Geelong champion Harry Taylor is renowned for his quirks and fastidious preparation for games. But to really get to know the man they call ‘Drillbit’, AFLPlayers.com.au spoke with one of his closest former teammates and one of his closest current teammates to ‘drill’ down a little deeper into the personality of the two-time premiership star and 250-gamer.
My first impression of ‘Drillbit’ was that he was a pretty unique individual.
But his passion and dedication to his craft was known almost immediately when he addressed his teammates for the first time after he was drafted in 2007.
He stood up in front of the group and said: “I’m here to help you guys win”.
You see a lot of kids come in and they don’t say anything for the first three years. But being a little more mature when he got to Geelong, it was pretty clear Harry definitely wasn’t shy. He wasn’t arrogant or anything like that but he was confident in his own ability. He knew what he wanted and knew what he needed to do to get there.
Harry was always very system driven. He knows the process he needs to go through to get his body right to help him prepare for games to the best of his ability.
After we won the 2009 flag, I remember we had a function back at Kardinia Park to celebrate. During the night I had to collect something from my locker in the changerooms downstairs and I walked into the recovery room and there was Harry Taylor – having almost won the Norm Smith medal for his job on Nick Riewoldt – sitting in the ice bath doing his recovery. He’d just won a Grand Final and there he was sitting in icy water as part of his post-game routine.
Harry and I used to work very closely together and our different personalities certainly complemented the other.
‘H’ is a wealth of knowledge. I just tried to play each of my opponents on their merits and their current form, whereas he would write a thesis on all of his opponents.
That probably says a bit about our personalities, but our on-field connection was rock solid after we played plenty of games together.
Even at training, we did not miss a session without doing contested marking duels and at times it got quite physical because we were both really competitive.
Harry’s been known for a bit of ‘friendly fire’ on his teammates over the journey because he’s got “pointy elbows” and this one time we were doing a drill and he just flung his elbow back into my mouth and knocked three of my teeth out. I had to get them replaced by the dentist but the tight arse wouldn’t pay for the dental bill!
There are many weird and wonderful stories about Harry, but the one that sticks out is the time when he borrowed the club-owned video camera for a family project.
When Harry brought the camera back to the club, he had forgotten to delete the footage he had taken and vision of him dancing to a Justin Bieber song, which he had made as a bit of fun for his kids, became the highlight of our team meeting much to Harry’s embarrassment. It was pretty ordinary dancing, don’t worry about that. We got a real good laugh out of it and Harry never lived that one down.
Above all, Harry was and is a star footballer for Geelong.
During that period from 2009 until about 2015, he was comfortably among the best key defenders in the competition.
His intercept marking almost revolutionised that defending position because he went for his marks so much and he certainly saved me on that many occasions.
Over our mid-season break last week, myself and Mark O’Connor travelled with Harry back to his hometown near Geraldton in Western Australia.
That’s Harry’s element and he was pretty proud to show myself and ‘Merrick’ (O’Connor) where he grew up and got to take us out on the water for some crayfishing.
Even though we had some pretty ordinary weather at times and played a fair amount of cards, I was rapt to actually see his hometown because he talks about WA a bit.
Harry and ‘Domsy’ (Lonergan) really took me under their wing in my first few years at the club especially when I trained as a defender before the 2014 season.
Harold was always big on being hard to play against and that message really resonated with me. He’s an elite contested mark, one of the best I’ve seen, and I tried to learn as much as I can from him in that respect.
We’ve done hours and hours on the training track and hours and hours in the gym. It started out as a professional relationship but after spending time with him you build that personal connection and we’ve become really close over the last couple of years.
I always question him on things and that really gets him thinking. He loves his oxymorons (a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect) at the moment, which I respect even though it’s all sorts of weird.
With footy he wants his teammates and coaches to be happy with what he’s doing, but in terms of his actual personality he’s who he is and no-one’s ever going to change that.
A classic example of that was his behaviour at (Geelong teammate) Mitch Duncan’s wedding earlier this year.
Mitch’s wedding was a really fancy, black tie event so everyone was really dressed up and Harry was in a nice black suit and looking the part.
But instead of having a nice pair of black shoes to complement his suit, he was wearing black Asics Gel Kayanos because they were comfier than dress shoes! ‘Mack’ (Andrew Mackie) and the other boys were giving him heaps about it but he didn’t mind at all!
Another example of his unique personality is when he and his Dad drove his early-2000s Holden Commodore, complete with East Fremantle numberplates, from Melbourne to Perth last year.
Being a bit old fashioned, Harry refused to use the air conditioner and they didn’t even switch on the radio to ensure that whole experience remained as pure as possible.
Even though he’s in the final years of his career, he’s constantly trying to learn and come up with different defensive techniques to deal with the rule changes the AFL has brought in.
Harry’s the first one to try to adapt to those and he’s big on watching vision and getting our defensive group to improve together. He’s big on the fundamentals and that’s something I’ve really tried to take from him.