Leeds United F.C. History
Leeds United F.C. History : Foreword
1919-29 - The Twenties
1930-39 - The Thirties
1939-46 - The War Years
1947-49 - Post War Depression
1949-57 - The Reign of King John
1957-63 - From Charles to Revie
1961-75 - The Revie Years
1975-82 - The Downward Spiral
1982-88 - The Dark Years
1988-96 - The Wilko Years
1996-04 - The Rollercoaster Ride
2004-17 - Down Among The Deadmen
100 Greatest LUFC Players Ever
Greatest Leeds United Games
Players' Profiles
Managers' Profiles
Leeds City F.C. History
Leeds City F.C. Player and Manager Profiles
Leeds United/City Statistics
Leeds United/City Captains
Leeds United/City Friendlies and Other Games
Leeds United/City Reserves and Other Teams

Fowler: Alan

1927-1934 (Player Details)

Centre Forward

Born: Rothwell Nr Leeds: 20-11-1911

Debut v Birmingham City (a): 11-02-1933

5’6” 10st 6lb (1928)

Fowler played for Rothwell Schools and joined United’s groundstaff from Whitehall Printers in November 1927. He was loaned back to his old club and to Brodsworth Main, but United knew they had a potential star. A former schoolboy international he understudied the likes of Tom Jennings, Charlie Keetley and Arthur Hydes and maintained a good scoring rate in the senior side. In May 1934 he went to Swindon Town, hoping for regular League football, and his tricky dribbling and accurate shooting brought him plenty of goals. After only fifteen games in almost seven years at Leeds he made a fine impression as he scored in his first game for his new club and went on to score sixty-seven league goals in one hundred and seventy-three games, and score eight goals in eleven F.A. Cup games, and eight goals in ten appearances in the Third Division Southern Cup, a total of eighty-three goals in one hundred and ninety-four peace-time games for the Wiltshire club. In a Division Three South Cup match against Luton Town on 25th September 1935 he scored four goals, including a hat-trick in the first six minutes! It is believed to be the fastest in the club’s history. He made his debut on 25th August 1934 in a 3-1 home win over Queens Park Rangers. He went on to be top scorer in three seasons, and scored twice in the only game of the 1939-40 season when Swindon drew 2-2 with Aldershot on 2nd September 1939, in Fowler's and the club's final peace-time game. During the Second World War Fowler scored eighteen goals in twenty-eight War-time League games and one goal in two War-time Cup appearances, a total of nineteen goals in thirty war-time games, all in the 1939-40 season, as Swindon did not play any further War-time football until after the War had ended in the 1945-46 season. He ranks twelfth in the all-time list of Swindon goalscorers, netting one hundred and two goals in two hundred and twenty-four appearances in all games that he played for the Robins. There is little doubt that had the Second World War not intervened his record would have been even more impressive. Dick Mattick, the Swindon Town club historian, describes him “At just 5ft 6in, Alan was small for a striker, but he made up for his lack of inches with speed of thought and good ball control. He was no slouch in the air either, as many of his goals came from headers, where his sense of timing enabled him to beat much bigger men.” As Swindon did not participate in the War-time League after 1939-40 season Fowler played as a guest for several clubs during the war, when Army duties allowed, playing once for Queens Park Rangers and six times for Watford in the 1943-44 season. Fowler briefly returned to Leeds to play wartime football, but did not play for Leeds United. As he and his wife lived in Swindon and with his parents also now living locally (at 7 Leicester Street), he returned to the area to enlist, and found himself in the Dorsetshire Regiment. He rose to the rank of Sergeant in the Dorset Regiment. Footballers were often maligned as being PT instructors and not properly trained to be frontline troops. Fowler was one such PT instructor and was not included in the forces required for the initial D-Day landings at Normandy. But the Dorsets were going to be right in the thick of it as the allies tried to make progress and gain a foothold in Europe. Fowler had already distinguished himself in combat in 1941 by saving three men’s lives as well as his own, whilst priming grenades. On 10th June 1944, the 4th Dorset batallion, of which Fowler was part, were thrust into the main action and they arrived in France on 24th June and a fortnight later were in the thick of Operation Jupiter, designed to liberate the strategic Northern Normandy City of Caen. The original plan had been to liberate Caen on D'Day, the 6th June 1944, but such was the intensity of the fighting that it did not fall until 10th July 1944. Fowler's batallion were ordered to liberate the neighbouring towns of Eterville and Martot. Part of theit task was to take Hill 112 and the Wessex Division Infantry, of which the Dorset batallion was part, set out at daybreak on 10th July 1944, to try and take what both the allies and the Germans recognised as being the most significant stronghold and whoever controlled Hill 112 controlled Normandy. Sadly, Alan Fowler would not live to see the victory, becoming possibly the first casualty on that fateful day, and probably the most tragic. The details were revealed in Patrick Delaforce’s Book, The Fighting Wessex Wyverns, although it has only now emerged that the Sgt Fowler mentioned in an eyewitness account of the action is the same Alan Fowler who had played inside-right and centre forward for Swindon Town. Not untypically of Normandy battles, the assault began with a massive bombardment of enemy positions, the barrage including intensive artillery and heavily-armed fighter planes, capable of bombing. Major GL "Joe" Symonds, commander of the 4th Dorset B Company is quoted in the book: “We were very close to the barrage, still in excellent formation. About four fighters [Typhoons] came over, presumably a little late, dropped two bombs in the middle of my company. A number of casualties including Sgt Fowler were killed.” There can be no doubt that Fowler therefore died as a result of action from the Allies’ own air support (RAF Typhoons), and was a victim of so-called ‘friendly fire’. Only Fowler’s age in is dispute. Football statisticians claim he was thirty-three, but the inscription on his grave says he was thirty-seven. The Evening Advertiser report of his death, meanwhile, put his age at thirty-two. That report was curious, firstly because it did not appear until 21st August 1944, nearly seven weeks after the incident, even though other deaths were usually reported within a week. It also claimed Fowler “died of wounds”, when clearly he must have been killed instantly or very soon after the Typhoons struck. It is also at odds with the certificate relating to his death, which is kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This specifically records that Fowler was “killed in action”, whereas those who died of wounds rather than on the battlefield were usually recorded as such. The issue of 'friendly fire' deaths has always been controversial, and there could be some suggestion that the true details of Alan Fowler's death were being concealed. He was killed in action in the Normandy landings, near Caen France, on 10th July 1944, serving as a sergeant in the Dorset Regiment. There is a plaque dedicated to him in the North Stand at Swindon’s County Ground. Alan’s father Joe was the assistant Groundsman at Swindon Town.

League 158