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New Article: Lee, Lee, Lee Bowyer

I think an appropriate, albeit slightly obscure starting point is an anecdote @The31YearMan told me about on his trip back from the 2017 pre-season tour in Ireland.  By chance, he was sat next to Lee Bowyer on the plane for the short flight home. Lee offered him a wine gum and it gave him a chance to grab a few words.  When my uncle had told me about their exchange, I thought nothing of it. Lee was only with us in a coaching capacity and given the constant churn of management and back room staff under Duchatelet, none of us could be sure how long Lee would be here. Lee himself had stated that to his mind, he was pretty much done with the game and enjoying retirement.  

Almost 2 years on, the stand out comment that my uncle said to me when conversing with Lee on the flight was him joking “they can’t handle how positive I am all the time”.  

The context of the conversation was very light hearted, but the reason I am highlighting this is that in the time since he took over in March last year, the two biggest things I have taken from him in his conduct, the way he carries himself and how he manages the team are his belief and his positivity.  


In his first game as caretaker manager, Lee set his stall out and said “we can make the play offs”. He adopted an attacking 4-4-2 diamond and we trounced an in form Plymouth at home, the start of a run that included impressive wins versus Rotherham, Shrewsbury, Blackburn and the excellent 1-0 victory at Pompey in front of 2,000+ of the rejuvenated faithful. With the turmoil and struggle experienced under previous managers in the Duchatelet era, few of those positive outcomes would have been expected.

But that changed with Bowyer.  

Suddenly we had a bit of bite about us and that positivity was rubbing off on us fans as well.  Ultimately, we fell short, but we know now that was down to not having enough quality in the squad at the time to push us over the line.

As with everything under Duchatelet’s reign, uncertainty continued as to whether Lee’s appointment would be made permanent. He (and us) were made to wait, despite a growing feeling that he was proving to be the best man for the job and not just that he was ‘one of our own’.

The caretaker status remained over the summer, but it didn’t stop Lee setting about a recruitment drive and planning for a promotion assault as if he had the permanent role. He was also impacted by significant budget tightening and shopping in the pool of free transfers or loan deals, effectively hamstrung by a want-away owner providing the minimum investment for him to put a team together.  

It’s easy to forget now, but Bowyer was unable to name a full bench at Sunderland on the opening day.  I doubt you could find too many fans at that point that shared Lee’s belief and positivity that we would achieve his goal of promotion.  Given the continuing declines behind the scenes I feared the worst and I doubt I was the only one.

However, Lee, together with Jacko and Steve Gallen who take equal credit for the season we had, quietly went about identifying and acquiring talent good enough in their opinion to get promotion within the financial constraints and sheer lunacy and incompetence of working for Duchatelet.  

Pratley and Taylor joined on free transfers, both highly coveted by Lee and the backroom team, followed by the loans of Jed Steer, youngsters Bielik and Cullen and seasoned pro Jamie Ward by the end of the August window deadline.  They were backed up by Lee’s belief in youngsters KAG, Lapslie and Albie Morgan.  

A solid but slow start (one win in opening five), didn’t inspire much confidence that the season would culminate in promotion. But the way Lee was talking and the first few performances went some way to convince me that we may at least be okay.  However, after we picked up away wins at Southend and Bradford, saw the green shoots of Taylor’s partnership with KAG, the neat play of Cullen and the assured presence of Bielik, I started to think we may be an outside bet for the play-offs once again.  

Lee himself had stated that the early part of the season was frustrating. It took longer to get the bodies in he wanted and as a result meant the team would take longer to gel.  By the time Solly smashed in the 96th minute equaliser at Luton, in what was one of the best moments in a season of great moments and absolute limbs occurred in the cramped away end, I also had the belief that the team not only had quality and talent, we also had the bollocks and fight that epitomised Lee Bowyer the player.  No longer were we a soft touch, as often had been the case over the last few years. We weren’t going to be a team that could be physically bullied off the ball.  

Decent performances continued, the Taylor and KAG’s partnership turned into a deadly attack and we looked firmly in the shake up for a play-off place come Christmas.  

Two Christmas period defeats delivered a blip, extended by the Taylor suspension in January, injuries to the likes of Aribo and Cullen, the sale of top scorer KAG and the continued form of our rivals.  Doubts were starting to creep back about our staying power, but not so for Lee.  He just got on with it, steadfast in his belief that once we had a fully fit squad we would be right in the promotion picture come the end of the season.  

He once again demonstrated his adaptability and professionalism when KAG was sold and none of the funds were given to him to reinvest in a replacement, making do with acquiring Josh Parker on a free from Gillingham.  This gave us another reminder into some of the frustrations Lee was facing working under Duchatelet, and a few quotes in the press hinted at dissatisfaction of losing our top scorer and not being given adequate opportunity to replace him.  

But after Taylor’s return from suspension the team went on a run, starting with the late winner at Wimbledon, that rarely stepped off the gas and culminated with the magical day at Wembley on Sunday.  

Throughout this season, every time you hear him speak, every press conference or interview Lee has given has had the air of a man that knows exactly what he wants and an assumption and belief that he will get it.  That aim was promotion. If any of you have seen the post-match speeches he did in the dressing room after Sunday and at the celebrations in the hotel, you can tell he has built something that has rubbed off on that squad and his team embody that.  


Just this week the Standard published an article quoting Taylor as saying ‘there will be a revolt’ were Bowyer to not get a contract sorted.  Taylor seems to be the best example as I feel he manifests Lee’s belief on the pitch and they’re very similar in their outlook and approach.  Indeed, having listened to and heard Taylor in interviews, referencing terms like family, it can give you goosebumps as a fan.  When you have that in a football club, and that belief running through the team, playing for one another with the talent they have, it is evident why we have achieved what we have.  

The great thing about Bowyer is that like all our past successes in recent history, he gets the club, the history and what we are about.  Curbs got it, Powell got it and Lee, as he has mentioned himself in interviews, reminisces fondly about playing on the AstroTurf as a kid at Sparrows Lane.  That connection meant that prior to leading the team out at Wembley on Sunday, he said it would be the proudest moment of his career.  And I believe absolutely every single word of it.

Unfortunately, despite everything he has achieved, and although I think (fingers crossed) he will be with us next season, the contract isn’t signed at the time of writing and Lee is on a well-earned holiday.  I am sure it will be sorted, and unless Duchatelet does something utterly stupid, Lee will sign and he will be with us next season.  

He is still very much learning his trade as a manager and with the step up in division and with most of the starting XI on Sunday unlikely to be here next year, new challenges will soon emerge.  

But I have absolute faith he is the right man for the job and will continue to grow and improve if he were given the right backing. Without going over the top, we may even be able to recreate something as special as we had under Curbs, but in Bowyer’s mould and personality.  

I want to thank Lee for everything he’s done to bring about the belief and unity back to the club’s fanbase and for what he’s achieved this season.  Some of those performances and the spirit shown will stay with me for a very long time. I am eternally grateful for what he has given us after everything that has happened over the last 5 years and I’m sure I’m not alone with that.

(photos: Kyle Andrews)

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Comments

  • Very nicely and well said. I totally agree.
  • Good read 
  • Agreed a good read and spot on.
  • Well said. Mate of mine, Man Utd fan who surprisingly is from Manchester texted me to congratulate us on Sunday said “Lee Bowyer, who’d have thunk it?” He’s surprised a lot of people.
  • Eat your heart out Leo Tolstoy.

    Well said Cabbles, Lee Bowyer is such a positive person and when I thanked him recently for what he had achieved in his year in charge, he convinced me that the best was yet to come and to stick with it.

    As Dillion chased that ball into his own net in vain, I had the positive words of Lee and also the negative words of Oohaah battling for centre stage in my stressed brain.
    Thankfully Lee won that contest and with (fingers crossed) him, JJ and SG at the  helm we can survive the choppy waters of the higher division.
  • Great work @bonbons but from the trophy photo I worry that Lee either doesn’t use deodorant or maybe accidentally trumps when he raises his arms (like most of us do)
  • Two vital points; Lee stays. Roland goes. Simples.
  • Great read and I agree with it all we owe Bows and his team so much!
  • It's probably an excellent post and I do warm to the writing of cabbles.

    Just kind of hoped - It was a contract deal announcement.


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  • Great post. 
  • edited May 31
    Great post Cabbles in fact   I would go as far as say it's Grapevinesk.
  • Great post, brilliant read.
    Thanks Cabbles.. 
  • This performance was immense, he was man marked by Vinnie Jones and stood his ground. Pushed Jones over after a typical vile Jones challenge, great hattrick too. He is and will always be my man crush. 

    This was my Huddersfield, any others there on the night?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football-charlton-gain-edge-in-nine-goal-drama-1602056.html
  • Excellent article, Cabbles. I was thinking about finding a decent article on Bowyer to translate to Chinese and post on my Charlton social media page. Many football fans in China still view him as that angry player but we (Charlton fans) all know he's totally the opposite person now so I'd like more people to know about that. Your article looks perfect so... Cabbles may I do it? I'll of course put your (user)name on top and add a link to this thread (in case anyone will be interested in the original article but I doubt it as most of my followers can't read English). Thanks!!
  • Excellent article, Cabbles. I was thinking about finding a decent article on Bowyer to translate to Chinese and post on my Charlton social media page. Many football fans in China still view him as that angry player but we (Charlton fans) all know he's totally the opposite person now so I'd like more people to know about that. Your article looks perfect so... Cabbles may I do it? I'll of course put your (user)name on top and add a link to this thread (in case anyone will be interested in the original article but I doubt it as most of my followers can't read English). Thanks!!
    Of course, feel free.  Thanks everyone else for the positive feedback, glad you enjoyed reading it.  

    PS - AFKA did a bit of tweaking for me so I was grateful for that as well.  
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  • Great article and well said. Our Lee Bowyer is something special. 

    Agree with every word. 
  • Good article, shame that you let AFKA give it a bland, non-descriptive title : -)

    I saw the same positive attitude in Bowyer. In fact, Karl Robinson commented at Bromley Addicks that while when we were one up he was fearing an equaliser Bows was saying "We can win this 4 - 0".

    Positive attitude and team spirit can take you a long away, they make the whole greater than the sum of the parts as Bowyer has proved this season.

    Next year Lee will face sterner tests. We were, regardless of RD, a big fish in a small pond this year.

    In the championship he will battle with more experienced, more battle hardened coaches with more expensive squads. 

    It will be a step up for Lee as well as the club as a whole.
  • We're going to get beat a lot more often next season. I suspect Bowyer will remain positive, whatever, but it'l be interesting to see if and how he can pull a team out of a bad run - that's always one of the real acid tests for a manager.
  • This performance was immense, he was man marked by Vinnie Jones and stood his ground. Pushed Jones over after a typical vile Jones challenge, great hattrick too. He is and will always be my man crush. 

    This was my Huddersfield, any others there on the night?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football-charlton-gain-edge-in-nine-goal-drama-1602056.html
    I drove past as the “crowd” was coming out. Does that count?
  • My favourite LB performance was at home against Shef Wed in the cup. Him and Mortimer played in central midfield together - even at 9 years old I thought it was massively attacking ! The two of them were unplayable 
  • He is mustard and we are lucky to have him - if we can keep him.
  • This performance was immense, he was man marked by Vinnie Jones and stood his ground. Pushed Jones over after a typical vile Jones challenge, great hattrick too. He is and will always be my man crush. 

    This was my Huddersfield, any others there on the night?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football-charlton-gain-edge-in-nine-goal-drama-1602056.html
    Yes Appy I was there & also for the second leg 3-3 draw.
  • This performance was immense, he was man marked by Vinnie Jones and stood his ground. Pushed Jones over after a typical vile Jones challenge, great hattrick too. He is and will always be my man crush. 

    This was my Huddersfield, any others there on the night?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football-charlton-gain-edge-in-nine-goal-drama-1602056.html
    Yes Appy I was there & also for the second leg 3-3 draw.
    Me too, happy memories. 
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Roland Out!