Stan Bowles

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For the song by the Others, see Stan Bowles (song).
Stan Bowles
Personal information
Full name Stanley Bowles
Date of birth (1948-12-24) 24 December 1948 (age 66)
Place of birth Collyhurst, Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing position Forward/Midfield
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1967–1970 Manchester City 17 (2)
1970 Bury 5 (0)
1970–1971 Crewe Alexandra 51 (18)
1971–1972 Carlisle United 33 (12)
1972–1979 Queens Park Rangers 315 (97)
1979–1980 Nottingham Forest 19 (2)
1980–1981 Leyton Orient 44 (7)
1981–1984 Brentford 81 (16)
Total 565 (154)
National team
1974–1977 England 5 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Stanley Bowles (born 24 December 1948 in Collyhurst, Manchester, Lancashire) is a former leading English footballer who gained a reputation as one of the game's greatest mavericks. He is a cousin of Paul Bowles.[1]


Bowles began his career as an apprentice at Manchester City, although his fiery temper resulted in him falling out with coach Malcolm Allison and being released after a series of off-field incidents. After a brief and unsuccessful stay at Bury, he was signed by Ernie Tagg, manager of Crewe Alexandra, then in the Fourth Division, where his skill caught the eye of a number of bigger clubs. In October 1971 he was signed by Carlisle United, at the time a Second Division club, scoring 13 goals in 36 appearances for the Cumbrians. After a managerial change at the club, he was sold to Queens Park Rangers (QPR) for £112,000 in September 1972.

He replaced in the team a previous QPR folk-hero, Rodney Marsh, who had been transferred to Bowles' first club Manchester City only six months before. Bowles took over Marsh's number 10 shirt, which other players had been reluctant to wear in fear of being compared unfavourably to the mercurial Marsh. Bowles had no such qualms about taking the shirt, joking that, coming from the North, he had never really heard of Marsh.

Bowles was often regarded as something of a character both on and off the pitch. Bowles has been known to cite a notable incident in his playing days involving the famous FA Cup trophy. Having won the FA Cup competition four days prior, Sunderland were parading the trophy at Roker Park on 9 May 1973 when they met QPR in the old Division 2. The trophy had been placed on a table at the side of the pitch when Bowles tore straight across the park and claims to have kicked the ball at it full speed, sending the Cup flying through the air.[2] According to Stan, the crowd predictably went ballistic, but he had the last laugh by scoring two goals in the match which ended in a pitch invasion. Some reports suggest that some of the QPR players had laid bets as to who could hit the trophy first. However this version of events has been disputed and, according to Gordon Jago (QPR's manager at the time), it was Bowles's teammate, defender Tony Hazell, who struck the cup with an accidental clearance.[3]

However with his playing flair and undoubted natural ability it was inevitable that international recognition would soon come. He made his international debut against Portugal in April 1974 in Sir Alf Ramsey's last match in charge. Despite his unquestionable ability and consistently high-level league performances, he won only five caps for England, all while playing for QPR (playing for three different managers: Sir Alf Ramsey, Joe Mercer and Don Revie) and scored his only international goal in a 2-0 win over Wales at Ninian Park in 1974. It is generally considered that if Bowles had not stayed loyal to QPR and moved to a bigger club earlier, he would have secured many more England call-ups in the mid/late-1970s, a period when the national team was devoid of top class international-level players and urgently required 'something different'.

Bowles spent just over seven years at QPR, playing a central role in arguably the club's greatest ever team, that which finished as league runners-up in 1975–76 under Dave Sexton. A 2004 fans poll saw him voted the club's all-time greatest player. In 1979, Bowles fell out with QPR's new manager, Tommy Docherty. Bowles responded to Docherty's plea of "You can trust me, Stan" with "I'd rather trust my chickens with Colonel Sanders". Docherty made Bowles train with the reserves for nearly 6 months, before selling Bowles to Nottingham Forest in December 1979. Despite the fallout between Docherty and Bowles, Docherty continued to play Bowles for QPR right up until he was sold to Nottingham Forest.

At Nottingham Forest, Bowles failed to settle under the management of Brian Clough and he ruled himself out of the 1980 European Cup Final after Clough refused to allow Bowles to play in John Robertson's testimonial. Bowles was essentially understudy to the world's first £1 million signing Trevor Francis during his one season at the City Ground, and before the season was out Clough was already targeting Coventry City's top scorer Ian Wallace as his replacement. Bowles was then sold to Leyton Orient for £100,000 after making only 23 appearances in all competitions. He joined Brentford the following year and remained at the club until his retirement in 1984. He received a testimonial in 1987, earning £17000.[4] Post-retirement, he continued to play at non-league level for Epping Town.

His 1996 autobiography revealed the extent of his drinking, womanizing and gambling during his playing days, and also helped to secure a role as a pundit on Sky Sports, where he again replaced Rodney Marsh.[5] Bowles is also the life chairman of the Queens Park Rangers supporters group L.S.A (Loyal Supporters Association).

Something of a cult icon,[6] he is amongst the few footballers to have 2 singles released bearing his name, in the first case the 2004 release by The Others.Then Cornish band The Surgeons sang about him claiming they "Saw Stan Bowles in B&Q" But he was not a "Ginger Tosser" He has also written betting columns in the national press and a column in 'lads' mag' Loaded and also appears on the after dinner speaker circuit. He was also the personal favourite player of Liverpool legend John Barnes.[7]


  1. ^ Sherwin, Phil (12 November 2011). "A virtuoso performance secured outstanding win". The Sentinel: The Way We Were. 
  2. ^ The Guardian: Did Stan Bowles take a pot shot at the FA Cup?
  3. ^ The Guardian: Did Stan Bowles take a pot shot at the FA Cup? (2)
  4. ^ Griffin Gazette: Brentford's Official Matchday Magazine versus Crewe Alexandra 06/04/96. Quay Design of Poole. 1996. p. 20. 
  5. ^ Stan Bowles Interview
  6. ^ BBC Sport: QPR's cult heroes
  7. ^ url=""

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