It was with great sadness that Wrexham Football Club this week learnt of the passing away of Arthur Rowley, who played for Wrexham for almost three years in the mid-1950s. The Fazakerley-born inside-left joined Liverpool in May 1951 after being spotted playing as an amateur for Florence Melly Boys Club. He passed away on 18th February following a short illness.
As a schoolboy he'd played for the Florence Melley School in his native Liverpool, from where he went on to represent both Liverpool and Lancashire Schoolboys. He played for Liverpool Boys in the Final of the English Schools Trophy, which they shared, with Stockport after a 1-1 draw at Anfield in front of over 40,000. Arthur scored his side's equaliser in the last minute of the game. He also represented the Liverpool Boys' Club, with whom he toured the France, Belgium, and Germany.
Following his return home from that tour he played against a Liverpool representative side, and this led to approaches after the game from both Everton and Liverpool. Having already obtained employment with Pickfords in their Transport Office in Liverpool he subsequently signed for Liverpool in May 1951.
He became a prominent member of the Liverpool reserve team throughout his four years at Anfield, Rowley also made 77 Central League appearances, scoring 15 goals. His senior debut came on the opening day of the season in August 1952 when he lined up in the same team as Bob Paisley and Billy Liddell in a 1-1 draw away to Preston North End, a game that famously saw both Billy Liddell and Preston's Tom Finney miss penalties!
Wearing the No.10 shirt, Rowley figured in the first eight games of that campaign and, despite not scoring, played his part as Liverpool set the pace at the top of the table with five consecutive wins. He made just three more appearances in the first team, though, and by the time of his last outing, a 3-1 defeat by Manchester United in April 1953, the Reds had plummeted alarmingly and only survived relegation with a victory on the final day.
He completed thirteen League appearances for Liverpool, scoring just one goal in his penultimate game for the club in April 1954, a 4-1 home win over Middlesbrough. As he was struggling to establish a first team place at Anfield Arthur accepted an offer to join Third Division North side Wrexham in November 1954 for £1,600, and went straight into the first team at inside-left, replacing David Jackson in a 3-1 defeat at Chesterfield, before scoring twice on his home debut in a 3-3 draw at York.
At the Racecourse Arthur was described as a 'skilful little forward', remaining an ever-present in the side until the end of the season. The following campaign saw him make 27 League appearances, scoring two goals. The 1956/57 season saw him out of favour as he was to add just two League appearances before being allowed to move on to Crewe Alexandra in February.
Arthur made his debut for the 'Railwaymen' in a 1-1 draw at Rochdale, and spent just over a season at Gresty Road, completing 34 League appearances, and scoring seven goals. He left the Cheshire club to sign for Tranmere Rovers in September 1958, but he failed to make a first team appearance at Prenton Park, and at the end of the season he accepted an offer to join Lancashire Combination League side Burscough Rangers.
Arthur helped the Victoria Park club to reach the First Round proper of the F.A.Cup for the first time in their history, where they lost 3-1 to his former club Crewe Alexandra. After a little over two years with Burscough he joined fellow Lancashire Combination League side Chorley, where he won a championship medal in 1964, adding a number of other trophies during his four years with them. His most memorable game came when Burscough beat Cheshire County League champions Wigan Athletic in the Final of the Lancashire Junior Cup at Preston's Deepdale ground.
He had a short spell with Chorley before hanging up his boots in 1965. Having finished playing professional football Arthur became a self-employed builder until he retired, following a hip replacement operation, and resided in the Aintree area of Liverpool, where he was a keen crown green bowler.
The thoughts of everyone at Wrexham Football Club go out to his family and friends at this sad time.