Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Original Stan The Man by Stanley Bowles with Ralph Allen and John Iona (Paper Plane Publishing 1996)

Malcolm thought I was hanging around with the wrong type of people, and resented the company that I was keeping. He was hearing reports from all quarters that I had been seen in the seedy places in town, and there was an ongoing argument between us. Malcolm frequented night-clubs such as the Cabaret Club, and was known as Champagne Charlie. He had a bee in his bonnet about me and wherever he went the conversation would, at some point, come around to me. People would always say to me: "Oh, Malcolm's just been in, slagging you off." Wherever I went, it seemed that Malcolm had already been there.

He was an excellent coach; very creative and passionate and not afraid to take chances in a game, or use innovative tactics. But, at the same time, he was very flamboyant, bold and abrasive, and found it difficult to handle people  - unlike Joe Mercer, who everyone regarded as a sort-of uncle. You certainly wouldn't go to Malcolm with any personal problems, because he might fly into a temper at the slightest provocation. Despite this, he thought of himself as the manager of the club; and didn't like it when anyone questioned that view.

When I broke into the first team in 69/70, our outside-left, Tony Coleman, used to say: "Do you want to come out for the night?" So I would go out with Tony and we became very friendly. In the end I was staying with him a couple of nights a week. We used to go round everywhere together. Tony was a great one for the birds, but I wasn't — because I was already heavily into horse racing and was happily married. Everybody went to discotheques at the weekends, this being the heyday of soul music, but I would just be at the bar, not dancing.

One night I was drinking at the Cabaret Club with Tony, when Malcolm came to our table. A row started between the two of them. Tony was a lot older than me, and Malcolm was trying to accuse Tony of leading me astray, saying: "What are doing bringing a young player into a club like this?" Tony kept quiet, but I couldn't: "Why don't you shut up?" I said.

There was a huge silence, then Malcolm threw a punch at me. So I threw one back, and it all started again. Tony jumped up and smashed a pint glass on the table.

It could have become very nasty, because Tony was a real handful in those days, but the brawl was broken up by the guy who owned the club. That was to be my last battle with the Manchester City establishment.

Soon afterwards, I went into training one day and Dave Ewing said: "Malcolm wants to see you and, unfortunately, he's going to get rid of you." So I picked my boots up and left. I knew I was walking away from one of the biggest clubs in England, but I wasn't bothered either way. At the time I was too reckless to care. I'd half expected it anyway, so I just got on with life as usual.

The official version was that City had decided to release me.

No comments: