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21 Jun 15 17:14
Date Joined: 22 Jan 07
| Topic/replies: 2,060 | Blogger: Kit-Kat-Dan's blog
Great player from my younger days, sad news.
Pause Switch to Standard View Stan Bowles diagnosed with Alzheimer's
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Report ZEALOT June 21, 2015 5:44 PM BST
who the hells he ?
Report cardifffc June 21, 2015 5:48 PM BST
did he ever play for england.....must have had a few caps
Report donny osmond June 21, 2015 5:56 PM BST
To sit with Stan Bowles and listen to riotous tales of fun and insurrection in the 70s is to be reminded that, for all its modern excesses, football fundamentally has always been a playground of the ego.

This, after all, was a man for whom the round ball might have been invented as his personal plaything so brilliant was he, a footballer Denis Law once described as "100% talent". Yet he entered into countless battles of the will, won a few, lost more and ultimately squandered his gifts. It is a crime he played only five times for England – but some of the wounds were self-inflicted.

In a long career of skittish genius that carried him through 565 games between 1967 and 1984, from Manchester City to Bury, Crewe, Carlisle, nine great years at Queens Park Rangers, Nottingham Forest and then, briefly when his legs had gone, on to Leyton Orient and Brentford, he managed to infuriate nearly every manager from Brian Clough to Dave Sexton to Joe Mercer, every hard-tackling opponent from Ron "Chopper" Harris to Johnny Giles.

He delighted the rest of us – except maybe those fans at Roker Park who went berserk the day in 1973 that he and Tony Hazell knocked over the FA Cup Sunderland had won four days before and had placed with pride on a table by the pitch before their final league game, against QPR.

"We had a bet to see if we could hit the Cup," Bowles recalls, adamant the story is not an urban myth, despite assertions by his manager of the time, Gordon Jago. "Tony kicked and he hit it. I kicked it and I hit it. We dented the bloody thing. We won 3-0. I scored two goals. It was the headlines on the News At Ten. At least they had a riot in Sunderland. They don't get many of them."

He was a footballing scamp who spread art and confusion on the pitch and rancour in the boardroom. It didn't bother him then, it concerns him less now. Stan the Man long ago fell out of love with football.


Bowles, who became a professional only because he was told he might earn more than as a bookies' runner, cannot remember the last game he went to. It might have been 20 years ago ... no, probably 10 years ago, he says, when he and a Scouse mate went to watch Tranmere play Brentford.

"I'm not sentimental," he says. "I didn't know I'd played football for 17 years until a statistician at QPR said it. I only watch it on the telly if I've had a bet. Some players miss it. Not me. I mean, Dave Clement, from that QPR side, he committed suicide because he couldn't handle coming out of football. He was a good friend of mine, a lovely fella."

I meet Bowles at the launch of an intriguing book called Talent by Professor Peter Saville and Tom Hopton. It has an impossibly convoluted sub-title – "Psychologists Personality Test Elite People" – and proceeds will go to the Willow Foundation set up by the former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson in memory of his daughter, Anna, who died of cancer at the age of 31.

Bowles met Saville a year ago, while on holiday in Spain with the former world light-heavyweight champion John Conteh, and agreed to do a questionnaire for the professor. It showed he is sociably "lively" but "places less emphasis on meeting deadlines than most people" and is "much less inclined to follow rules".

Stan doesn't disagree. "When I played football," he says, "I just played. I didn't think about it. I found it easy. I taught myself how to play, knocking a ball about, up against a wall. You never see anybody doing it now. And when I found out there was a bit of money in the game, that's how I got picked up by Manchester City [in 1967]. I just played it for fun, to start, like most players at the time. I wasn't really bothered about making money from football. I was making more running bets across the town with the Quality Street gang.

"We had a few scams. You'd go into a betting shop, count the money out on the counter just before the start, you're looking at the screen all the time, to see if you should put your bet down or not. It used to work. It wouldn't work today. The Quality Street gang? They was just into everything that was going on in town. It was a lovely place, Manchester. Still is. I go there all the time."

He can't remember much about his five appearances for England, a scandalously thin return for a player of who had Zidane-like close control. "I walked out on England," Bowles says without a trace of regret. He rowed with Joe Mercer, who substituted him against Northern Ireland in 1974, giving Frank Worthington his first cap, and Bowles saw this, rightly or wrongly, as a legacy of the bad blood between them when Mercer and Malcolm Allison were in charge of Manchester City. "He sacked me," Bowles says. "He always had a problem with me." As did other managers.

When Don Revie brought his peculiar brand of forensic management to the England job, the freewheeling Bowles struggled to convince him he could be trusted to reproduce his club form at the highest level. England looked at him one last time, in a friendly against Holland in 1977 that was considerably more memorable than the game against the Dutch on Wednesday night. Bowles, isolated up front, was marmalised with all the rest.

"I just got the hump. I do things on instinct. I walked out on the European Cup with Brian Clough as well. I woulda got a medal. Woulda got twenty grand for that now ... John Robertson, he was my best friend at Forest, Clough left me out of his testimonial. It sounds stupid, but to me it wasn't."

For all the controversy, he loved those times, as any 70s boulevardier would. He doesn't see any modern equivalent. "It's boring," he says. "There's some brilliant players, don't get me wrong, but no characters. They can't relate to the fans any more. The fans used to love me at QPR because I'd turn up in the dressing room 10 minutes before the kick-off. Like, I was a good player. I knew what I was doing, put it that way.

"Dave Sexton said to me, 'You can't be doing this.' I said, 'Listen Dave, to me it's like a Sunday morning game, you get there late, you put your kit on and away we go.' He went, 'I can't talk to him.' But I made my European debut for Forest in front of 120,000 people at the Nou Camp. It was no different to me.

"I didn't like him at first, don't get me wrong, but at the end, I loved him to death. Dave would tell me specific things. 'You do this, you do that.' I'd go, 'Yeah, sure.' Soon as I went out there, I made me own mind up, just make it up as I go along."

It smacked of arrogance. But Stan got away with it to an extent because the fans, at least, loved him. And he was honest – whatever his reputation as a slippery young Manc, who sounded like some of the Cockney characters he associated with around Shepherd's Bush. He didn't like Mercer. Didn't like Rodney Marsh. Didn't like Clough. And he told them.

Whatever the preening of Cristiano Ronaldo or the sulking of Wayne Rooney, there probably never was a player so wilfully irreverent, who cared so little for approval and who was less intimidated by Clough as Bowles – except maybe Charlie George.

"Charlie was with me at Forest," Bowles remembers, "on loan from Southampton for about a month. Clough, he went to Charlie and said, 'When I say play centre-forward laddie, you play centre-forward.' Charlie turned to him and said, '**** off you northern ****.' That was on the Saturday. He was gone on the Monday. People did stand up to Clough, but not many.

"When I was there, it was like, what's the ****g problem, from him. **** off. I was there a year. After five months he left me out. I never spoke to him ever again after that. I used to speak to his messengers. I liked Peter Taylor. He was a gambler, like me. We could relate. I used to sing in the dressing room, London Calling. I said. 'I'm not going anywhere, except London.' I know the Clash. Mick Jones is a friend of mine. I just kept singing it."

And, in 1980, only Leyton Orient came calling. Then Brentford, where he finished up. He retired content – and without sentiment. He cannot recall a single detail about his last game of professional football. "It was at Brentford, I think. That's all I know."

By then, what respect he had had for the game and the people who ran it, the many exasperated managers and chairmen who tried to run his life, had long dried up. Was it any different now, I wondered? "There's only one man today, Ferguson, isn't it? I like Wenger as well. And Mourinho. He's my type of bloke. I could have played for someone like him. The secret to getting the best out of someone like me? Just don't tell me what to do.

"I get a bit of work now and again [after-dinner speaking]. At my age, I'm not really bothered. Know what I mean? I've led a good life."

He remembered the last time we met, nearly 10 years ago on a bizarre trip to Greenland to play five-a-side with the locals to promote the launch of a new vodka. Stan hates flying and had to be kidded to get on the plane by Mark Hateley, who was also playing. What Hateley did not tell him was that the last leg was in a twin-prop small plane from Copenhagen to Disko Bay, a flight from hell.

"I done 20 Valium in two days in Greenland," he says, grimly. He remembers, too, a nightmare sled ride up and down ravines, with the finish an 80ft near-vertical drop to get back to our hotel.

"And that ****g sled. I fell off about four times. I tell Pete, my mate, 'You know Greenland, supposed to be as flat as this table? You can forget about that.' I went right over a little mountain on that bloody sled.

"Then we nearly got in a fight with some of the young local kids. They thought we was Greenpeace. I told the interpreter, 'You tell 'em they can kill as many whales as they ****g want.' They're tough little buggers, though. You don't see no police there, do ya?"

Stan has always been able to smell authority anywhere near. He has railed against it all his life.

Would earning £100,000 a week have made him more disciplined? "Not really. Well ... no, I don't think so. I've been with the same people all my life, whatever happened. Never changed."

And what if he'd not found football – how might he have turned out? "I dunno. I'd still be moving about with the mob, more than likely."

Footballers such as Bowles – from George Best, whom he idolised, to contemporaries he had less time for – have always been difficult to manage. They still are. The difference was that in his day, fans had no trouble identifying with their lifestyles and attitudes, because the gap between terrace and pitch was so small. Bowles, it seems, might have been just as happy had he never left Carlisle, where his favourite manager, Ernie Tagg, famously said of him: "If he could pass a bookies as well as he passes a football, he'd be a very rich man."

Stan Bowles has always done it his way. It has not always been right, but it has been a long, lingering laugh.

great player was stan, one of the very best i ever saw
Report Kit-Kat-Dan June 21, 2015 6:00 PM BST
Won 5 caps but along with other flair players like Tony Currie, Alan Hudson and Frank Worthington was generally overlooked for the safer bland option.
Report geordie1956 June 21, 2015 6:37 PM BST
cracking player was stan & played the game for the fun of it - I seem to remember a story where he turned up one morning for a flight to Rumania (Romania now) for a world cup qualifier - I think he had been playing cards most of the night & his luggage was a carrier bag with a shirt in it
Report homefortea June 21, 2015 7:48 PM BST
Love the fella to death..

Not sure that when it was announced in the Sunday Times today...

"Our thoughts are with you"...

was quite appropriate...

Stan would love the irony though...
Report dizzydavid1 June 21, 2015 11:39 PM BST
A sublime talent was Stan, the best of his generation. A fantastic entertainer on the pitch, when the ball came to Stan the anticipation in the crowd rose and necks craned on the terraces. Amiable, charming and friendly off the pitch even many years after his career was over, with more cracking anecdotes than I've had losing bets . I still remember that superbly entertaining QPR team coming within 14 minutes of winning the League (what you youngsters call the Premiership now). Thanks for the memories Stan, all the best.
Report BARROWBOY June 22, 2015 1:51 PM BST
top player,only 5 caps but thousands of wembley appearances!
Report Golden Fleece June 22, 2015 2:11 PM BST
I recall watching him on time of our lives with Gerry francis and dave Thomas? on sky a few years back,really entertaining stuff.

Was there ever a biography written on stan if so would be a great read.
Report never give up June 22, 2015 2:14 PM BST

Jun 22, 2015 -- 2:11PM, Golden Fleece wrote:

I recall watching him on time of our lives with Gerry francis and dave Thomas? on sky a few years back,really entertaining stuff.Was there ever a biography written on stan if so would be a great read.

Report Golden Fleece June 22, 2015 2:21 PM BST
Nice one ngu will take a look,i am going to the algarve next month might be a good read.
Report tommo1000 June 22, 2015 9:29 PM BST
used to love those players who did nothing for 89 minutes then changed everything with moment of genius,e.g frank Worthington,duncan McKenzie,glen hoddle etc,le tissier was the last of the breed,sad the modern game seemingly has no place for them anymore,can`t imagine mourinho or van gaal putting up with a robin friday or stan bowles tbhGrin
Report ZEALOT June 22, 2015 9:40 PM BST
pub players they were the lot of em
Report A.H HUNTER esq. June 22, 2015 9:49 PM BST
I saw him play against Cologne in the UEFA cup QPR won 5-1? he was brilliant.
Report geordie1956 June 22, 2015 9:50 PM BST
many of todays players wouldn't get into that pub team
Report tommo1000 June 22, 2015 9:50 PM BST
steven gerrard,jack Wilshire and co not fit to wash frank Worthington`s posing pouch imo
Report ffaith June 22, 2015 9:56 PM BST
I loved the Stan Bowles type of player.  In my mind's eye they all had long hair, shirt tucked out, socks rolled down and a wrist affectation for balance.  These were the players that the  fans adored.  I wish him well in his battle.
Report tommo1000 June 22, 2015 10:02 PM BST
yes ffaith,you could relate to them cos they were just like the fans,at Blackburn we had simon garner,who smoked and drank  thwaites best bitter by the barrel full,it didn't stop him banging in goals though,we loved him cos he was just like us on the terraces,if he hadn't been any good at football,he would have been one of the lads on a building site or joiners shop
Report kenilworth June 22, 2015 10:05 PM BST
I never forgave him for scoring direct from a free
kick, for QPR, in the last minute of a Cup Relay
against the side I was supporting. It was a long
drive back to the Midlands.
Report uptheboro June 22, 2015 10:09 PM BST
Check out this article:

A footballing legendCool
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