The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Football in the Family


One interest that has been passed down the generations (particularly the male line!) is football (soccer). I am grateful to the a local Beckenham historian that wrote the history of Stanhope Rovers/Beckenham Town F C, from which most of the photos have been obtained.

The Bowers

My father, Fred Bower, told me of going to watch West Ham United (and Barking) with his father William Bower and in later years he took me to the ocasional match at West Ham. He also told me of playing for local teams in the East of London including taking the goalposts onto the bus before playing a match on the Isle of Dogs!

My father in the East End of London, a fearful sight at left back (family collection)

When my father moved to Beckenham after marrying in 1936, he started playing local football there and then he became a referee. When he stopped refereeing he became trainer for Beckenham F C and on the selection committee. I can remember my father running onto the pitch as trainer. My brother, who is 6 years older, can remember Dad playing for Beckenham when they were short one week.

Beckenham's Team circa 1948 for which Dad (second row, second from right) was on the Selection Committee (family collection)

Jack Bower

My Uncle Jack was a very good goalkeeper who had a trial for West Ham but in the end played for his firm's side.

Dad told me that one day Uncle Jack and Dad were walking through the recreation ground at Croydon Road, Beckenham and watched a game and were invited to play for that club. Dad and Uncle Jack played for Kenilworth who were a very good side and they won medals with them; I have Dad's 4 medals:

- Kent Junior Final 1938-9
- Beckenham Amateur Football League
Winner Division I 1939-40

Cricket (when living in Limehouse)
Finsbury & District Cricket League
Racedale Sports C.C.
- Runners Up Div III 1932
- Winners Div I 1933

and my Aunt has Uncle Jack's 4 medals which were:

- Crane Ltd Ipswich v London 1935
- Kent Junior Final 1938-9 (same as Dad)
- Beckenham Amateur Football League
Winner Division I 1939-40 (same as Dad)
- Kent District Soccer Championship 1945

Dad appeared in a Cup Final and their very experienced centre half kicked the ball hard away over the touchline to gain time towards the end of the game, and got cautioned by the referee as a result!

The momento of the Kent Junior Cup Final 1938/9 for which Dad and Uncle Jack were on the winning side.

Dad used to chuckle at the memory of one team in Beckenham, when he received his instructions for the next match put through his letterbox written on a piece of cigarttte packet!

Tom Bower

My Uncle Tom was a first-class referee but my Dad thought that he was a bit showy and held the football with one hand. Dad probably felt that way as Tom was his elder brother!

Chris and I with my Uncle Tom and Aunt Alice (family collection)

Stanhope Grove, Beckenham

As a boy, Stanhope Grove in Beckenham, 5 minutes from where we lived, was the centre of my universe. This was where many of the local boys played football and cricket (we could have fielded a good 6-a-side soccer team from our street alone). This was also where Beckenham F C played their matches and I saw Uncle Tom and my father referee at least one match each there.

Beckenham F C playing at Stanhope Grove

I was fairly sure that Uncle Tom refereed one of the annual friendlies against the Dutch side Wageningen, when I was a small boy.

I also had a photo of the anuual friendly against Wageningen Easter 1948 - March 29th.(family collection)

Out of the blue, I spotted the programme for the 1948 match was for sale on the internet.

To my delight, this was the first visit of Wageningen to Beckenham and my Uncle Tom Bower was the referee!

The match was in fact played on Saturday 27 March 1948.

In the programme, it explains the above photo, where Beckenham F C presented an autographed football as a small souvenir of the occasion.

Extraordinarily I was then sent the match report in the Norwood News dated Friday 2 April 1948:

So after nearly 75 years, I have:

- the programme from the match

- a photo taken at the match, and

- a match report!

Voices and Faces in Beckenham

Beckenham played in red and Frank Tarbard the publican of the Rising Sun could be heard to shout in a very loud voice, Come on the Reds! Cray Wanderers were one of our big rivals but the biggest game in my memory was a cup game against Whitstable which drew a big crowd. At the time I was very impressed that their right full back named Harding had played for Crystal Palace.

Later I learnt that Beckenham was a nursery club for Crystal Palace F C and certainly Roy Greenwood master of the sliding tackle and diving header went from Beckenham to Crystal Palace. Later Dad and I started to watch Palace play and they are still the main club I follow plus West Ham and Fulham (where the Bowers lived for a 100 years).

Beckenham produced other notable players including Pat Saward who played for Aston Villa and Bill Lloyd a goalkeeper who played for Millwall. I saw him play in the Millwall side that caused an upset at their ground the Den when they knocked Newcasstle United out of the F A Cup. I was upset that day because Jackie Milburn did not play for Newcastle but Bill Lloyd played well.

One day Bill Lloyd asked us boys to give him some practice at Stanhope and I beat him with a shot but it knocked the post (a skittle) flying!

Stanhope Rovers

Many of the local parks in Beckenham had football (and cricket) teams and at Stanhope we had very good players and put in junior teams for the annual parks 6-a-side tournament and I was in the winning side one year (I scored twice in the Final!).

Stanhope's Winning 6-a-side team circa 1955
- 2 of us played in Marian Vian School's team

Playing for Stanhope's junior side at Beckenham Place Park (where my senior school used to play)
- 3 of us were from the same street though 2 were twins

Eventually through the efforts of Howard Smith and others with the encouragement of the park-keeper Pat Quinn, a senior team was to emerge named Stanhope Rovers which played in local leagues. I did play for Stanhope in the early days and won a runners up medal but Stanhope did go on to win the league.

Pat Quinn with the League-Winning Side many of whom were in the side in which I played.

On one occasion I played against (a below-strength) Stanhope Rovers side and scored the winning goal. The match was played on the sloping pitch of the Bricky near Marian Vian School. Our team was Heath Rovers, a Sunday team formed from my senior school side, who unfortunately did not last a season, though we did beat a Millwall Supporters' side, as well as Stanhope!

I switched to playing for the firm's sides and then moved away in 1966 so did not see the transformation of the club when Stanhope took the name of Beckenham (after that club closed down) and formed the current Beckenham Town F C. They still play in red and have moved to a nice ground at Eden Park, Beckenham also near where I lived.

A Beckenham Town F C side playing at Eden Park

The Brechts

I should not really have been surprised when I learnt that the Brecht family in the East of London and Essex supported West Ham. My cousin in Australia told me that he watched West Ham with his father. His father went one better than the Bowers and played part-time for West Ham between the wars. My cousin played for Lewes and Brighton and later coached in Australia. He represented Queensland when they played a Chelsea touring side and he was marked by Ron "Chopper" Harris.

Up the Palace!

Stanhope Rovers

It was a lovely surprise to be contacted by the son of someone I played football with. His father and I both played for Stanhope Rovers and I was able to provide him with a copy of the photo of the league-winning side, shown above, in which his father played.

On the downside, he told me that the local pub,the Rising Sun, had been turned into flats!

He also provided me with the names of some of the other players and a slip showing that his father had been selected to play for Stanhope:

Colin Bower
17 September 2021

Visit to Beckenham 2000

My Father's Life

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