories at Wigan and won the Cup and the Grand Final there, I debuted at Hull KR, but obviously, the real special years of my career have been these last seven years at Hull FC playing for my hometown team and doing what we did at Wembley. I’m still playing now and I’m just trying to enjoy every week. I’m very lucky and honoured to have had the career I’ve had so far but there’s still plenty more to come.”