Matt Taylor v Matt Taylor: Exeter City and Walsall namesakes meet for first time

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Exeter's Matt Taylor
Exeter City manager Matt Taylor has been in charge since 2018, leading the club to the 2020 League Two play-off final

Saturday's League Two match between Exeter City and Walsall at St James Park may get a little confusing.

While sixth-placed Exeter are looking to extend their seven-game unbeaten run against a Walsall side a point off the relegation places - so far pretty straightforward - the situation in the dugouts is a little more unusual.

For the first time in 43 years, two managers with the same name will face up to each other - Exeter's Matt Taylor going up against Walsall's... Matt Taylor.

Not since 1978, when Fulham's Bobby Campbell came up against Bristol Rovers' Bobby Campbell, have two namesake bosses met.

"You've got one [Matt Taylor] who's played in the Premier League - who we're up against this weekend," the Exeter boss joked to BBC Sport.

"There's a Matty Taylor at Oxford who's had a fantastic career; I think there's a weatherman who's more famous than I am.

"I think I'm probably the fourth, fifth, possibly sixth down the line if you Google my name, so I'm probably the least famous Matt Taylor available."

City's manager may have had a less illustrious playing career - he began in non-league before making his name at the club he now manages, before spells at Charlton Athletic, Cheltenham Town and Newport County.

But he does have a longer managerial career than his fellow 39-year-old, having been at the helm at St James Park since the summer of 2018.

Walsall's Matt Taylor
Walsall's Matt Taylor joined the club in the summer having been a youth coach at Tottenham Hotspur

Walsall's Taylor, who like Exeter's boss was a defender, is in his first season as a manager after a playing career that saw him play for England Under-21s.

This Matt Taylor won promotion to the Premier League with Portsmouth, West Ham and Burnley in a 20-year career that spanned more than 650 games in all four divisions.

It has not been plain sailing for the Walsall head coach since he was appointed in May. Just two wins in nine league games this season has seen the Saddlers drop to 22nd in League Two.

But their last two defeats both came via very late goals, leading to some optimism before their trip to Devon.

"I'm really excited about the challenge that is ahead of us on Saturday, I think it's a great game for us," Taylor told BBC Radio WM.

"I think we're playing an opposition that are very good at home, they have a clear plan of the way they play and the way they approach things, the manager is experienced and they're a settled team."

While the two bosses have not encountered each other much in their careers, Exeter's Taylor is confident his namesake will turn things around at the Banks's Stadium.

"He's got a stellar career to fall back on, and in terms of what he's doing at Walsall, he's doing a pretty impressive job so far," he added.

"They've been a little bit disappointed in terms of the personnel he's had available so far, but signed some fantastic loan players, certainly at the top end of the pitch, so we think they'll be going in the right direction sooner rather than later."

'There's only two Gary Stevens'

Gary Stevens and Gary Stevens playing for England
Tottenham's Gary Stevens (top row, second left) and Everton's Gary Stevens (bottom row, second right) helped England win the 1986 Rous Cup

The two Taylors are not the first with the same name to have graced the same sporting arena.

We have already heard about Campbell versus Campbell in 1978, but there are a few more.

Who can forget Gary Stevens and Gary Stevens, both defenders and both England players in the 1980s.

Everton's Stevens won two league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners' Cup, playing 46 times for England - including at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups - before moving to Rangers.

Tottenham's Stevens, part of their 1984 Uefa Cup-winning side, won seven caps for England and played alongside the other Gary Stevens at Mexico 86 - prompting England fans at the tournament to famously sing 'Two Gary Stevens, there's only two Gary Stevens'.

The city of Leeds also had its own pairing between 2013 and 2014.

Not only was Brian McDermott the manager of Leeds United from 2013 to 2014, his namesake was coach of Leeds Rhinos, the city's rugby league team - leading them to three Super Leagues, two Challenge Cups and a World Club Challenge title in his time at the club from 2011-2018.

And remarkably, for a period in 2013 both Brian McDermotts also both had a winger called Ryan Hall to call upon!

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