Rowe was born in Tottenham and began his career at Northfleet before joining Spurs as a schoolboy in 1921 (he also appeared as an amateur for Cheshunt in 1920). He then became a professional with the club in 1929. He was a Tottenham player for 8 seasons, in which time he played 201 games and earning his one and only cap for the England National team. He was forced to retire in 1939 due to a cartilage injury.
Tottenham were in the second division when Rowe returned to the club as manager in 1949 and his task was to gain promotion. This was achieved by becoming Champions and the following season the First Division Championship was won as well. These back to back championships made Spurs the first post-war team to win back to back titles. This was achieved through the use of 'Push and run' football.
Rowe's health started to fail and he never fully recovered from a breakdown in 1954. During his recouperation, Jimmy Anderson was made acting manager, to become the full-time manager when Rowe resigned in 1955.
After leaving Tottenham he took time off to recover and joined Crystal Palace in 1960 bringing them an instant promotion that season. He was then forced to resign through ill health in 1962–63 season, returning briefly as a stand in manager in 1966.