#StanBowlesDay: 'Stan was a one-off… we'll never see anyone like him ever again, says Dave Thomas
PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 August 2015
S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport
EXCLUSIVE: Former QPR winger Dave Thomas believes Stan Bowles was a 'one-off maverick', whose type we will never see again in football.
Bowles, commonly regarded by supporters as the club’s greatest-ever player, is currently undergoing treatment for Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed with the illness earlier this summer.
QPR are dedicating Saturday’s home game against Rotherham United to the club legend, with Bowles and members of his family due to be in attendance at Loftus Road as they pay tribute to their former forward.
Thomas, who played alongside Bowles for five years in a Rangers side which earned huge plaudits for their expansive style of play in the 1970s, was saddened to learn of his former team-mate’s illness and when speaking to the Times heaped praise on the 66-year-old.
He said: “There were plenty of other mavericks around at that time, but none were like Stan, there was just something about him that stood out more than the rest.
“He was a one-off. He was totally the opposite to what I was and a number of the other players too, but I respected him because he was such a great player.
“He was a great trainer, but you had to know how to handle him, because if you didn’t you would clash with him – and some managers did.
“With Stan he produced the goods 99% of the time and worked his socks off for the team too. He played football off the cuff as such, and all of us in the squad respected him for that.
“I just hope the treatment he is getting now can control the illness, because it’s so sad and this type of disease is a particularly cruel one.”
Bowles was a maverick off the field as well as on it, and was widely known to love a trip down the bookies before games as well as a knees-up in the pub afterwards, something Thomas said just made him more unique.
He added: “Stan would be watching the horses upstairs and come downstairs and get changed at ten to three. You couldn’t see that happening in the modern day now, but Dave Sexton knew how to handle him.
“Stan was Stan. If he got told to get to a meeting for 11 o’clock, Stan would think nothing of it and turn up at half past 11.
“Sometimes he’d come in late for training in a taxi, no doubt coming straight in from a night out! Jim Gregory (then chairman) loved him though, they were both mavericks in their own sense. He had a real soft spot for Stan and helped him out a lot.
“I’m sure Stan’s looking forward to going back to Loftus Road, the fans idolised him then and still do now, and rightly so – he was amazing.”
As well as Bowles and himself, the likes of Gerry Francis, Don Masson and Don Givens all developed a telepathic understanding with each other, making the Rs a force to be truly reckoned with as they were narrowly pipped to the Division One title by Liverpool in the 1975-76 season.
So how would that side fare in the modern day? Quite easily hold their own, according to Thomas.
“I think we would have been a success, definitely. The balance of the side we had then was perfect. You wouldn’t get many better than Frank McLintock in defence. He was the best leader of men I’ve ever played with.
“Then we had the likes of Phil Parkes, Dave Clement, Gerry Francis and Stan. We had a real spine to our team.
“The system was never altered, we had our own game but we would have held our own in the modern day, for sure. No question.”
One thing that amazed Thomas about Bowles was his injury record, something which was non-existent throughout his Rangers career, although the former Everton man struggles to understand how he avoided the treatment table.
“The unique thing about him is that he was very rarely injured. I was always sat next to Stan in the changing room and what amazed me most was that he’d just put his gear on and head straight out on to the pitch – he never did any stretches or anything, it was incredible.
“Every time he stepped onto the field you knew he would absolutely everything for the team though, and more often than not produce that bit of magic to win you a game. You just knew you could rely on Stan week in, week out. He was one of a kind,” he concluded.