Over a 17 year professional career (9 of ’em at Queens Park Rangers), “there probably never was a player so wilfully irreverent, who cared so little for approval” than forward/midfielder Stanley Bowles writes the Guardian’s Kevin Mitchell, recalling the exploits of a Collyhurst native who “managed to infuriate nearly every manager from Brian Clough to Dave Sexton to Joe Mercer, every hard-tackling opponent from Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris to Johnny Giles.” Stan The Man claims not to miss football and expresses no interested in the contemporary game unless he’s got some action riding on a result, but in fairness, it’s hard to think of a modern player with nearly as much personality.
He delighted the rest of us “ except maybe those fans at Roker Park who went berserk the day in 1973 that he and Tony Hazell knocked over the FA Cup Sunderland had won four days before and had placed with pride on a table by the pitch before their final league game, against QPR.
“We had a bet to see if we could hit the Cup,” Bowles recalls, adamant the story is not an urban myth, despite assertions by his manager of the time, Gordon Jago. “Tony kicked and he hit it. I kicked it and I hit it. We dented the bloody thing. We won 3-0. I scored two goals. It was the headlines on the News At Ten. At least they had a riot in Sunderland. They don’t get many of them.”
“Charlie George was with me at Forest,” Bowles remembers, “on loan from Southampton for about a month. Clough, he went to Charlie and said, ‘When I say play centre-forward laddie, you play centre-forward.’ Charlie turned to him and said, ‘Fuck off you northern tosser.’ That was on the Saturday. He was gone on the Monday. People did stand up to Clough, but not many.
“When I was there, it was like, what’s the fucking problem, from him. Fuck off. I was there a year. After five months he left me out. I never spoke to him ever again after that. I used to speak to his messengers. I liked Peter Taylor. He was a gambler, like me. We could relate. I used to sing in the dressing room, London Calling. I said. ‘I’m not going anywhere, except London.’ I know the Clash. Mick Jones is a friend of mine. I just kept singing it.”
Bowles’ most commonly recognized alma mater (and Jones’ favorite club) QPR were victimized earlier today by a late Rory Fallon equalizer, as the R’s drew at Plymouth Argyle, 1-1.