Stan the man! by Mikey Howard
We have had many players at Queens Park Rangers Football Club that have earned the right to be called Legends; Rodney Marsh, Mark Lazarus, Sir Les Ferdinand, Alan MacDonald, Paul Furlong and Gerry Francis to name but a few.
However, there is one player that stands on a plateau above the others in my personal opinion. Stan Bowles.
Born in Collyhurst, Manchester on December 24th, 1948 I bet his parents didn`t expect their new-born bundle of joy to grow up into a maverick and set the football stages alight. Starting his career at Manchester City (17 apps., 2 goals), his relationship with manager Malcolm Allison soon hit the rocks and the inevitable bust-ups soon took their toll. He then had spells with Bury ( 5 apps., 0 goals), and then went onto Crewe Alexandra ( 51 apps., 18 goals). From there onto Carlisle, (33 apps, 12 goals). However, after a managerial change, he was sold to QPR for £112, 000 in September, 1972. With the departure of Rodney Marsh to Manchester City a few months before, Stan arrived at W12 and was given the coveted 10 shirt. fitting into the squad with ease, he soon struck up an almost telepathic relationship with Gerry Francis and was now part of, arguably, the best team that Queens Park Rangers Football Club has ever had.
Stan soon became a superstar at W12. His natural skill and technique coupled with his amazing self confidence in his own ability soon propelled him to icon status among the Loftus Road faithful. His antics off the pitch as well as on labelled him a Maverick. But, much more than that, he was an entertainer ! The cheeky chappy from up North put on a show whenever he put on the blue and white hoops. He dazzled with his flair, his tenacity and his technique which all derived from his own inner-belief that he was the best at what he did. And who`s going to argue with that ?! 315 appearances, 97 goals for QPR. He came from Carlisle to where he belonged - W12 !
He was soon recognized by his country and played his first game for England in April, 1974 against Portugal under the then Gaffer who was Sir Alf Ramsey (who`s last game it was in charge of the national side). In the 5 games he played for England he scored once versus Wales at Ninian Park in 1974. England was now not on his radar and he decided to commit his footballing career to QPR.
So, what made Stan stand out amonst the other superstars of his day ? Simple: He was him ! What you saw is what you got. He didn`t mould himself on other players of his generation. He just pulled on his kit, tied his boot laces and trotted out onto the pitch, performed and entertained. And, it was pure entertainment. You could say the same about his off-the-field antics but, I`m not going into that here.
Will we see another Stan Bowles at W12 ? I very much doubt it ! He is a very rare breed. A one-off who only comes along once in a lifetime.
So, thanks for the memories, Stan. You were and still are, The Man !