Arthur Rowley

The Transfer Record: Arthur Rowley

In July 1950, Leicester City paid a club record transfer fee of £14,000 to Fulham in order to bring Arthur Rowley to Filbert Street. It proved to be an amazingly successful signing.
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Between 1950 and 1958 Rowley scored 265 league and cup goals in 321 games for the club, averaging 33 goals per season. This total included 16 hat tricks and 41 penalties. Although he fell eight short of Chandler’s club record, Rowley achieved his total in 98 fewer games. In his career, he scored more Football League goals (434) than any other player in history. The fantastic strength of his left foot shot earned him the nickname 'The Gunner'. 

Rowley was born in 1926 in Wolverhampton. His elder brother Jack played for Manchester United and England. After military service, Arthur signed for West Bromwich Albion in 1944 but between 1946 and 1948 he scored only four goals in 24 appearances. In December 1948, he moved to Fulham. There was an immediate transformation. He promptly scored 19 goals in 22 games for Fulham who became Second Division Champions. West Bromwich Albion were runners-up. However, Fulham struggled in the First Division, with Rowley only scoring eight goals in the 1949/50 season.

In June 1950, Second Division Leicester bought him for £14,000. Many years later, Arthur recalled: “I had come in for Jack Lee (Leicester City’s FA Cup Final forward) as a cheaper replacement. I had wanted to get away from London and Leicester wasn’t too far from my hometown of Wolverhampton. I had just got married, didn’t want to live in London and Leicester was the ideal solution. Filbert Street wasn’t the greatest ground I had ever seen or played at but we always had a good crowd.”

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Leicester City 1953/54
Leicester City 1953/54

Rowley soon justified his fee. In his first four years at Leicester, he scored 145 league and cup goals. His first 100 goals came in only 122 games. He was the league’s top goal scorer in 1953 and 1957. His seasonal league totals in his first four years were 28, 38 (breaking Arthur Chandler’s club record), 39, and 30.

In his fourth season (1953/54) Leicester City became Second Division Champions. Everton were runners-up. In the top division, although the team was relegated after just one season, Arthur scored a very creditable 23 goals in 36 games. In the first season back in Division Two, he netted another 29 goals. He was also on target for the England B team against Switzerland. In the following season (1956/57) he broke the Club’s goalscoring record for a third time, netting an incredible 44 league goals in 42 games. These goals were a major factor in Leicester City winning the Second Division title again, seven points ahead of Nottingham Forest.

In the top division, in what turned out to be Arthur’s last season at Leicester City, he scored 20 goals in 25 games. Rather surprisingly, Rowley was then put on the transfer list and he left to become player-manager at Shrewsbury Town, who were just about to enter the newly formed Fourth Division. His transfer fee was £7,000.

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