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 "Stan" Bowles (born 24 December 1948 in Collyhurst, Manchester, Lancashire) is an English former footballer who gained a reputation as one of the game's greatest mavericks.

Club career[edit]

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.[1] 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 £110,000 in September 1972.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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".[6] Docherty made Bowles train with the reserves for nearly six 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.[7] 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.[8] Post-retirement, he continued to play at non-league level for Epping Town.[citation needed]

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.[9] Bowles is also the life chairman of the Queens Park Rangers supporters group L.S.A (Loyal Supporters Association).[citation needed]

A cult icon,[10] he had a single released bearing his name, Stan Bowles by The Others. Bowles has also written betting columns in the national press and a column in 'lads' mag' Loaded and also appeared on the after dinner speaker circuit. He was also the personal favourite player of Liverpool legend John Barnes.[11]

International career[edit]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Bowles is a cousin of Paul Bowles.[12] On 20 June 2015, Stan Bowles was reported as a sufferer from Alzheimer's disease.[13] On 22 August 2015, Queens Park Rangers honoured Bowles as he was presented to the crowd at Loftus Road before their game against Rotherham United.[14]


  1. ^ David Tossell (16 March 2012). Big Mal: The High Life and Hard Times of Malcolm Allison, Football Legend. Mainstream Publishing. pp. 188–. ISBN 978-1-78057-465-3. 
  2. ^ "Stan Bowles: 'Clough, Brooking, Eriksson... I don't rate any of them'". The Independent. 13 October 2005. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Andrew Smart; Garry Birtles (8 May 2014). Best, Pele and a Half-Time Bovril: A Nostalgic Look at the 1970s — Football's Last Great Decade. John Blake Publishing, Limited. pp. 125–. ISBN 978-1-78418-069-0. 
  4. ^ The Guardian: Did Stan Bowles take a pot shot at the FA Cup?
  5. ^ The Guardian: Did Stan Bowles take a pot shot at the FA Cup? (2)
  6. ^ Mark Collar (April 2013). Those Forest Men. pp. 268–. ISBN 978-1-291-34733-3. 
  7. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (16 August 2009). "Stan Bowles explains the problem with modern football". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Griffin Gazette: Brentford's Official Matchday Magazine versus Crewe Alexandra 06/04/96. Quay Design of Poole. 1996. p. 20. 
  9. ^ Stan Bowles Interview
  10. ^ BBC Sport: QPR's cult heroes
  11. ^ url=""
  12. ^ Sherwin, Phil (12 November 2011). "A virtuoso performance secured outstanding win". The Sentinel: The Way We Were. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ "Queens Park Rangers 4-2 Rotherham United". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 

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