Beat around the Bush - Super Stan Bowles was simply the best for QPR

Stan Bowles in action for QPR against Liverpool in August 1975

Stan Bowles in action for QPR against Liverpool in August 1975 - Credit: S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport

In the build-up to this weekend’s #StanBowlesDay, lifelong QPR fan Mark Hill discusses his memories of watching the club legend in action.

I first saw Stan Bowles play in 1972 when I watched my first game against Carlisle. I don’t remember much about him from that game, but by the end of that season he was my favourite player and boyhood hero.

We were promoted to Division One at the end of that campaign and Stan had made a real impression on my then seven-year old self. Of course I had the Rangers shirt with the red No10 and the shoulder-length hair and I would always be Stan when playing football with my mates.

The next three seasons were just magical, culminating in the 1975/76 season when we narrowly missed out on the title. Stan was the maestro in that side, pulling the strings and delighting fans with the entertaining and eccentric way he played the game.

There were plenty of examples of individual brilliance over the years – a scorcher from outside the box to make it 1-1 against Chelsea, and I remember him waltzing past three or four Arsenal defenders before flighting a deft shot that clipped the top of the bar. I still think that if that had gone in it would have been his best-ever goal.

My favourite memory is when I took my school friend Ravi to watch Rangers v Coventry in the cup. I had been raving about Stan and Ravi was excited to see him. He had been fairly quiet during the game though, and at 2-2 Rangers were struggling a little.

It was near the end and a frustrated Ravi said ‘I want to see some Bowles magic’. Suddenly, Rangers were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Stan the man curled in the sweetest left-footer to make it 3-2, right on cue! It wasn’t the only time we saw him do that.

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There were other maverick players around at that time, but Stan was not only individually brilliant, he was also a real team player. He brought the best out of those around him with his sublime vision and incisive passing. He developed a telepathic understanding with Gerry Francis and those two, along with Dave Thomas, Don Givens and Don Masson, became an unstoppable force.

This reached the peak of its expression in the 75/76 season, and Rangers produced football from another planet to tear the top team in the country, Liverpool, to shreds in the opening game.

We should have won the title that year and Stan was at the centre of it all. We just used to show up to Loftus Road every Saturday afternoon expecting magic, and we were rarely disappointed.

Thank you, Sir Stan.

Follow me @Chillkram