This is a quick mini-series about a few '70's "maverick" footballers. Starting with...

Stan Bowles

I don’t know what it was with footballers in the 1970’s, drinking, gambling, punch ups, sleeping with someone else’s birds… you never see that with the modern day players.   Oh.

One of these so-called rebels was like the next player I’m going to profile, somebody with exceptional talent but was called up by England only a handful of times. Those times though were the mid 70’s when the type of football being played in England wasn’t exactly one of skill. There was a time when players such as Tommy Smith, Norman Hunter and “Chopper” Harris dictated how games were played. Usually with a leg breaking tackle or two.

But there was Stan Bowles, who leapt over these challenges.

Bowles started out with his hometown team of Man City, but after three seasons because of constant falling outs with…well anybody who was close enough…he was eventually released. After a brief spell at Bury, Crewe and then (2nd Division) Carlisle, it was here that he caught the eye and joined QPR in January 1972.


He replaced in the team another QPR folk-hero, Rodney Marsh, who had been transferred to Bowles’ first club Manchester City six months before. Bowles took over Marsh’s number 10 shirt, which other players had been reluctant to wear in fear of being compared to Marsh. Bowles had no qualms about taking the shirt, primarily because he said that, coming from the North, he had never heard of Marsh.

His rebelliousness and misbehaviour continued when in 1973 his QPR team were away at Sunderland, who had just won the FA Cup.
Before the match kicked off the trophy was paraded around the ground and then placed on a table at the side of the pitch.
Bowles spotted this, took a ball and kicked it towards the cup, knocking it flying off the table.

Even with his most successful period at QPR, he still had differences with the management. As seen below when Dave Sexton, the boss of QPR was trying to sub him in a match against West Ham:

Eventually he left QPR to be sold to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest and I don’t have to tell you how they didn’t get on and… he was on the move again to Leyton Orient before his final club – Brentford.

He retired in 1984 and went the usual after dinner speaker/pundit route before once again replacing Rodney Marsh (more about that in another post) this time on Sky Sports.

Bowles is still mouthing off and is still not short of an opinion. Ever the rebel even in his old age.

Now you’ve read all that take the Guardian Football quiz.

The Music:

The Others, who are a sort of Razorlight/Libertines wanna-be released a single in 2004 which they used the ex-QPR legend as the title and as the chorus. It reached number 36 in the charts:

The Others - Stan Bowles » The Others – Stan Bowles


4 Replies to “Stan Bowles”

  1. This was a major incident at the time. Described as football’s first kiss and probably the exact point when your dad starting mouthing off about the game being full of pansies and they were much harder in my day etc.

    It’s from a game in 1975 between Leicester City and Sheffield United – which was televised for Match Of The Day, hence the wider publicity – and the players are City’s Alan Birchenall and Tony Currie of United. Both players were already friends and had clashed in a challenge that put both of them on the deck. It wasobviously meant to be kissing and making up.

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