Stan will most need QPR fans’ help sooner rather than later

Stan Bowles QPR
On Saturday, QPR’s greatest-ever player will be at Loftus Road for the last time.

There is no expectation that he will even know who his great friend Gerry Francis is, let alone the many other old pals and former team-mates who will be there.

Sadly, the rate of Stan Bowles’ deterioration with Alzheimer’s disease is such that the inevitable – and it is inevitable – stage when he can no longer be cared for at his daughter’s home is not far away. It looks like being very soon.

Despite Stan’s occasional reassurance of “I’m still here” to his loved ones, the legend is slipping away.

Those loved ones have been warned what to expect. It’s likely that Stan will soon reach the point where he recognises no-one, and nothing makes sense to him.

Most Alzheimer’s sufferers react to that terrifying situation in a way that is likely to scare family members, not least his great granddaughter, making it impossible for him to be cared for by them.

To think of the maverick Stan Bowles, of all people, like that is almost unimaginable.

But the awful reality is that the speed of Stan’s decline means that the greatest Ranger of them all will soon be in a care or nursing home, where his final months will, to put it mildly, be difficult.

It’s then that the money raised for Stan by QPR fans will most make a difference.

Giving Stan options

The more money raised, the more options Stan’s family will have to make the remainder of his life as bearable as possible for him and for them.

It will mean the difference between Stan being cared for at a home closer to his family rather than somewhere they have to travel further to. It will affect the quality of the home they can select for him.

Stan won’t know it, but in his darkest hours it’s largely going to be money raised by QPR fans in recognition of what he did for the club that will determine the quality of his care.

This is the stone-cold reality of the situation. It’s why Saturday’s benefit match was organised and why the turnout matters so much.

It matters both in terms of the much-needed boost to the morale of Stan and his family on Saturday, and what happens afterwards.

The path to the benefit match hasn’t been smooth. There have been disagreements, even all-out acrimony. Egos in some cases have taken over.

But all that won’t matter in the slightest when Stan most needs the proceeds of Saturday’s final visit to the ground he graced so spectacularly in his heyday. That’s the only thing that really matters.

Just For Stan

Those unable to attend on Saturday can still help.

At you can purchase a virtual ticket and receive a .pdf version of the match programme and a letter of thanks from the Bowles family.

The family aren’t wealthy. Stan is currently being cared for by his daughter in a council house in New Moston.

It is the case that he has squandered a lot of money. His gambling addiction and generally wayward lifestyle have been well documented.

But Stan Bowles isn’t Gerry Francis. He’s no venture capitalist. He’s no Rodney Marsh either. Not for him the sound business investments or living it up in the sun. Everyone knows that’s never been Stan and that’s been part of his charm.

Stan scored a record 11 Uefa Cup goals in the 1976-77 season

In this era of badge-kissing and choreographed platitudes about how important the fans are, it’s worth remembering that Stan Bowles – a genuine superstar in his era – has had a long, genuine affinity with Rangers fans and west London, where he stayed for many years after retiring and was well known in pubs and betting shops before moving to be with his family.

He loved being among QPR fans and it’s fitting that they are there for him now.

In many ways he is similar to Alan McDonald in that his immense popularity is based on not just the fact he was a great player, but because he was also a genuine man of the people who fans felt a real connection with.

That was underlined by the profound sense of sadness and shock when Macca, QPR’s most loved player since Stan, died suddenly in 2012, aged just 49.

Had there been one final chance to cheer Macca onto the pitch in what everyone knew would be his final appearance at Loftus Road, you can imagine the response; how loud his name would have been sung and how obvious it would have been to him how revered he was for the service he had given QPR. Sadly there wasn’t that chance.

But there is a chance to give a worthy send-off to another Rangers great, and that’s something to cherish. Because Saturday isn’t just about raising money, celebrating Stan and saying thank you, it’s about saying goodbye.