For Wolves fans, the long-awaited return of Premier League football at Everton on Boxing Day probably feels all like all their Christmases have come at once.

Especially if the team can get the Julen Lopetegui league era off to a winning start.

For former Wolves striker Colin Taylor, who may well have ended up at Everton before moving to Molineux as a youngster, Christmas means more than just the return of football.

Taylor’s birthday, this year his 51st, falls on Christmas Day.

But there is probably another date in the calendar which carries even more significance.

And that’s today’s date – December 22nd.

It was on this day that Taylor’s daughter Naomi was born, back in 1993.

Three years earlier, however, came the best ever day of the former striker’s spell at Wolves, and, alongside honours with England Under-18s, one of the highlights of his career overall.

Wolves’ final pre-Christmas fixture of the 1990/91 season, their second back in the second tier following back-to-back promotions, saw Millwall visit Molineux.

Without a league win in four, injury to Andy Mutch saw Taylor continuing in the number 10 shirt alongside the legendary Steve Bull, building on several appearances already made both as a starter and from the bench.

Millwall’s team included the likes of winger Jimmy Carter, future Wolves midfielder Alex Rae, and later England marksman Teddy Sheringham, who despatched a free kick for the Lions in a first half in which Bellamy and Bull had been on target for Wolves.

Enter a clinical contribution from Taylor, much to the delight of the majority of the 14,504 crowd.

With the game delicately poised at 2-1, he took advantage of a defensive slip to latch on to Bellamy’s through ball and ruthlessly finish it off for his first goal in senior football.

Then, just minutes later, Taylor showed a striker’s predatory instinct to cut out a Gary Waddock backpass, take the ball around keeper Brian Horne and tap into the net from close range.

‘Ooh, Colin Taylor,’ came the song from the South Bank, after witnessing an early Christmas present, and birthday present, rolled into one!

“With Mutchy injured I’d had a few games and had played in the Zenith Data Cup tie with Leeds a few days before, so I thought I’d be starting,” Taylor recalls.

“It felt like a big game, just before Christmas, but to get those two goals, as an 18-year-old, it all felt a bit surreal.

“I was confident going into it for sure, I always backed myself to score goals, but to get off the mark with a couple was amazing really.

“I remember afterwards celebrating with a couple of drinks and a bit of champagne with my then partner and her family, but we were soon back into training and back to work.

“It was the busy Christmas period, with games coming thick and fast, so there was no danger in me getting carried away!”

Strikers love scoring goals – it’s often what they are judged on – and, even now at the age of 50, when turning out for the Wolves Allstars, nothing makes Taylor happier than finding the back of the net.

“The heart is still willing and the head knows what to do but sometimes the legs don’t get the same message,” he laughs.

And it was goals that first brought him to the attention of prolific Wolves scout Ron Jukes, when turning out for Kirkby Schools in a two-legged Gillette Cup tie with their Wolverhampton counterparts.

Born and brought up in Liverpool, Taylor, who also represented several junior clubs including St Helens Rovers, notched a brace for Kirkby in a 2-2 draw played at Wolverhampton Casuals before a 2-0 win on Merseyside.

Wolves, Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion were among those watching on, whilst Taylor had also trained with Everton and had caught the eye of Liverpool in his formative years.

He was also pursued by Crewe, and disgraced coach Barry Bennell, once turning down the offer of staying at his house between training, a decision which took on greater significance after Bennell’s recent convictions for serial sexual abuse.

The idea of staying closer to home at Everton or Liverpool appealed to some extent, but it was after first visiting Wolves to play in youth games that Taylor decided to move to the Midlands.

“I remember the very first time I got to Wolves, the first thing they did was sort my expenses out,” he explains.

“They paid my train fares, got me a meal, and just really looked after me, I never had to ask for anything.

“Dot (Wooldridge) was there at the time, the manager’s secretary, and Keith Pearson (club secretary), and they were both brilliant.

“They were such friendly faces that made me settle in straightaway and made it such an easy decision to take up the apprenticeship.

“Liverpool was my team, but they were so good at the time, I would have ended up just being a number if I had gone there.

“I wanted to go somewhere where I had a chance, and the welcome I got also made Wolves feel like the best option.”

That friendly welcome continued to help Taylor flourish through the youth ranks, particularly via the coaching skills of former Wolves midfielder Barry Powell, and support from the likes of club historian and general legend Graham Hughes.

“Barry was brilliant for me, and I still call him boss even now,” says Taylor.

“He was so good for me personally and he just let me go out and play.

“Don’t get me wrong, he’d have a go if I dropped below what he expected but he just wanted me to go out and play with freedom which was music to my ears.

“And then Graham Hughes, what an amazing man, I’ll never forget Graham for as long as I live.

“He used to give me a fiver every time I scored a hat trick in the youth team, and was just one of those people you always remember – a real club man.

“With those people and the support I was getting, it felt like a really close family and I was always really comfortable within those surroundings.”

‘Hughsie’ probably found himself considerably out of pocket as Taylor plundered his way prolifically through the youth ranks, notching over a century of goals across a couple of seasons.

He also struck a hat trick on a pre-season tour in Sweden after replacing Bull at half time, although the man of the match award for those heroics brought him the sum total of – a basket of fruit!

Eventually, however, his goalscoring form at reserve and youth team led, even in such tender years, to that first team opportunity.

He started the following few fixtures after that Millwall brace, in front of big crowds for draws at Sheffield Wednesday and Albion, the latter featuring the last gasp Rob Hindmarch equaliser in front of the delirious hordes of travelling Wolves fans.

After that however, his fellow Scouser Mutch returned to fitness, and Taylor’s options, perhaps understandably, became far more limited.

He did score another Wolves goal, in the Anglo Italian Cup against Peterborough, and provided a vital late assist for Paul Cook in a 1-0 win against nine-man Sunderland.

But breaching that formidable Bull/Mutch partnership on any sort of regular basis was always going to prove a tricky proposition, and Taylor’s Wolves career finished on 24 appearances – of which 14 were as a substitute – and those three goals.

On any desire to have chalked up more game time, even perhaps a decent run in the side, Taylor remains philosophical.

“What more can you say about Bully and Mutchy?” he replies.

“Wolves have had some brilliant strikers in their history, John Richards for example, but Bully and Mutchy must be one of the best partnerships the club have ever had.

“It just worked so well, and when I look back, I think the main thing I would say about my situation is that it was the right club at the wrong time – I think that’s the best way to look at it.

“I enjoyed the experiences that I had, and was fortunate to get some games at Wolves, and play with some great players, it’s just I had such a formidable strikeforce in front of me.

“People can look back at their careers and longevity and so on but all I could do was to try my best when I had an opportunity.

“You train as well as you can, and keep pushing, but some decisions are out of your hands.

“A lot of my appearances came off the bench and sometimes the game had already gone, such as when we were losing 5-0 at home to Barnsley, or 3-0 at Tranmere.

“In those situations, it was always very hard to make a difference and that got a bit frustrating, but it was what it was.

“Perhaps at a club lower than Wolves at that time, I would have been able to get more games.”

Taylor did experience a trio of loan spells whilst at Wolves, most successfully at Wigan, where he scored twice including on his debut at Fulham, finding it more difficult to flourish whilst with Preston and Doncaster.

But when he left Wolves, in 1995, it was ultimately to go on and play non-league, including with Telford, Runcorn, Bangor, Chorley and, with particular success, Worcester City.

And while there is certainly no bitterness when looking back, there is perhaps the odd thought of ‘what might have been’ when it comes to some pivotal moments, especially when on England Under-18 duty.

Taylor scored twice in a friendly played at Swindon which earned him a call-up to several fixtures played at Wembley for an Under-18 side managed by former Wolves midfielder Dave Burnside.

One of those was ahead of the senior international against Czechoslovakia in April of 1990 when club colleague Bull effectively booked his spot at the summer’s World Cup Finals with a clinical brace.

Another was under similar circumstances at Wembley against Poland, when Taylor’s half volley from the edge of the box was tipped onto the crossbar, and, in another outing against Denmark, his header also bounced back off the woodwork.

Had either of those chances gone in, with the associated profile attached, could Taylor’s footballing journey have taken a different path?

“It’s fine margins, isn’t it?” he responds.

“As a striker, sometimes a goal here and there can make such a difference, and scoring for England Under-18s, especially at Wembley, could have changed things in a lot of ways.

“Look at the importance of taking opportunities, like Morgan Gibbs-White did when he went off to the Under-17 World Cup and won with England – when I was younger, I was on standby for that tournament.

“Especially that half volley against Poland, who’s to know what might have happened and it could have completely changed my situation at the time.

“But I do look back and still cherish that I had those experiences.

“I was in squads with players like Ian Walker, Andy Cole and Steve McManaman, and that Czechoslovakia game was brilliant because I was able to stay on and see Bully score those goals afterwards.

“We had stayed in a hotel at High Wycombe and trained at Bisham Abbey and on the way to the stadium, all around Wembley Way, I could see so much gold and black.

“They were going to watch Bully, but a lot of fans got in early to watch our match, and it was great to hear their support.

“Luckily for me, Wolves fans at both the games at Wembley were extremely vocal and sang my name which was really nice to hear, and probably helped me get on the pitch as well.”

Another distinction Taylor experienced during his career arrived when the number of substitutions rose from one to two, and he became the first ‘sub to be subbed’, after coming on and injuring his shoulder in a challenge with the goalkeeper against Charlton at Selhurst Park.

Nowadays however, he is very much in the starting line-up for the Wolves Allstars, dates in the calendar which he always thoroughly enjoys.

“It’s so good to meet up and play alongside some of the lads I had played with in my career, as well as others who were at Wolves before or after,” he admits.

“We’ve all got the same goal, trying to help different charities, and I remember someone telling me when I was younger to play as long as I can because you are a long time finished.

“Meeting up, playing a bit of football, having a drink together afterwards, you really can’t beat it.”

Now living in East Anglia, not far from world-renowned popstar Ed Sheeran who is regularly seen in the supermarket and local pub, Taylor gets back for matches when he can, and will no doubt be taking special notice of two of the next four fixtures being against Everton and Liverpool.

And yet, it may not be too far-fetched to suggest that one day he will be watching another footballing Taylor in action.

His teenage nephew Callum Taylor, currently with Vauxhall Motors, has previously interested Everton, bringing back memories of a generational footballing history which has included three of the Football League’s founder members.

Taylor’s Dad was with Everton as a youngster, but had the chance to join Preston around the time when Howard Kendall was the youngest ever to appear in an FA Cup Final in 1964.

However, Taylor’s Grandad – who had actually watched Wolves play in Europe – tried to broker a fee for his son’s services, unheard of at the time, and the deal didn’t go through.

Taylor, also released by Everton, but then playing for Wolves and on loan at Preston, brings that whole triumvirate together.

“I have heard people say that one in every generation really makes it,” says Taylor.

“My Dad didn’t make it, I got a little bit further, and maybe Callum is the one who can take the really big step.

“He’s 14 going on 15, is already 6ft 1’, has a great attitude, and hopefully, is a name to look out for in the future.”

In the meantime, at this birthday and Christmas time on Sunday, and Naomi’s birthday and those Millwall memories today, celebrations around the Taylor household are expected to get into full flow.

And, even as he expresses the desire to wish all connected with Wolves a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, that memorable Saturday afternoon when he was thrown in against the Lions is surely never far from his thoughts.

“Absolutely,” he replies.  “December 22nd is certainly a date that I will always remember.”