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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bowles is Back! Profile and Interview

Another great profile and interview by the QPR Official Site. This time: the #1 QPR Hero, for many, many people: Stan Bowles!


The number 10 shirt has always been a symbol of the unique style and charisma of Queens Park Rangers Football Club.

And no one wore that shirt with more distinction than Stanley Bowles. A perfect 10 in every way, he had fantastic football skills and was a real colourful character on and off the pitch.

Bowles signed for £112,000 from Carlisle United in September 1972. He went on to make 315 appearances for the R's and scored 97 goals in our glory years at the highest level.

His dribbling technique was genius-like with a left foot that could unhinge any defence. And the Manchester-born maverick typified that carefree era at Rangers by always playing with a smile on his face.

Bowles said: "The 70's were especially good for me because they sparked off my career. I was just lucky wasn't I? Football came naturally to me. I had a laugh every day whatever happened. That was how I liked it, to tell you the truth.

"I particularly enjoyed my time at QPR, because the Club really started to take off as well. We won promotion from the Second Division in my first season. And in the mid-70's, we probably had the best team in the country without a doubt."

Bowles was the jewel in the crown for our League Championship challenge of 1975/76 and he recalls the run-in vividly, as Rangers just missed out on the title by a point.

"With five games to go, we were 5-1 on to win the League," he said. "That has never happened before or since in QPR's history!

"I remember the last game of the season against Leeds. It was sold out with 31,000 fans there at Loftus Road. We won 2-0 and we all threw our shirts into the crowd at the end. We had finished our fixtures on top of the table and we were Champions for 10 days. Then Liverpool overtook us by winning their final match 3-1 at Wolves.

"All the Rangers players were invited to a television studio to watch that decisive clash at Molineux. But I walked out during the second half. It was 1-1 at the time and I could see that Liverpool were getting on top. I just couldn't handle watching it."

The R's dished up a unique brand of pure 'total' football that season. The precise passing would begin from the back and would invariably end with our gifted number 10 weaving past a couple of defenders before curling the ball into the top corner of the net.

Bowles loved being part of the attack-minded Rangers side, as it provided a perfect outlet for his vibrant flair.

"Our pattern of play was all down to Dave Sexton. He was definitely one of the best Managers I came across in my career. He had us playing patiently out from defence and it really worked well. We never smashed it up in the air. The defenders would just give the ball to someone who could create openings and that was the name of the game.

"QPR were the most entertaining team in the League by a mile. When we played midweek fixtures, you would always see different Managers from Clubs all over the country sitting in the stands. They came to watch us play because they knew something would happen. And they were never disappointed as we had a team that could produce the goods in every game.

"Personally, I had a special understanding on the pitch with Gerry Francis. He was a marvellous captain for QPR. It only took us a couple of training sessions before Gerry and I both knew exactly what the other was going to do. That made things a lot easier in matches."

After just missing out on winning the League, Rangers embarked on a sparkling campaign in the UEFA Cup in 1976/77. We had stunning victories over Brann Bergen, Slovan Bratislava and FC Cologne, before losing to AEK Athens in the quarter-finals in a penalty shoot-out.

Bowles hit the net 11 times in that Cup run - breaking the record for the number of goals scored by a British player in European competitions in one season.

"I really liked it against the foreign teams. I found it quite easy. We had beaten a number of Continental sides in friendlies the year before so we knew we were on to something good when we entered the UEFA Cup.

"Our tactics definitely suited European matches. We used to hit people on the break and we were very good at getting forward. It was made to measure for that season in Europe."

The great Rangers team broke up shortly after that and Bowles moved on to Nottingham Forest in December 1979 for £250,000. He later finished his career at Leyton Orient and Brentford.

But it was in Shepherds Bush where 'Stan The Man' relished his best playing days and won five England caps. He is still idolised by the fans here as one of our all-time legends. And when Bowles, now 58, returns to Loftus Road to watch the R's, it is not uncommon to see grown men rush up and throw their arms around him in adulation.

"It means a lot to me that the R's supporters always treat me really well.

"I have a true love for QPR, because they kick-started my life in football and I am proud that I was able to play my part as Rangers became a better Club in the 1970's," he concluded. QPR

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