Robbie Down Under
As the EPL and the rest of Europe completes the first month of the domestic season, it is interesting to look at the travels of perhaps the EPL’s greatest finisher: one Robbie Fowler. Having been discarded by Blackburn amidst the outing of old friend Paul Ince, many wondered what Fowler’s next move would be. MLS and the English First Division were rumored, as was the A-League, as the ex-Liverpool striker made a trip to Sydney in the preseason of 2008, only to spurn the advances of Sydney FC to try his luck with Ince and the Rovers, a move that produced few appearances and no goals for Blackburn in 2008-09.
As the new season approached, it was thought Fowler would end up in the US, with Chicago Fire a rumored suitor. However, a spring trip to Townsville, North Queensland, produced a signing that sent tremors through the A-League, if only because of the name involved. Fowler had signed with the North Queensland Fury, an expansion club that had never played a match, much less sold its first ticket. But what were the Fury supporters actually getting? A striker often called the best natural finisher in football, or an out of shape, over the hill ex-footballer going overseas to pick up a last fat paycheck?
The jury is still out, but after six matches, Fowler looks to be match fit and has started scoring goals for his new club. The latest, his fourth in six matches, was reminiscent of his 2001 goal at Millineum Stadium for Liverpool in the League Cup final vs. Birmingham City, as he collected and volleyed from outside the area under the bar, providing the difference in a 1-0 victory vs. his former suitor, Sydney FC. Not only was it classic Fowler, it marked the first victory in the A-League for North Queensland Fury.
Did the former Liverpool legend have a future in England? Most likely not, as the pace that created stardom at Anfield has vanished through age and injury. But as much as the legs have gone, the mind remains fresh, and given the chance, Fowler remains lethal when given proper service. Scoring goals at age 34 still seems second nature to him, even though the level of play in the A-League is not near that seen in the EPL.
But in Australia, Fowler is very much the attraction, as the crowd on Saturday was adorned with the red of Liverpool throughout, and the man was given a generous ovation upon scoring the goal. He looks to be interested and involved, as manager Ian Ferguson has named him captain of the squad for the 2009-10 season.
While Liverpool fans consider Robbie Fowler to be a true legend, his ability to score goals in an entertaining fashion has made him a regular of the weekly highlight shows throughout his career. Although on a different stage, he has continued to rack up goals and create new fans for the A-League, while allowing EPL and Liverpool fans a glimpse of the talent that made him one of the EPL’s greatest scorers.