An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

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An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by Rbee » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:00 pm

Ed Vulliamy - The Guardian


https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... s-memories


The smile has not changed, as puckish as it always was; nor has the mischievous glint in Stanley Bowles’s sea-blue eyes. I remember it all like yesterday, when Bowles bedazzled football, weaving, winding through a humiliated defence yet again, in the hoops of Queens Park Rangers, atop the league, back in the 1970s.

But at a pub in his native Manchester, Stan himself remembers none of this. His Alzheimer’s disease is now, as they say, “100%”, both sides of the brain, “and something at the back”, adds his daughter Andria, nowadays, as she describes herself, “full-time carer” – and lifeline. Of course, we recall a few goals of yore: “We’re talking about you playing football, Stan.”

“Football?”

Fifty years ago last weekend, QPR won one of the most remarkable cup finals in football history: from the Third Division, they overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat First Division West Bromwich Albion 3-2, and win the League Cup. I was at Wembley that unforgettable day, aged 12, with my father and brother, dizzy with disbelief.

Little did we know, though, that 1967 was just the beginning for hitherto humble Rangers. Within 10 years the club came within 14 minutes (during which Liverpool put three past Wolves, in a deciding game) of the First Division title, equivalent to today’s Premier League. But memory of the zenith decade casts a shadow over QPR’s half-centennial, for that achievement in 1975-76 was synonymous with the uncanny brilliance and waggish personality of one player: Bowles. The man who, as his best friend Don Shanks says, “can hardly remember who he is. It’s heartbreaking, soul-destroying.”

My God, those days. I travelled every long weekend either back from university to west London or up and down the M6, M1, usually in a Morris Minor driven by my best friend Patrick Wintour (of this parish), brother Tom and a friend, William, whose family had shared our house. We went to watch the Superhoops and above all the greatest player ever to wear them, Bowles. My sister, now a professional illustrator, started her career by winning, aged 15, a “Draw Stan Bowles” competition. My first ever article was published in The Superhoop supporters’ club magazine.

We would drive to Sunderland or Manchester, take supporters’ club chartered trains to Stoke, hitchhike back from Everton. After listening to that last terrible Wolves v Liverpool game on the wireless, Patrick said: “I’ve never felt so philosophical in my life. Nothing’s ever meant so much.” His girlfriend was furious. At the centre of it all: Bowles’s flair, long hair, gawkish gait but spellbinding ability to accelerate, decelerate, anticipate. His late winner at Newcastle, voodoo with the ball against Middlesbrough, a perfect winning goal at Leicester, then what could have been a title-clincher against Leeds in our last game of the season.

Among those also watching was the former home secretary Alan Johnson, who says: “Bowles’s impish wizardry left so many Rangers fans with wonderful memories. I am privileged to be one of them.” The broadcaster Robert Elms insists: “The bond between QPR and Stan Bowles is more complete than between any other single player and a football team. This wayward, wondrous, magical, yet totally down-to-earth street genius is the embodiment of our Queens Park Rangers.” The composer Michael Nyman says: “My love of Stan goes back to a muddy match when he first played at Loftus Road against Rangers for Carlisle in 1972 [we signed him five months later]. He was as astonishing then as in every subsequent match I saw him play in.”

Stan’s golden years were shared, on and off the pitch, with Shanks, the QPR defender famous for “stealing” Miss World Mary Stavin from Liverpool’s Graeme Souness. Bowles reputedly took every opportunity during a game at Anfield to remind Souness of his mate’s conquest. “Stan played football without stress or pressure,” Shanks recalls. “While other players would be in a panic during a big game, or poor shape for a bad one, Stan would just play. ‘Give me the ball, I’ll do the rest.’ A football pitch was Stan’s natural home.”

The manager Dave Sexton stressed then what he called Rangers’ “continental” football, inspired by Dutch games, and Shanks places Bowles in the history of what has happened to British football since. Shanks says: “Stan was like players who come from Europe now, before their time: Costa, Agüero. A star, but unselfish; he was a team player … amazing rapport. We knew what Stan would try to do – the amazing thing is that he did it. Round the back of the defence, with pace – and magic.”

But it was Stan the man that Shanks – and QPR fans and players – loved too. “Everyone was equal to Stan,” he says. “It didn’t matter if you were collecting rubbish or a pop star. If QPR were up in Manchester, he might stay over and play for a Sunday league team.” Bowles would stop over at Shanks’s parents’ flat on the White City estate, next to Loftus Road: “Always polite – ‘Thank you Mr Shanks, thank you Mrs Shanks’ … I used to say: ‘It’s OK Stan – no one else talks to them like that.’”

I remember Bowles joining fans in The Crown & Sceptre near QPR’s ground on Christmas Eve – his birthday. He was offered more pints than even he could manage, and bought a few himself, for total – albeit adoring – strangers.

Most famously: “Stan loved a bet,” says Shanks, who was also his partner at the White City dog track or bookmakers. “Not big money – it was a pastime, 50 quid between two dogs, for the adrenaline rush. He hardly went to a casino, but if he did, he’d put £20 here, £20 there. Later, he’d go to those card schools and play for six hours.” A barman at the dog track was John O’Mahony, now among fans campaigning for a Bowles testimonial. He says: “Stan always drew people round him, but he never showed off. He was always just himself.”

And he still is, but actually not. Bowles moved back from London to Manchester before the family announced his condition in 2015. And here he is, at the Whitegate Inn on the road to Oldham, enjoying lager-and-lemonade-top with Andria, his friend Mike, a builder who visits every day, and Joanne Connolly, a fan whose dad – “Taxi Teddy” – knew Bowles from outings to the dogs; Joanne calls Stan the “adolescent fervour that lasted a lifetime”.

Stan wears a dapper woollen overcoat, tartan tweed hat and smart scarf. Now he puts on a pair of sunglasses. “Dino!” he says. “That’s Robert De Niro,” explains Mike. “Dino!” repeats Stan. “It’s hard to speak Stan-ish,” says Andria. “He’s having a good day today, but it’s not always like this. On bad days, he’s a rabbit in the headlights, very anxious and confused.” Andria, the modern-day matriarch of Moston, is a woman of humbling strength and commitment, but insists to the contrary: “It’s something I do,” she says of her charge. She admits: “He was a selfish Dad, but he’s mellowed, he’d started to do that before the disease. Now he’s home, with us, where my own Nan and Grandpa lived.”

There are moments of sudden clarity from Bowles. I mention Gerry Francis, the QPR captain with whom Stan had telepathic rapport: “Gerry, he’s alright he is.” And when you call him Stan he corrects you: “It’s Stanley!”

In comes Stanley’s great-granddaughter, Macie, aged five. Andria used to run another pub down the road “where my Nan used to drink”, but gave it up to look after Macie (“my son’s daughter, but …”) before Stanley was diagnosed. “So it’s like having two children now,” says Andria. I ask: “Macie, does he do what he’s told?” “No, ’cause he doesn’t know what you’re saying. He can’t talk proper because he’s poorly. But I understand him.”

Mike says he still takes Stanley for a bet: “He’ll write ‘2.15C’ – it could be Cheltenham, it could be Catterick. Once he put a tenner on a winner, worth £130, but he’d thrown away the chit.”

“London!” Stanley repeats. Mike takes him “up” to the smoke occasionally, and they stay around Brentford, Bowles’s last professional club. Mention of the Bees starts another, urgent, conversation: that club staged a benefit game in 1987, and this season published a commemorative programme to raise funds for Stan’s welfare. “I see myself looking after him for the rest of his life,” Andria insists, but talk inevitably turns to the possibility that Stan will need residential care one day. “There are two options,” Shanks had said, “go the NHS way or get private so he can be comfortable and his family can visit.” “There’s a place down the road,” says Andria, “£600 a week.”

Bowles played in days when footballers even at his level were unable to plan for what might follow. The announcement that Billy McNeill – the first captain of a British team, Celtic, to hoist the European Cup, half a century ago – suffers from dementia reopened the dual debates over welfare and head injuries. Bowles’s condition – and dire financial straits – is an example of the game’s reluctance to look after its own; Nobby Stiles also suffers from Alzheimer’s, but there is scant care from mighty Manchester United. Alex Young, who died last week from a short illness after suffering from dementia, had better luck having played for Everton who operate, says O’Mahony, “a role-model system for former players”.

QPR has an ex-players association, but with no benevolent welfare charge. “Sometimes,” says Shanks, “I wonder what the PFA is there for if not to help people like Stan and Frank Sibley [Rangers midfielder in that 1967 Wembley final, now battling Parkinson’s]. I also wonder if the people running QPR understand the legacy, who Stan was, what he meant to the club and its fans.”

The club did organise a Stan Bowles Day in 2015, at which he waved to adoring crowds before a game with Rotherham. Fifty pence from each programme went to Bowles, and there’s a fund with over £15,000 in it – but the matter of a proper testimonial at QPR has embittered some corners of Shepherd’s Bush.

Discussions began in 2015, when supporters met the club soon after Bowles’s family made his condition public. “The first meeting was positive,” says O’Mahony, “but it was down to us to arrange it all, and raise funds. Now we’re two years down the line, and Stan has deteriorated.”

A spokesman for the club referred to a statement a fortnight ago from the CEO, Lee Hoos, who said: “To set the record straight: QPR, as a club, welcome the proposal of a Stan Bowles benefit match. We are determined to help put on an event for Stan that supports his care and raises money … We are today starting the steps to ensure this event is a success.”

“There’s no coming back from where Stan is now,” says Shanks. “But …” He recalls Stan Bowles Day – “when Stan walked out at Loftus Road he knew exactly where he was, for some reason; a moment of knowing who he was. The family’s been fantastic, and now this should be testimonial year for Stan – he was the greatest, this is a special case. I’ve got a lump in my throat saying this, but we don’t have long. We can’t get to that situation of: ‘Oh, should’ve done this, should’ve done that.’ It has to be now.”

We raise another glass in Manchester. “We all love you Stan!” Bowles puts down his beer, takes my hand with a vice-grip, and stands. “Stay still,” he says, takes my head between his palms and plants a smacker on my cheek. I glance towards the others and, as Mike says, “I’ve got glass in my eyes”. Stanley sits and says: “I’m still going.” His eyes twinkle. And again: “I’m still going.”

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by T-Block » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:18 pm

Thanks,brings a tear to the eye-He deserves help -get a game organised.

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by Bear-Grills » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:41 pm

“Sometimes,” says Shanks, “I wonder what the PFA is there for..."

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by QPR_John » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:08 pm

I started supporting this club many many years ago when in the old third division south. A small team with no expectation of anything higher. But I have seen some of the greatest players to grace this game in the hoops and Stan tops the lot. I remember Rodney going to Manchester City and feeling it was the end of the world but we got Stan. Simply I feel privileged to have seen this man play the game and even more so in the hoops.

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by kernowhoop » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:27 pm

QPR_John wrote:
Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:08 pm
I started supporting this club many many years ago when in the old third division south. A small team with no expectation of anything higher. But I have seen some of the greatest players to grace this game in the hoops and Stan tops the lot. I remember Rodney going to Manchester City and feeling it was the end of the world but we got Stan. Simply I feel privileged to have seen this man play the game and even more so in the hoops.
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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by Virginia_R » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:16 pm

I would be hugely, hugely surprised if Sinton and Hoos didn't have something in the pipeline for Stan.

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by TRFKAP » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:46 pm

Virginia_R wrote:
Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:16 pm
I would be hugely, hugely surprised if Sinton and Hoos didn't have something in the pipeline for Stan.
Pipelines are all well and good but I have just been through the exact situation in my life and you can never know when that last corner will be turned and care becomes impossible for the family... this needs to happen now. NHS care will remove Stan from all that is familiar to him, his only anchor-points in life, and that can be disastrous for both his physical and emotional well-being.

Charity matches can be organised in a matter of weeks when the cause is one that all are rallied around, they cant wait for that "perfect" moment - pick an empty Saturday (easy with Sky moves and the cups we aren't in) and start the work...

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by Wegerle » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:58 pm

This article puts everyday life into perspective. Terrible to hear anyone in such a condition.
I really hope QPR can go the extra mile and organize a testimonial for Stan and his familiy.
In a day and age where absolutely ludicrous amounts of money is flowing through professional football, helping one of your own in days of need shouldn't be too difficult.

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by Esox Lucius » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:16 pm

As well as finding some funds to help Frank Sibley & Ron Hunt, who was a one club player and set up the winner for Mark Lazarus in 67, too I hope.
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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by DAVEf » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:05 am

I'm still not sure a match is the answer. So much money spent to organise it and so much spent by fans on travelling (and other expenses) and not going to Stan. For a footie match that no-one could ever care about.

There must be enough people involved with QPR with the knowledge to put on, say, a live on-line auction for donated Goodies? And nothing wasted on travelling expenses etc. Those not savvy enough to log in on the day could send in postal bids if a pre-prepared list of items was available.

Not traditional. Not as publicly "showy". Not as media-attractive (but what would they donate for filming?). Maybe not as smaltzy. But it would produce more dosh for Stanley, I'm sure.
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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by BiscuitRanger » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:35 pm

DAVEf wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:05 am
I'm still not sure a match is the answer. So much money spent to organise it and so much spent by fans on travelling (and other expenses) and not going to Stan. For a footie match that no-one could ever care about.

There must be enough people involved with QPR with the knowledge to put on, say, a live on-line auction for donated Goodies? And nothing wasted on travelling expenses etc. Those not savvy enough to log in on the day could send in postal bids if a pre-prepared list of items was available.



Not traditional. Not as publicly "showy". Not as media-attractive (but what would they donate for filming?). Maybe not as smaltzy. But it would produce more dosh for Stanley, I'm sure.
Or, those who wish to attend.... submit all receipts (match and travel) and the club gives a matching donation.

As for a match... who would you want to see play?
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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by DAVEf » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:43 am

BiscuitRanger wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:35 pm
DAVEf wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:05 am
I'm still not sure a match is the answer. So much money spent to organise it and so much spent by fans on travelling (and other expenses) and not going to Stan. For a footie match that no-one could ever care about.

There must be enough people involved with QPR with the knowledge to put on, say, a live on-line auction for donated Goodies? And nothing wasted on travelling expenses etc. Those not savvy enough to log in on the day could send in postal bids if a pre-prepared list of items was available.



Not traditional. Not as publicly "showy". Not as media-attractive (but what would they donate for filming?). Maybe not as smaltzy. But it would produce more dosh for Stanley, I'm sure.
Or, those who wish to attend.... submit all receipts (match and travel) and the club gives a matching donation.

As for a match... who would you want to see play?
OK. I'm just questioning why anyone would want to attend if they could contribute more by not attending. Obviously some would but that, IMO, makes it an ego thing, a QPR thing, an "us" thing --- and it shouldn't be about us, it should be about him which surely means raising the maximum amount of money? He won't remember any match that gets put on or any old friends or famous faces that turn up. He just needs his future paid for.

Your suggestion still sees money going down the proverbial. Why don't people make donations and the club match (or half match them)? Why should we want something (even if it's only the memory of an evening) to prove that we care?

As for a match --- I wouldn't want to see anyone one play. And wouldn't. I would probably take whatever the travel costs would have been and the ticket price and give the dosh to one of the dementia charities. OK, Stan wouldn't have got it but he would have got very little of it anyway once my costs and the organisers' costs had been met if I had travelled to an "event". But I might not even do that. Maybe just get someone to buy a programme on my behalf or, if available, buy it on-line.

To repeat, IMO, this has to be about Stan and his future --- not about QPR, not about fun and friends, not about nostalgia, not about making a public point about how special he was to us nor about how special we are. Just the maximum amount of money that can be raised --- and the less there is of the other stuff, the more of the folding stuff there will be.

But that's just my view of things.
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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by SheepRanger » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:54 am

DAVEf wrote:
Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:43 am
BiscuitRanger wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:35 pm
DAVEf wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:05 am
I'm still not sure a match is the answer. So much money spent to organise it and so much spent by fans on travelling (and other expenses) and not going to Stan. For a footie match that no-one could ever care about.

There must be enough people involved with QPR with the knowledge to put on, say, a live on-line auction for donated Goodies? And nothing wasted on travelling expenses etc. Those not savvy enough to log in on the day could send in postal bids if a pre-prepared list of items was available.



Not traditional. Not as publicly "showy". Not as media-attractive (but what would they donate for filming?). Maybe not as smaltzy. But it would produce more dosh for Stanley, I'm sure.
Or, those who wish to attend.... submit all receipts (match and travel) and the club gives a matching donation.

As for a match... who would you want to see play?
OK. I'm just questioning why anyone would want to attend if they could contribute more by not attending. Obviously some would but that, IMO, makes it an ego thing, a QPR thing, an "us" thing --- and it shouldn't be about us, it should be about him which surely means raising the maximum amount of money? He won't remember any match that gets put on or any old friends or famous faces that turn up. He just needs his future paid for.

Your suggestion still sees money going down the proverbial. Why don't people make donations and the club match (or half match them)? Why should we want something (even if it's only the memory of an evening) to prove that we care?

As for a match --- I wouldn't want to see anyone one play. And wouldn't. I would probably take whatever the travel costs would have been and the ticket price and give the dosh to one of the dementia charities. OK, Stan wouldn't have got it but he would have got very little of it anyway once my costs and the organisers' costs had been met if I had travelled to an "event". But I might not even do that. Maybe just get someone to buy a programme on my behalf or, if available, buy it on-line.

To repeat, IMO, this has to be about Stan and his future --- not about QPR, not about fun and friends, not about nostalgia, not about making a public point about how special he was to us nor about how special we are. Just the maximum amount of money that can be raised --- and the less there is of the other stuff, the more of the folding stuff there will be.

But that's just my view of things.
What are the PFA doing?

Why donate only for Stan who has had one testimonial and wasted his football earnings. If there's going to be a game it should be for all former Qpr players who have fallen on hard times.

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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by DAVEf » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:38 pm

SheepRanger wrote:
Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:54 am
DAVEf wrote:
Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:43 am
BiscuitRanger wrote:
Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:35 pm


Or, those who wish to attend.... submit all receipts (match and travel) and the club gives a matching donation.

As for a match... who would you want to see play?
OK. I'm just questioning why anyone would want to attend if they could contribute more by not attending. Obviously some would but that, IMO, makes it an ego thing, a QPR thing, an "us" thing --- and it shouldn't be about us, it should be about him which surely means raising the maximum amount of money? He won't remember any match that gets put on or any old friends or famous faces that turn up. He just needs his future paid for.

Your suggestion still sees money going down the proverbial. Why don't people make donations and the club match (or half match them)? Why should we want something (even if it's only the memory of an evening) to prove that we care?

As for a match --- I wouldn't want to see anyone one play. And wouldn't. I would probably take whatever the travel costs would have been and the ticket price and give the dosh to one of the dementia charities. OK, Stan wouldn't have got it but he would have got very little of it anyway once my costs and the organisers' costs had been met if I had travelled to an "event". But I might not even do that. Maybe just get someone to buy a programme on my behalf or, if available, buy it on-line.

To repeat, IMO, this has to be about Stan and his future --- not about QPR, not about fun and friends, not about nostalgia, not about making a public point about how special he was to us nor about how special we are. Just the maximum amount of money that can be raised --- and the less there is of the other stuff, the more of the folding stuff there will be.

But that's just my view of things.
What are the PFA doing?

Why donate only for Stan who has had one testimonial and wasted his football earnings. If there's going to be a game it should be for all former Qpr players who have fallen on hard times.
What it "should" or "shouldn't" be is irrelevant? If you start telling people who/what they can and cant give their money to they won't bother and everyone loses out. Why do we care so much about some people and less about others anyway?

Stan's plight is sad sure enough but there are kids in Africa dying from lack of water, Diarrhea, Measles etc etc. Shouldn't Stan be told "Sorry, there are more deserving cases in the World than an ex-footballer who has the help of a civilised country behind him".

But if people don't give to help Stan, it's probable they won't, instead, give money to, say, Comic Relief. So it has to be blinkered, saying sorry to all those in need, but this a personal thing and mustn't be interfered with --- this man touched something in people and those people should be left to respond how they wish and deal with any conscience issue in their own hearts. Surely?
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Re: An Afternoon with Stan Bowles

Post by consigliarikb0 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:29 pm

Seeing as we don't take the FA cup seriously....

Why not just donate all takings from the next FA cup home game to Stan.

Will make it a sell out, raise money and not take away from the club (as I doubt they budget for it).

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