Rowley was born in Little Hulton on 14th April, 1891. He played
football for Farnworth, Walkden and Little Hulton before joining
Oldham Athletic in 1910. Rowley failed to make the first-team
and moved to Bolton Wanderers in 1912. A centre-half, he made
his debut for the club against West Bromwich Albion in February
After the First World War Rowley became a regular in the Bolton
first-team. Charles Foweraker, built an outstanding team that
included Joe Smith, Billy Jennings, Jimmy Seddon, John Reid
Smith, David Jack, Billy Butler, Ted Vizard, Harry Nuttall, Dick
Pym, Alex Finney and Bob Haworth.
In the 1920-21 season Bolton Wanderers finished in 3rd place in
the First Division of the Football League. Joe Smith, scored a
club record of 38 goals, this included hat-tricks against
Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle United.
Bolton Wanderers enjoyed a good FA Cup run in the 1922-23
season. They beat Leeds United (3-1), Huddersfield Town (1-0),
Charlton Athletic (1-0) and Sheffield United (1-0) to reach the
first cup final to be held at Wembley Stadium. Rowley missed the
final because of a six-week suspension for being sent-off
Rowley played 191 games for Bolton Wanderers before being forced
to retire through injury in May 1925. He was appointed coach to
the second-team. He later became coach to the first-team and on
the retirement of Charles Foweraker in August 1944, became
manager of the club.
In 1946 Rowley led Bolton Wanderers reached the semi-final of
the FA Cup but were beaten 2-0 by Charlton Athletic. Bolton
finished 18th in the First Division in the 1946-47 season. This
was followed by 17th (1947-48), 14th (1948-49) and 16th
(1949-50). In October, 1950, Rowley resigned as a result of
Walter Rowley died in 1976.