Legend who starred in five grand finals for Parramatta reveals his homeless hell as he survived on $1 McDonald’s hash browns and stolen teabags while begging on the streets
- Paul Taylor, 63, won four premierships in the 1980s with Parramatta Eels
- Classy fullback then went broke, was divorced and homeless in Brisbane
- Glory premiership laps replaced by $1 hash browns and begging for change
Parramatta Eels legend Paul Taylor has revealed how he went through hell when he ended up homeless after retiring and was forced to live on McDonald’s hash browns while he begged for money.
The former fullback, 63 – who was a favourite of legendary Eels coach Jack Gibson and played surrounded by superstars such as Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Mick Cronin and Ray Price – won four premierships with the team in the 1980s.
But a decade later, the glory days were well and truly over – Taylor was flat broke and living rough on the streets.
‘I once had two houses. I had a four-acre property in Matcham [on the NSW Central Coast] and another place at Umina,’ Taylor said.
‘I [also] got divorced but it wasn’t her fault. It was just the way things went.’
Parramatta legend Paul Taylor (pictured left, with Eels teammate Peter Wynn) has revealed his homeless hell where he lived on McDonald’s hash browns and begged for money on the streets of Brisbane
Taylor (pictured on the right of the JJ Giltinan Shield trophy after the Eels won their last premiership) was the fullback when Parramatta won titles in 1982, 1983 and 1986
When he moved to Queensland in a bid to be closer to his son Jamie, Taylor’s life began to unravel.
Victory laps at the SCG with his Eels teammates were a distant memory as he was forced to exist on a diet of $1 McDonald’s hash browns and stolen teabags.
Taylor also slept in parks around Brisbane’s CBD, from the Botanic Gardens to the Story Bridge, where he begged for money and wore the same clothes, sometimes for up to a week.
The brutal existence lasted around 18 months, and was roughly 15 years ago – but Taylor isn’t sure of the exact dates of the lowest point of his life.
‘One day you’re playing in front of 50,000 people and the next minute you’re sitting in a park with two homeless people,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
‘It toughens you up. It was all about existence.’
Eventually Taylor turned his life around, securing employment near Uluru in the Northern Territory.
When Taylor fell on hard times, victory laps at the SCG with his Eels teammates were replaced by $1 McDonald’s hash browns (pictured) and stolen tea bags
He worked three jobs and was earning $3000 a week while on the books of Longitude 131, a luxury resort near the famous rock.
These days he runs a landscaping business on the Gold Coast and resides on the water at Main Beach.
He also had a message for Parramatta ahead of their grand final showdown with Penrith this Sunday: fight for everything.
‘You [might] only get one shot at it,’ he said. ‘If what you are doing isn’t working, change it.
‘If I didn’t fight, I would still be in the park.’