Jack Rowley

John Frederick Rowley (7 October 1918 – 28 June 1998) was an English footballer who played as a forward from the 1930s to the 1950s, mainly remembered for a 17-year spell with Manchester United. He was nicknamed "The Gunner" because of his prolific goalscoring and explosive shooting, scoring 211 goals in 424 appearances for United. His younger brother, Arthur, still holds the record for the highest number of career goals scored in the Football League with 434.

Jack Rowley
Personal information
Full name John Frederick Rowley
Date of birth (1918-10-07)7 October 1918[1][2]
Place of birth Wolverhampton, England
Date of death 28 June 1998(1998-06-28) (aged 79)
Place of death Shaw and Crompton, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Position(s) Forward
Youth career
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1935–193? Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 (0)
193?–1937 Cradley Heath
1937 Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic 22 (12)
1937–1954 Manchester United 380 (182)
1954–1957 Plymouth Argyle 56 (14)
Total 458 (208)
National team
1948–1952 England 6 (6)
1949 England B 1 (3)
Teams managed
1955–1960 Plymouth Argyle
1960–1963 Oldham Athletic
1963–1964 Ajax
1966–1967 Wrexham
1967–1968 Bradford Park Avenue
1968–1969 Oldham Athletic
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only


Rowley started his professional career in 1935 with Wolverhampton Wanderers, although he never found a place in the first team. He soon moved on to Birmingham & District League club Cradley Heath, from where, in February 1937, he signed for Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic,[3] scoring 10 goals in his first 11 games. His talent soon brought him to the attention of larger clubs and Rowley was purchased eight months later by Manchester United for £3,000. Still only 17, his debut for the club came on 23 October 1937 against Sheffield Wednesday. In his second game, he scored four goals against Swansea Town. By the time senior football was suspended due to the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, he had played 58 times for United, scoring 18 goals and helping them win promotion back to the First Division in his first season.

Initially bought as an outside left, he was to develop into a highly effective centre-forward in Matt Busby's first United team. He was part of the team that won the FA Cup in 1948, scoring two goals in the final, and the 1951–52 Football League. He became one of the club's few players to have scored five goals in a single game, when in February 1949 he scored five goals in an 8–0 win over Yeovil Town in an FA Cup tie.

Rowley is one of only four players in the history of Manchester United to score over 200 goals for the club, the others being Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Wayne Rooney. He left the club in 1955 to become player–manager of Plymouth Argyle.[4]

He later went on to manage Oldham Athletic, gaining promotion to the Third Division in 1963. From there, he went on to manage Dutch club Ajax for the 1963–64 season, before returning to Britain to manage Wrexham and Bradford (Park Avenue) F.C., followed by a second spell at Oldham, where he finished his managerial career in December 1969.

Rowley was also capped six times for England scoring six goals, four of which came against Northern Ireland on 16 November 1949

Rowley died in June 1998, at the age of 79.



Club Season League Cup Other[5] Total
Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic 1936–37
Total 22122212
Manchester United 1937–38 2994000299
1938–39 381010003910
1945–46 00420042
1946–47 372622003928
1947–48 392365004528
1948–49 392089114830
1949–50 392053004423
1950–51 391431004215
1951–52 403010004130
1952–53 261143123116
1953–54 361210003712
1954–55 2273100258
Total 380182422623424211
Plymouth Argyle 1954–55 1320000132
1955–56 1660000166
1956–57 2762100297
Total 561421005815
Career total 458208442723504238



Team Nat From To Record
Plymouth Argyle February 1955 March 1960 238935293 39.08
Oldham Athletic July 1960 May 1963 151663352 43.71
Ajax 1963 1964
Wrexham January 1966 April 1967 58192217 32.76
Bradford Park Avenue March 1967 September 1968
Oldham Athletic October 1968 December 1969 57161427 28.07



Manchester United


Plymouth Argyle
Oldham Athletic


  1. "Jack Rowley". England Football Online. Chris Goodwin & Glen Isherwood. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2018. Not born in 1920, as stated in many history books.
  2. "Jack Rowley". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. "Second half goal foils Walsall at home". Sports Argus. Birmingham. 27 February 1937. p. 4. Bournemouth had a new outside right, Redfern, from Cradley Heath, in place of Jones. Rowley, also signed from Cradley Heath during the week, was on the left wing.
  4. Argyle Managers Greens on Screen. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  5. Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup
  6. Jack Rowley management career statistics at Soccerbase