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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Lee Bowyer - The article I shouldn't have written

Another, like Graeme Souness, who is set apart from the other inhabitants of The Empty room. But whereas Souness’ USP was being a world class footballer, Lee Bowyer’s uniqueness amongst his fellows here is the fact that he has no discernable positive features whatsoever. It can of course be argued that his career in its early stages at Leeds promised much, but that promise was not delivered upon, and therefore the only positive is in fact also a negative.


Indeed, since those heady Champions League days with the doomed United, Bowyer’s career has drifted and dwindled, and he only remained in the public’s consciousness due to his off-field antics, and of course on-field tear up with Kieron Dyer. Newcastle were 3 goals and 1 man down already, when our man approached Dyer and drove his head into his teammates face. Blows were traded, and the pair had to be separated by other player – Bowyer being dragged away by Villa’s Gareth Barry with his face a mask of rage and frustration, seething and snarling like a man possessed. Bowyer was, not Barry – that would just be weird. Both were sent off. Bowyer was eventually banned for 6 matches and fined £30,000 by the FA, and fined two weeks wages by Newcastle. He was then charged by the Police for a public order offence. It wasn’t the first time Lee Bowyer had has his front door knocked on by the long arm of the law, oh no…..

Between 2001 and 2005 Boywer was in and out of court concerned with a drunken misdemeanour, including violence, and most despicably racism. Student Sarfraz Najeib and his brother were set-about by a group of thugs, one of whom asked “Do you want some, Paki?”. Woodgate was given a community order, Bowyer got off without a conviction, but the judge made him pay court costs as his statement was “littered with lies”. Another co-defendant got six years, it was a horrifying assault. Bowyer was wholly supported by his employers during the long criminal case (Bowyer settled a civil case out of court in 2005) who believed rightly or wrongly that they had to wait until the court had made its decision before dealing with the players – paying out millions in legal fees, organising chauffeur driven cars from court to training or matches.

Strangely, it was during the early noughties that Bowyer played the best football of his career. Quite an amazing thing to do if you think about it. Under enormous stress Bowyer produced the goods on the pitch. He was Leeds’ player of the season in 1998-99 and 2000-01, scoring 15 goals in the same season as the court case. This was the exciting Leeds team of Alan Smith, Radebe and Olivier Dacourt – and the Aussies Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka. A young Rio Ferdinand led the defense, and Paul Robinson was on his way to being talked about as England’s number 1 for the next 10-15 years. They even had Robbie Keane on loan from Internazionale! It was also in the early noughties that Leeds wore the Strongbow emblem. Shitty drink, but I think the logo looked wicked on the white shirts. Leeds United were exciting, Leeds were in the Champions League and looked to be major contenders for being the first team of the new millennium to establish a defining era. It wasn’t to be, sadly for Leeds fans. Risdale’s gamble is well documented elsewhere, so I won’t bother here.

Bowyer was a classic bit yer legs midfield lung buster. His sense of timing and good finishing from the edge of the box gave him plenty of goal of the month contenders, and in Europe he scored against two of the heavyweights – Barcelona and AC Milan. What is perhaps intriguing, is that when this awesome team was broken up due to financial reasons, only one of those component parts went on to be world beaters. Woodgate perhaps made the best of the rest, during his time at Real Madrid, and Harry Kewell of course got a Champions League medal in 2005 with Liverpool, but suffered with injury throughout his playing days – but the stand out achiever is Rio Ferdinand who went on to win literally hundreds of thousands of medals at Manchester United. Lee Bowyers career was the one perhaps most stunted by Leeds’ implosion – although to be honest, it was as much to do with his reputation and attitude as it was fading skills. Although acquitted of the assault on the students, Bowyer was labelled in many people’s eyes as a racist, because when you settle out of court, it’s as good as an admission – isn’t it Michael Jackson?!?!
It wasn’t the first time Lee Bowyer had been allegedly involved in racist violence, oh no…..

Back in the 90s Lee was charged and convicted for affray for his part in a frightening rampage in a London McDonald’s outlet. Staff were racially abused and chairs were thrown around. What a sweet-heart. Apparently it was some sort of Falling Down espisode, he was told that he couldn’t order from the Breakfast Menu after it has closed, so he and his friends tore the place up.

From Leeds, a £9 million transfer to Liverpool was organised, only for manager Gerard Houllier to question Bowyer’s commitment. Quite possibly a PR friendly way of saying “We don’t want that racist cunt anywhere near us”. Instead he moved to West Ham in 2003. Playing for the club he’d supported as a boy, he suffered the ignominy of a fans’ protest at his unveiling, then suffered injury and was off-loaded for a free after the Hammers were relegated. Quite a fall from grace, if ever there was one. From scoring in the Champions League to relegation from the Premier League in just a few short years.

Bowyer spend the next part of his career being loaned out and transferred for nominal fees or on frees, but eventually returned to the big stage with Birmingham City, winning the only medal of his career so far – the improbable victory over Arsenal in the League Cup final. It will probably be his only medal of any note at all, he’s currently playing for Championship side Ipswich – a newly moneyed team who might be looking at a play-off place this year or the next.

As a footnote, another charming tale of tolerance and love to all mankind. Bowyer’s childhood sweet heart was mixed race. Surely evidence that he’s not a racist, just a misunderstood young man victim of circumstance? Nope. Apparently the skin tone of the girl was sufficiently light for Lee to think she was ‘alright’. He fucked her in a caravan, and they were set to get engaged. Then Lee’s mother – helpfully – alerted her son to his beau’s mixed race heritage. He went to see her, and confronted her about her hideous and heinous secret “My mum tells me you’ve got something in you” and told her that they could never have a baby in case it might be “a throwback”.

My intention here was to write a light-hearted article for the Empty Room series on The Frustrated Footballer blog. However, the more research I have done, the more dirt I have uncovered, the more disgusting I realised Lee Bowyer is. The Empty Room is a series in praise of those players walking the disciplinary line on and off the pitch – but this is not someone to be lauded in any sense. I will post this article but not publicise it. Forgive me.

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