Exclusive: Taylor Moore on painful Fir Park red card, getting out of the Hearts doghouse and starring at wing-back
A football dressing room can be a really lonely place – especially when you’re the only person in it.
This fate befell Hearts’ Taylor Moore last month when the on-loan defender was given his marching orders by Willie Collum with still 26 minutes left on the clock, plus injury-time, in the Tynecastle outfit’s unsuccessful excursion to Motherwell last month.
The 24-year-old was already on a yellow when he was perceived to have barged down Connor Shields as the attacker looked to charge towards the penalty area. It looked more of a coming together than a foul, but it was enough for Collum to flash a second yellow and then a red.
Things then went from bad to worse for Moore and his team-mates when, already trailing by a goal to nil, they then lost a second from the resulting free-kick as a whipped deep ball to the back post found Ricki Lamie to give Graham Alexander’s side the cushion required to comfortably hold on to all three points.
Aware of the second as he made his way around to the away dressing room, all the defender could do was stew in his own disappointment as he waited for the rest of the squad and the management staff to return.
“I got the two bookings and unfortunately with the second one I gave the referee the opportunity to send me off. Whether it's harsh or not is not really relevant. It's a split decision and unfortunately I paid the price for it,” said Moore.
“I was walking down the side of the stadium and I heard the roar. It makes everything feel even worse.
“It is a lonely place heading back to the dressing room yourself and I tried not to have a look at my phone. You end up getting a call from your dad, a message from your mum, all your mates asking what's happened, but you're also trying to listen to the game and tune in with the fans at the stadium to try and figure out what's happening. Whenever you hear a roar you think, oh god, I hope that's not them scoring again.
“I apologised to all the boys and the gaffer when they got back in the dressing room because it was never my intention to penalise the team in that way. Unfortunately these things happen in football and it's just about how you react.
“The boys just said don't worry, it happens, that it wasn't the sole reason we lost. We just didn't play well compared to Motherwell, we got bullied everywhere, whether that was up front, down the middle or at the back. So a lot of the boys came over said don't worry about it, it's done now and we go again.
“That's the type of mentality we've got and thankfully I was out of the doghouse pretty quickly because we got the win over St Mirren.”
Sitting in the stands for Saturday’s bounce-back result against the Buddies in Edinburgh was punishment enough for the Bristol City loanee, who happily admits to being one of those observers who kicks every ball when he’s not involved in the action on the park.
“It was very frustrating watching the game from the stands because, once kick-off starts, you just want to be involved more than anything,” said Moore.
“I was sitting beside my missus and at one point she had to tell me to calm down. I was swearing at the ref and jumping up and down. You just want to be involved in as many games as possible. You want to play every game so when you can't even be around the dugout it is very frustrating.
“It was only the second time I've received a red card, which is a pretty decent record at age 24. I've played quite a few games now. I think both of the red cards were pretty harsh. As long as I can keep that number relatively low I'll be happy.”
Despite playing behind the trio of Stephen Kingsley, Craig Halkett and John Souttar, who’ve all excelled so far this season, Moore has still managed seven appearances since moving to Edinburgh toward the end of the summer transfer window.
His opportunities should also increase further after an illuminating display as cover at right wing-back during the dominant team display by Hearts in the 5-2 win over Dundee United.
It’s not a role Moore’s played often in his career, but one he’s more than happy to do if it means he continues to get regular playing time under head coach Robbie Neilson, starting with Thursday’s match at Celtic Park.
“I've made it very clear to the manager since I've arrived that I can play multiple positions across the back-line. The manager knows he's got my full commitment regardless of which position it is. As long as I'm playing then I'm happy,” insisted Moore.
“I actually played right-back for an entire loan spell when I was younger at Cheltenham Town. I didn't particularly enjoy it but I think there's something about playing wing-back which gives you a greater license to get forward.
“It was enjoyable and certainly helped to have some very good players around me, especially that day. I think we had John Souttar at right-sided centre-half, and you know how good Soapy is. We also had Ginnelly to run in behind. Whenever I had any problem, I know I could just flick the ball in towards him as well. It takes the pressure off you when you know you have those kind of players around you.”