Seventies showman Stan Bowles feels there are brilliant players but no characters in the modern game
To sit with Stan Bowles and listen to riotous tales of fun and insurrection in the 70s is to be reminded that, for all its modern excesses, football fundamentally has always been a playground of the ego.
This, after all, was a man for whom the round ball might have been invented as his personal plaything so brilliant was he, a footballer Denis Law once described as "100% talent". Yet he entered into countless battles of the will, won a few, lost more and ultimately squandered his gifts. It is a crime he played only five times for England – but some of the wounds were self-inflicted.
In a long career of skittish genius that carried him through 565 games between 1967 and 1984, from Manchester City to Bury, Crewe, Carlisle, nine great years at Queens Park Rangers, Nottingham Forest and then, briefly when his legs had gone, on to Leyton Orient and Brentford, he managed to infuriate nearly every manager from Brian Clough to Dave Sexton to Joe Mercer, every hard-tackling opponent from Ron "Chopper" Harris to Johnny Giles.
He delighted the rest of ...