Matt Healey continues the series.
Ian Bowyer was born in Ellesmere Port on the 6th June 1951. His footballing career started at Manchester City. He then joined Leyton Orient and in 1973 signed for Nottingham Forest. He was part of the legendary Brian Clough team that won the First Division title 1978 and then two successive European Cup’s in 1979 and 1980. He spent a season at Sunderland, but returned to Forest in 1982. He left the City Ground and joined Hereford as Player Coach in 1987.
Before we talked Hereford United I had to ask him what life was like at Nottingham Forest. This week I had watched the fantastic documentary I Believe in Miracles and Bowyer is prominently featured “It was terrific, we had a big amount of success, the management team installed plenty of discipline, but allowed people to express themselves, 99% of all the players that played under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor would play for them again, great humor at times and plenty of happy memories”
I asked Bowyer how he became a Hereford player in the summer of 1987.
“I met John Newman (Hereford Manager) and had a chat, he was the reason I joined the club. I had been at Forest a while and had been offered a free transfer. I thought my time was up. I could have stayed on, but I wanted to try something different”
After a poor start Newman departed and by the autumn of 1987 Bowyer was the manager at Edgar Street. I asked him what it was like “It’s very different, as a player your responsible for one, now your responsible for twenty other players, there was quite a lot to do, myself and Peter Isaac did most of the work, he did two or three jobs, we were radically under staffed, but in the circumstances did ok”
Bowyer was still playing and scored on his 600th Football League appearance against Scarborough.
Phil Stant was signed by John Newman, but under Ian Bowyer he found his best form. Stant’s autobiography is full of clashes the pair had, but Bowyer is full of praise for his former striker.
“Stanty was a great lad and we are better pals now when we were manager and player, he was hot headed, not the best disciplined, but you could never fault his effort and commitment, he could score goals for fun, his record was really good in the lower leagues, we got £175,000 for him from Notts County when we sold him, that money kept the club going for a while, he’s a great character is Stanty”
“Hereford reached the 4th round of the FA Cup during the 1989/1990 season. Bowyer remembers the run with pride “We beat Farnborough first, then Merthyr in the 2nd round, we were 3-0 up, but won 3-2.
In the 3rd round we beat Walsall with our captain Mel Pejic scoring a last minute winner”
It was Manchester United in the 4th round and the city was buzzing for the arrival of Alex Fergsuon’s side.
Hereford would lose 1-0 to a late winner. “It was a right downer with Clayton Blackmore scoring near the end, it was a fantastic run and I thought it would be the springboard for the following season, we had some decent younger players, the likes of Darren Peacock who I signed for nothing and he later played for Newcastle in the Premier League, we had the likes of Chris Hemming, Russell Bradley and Jon Narbett who were decent young players”
Bowyer would also make history when him and his son Gary played in the Hereford side in a 3-3 draw at Scunthorope. It was only the second time ever that a father and son had played in the same Football League side.
Bowyer would enjoy success by winning the Welsh Cup. Hereford beat Wrexham 2-1 at Cardiff Arms Park on the 13th May 1990.
“It was a fantastic day, the atmosphere was brilliant, the Hereford supporters made a lot of noise, it’ sup their with one of best memories in football, a local lad called Ian Benbow scored the winning goal. it doesn’t register highly in the footballing world, but we went on an open top bus around the city, it was the only time they ever won the Welsh Cup. I’m proud that my final game as Hereford manager was a win to bring home some silverware”
A few weeks later Bowyer left as Hereford manager.
I asked Bowyer what happened “You would get different answers from different people, the club had a strange opinion of my sons ability as a footballer (Gary Left to join Nottingham Forest on a free transfer, the Hereford board thought Gary should have signed for Hereford) there weren’t football people on the board at Hereford, my opinion was they wanted to go back to 1972 and that’s why they bought back Colin Addison”
Bowyer later briefly played for Grantham. He was assistant manager at Plymouth in 1994 and had spells as a coach at Rotherham and Birmingham. He became assistant manager at Nottingham Forest in 2002. He later scouted for Portsmouth and Blackburn.
Photos supplied by Ron Parrott, MH Archive and Getty Images.