The man who founded Air Asia with the tag “Now everyone can fly”, then started the hotel chain Tune Hotels with the tag “5-star sleeping experience at a 1-star price accommodation has now firmly turned his hand to sport. First of all with the Caterham Formula 1 team (formerly known as Lotus Racing and Team Lotus) and now into football as the majority shareholder of Queens Park Rangers. In August 2011, he did so when he bought Bernie Ecclestone's 66% share and now is also chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd. Any ideas for a tag for QPR yet?
Tony was born in Malaysia but was educated at Epsom College. Having lived in England for much of his adult life, he understands the British mentality and is fully appreciative of the game of football. Unlike other club owners these days that still live far away and appear to only be in the game for the glory and the power trip, Fernandes comes across as a genuine fan and is in it for the right reasons. Although he is actually a fan of West Ham United, (a club that he did try to invest him prior to his QPR involvement) Fernandes is highly articulate with a true understanding of the game. Here is an interview that he gave on Sky's “Soccer Saturday” last weekend.
Stan Bowles - the legend - the character - the maverick - and there are many other names that I could call him and that he has probably been called before (good and bad).
It was during his time in the latter part of his career at Orient that I personally had a minor run-in with Bowles as my father and I were leaving Corley Services on the M6 near Coventry. I recognised John Chiedozie flying past me as the Orient team coach had just pulled in. As we walked beside the coach, we could see manager Jimmy Bloomfield having a quiet snooze near the front whilst near the back of the coach clouds of smoke were clearly visible. As we reached that part of the coach we looked in to see Bowles alongside Ian Moores and several other players involved in a game of poker. Bowles was armed with a cigar and upon realising that we were looking in, blasted a whole load of obscenities at us through the window although we could not hear them - I am assuming this by his aggressive body language at the time!
Born in Collyhurst, Manchester in 1948, Bowles started his career with Manchester City in 1967. He made just 17 appearances for City in three years scoring two goals before being released to join Bury. Apparently is was some of his off the field antics that got him into trouble even back then coupled with a fiery temperament that had caused many of his problems at Maine Road.
His stay at Bury was very short before he moved on to play for 4th Division Crewe Alexandra and it was in his time at Crewe where he made 51 appearances scoring 18 goals in the 1970-71 season that he caught the eye of 2nd Division Carlisle United.
In September 1972, he made the move that would make his career when he moved down to London to sign for Queens Park Rangers for £112,000. He took over the number 10 shirt that had previously and successfully worn by Rodney Marsh - Marsh had left to join Manchester City six months earlier with Bowles claiming that he had never heard of Marsh!
Bowles would stay at QPR until 1979 becoming a legend and a known "maverick" during this period. One story that is alleged to have happened goes back to 1973 and an end of season 2nd Division game away against Sunderland who had just won the FA Cup against Leeds United a few days earlier. The cup had been placed on a table beside the pitch and Bowles was one of the main instigators in a betting pool with his team mates as to which player could hit the cup first. Bowles allegedly won the bet by hitting the trophy and sending the cup flying through the air in a move that sent the home crowd ballistic. Bowles betting habits became more and more well known as his career moved on.
Bowles would make 315 appearances for Rangers scoring 97 goals and was a regular in the side that came so close to winning the league title in 1975-76. Naturally this success along with flair and natural playing ability saw international recognition rewarded and he made his England debut against Portugal in 1974 which happened to be Sir Alf Ramsey's last game in charge. Despite his abilities sadly he would only get 5 caps for his country scoring 1 goal. Bowles was therefore put into the same category of other flair players of the era (Currie, Worthington, Hudson etc) who were mainly overlooked at international level as England settled for "safer options".
A dispute between Bowles and then manager of QPR Tommy Docherty saw him sold to Nottingham Forest where he never really settled under Brian Clough. A year later he started to wind down his career with Orient and finished it in 1984 with his three last years being spent at Brentford.
Bowles was interviewed for Sky's "Times of Our Lives" show which gathers together players from an era of a club to have a nostalgic look back at that period in time. Along with Dave Thomas and Gerry Francis who also appeared it is quite clear that Bowles maverick ways were legendary all the way through his time at Loftus Road. From his many gambling traits to even using a van that had been used in an arm robbery the day before - Bowles was not only a personality on the pitch but off of it and his stories are quite something!
Here some links to some other in-depth material regarding Bowles.From The Guardian - Did Stan Bowles take a pot shot at the FA Cup?From The Daily Mail - Interview with Stan and more on Sunderland and the FA Cup incident
An interview recorded in 2004 with BBC Radio Nottingham about his time at Nottingham Forest can be heard below (may not be available on some mobile devices)
There are three videos to accompany this article. In the first one we see action from the 1975-76 season along with interviews with Bowles, Gerry Francis and Emlyn Hughes talking about life with England under Don Revie. The video finishes with Bowles viewpoint on the same situation that happened between Hughes and Revie.
The other two videos concentrate more on the interview from the “Time of Our Lives” show which featured Bowles along with Gerry Francis and Dave Thomas as the three guests. It is obvious even from these clips that Bowles charisma still has an affect on those around to this day!
As long as Paolo Di Canio remains in the game he is always going to be newsworthy and stands as one of the few that when mentioned I know that I will be watching. The following interview took place just a few days after he was sent to the stand for joining in the celebration of a winning goal at Northampton Town. Also it is looking ahead to Swindon's FA Cup 3rd Round tie at home against Wigan Athletic - a game that became probably the biggest upset of the round.
There have been many of us for a long while now that have disputed Arsene Wenger's eye sight. It is seemingly brilliant when it comes to incidents that go against Arsenal and virtually blind when his team have got away with something.
"I did not see the incident" has almost become his personal catch phrase over the years he has said it so many times even when everybody else in the ground including those in Row Z have seen it as clear as day.
But maybe, just maybe I misunderstood and he really is almost blind in one eye or maybe both so he is telling the truth when he says he did not see and is just supporting his team when a decision has gone against them and making it up as he goes along when being interviewed. This view point is gathering evidence and Ray Parlour brought it up in a recent interview on "Goals on Sunday" with a couple of funny stories all to do with just how blind Wenger really is!
The interview above was recorded shortly after Swindon Town's 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers in which Rovers had scored a very late equaliser to earn themselves a share of the points.
Back in August Di Canio was involved in an altercation with striker Leon Clarke at the end of Swindon's League Cup fixture with Southampton. Di Canio made it clear that Clarke would never play for him again and the striker left the club within days to go on loan to Chesterfield for three months - that loan spell ends shortly!
Since then the club has had a pretty good run of results including a 14 match unbeaten run since the end of September. But the nature in which the team allowed Bristol Rovers to get a draw really upset Di Canio and showed that cracks are beginning to appear once again - hang on in there Paolo!
One of the legendary players from the 1970's era that produced so many.
It is a shame that there were not more TV cameras back then as I am sure we would have seen many more marvellous moments from the likes of Worthington, Bowles, Best, Currie etc but unfortunately we will never see them.
At least here Frank gives us the run down of the famous goal that he did score that was captured on TV and in the clips from this interview he also talks about how Don Revie destroyed England (I have heard Emlyn Hughes talk in exactly the same way about this), his transfer that fell through to Liverpool possibly because he had contacted an STD. It has been so long since I have heard that acronym that I had to look up what it stood for! If you need to as well click here for the answer
Frank also talks about his Leicester City team mate Keith Weller and the infamous tights and almost implies that there is more to this story than might meet the eye!
Below is a further longer extract from the above interview. For the full interview and video click here
To finish with here is a clip from a Leicester City DVD showing Frank in more action plus both Frank and Alan Birchenall chatting about that period playing for The Foxes.
The Michael Parkinson show from 30 years ago! Here we have Freddie Starr (just about to go in the jungle on ITV's "I'm a Celebrity Get me out of here" taking over the show and seemingly putting Muhammad Ali into a spell with his storytelling. I hope he is as entertaining in the jungle!