Friday, September 29, 2006

Football Tales #2

Back in the mid-1970's, English football was awash with bright young talents adding their own distinctive brand of flair, panache and skill to the game.

One of them was Stan Bowles, the Queen's Park Rangers centre-forward with a fiery temperament and a knack for scoring great goals. A talent as obvious as his was inevitably spotted by the England boss of the time, Sir Alf Ramsey, and it wasn’t long before Bowles was given the call to enter international battle for his country.

Never one for turning down the opportunity to maximise his income (as any bookmaker in West London will tell you), Bowles was only too happy to lend his name to any venture that provided him with a tidy sum of money. You can understand the delight he must have felt, then, when numerous boot manufacturers came knocking at his door, asking to be associated with the latest member of the England team.

Bowles didn’t waste any time talking to the interested parties, all of whom wanted him to wear their latest footwear, but the result of his negotiations showed a shrewdness and a sense of financial nous that no-one before had matched.

When Stan Bowles walked out onto the Wembley pitch to face the Netherlands on February 9th 1977, he wore an Adidas boot on one foot and a Gola boot on the other, having accepted money from both companies. It was his last appearance for England and a memorable one for that reason. It’s just a shame they didn’t win the match - the Netherlands won the friendly 2-0.

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