In the old days there was something of a tradition of young football reporters getting together for a beer before Saturday matches at QPR’s Loftus Road ground.
Stan The Man would quickly arrive at Queen’s Tavern on South Africa Road about half an hour before kick-off at 3pm, after stopping by the corner shop to buy a pack of cigarettes.
He would smoke the first of those cigarettes for luck, have a pint and then stop at the adjacent betting shop to place his bets for the day’s races. She would arrive at the home locker room too late for the coach’s talk with the team, but just in time to put on her uniform and boots and run out of the tunnel. To roars of acclamation from the crowd.
Whether there was a pause in the game or not, he would walk to the sideline shortly before halftime and call out to a couple of regular fans near the home dugout, who would tell him what a bummer he had won the 3:30 game. somewhere like Haydock. Park.
This would be repeated during the second half to gain insight into more of the day’s races. After the post-match interviews (always jocular affairs, win or lose at the gee-gees or the game), we would meet again in the pub. Then he would be out partying on Saturday night with Don Shanks, his teammate and roommate. Perhaps through a home visit from a bettor at the nearest racetrack.
Stan Bowles was the ultimate maverick number 10 and one of football’s greatest characters.
Bowles played only five times for England because coaches did not trust him at the highest level.
Your browser does not support iframes.
Of all the mavericks who wore the iconic number 10 jersey and left the game with their splendid talent only partially realized, Stanley Bowles was the ultimate scoundrel. Like his soulmates of the 1970s, he played very few caps for England as they were not trusted at the highest level by such professionally demanding coaches as Sir Alf Ramsey and Ron Revie.
Rodney Marsh, whom he replaced as Queen’s Park Rangers showman but who flopped at Manchester City, would eventually find a natural niche as an American football great.
Alan Hudson, idolized at Chelsea, saw his genius tragically cut short by devastating injuries inflicted by a hit-and-run driver on a London street. Tony Currie was hampered throughout his career by football injuries, but scored many goals in hundreds of games in the First Division, the precursor to the Premier League, to the adoration of his Sheffield United crowd.
A couple of center forwards were fully paid up members of the popularly loved Los Grandes Unpredictables. Charlie George played just 60 minutes in his solitary England appearance, but starred in the 1971 League and Cup double-winning Arsenal team before his rebellious nature got the better of his manager. Frank Worthington played just eight times for his country but provided charm as well as goals with his socks down, for Huddersfield, Bolton, Leicester, Birmingham and Leeds. As well as delighting those urban centers at night with his brilliant impersonation of his idol Elvis Presley.
Unfortunately, Stan Bowles has gone the way of Worthington. An old life brought to a lost, lonely and gloomy end in a nursing home by the curse of Alzheimer’s.
Don Shanks, who shared not only lodgings with him but also prison cells on a couple of occasions when the revelry went beyond wild, is among friends who tell us that Stan stopped recognizing any of them as they passed by. the years after his diagnosis in 2015. .
He also didn’t remember a minute of his time as a player. Not a moment of his scarce five games for England. So some of us are left to remember the brash artistry and carefree extravagance with which he lit up Manchester City’s Crewe. QPR, Nottingham Forest (where he inevitably fell out with Brian Clough after refusing to play in a League match because he had been left out of the team for a testimonial match), Brentford and, in my case, Leyton Orient.
Bowles (left) and Don Shanks (right) lived life to the fullest during their days as professional football players.
Stan the Man’s old life came to a lost and lonely end due to the curse of Alzheimer’s.
To reflect that when their free spirit took full flight in the 1975-76 season, surprisingly by the very authoritative and intellectual of coaches Dave Sexton, QPR finished as runners-up in the League Championship. Just one point behind Liverpool and three ahead of third place Manchester United.
This achievement of this club is a reminder that not all geniuses have to come drenched in sweat. That it should still be possible to laugh, joke, mock, refuse to settle, enjoy every moment to the fullest… while thrilling the audience and, yes, win more often than lose.
Sadly, there is still no way to juggle and smile, prank and deceive, score and charm your way out of the morbid clutches of dementia. Not even for these naughtiest sports minds.
Not even (despite all his floppy hats, shiny shoes, drinks in his hand, cigarettes between his lips and birds on his arm) for Stan The Man.