|Full name||Mark James Bower|
|Date of birth||23 January 1980|
|Place of birth||Bradford, England|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|2000||→ York City (loan)||15||(1)|
|2000–2001||→ York City (loan)||21||(1)|
|2009||→ Luton Town (loan)||16||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15:33, 23 October 2013 (UTC).
Born in Bradford, he played for more than a decade with his hometown club Bradford City as a central defender until his release in May 2009. He moved to Darlington, where he spent just one season, then dropped into non-league with Halifax Town. Bower has also had loan spells with York City and Luton Town.
Bower was born in Bradford and educated at St Bede's School, before he signed for Bradford City in August 1997 as a trainee. He signed professional forms in March 1998 and made his debut the following month against Norwich City in a 3–2 victory at Carrow Road on 4 April 1998 at the age of 18. He made two more appearances that season but none in the following season. After City won promotion to the Premier League in May 1999, Bower's first team opportunities were restricted. Instead he spent a period on loan at York City in the 1999–2000 season, after he was signed by the club's new manager Terry Dolan, who had previously managed Bradford City. Dolan made a number of other defensive signings including Alan Fettis, Peter Swan and Peter Hawkins, and with Bower they helped to reduce the number of goals York conceded to help them avoid relegation. Bower made 15 appearances, scoring his first senior goal against Lincoln City during his spell.
Bradford had initially refused Bower to return to York for a second loan spell, but he moved back to Bootham Crescent in November 2000 following a series of injuries for the rest of the 2000–01 season. York again struggled at the bottom of the Third Division, but Bower was praised by Dolan following a long unbeaten run, as the team eventually avoided relegation. Bower made just two cup appearances for Bradford City during that time and never appeared in the club's two-year spell in the Premier League.
His career at Bradford seemed to be over. But he returned from York in 2001 and the following season, he earned a call-up due to injuries. He scored his first Bradford goal during a 4–1 First Division victory against Norwich City on 10 November 2001. Having forced his way into the team, Bower signed a new three-year contract in April 2002 to keep him with the club until the end of the 2004–05 season.
In September 2002, he received the first red card of his career in a league game against Burnley. City striker Danny Cadamarteri was also sent off as City fought back from 2–1 down to draw 2–2 despite playing with nine men for 35 minutes. He soon battled at the Bantams to become a first choice centre back alongside David Wetherall. He was an ever-present during seasons 2004–05 and 2006–07 and now played more than 200 games at Valley Parade.
On 13 February 2007, he was named as Bradford captain by Wetherall, while he was caretaker manager. Bower has regularly picked up gongs at City's annual awards and also writes a column in newspaper the Telegraph & Argus. The following season Bower lost his place to Matthew Clarke before being ruled out due to an injury he sustained in a pre-match warm-up at Accrington Stanley on New Year's Day 2008. He returned to action on 8 March 2008, when he came on as a second-half substitute in City's 2–1 at Stockport County. Later that season, he was once again handed the captain's armband in a home game against Morecambe, ten years after he made his debut for the club.
However, Bower was kept out of the team at the start of the 2008–09 season by Graeme Lee and Matthew Clarke. He missed the first four games before he came on as a substitute in a 3–2 defeat to Aldershot Town after Clarke suffered a calf injury. He continued to struggle to break into the first team, and suffered another setback when he injured a thigh in a reserve match.
Having started only one game and restricted to one other league game during the first six months of the 2008–09 season, Bower moved to fellow League Two club Luton Town on a one-month loan deal in January 2009 to cover injuries and suspensions. He made his Luton debut the following day as they drew 1–1 away at Bournemouth, in a game between the league's two bottom sides, both of whom had been deducted points at the start of the season. He played in all six games during the first month of his loan spell which was extended for another month, during which he scored his first goal for Luton to help them defeat fellow relegation-threatened side Grimsby Town 2–1. His loan spell was extended for a second time after becoming a regular in the Luton side. Despite playing 16 games for Luton in central defence, Bower could not help prevent the inevitable as Luton's 30-point deduction proved too much to overcome, and they were relegated to the Football Conference. As a result, Bower was recalled to Bradford, ending his loan spell, though he was released at the end of the season along with five other senior professionals.
Bower trained with Conference National side Chester City and teamed up with his former manager Colin Todd on trial at Darlington. After playing in a pre-season friendly with Scottish-side Hamilton Academical, which finished 0–0, Bower signed for Darlington along with fellow Bradford defender Paul Arnison. He played one season with Darlington but the club released him following their relegation from League Two, along with 13 other players.
In May 2011, Bower signed for Guiseley as a central defender (Vice Captain) and made a strong partnership with Danny Ellis after club captain Simon Ainge left to Luton Town, and then became caretaker manager after Steve Kittrick was sacked following a poor start to the season.
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- "No joy for Minstermen". BBC Sport. 28 June 2000. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
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- Parker, Simon (9 May 2009). "No rift between McCall and Bower". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- "Chester look at Bower and Murray". BBC Sport. 15 July 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Fraser, Paul (22 July 2009). "Chadwick and Bower in for Quakers". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Fraser, Paul (23 July 2009). "Quakers recruit Arnison and Bower". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- "Darlington released player tally rises to 14". BBC Sport. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
- "Aspin gets his man". F.C. Halifax Town. 21 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.