With a lethal left foot that earned him the nickname ‘Gunner’, Jack Rowley fired the Reds to glory in the post-War years as Matt Busby’s United masterplan came to fruition.
At his peak, Rowley, like his equally prolific brother Arthur, was one of the most feared strikers in the country - great in the air and on the ground.
Rowley joined the Reds for £3,000 in 1937 after brief spells with his hometown club Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic, where he scored 10 goals in 11 appearances. In his first full season at Old Trafford, he helped United to a Second Division runners-up spot and a first return to football’s top table since 1931.
As competitive league football was suspended with the outbreak of war, Rowley served in the South Staffordshire regiment, participating in the D-Day landings at Normandy in 1945. He also guested during hostilities for Wolves, Aldershot, Belfast Distillery, Folkestone, Shrewsbury Town and Tottenham Hotspur.
When a full league programme recommenced in 1946, Rowley resumed his career with United. He was a mainstay of the 1948 FA Cup-winning side – with its ‘Famous Five’ forward line – scoring twice in the 4-2 final victory over Blackpool.
In 1952, forging a terrific alliance with diminutive veteran Scotsman Jimmy Delaney, Rowley’s 30 league goals helped United to the First Division title for the first time since 1911.
After 503 appearances and a remarkable 312 goals – he also played six games for England, averaging a goal a game – he left United to join Plymouth Argyle as player-manager, retiring from playing two years later in 1957.
After various coaching and managerial posts, he retired from management in December 1969 to run a sub post office/newsagent in the Shaw district of Oldham.