Obituary: Frank Bowyer
Tuesday 07 December 1999
At club level, though, Bowyer was a star in his own right, a craftsman who could create and score goals with equal facility. He was renowned for devastatingly accurate long-distance distribution, a savagely powerful shot and a certain grace of movement which delighted the eye. A one-club man throughout his League playing career, he served the Potters for more than two decades, making 436 senior appearances and netting 149 goals, three short of Freddie Steele's Stoke record.
The teenage Bowyer enlisted at the Victoria Ground in 1937, turning professional two years later. He was part of a sparkling crop of gifted youngsters whose impetus was jolted by the war, though he turned out for the club regularly in emergency competitions.
When peacetime play resumed, Stoke were a leading side, featuring the top player of the day, Stanley Matthews, and were beaten to the 1946/47 championship by Liverpool only on the season's final Saturday. However, Bowyer missed out on that, taking time to become re-established after his demob from the forces, and there were rumours about a possible transfer.
They came to nothing, though, and after making his senior debut in a home defeat by Manchester United in February 1948, he claimed a regular place at inside-right in 1948/49. That campaign was to be his most successful, as he led the First Division scoring charts until the spring, finishing with 21 goals, only four behind the top flight's most prolific marksman, Willie Moir of Bolton Wanderers.
Blossoming alongside such accomplished performers as the centre-half Neil Franklin and the defender-cum-half-back Frank Mountford, Bowyer moved to the verge of the England side, though never went closer than a Football Association tour of Canada in 1950.
He continued to excel for City, but the side declined and was relegated in 1952/53. Thereafter Bowyer remained a key contributor until 1959/60, which he finished as Stoke's leading scorer and, although he was aged 38, there was widespread disappointment among Potter's fans when he was not retained for another term.
Instead he accepted the player-managership of Macclesfield Town, then a non-League club, before leaving the game to become the caretaker of a secondary school in Newquay, Cornwall, also involving himself in local football.
Back in Stoke, Frank Bowyer is remembered as one of the most eminent of all City players, a reminder of long-gone days when the Potters were a genuine power in the land.
Francis Bowyer, footballer: born Chesterton, Staffordshire 10 April 1922; played for Stoke City 1937-60; married (two daughters); died Newquay, Cornwall 11 November 1999.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board and takes four gongs
The Apprentice 2014, episode 3, review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Channel 5 gives Big Brother the cold shoulder
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'