Eddie Lowe: Aston Villa and Fulham wing-half inexplicably overlooked by England after winning three caps

The England debutant Eddie Lowe was 21 years old, with the ball at his feet and the massed ranks of the French defence ranged in front of him.

The tall, lean Midlander swayed gently but persuasively and his opponents lurched with him, buying his subtle dummy and thus allowing him to deliver an exquisite through-pass with his favoured left foot into the path of his sublimely talented team-mate Raich Carter. "The Great Horatio", needing no second invitation, strode on majestically to score his country's third and final goal, to which France offered no reply.

On that afternoon at Highbury in May 1947 it seemed that in Lowe, who linked so fluently with his fellow half-backs Billy Wright and Neil Franklin, a new international star had been born. But although he continued to excel in the short term for Aston Villa, before going on to become a stalwart at Fulham, he played just two more games for England.

The reason for this lack of international opportunity was unclear. There was a rumour that he had upset an influential member of the FA's selection committee, who had a vested interest in a rival club, by not agreeing to a certain transfer, but that could never be proved. As it was, Lowe – an unassuming, studiously correct, thoroughly decent individual – just got on with his career, giving impeccable value for money every time he walked on to a pitch.

Most of the time he played as a deep-lying left-half (a defensive midfielder in modern parlance) who could also slot in alongside the centre-half when needed. Although he was no greyhound, his distinctive loping stride carried him around the field with deceptive pace, and while fairness was his byword, he was unremittingly hard in the tackle. As a man-marker he was fiercely tenacious, too, proving adhesively effective in direct opposition to some of the most inventive schemers of the day.

In addition he was powerful in the air, he was invariably composed and, as the French discovered to their chagrin, he could pass beautifully. For all that, he was often conservative with his distribution, preferring to break up attacks and feed his own creative inside-forwards. This was a policy as eminently sensible as it was characteristically selfless – especially when he was lining up with an artist like Johnny Haynes at Fulham.

As a teenager, Lowe found employment at a tube-works in Birmingham, before moving to London to become an engineer during the war. While in the capital he guested for Millwall as an amateur, and also represented Finchley and Walthamstow Avenue briefly, before returning to the Midlands. It was while playing for his works side in a cup final that he was discovered by Villa.

After turning professional in September 1945, Lowe, who served as a "Bevin Boy" in Black Country coal mines towards the end of the Second World War, soon broke into the first team. He helped his new employers to finish as runners-up in the Football League South, an emergency wartime competition, before becoming a regular when normal service was resumed.

So impressive was his form as Villa maintained a healthy presence in the top half of the First Division that he earned that England call-up against France, then took part in a 1-0 defeat in Switzerland and a 10-0 annihilation of Portugal in Lisbon – playing behind the sumptuous forward line of Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Tommy Lawton, Wilf Mannion and Tom Finney – in the space of three weeks.

However, he was overlooked when England returned to action in the autumn, and then suffered a couple of niggling injuries. Meanwhile, competition for Villa places heated up as the manager Alex Massie strove to combat a slight downturn in results. Thus, in May 1950, Lowe, along with his younger brother Reg, a left-back whose career was to be ended prematurely by a broken leg, was transferred to fellow top-flight club Fulham. Eddie's fee was reported as being £10,000, Reg's as £3,000.

At Craven Cottage Lowe instantly became a pillar of strength. But it was a poor side he had joined and though relegation was avoided narrowly in his first campaign, Fulham went down as the bottom club in 1951-52.

He proved to be a shrewd acquisition, though, emerging as a key component of an attractively remoulded team in which the jewel was the enchantingly gifted young inside-forward, Haynes. As the decade progressed, Fulham entertained royally, aided by a free-flowing attack containing the likes of inside-forwards Bobby Robson and Jimmy Hill, winger Charlie Mitten and spearhead Bedford Jezzard. But it was not until the arrival of Duggie Livingstone as manager in 1956 that a genuine belief in the possibility of promotion began to grow.

In came high-quality additions such as the full-backs Jimmy Langley and the future World Cup hero George Cohen, and the former England centre forward Roy Bentley. In 1957-58 Fulham finished fifth in the Second Division and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, bowing out only after a replay to a Manchester United team recently ravaged by the Munich air disaster, although Lowe missed that knock-out sequence through injury.

A season later, however, he was back exuding authority as Fulham, with Jezzard newly installed as manager, finished runners-up to Sheffield Wednesday, thus reclaiming their place among the elite. Lowe maintained a steady presence as Fulham consolidated with a commendable 10th place in 1959-60, then embarked on a trio of successful battles against relegation leavened by another run to the last four of the FA Cup in 1961-62.

By the spring of 1963, Lowe was approaching his 38th birthday, yet could look back on a term in which he had finished fourth in the Footballer of the Year poll. The coveted statuette went to an even more gnarled campaigner: Stanley Matthews.

Lowe, who had been linked in the press with a move to high-riding Tottenham Hotspur only 18 months earlier, was now at a crossroads. Instead of attempting to soldier on in the top tier, he accepted an offer to become player-manager of Third Division Notts County, bowing out of Craven Cottage having played more times for the club than anyone except the icon Haynes.

Sadly, the move didn't work out. Heavily criticised for his early sale of the thrusting young marksman Tony Hateley to Aston Villa, and the subsequent poor form of the replacement, Terry Bly, Lowe never truly recovered. County, who were not financially well endowed, were demoted as bottom club that term. He then sold another popular striker, Jeff Astle, to West Bromwich Albion during the subsequent mediocre season in the basement division. By then, in his 40th year and thus incapable of making a meaningful impact on the field, he was sacked in the spring of 1965.

Still devoted to the game, Lowe scouted briefly for Plymouth Argyle while qualifying as an accountant, before earning his livelihood as a purchasing manager for a boiler-making company in Nottingham, where he lived for the rest of his life.



Edward Lowe, footballer and manager: born Halesowen 11 July 1925; played for Aston Villa 1945-50, Fulham 1950-63, Notts County 1963-64; capped three times by England 1947; managed Notts County 1963-65; married (wife deceased 2001; two sons, one daughter); died Nottingham 9 March 2009.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam