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Friday, May 22, 2009

Stan Bowles Remembers...Rodney Marsh Recalls...Flashback: QPR's FA Cup Final Day...Wycombe Friendly

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STAN BOWLES - Daily Mail/Ivan Speck - Football icon Stan Bowles doesn't care who goes down... as long as it's Sunderland
- A Mancunian showboater of the Seventies often mistaken as a Cockney wide boy would be the last person you would expect to carry a mischievously burning desire to see Sunderland relegated.
- Then again, Stan Bowles never did stereotypes.
- The hair is white now, the face weathered by age and a steady diet of cigarettes and alcohol, yet the chirpiness which once saw him knock the FA Cup off its perch at Roker Park and cause a riot that shattered Sunderland's post-Cup final honeymoon still swims impishly in the crystal-clear blue waters of his 60-year-old eyes.
- What a player: Bowles (left) with model Jenny Clarke in 1976
'I don't care who goes down on Sunday as long as it's Sunderland,' Bowles says, a half-smile running across his lips.
'They don't like me to this day up there. Do I like them? No, not really.'
- One of English football's generation of entertainers - alongside the likes of George Best, Charlie George, Alan Hudson and Rodney Marsh - Bowles cared not for protocol or respect, especially on that Roker evening in May 1973.
Second Division Sunderland had beaten mighty Leeds to lift the FA Cup. Four days later, they hosted already-promoted Queens Park Rangers in their final league game.
- The Cup was paraded, celebration was in the air. Not content with kicking a ball at the Cup and tipping it off its table, Bowles goaded the Sunderland players throughout QPR's 3-0 win, in which he scored twice.
- One Wembley hero, midfielder Mick Horswill, was sent off for a tackle on him, and Bowles then pulled the ultimate stunt on keeper Jim Montgomery, whose double save had passed into Cup final legend.
- 'I went round him and put the ball almost on the line waiting for him to scramble across his goalmouth before I tapped it in,' Bowles said.
- 'That was it. All of a sudden from the top end the fans came on the pitch. It was madness, seeing a few thousand people running at you. I made sure I got down the tunnel sharpish.
The man: Stan Bowles strides confidently away from the goalmouth after scoring against Manchester United for QPR
- 'The fans had seen I was taking the p***. Asking the Sunderland players how the f*** they had beaten Leeds and getting them angrier and angrier by the moment.
- 'We weren't allowed to go out after that game because the fans gathered outside the hotel where we were staying. I think they got fined for it afterwards, for something I caused. F****** good job. I never played at Sunderland again. If I'd seen the fixture coming up, though, I'd have thought about inventing a groin strain to get out of playing there.
- 'If I had a choice of who's going down on Sunday it would be them.'
- That's Stanley Bowles. As irreverent and irrational today as during a playing career that many believed could have been glorious had he committed as much attention to his football as he did to gambling. He was given his first racing tip at 16, when he pressed raincoats in a Manchester factory. He put a fiver on the horse at 10-1. It won. Just about the last time he backed a winner, if you believe the stories.
- 'I was renowned for being arrogant. I wasn't really. I just knew what I was doing on the pitch. When I was on my game I felt unstoppable and I let them know. I'd go past a fella trying to tackle me, look back at him and say, "Come on, get up, I'll let you have another go".
- 'That's why they never liked me in the England squad. Even the Liverpool players didn't really talk to me. Kevin Keegan was all right, but the rest - Emlyn Hughes and Phil Thompson among them - were a bit frosty because I'd taken the p*** when we played them.'
- Bowles walked out on England after being substituted against Northern Ireland. He would later walk out on Brian Clough and a place in a Nottingham Forest European Cup final side - 'That medal would be worth 20 grand now'.
The tales he tells are part of his after-dinner speaking routine. How he was sacked by Manchester City for missing a flight to play Ajax. 'I told them I was on my way, but what I didn't know was that the flight was delayed for three hours. I didn't actually try to go at all.'
- How he was shown the door again after five weeks at Bury. 'I took a cab to training and told the manager to take the fare out of my wages. He wouldn't, so I jumped back in the cab and went back to Manchester.'
- How he would arrive at the QPR ground from the bookies at 2.50pm and throw on his kit, how he asked fans with radios which horse had won the 3.20pm at Kempton.
Then there were his drinking sessions with the late George Best.
- 'It was always at an Irish pub in Chelsea Harbour. George used to have white wine and soda in a glass bigger than a pint glass and double brandies with it. I couldn't keep up with him. I normally just drank beer, so I'd come out of there and start walking the wrong way, over one of the bridges. That's how drunk I was.'
Thankfully for Sunderland fans, they don't make them like Stan Bowles any more. Mail

RODNEY MARSH: The Guardian, Thursday 21 May 2009 Marsh and Sir Alf
1960s and 70s legend Rodney Marsh on his relationship with Alf Ramsey and how workhorses still seem to take precedence in the England side over skilful risk-takers
- The thing you have to remember is that Alf Ramsey and I came from the same place. We were both cockneys. The other thing is that Alf tended to speak in a very poncey plum-in-the-mouth way. It was all "Oh hello Rodney and how are you?". To me it was all complete bollocks. The last time I was picked by him for England we had a team talk before the game and Alf told me we all had to work harder. "Rodney you in particular," he said in his accent. Then he said: "if you don't work hard I'm going to pull you off at half time." And I said: "Christ, at Man City all we get is a cup of tea and an orange."
- Nobody laughed. And not only that, but it was the last time I ever got picked. There was a direct correlation between that sarcastic remark and me not playing again. But to be fair to Alf I also hadn't played well for England. That's not an excuse or a reason; it's just an explanation.
- Still, I had a good run: I think Stan Bowles only played twice. People like Charlie George and Tony Currie only got a couple of games. But I don't blame Alf Ramsey; I blame myself.
- All that stuff about maverick players, it was the culture of British football at the time and I don't regret for one minute my attitude towards football. I'm not speaking for any other player but I was born a free spirit and I played the game the same way. You either loved it or you hated it. I make no excuses for that and I wouldn't change a thing. Did that contribute to me to only getting nine caps? Probably.
- English football has always been scared to do the outrageous. I think you could name on one hand people like Paul Gascoigne, Rodney Marsh, Matt Le Tissier, Peter Osgood of that ilk who have been given a chance. The average England player has a great engine, hard-working. You could argue that Wayne Rooney could be that Maverick-type player and, probably, the big difference is that Wayne Rooney runs himself into the ground for the team, and I never did that, I always felt there were other players to do that. One of the biggest compliments paid to me was in Alfredo di Stéfano's book where he says that Rodney Marsh was the most gifted footballer outside of Brazil. That made me feel good. I played against his Valencia team twice and we fucking murdered them.
- But you couldn't have a team of Rodney Marshes. You'd never get the ball. I would hold my hand up and say that I was a luxury player and I make no bones about that. But I would argue the point that my generation of player underachieved. Why players like Bowles and George didn't get more caps you'd have to ask Ramsey. But I would say one thing: If you count the caps of Frank Worthington, Bowles, Tony Currie, Peter Osgood, Rodney Marsh and Alan Hudson, Carlton Palmer has got more caps than all those players combined. I think that tells you something. During Graham Taylor's time England had a midfield with Andy Sinton, David Batty, Carlton Palmer and Geoff Thomas. How the fuck are you going to win a World Cup with a team like that?
- • Rodney Marsh's website can be found at rodneymarsh.net The Guardian

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