Tag Archives: england monarchs

Taylor, Lionel

Card: Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: TTM 2014, C/o Home
Sent: 6/4/14  Received: 8/13/16  (801 days)

Lionel Taylor had an amazing career that began in 1959 playing for the Chicago Bears.  He didn’t record a reception for the team during his rookie year and opted to join the upstart American Football League during its inaugural season in 1960 for the Denver Broncos. Taylor went on to endear himself as one of the most dominant receivers in the history of the league, leading the AFL in receptions 5 of the next 6 years.  In 1961 he set a modern era record with 100 receptions (which was broken in 1964 by Charlie Hennigan at 101). He played for the Broncos through 1966- joining the Oilers for the 1967 and 1968 seasons.  Lionel retired from the gridiron in 1969.

Taylor established himself quickly as an up and coming assistant coach with the Steelers as a receivers coach in 1970.  He’d remain there through 1976, cultivating a reputation as a Super Bowl winning positional coach.  He joined the Rams from 1977-1979, where he was offensive coordinator in 1980 and 1981.  Lionel then applied his trade at the college level for Oregon State, and then as head coach at Texas Southern through 1988.  Returning to the NFL in 1989, Taylor worked with the Cleveland Browns tight ends and as a pass coordinator.

Taylor joined the World League of American Football in 1995 as offensive coordinator to the London Monarchs. As the league rebranded to the NFLE, he’d take over as head coach of the franchise in 1996 and shepherd the franchise through to become the England Monarchs. It was a tough run for Taylor as head coach at the end, as his team was a vagabond franchise playing all over England looking for a new home. Since there was no established fan base, this gave the Monarchs no home field advantage.  The Monarchs finished with a 3-7 record during their swan song season.

Taylor has fully retired from the sport and lives in New Mexico.  At a clip over 800 days, I had fully given up on getting a response from Lionel, so this one came as quite a surprise to get back. It’s a shame, as with many American Football League players, Lionel has gotten little to no traction in Hall of Fame circles, despite his impressive numbers.

AFL
G/GS 121/NA      REC 567     YDS  7195    AVG 12.7   TD 45    LG  80T

NFLE
W  11     L 17       PCT .393

London Monarchs

Record: 9-1/1991*    2-7-1/1992     *World Bowl Champions

London represents a pearl that the NFL has been eager to expand to internationally for quite some time. With the “London Bowl” and other experiments in checking the pulse of Englanders for their interest in American Football, the NFL made it official with their 1990 announcement that they intended to run an international league with a team in London. Unable to find a suitor willing to cough up the 11 million dollar price tag to purchase the team, the Monarchs became a league run franchise. Led by league appointed general manager Billy Hicks,  and English native and offensive head coach Larry Kennan, the Monarchs would be the first team on the board taking defensive backs in the WLAF inaugural draft, and with that pick grab Corris Ervin. Through and through the Monarchs executed well in the draft, and it would show later in the All-World roster after the 1991 season, especially on the offensive line. London would turn around and take Stan Gelbaugh in the WLAF supplemental draft to back up John Witkowski at quarterback.

The Monarchs were run on a shoestring budget and played in Wembley Stadium in downtown London. Like all European Stadiums, at capacity 87,000,  the main purpose was for concerts and soccer games, but it was converted to handle the rigors of a 120+ yard stadium used in American Football games. Footballs initially got stuck in customs and the limited number of footballs the team originally could get, became worn and flat after a few practices.  The players quickly had to adapt to the open air stadium and wet Seattle-like weather of London. The Monarchs in the end however, put together an amazing run in 1991.

ultwlaf92 monarchsThe first game in WLAF history would pit the Monarchs against the Frankfurt Galaxy. Chris Williams, (FRG) a nose tackle, would score the first points in league history when he stuffed runningback Judd Garrett (LON)  for a safety. Starting quarterback John Witkowski would be replaced in the lineup by Stan Gelbaugh, and the Monarchs high scoring offensive machine would get back on track and  beat the Galaxy 24-11 in London.  Gelbaugh would not relinquish his role as starter for the remainder of his career on the team. He would earn league MVP honors for his play at the end of the season. At runningback the team sported sure handed receiver Judd Garrett, and hard nosed fullback Jeff Alexander. The offensive line, which only allowed 11 sacks all season, was headlined by Doug Marrone, Steve Gabbard, Theo Adams, Paul Berardelli, and Larry Jones. Quality depth would be given from Todd Oberdorf and John Fruhmorgen and the group would be named “The Nasty Boyz”.

At wide receiver, it seemed no fair. The team drafted Dana Brinson and the league touted his dimunitive size and speed as electrifying for football in their print magazines. Brinson would lead the league in punt return yards. On the other side Jon Horton would lead all receivers in yardage, and dominate defensive backs week in and week out. They’d be backed up by veteran Tony Sargent, and Andre Riley.

ultwlaf92 monarchs tpDefense wasn’t an entirely different matter either on the “Hart Attack” defense. Roy Hart was one of the league’s dominating nose tackles in the Monarchs’ 3-4 defense. Linebacker Danny Lockett would lead the league in sacks, along with Morlon Brown, while underrated Rickey Williams chipped in 70+ total tackles. At defensive back were Ervin, and headhunters Dedrick Dodge and Danny Crossman at safety.

Phil Alexander, kicker, and Victor Ebubedike, fullback, represented international flavor for the Monarchs, with the league’s “Operation Discovery”, and they too would be head and shoulders above their own international countrymen. Alexander led scorers his rookie season and was named Operation Discovery player of the year.

ult92 gelbaugh PromoLondon lost their only game of the season in the final week versus their rivals, -the Barcelona Dragons. The Monarchs met them again in World Bowl I, suffocating the Dragons 21-0,  paced by Judd Garrett with 13 receptions and Danny Crossman’s  Herculaneum  MVP performance with 3 picks and a touchdown. Slightly over 61,000 watched the game at Wembely Stadium in London. Afterwards the Monarchs were the toast of the town, even pressing a single titled “Yo Yo Monarchs!”  Unfortunately this was the franchise’s only appearance in the World Bowl.

The Monarchs would be picked apart by the NFL for talent in the offseason, and head coach Larry Kennan bolted for the states to become offensive coordinator of the Seahawks before the 1992 season. To replace him, defensive coordinator Ray Willsey assumed the head coaching duties.  London drafted Roland Smith (CB Miami) with their first pick in 1992, and later added notable names such as Bernard Ford (WR), and Steve McNair‘s older brother Fred, to back up Stan Gelbaugh at quarterback. Although Gelbaugh was embroiled in a league-wide contract controversy over league retainer fees, and also play in the NFL during the WLAF offseason, he returned to the lineup in 1992.

lonmonqbWhile the Monarchs started of with a shaky victory over their North American rival New York-New Jersey Knights, the team slumped losing 7 of their last 9 contests. Gelbaugh’s statistics notably dropped off from his MVP season throwing for only 11 touchdowns to 12 picks. On a brighter note, Jeff Alexander stepped up finishing the season with 702 rushing yards, and linebacker Danny Lockett had another outstanding season. Outside of that the Monarchs tied the Birmingham Fire, which ultimately proved pivotable in the American race between the Fire, Surge, and Riders. The WLAF reorganized after the 1992 season.

The Monarchs along with the Dragons and Galaxy were be reborn in the reconstituted NFLE in 1995, and their games moved to White Hart Lane. With the Monarchs reborn, London came out flat under head coach Bobby Hammond, posting 3  4-6 records. As fan attendance dwindled the Monarchs were forced to move and called up their offensive coordinator Lionel Taylor to be head coach. The NFLE would rebrand the team as the England Monarchs and play in a variety of venues including the Crystal Palace, Ashton Gate, and Alexander Stadium. This wouldn’t save the franchise, and at the end of the 1998 season, the franchise was shut down after a 3-7 record and even worse attendance than at White Hart Lane.  Victor X Ebubedike, would be the lone holdover from the original roster seeing it from beginning to end. Other notables along the way to play for the Monarchs included, future Superbowl quarterback Brad Johnson and former Chicago Bears star William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

World Bowl I recap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kInsYDY1l8I
Video Recap of Monarchs 1991 season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MopRjcXpkyg&feature=related

Most of the cards produced for the Monarchs were primarily in 1991 and 1992. While I never got to see the Monarchs play the Riders live, the players I have been able to find have very good TTM. Provided below are a list of Monarchs that I am still missing:

Proset WLAF 1991:  Danny Lockett, Jon Horton, Theo Adams,  Dana Brinson, Victor Ebubedike,  Ken Sale, & Larry Jones.

Wild Card WLAF 1992: Harvey Wilson, Tony Sargent,  Curtis Moore, Fred McNair, Danny Lockett, William Kirksey.

Ultimate WLAF 1992:  Danny Lockett, Dana Brinson, Greg Horne, Jon Horton, Charley Young, David Smith, Dana Brinson LL & William Kirksey.

A few of the players I am aware of live overseas in Europe including Ebubedike and Horton.
Any assistance on locating these players would be greatly appreciated.