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Prolific striker Bowey so close to 300th goal
ONE OF the most prolific strikers in Kent non-league football is only five goals away from scoring 300 career goals, writes Stephen McCartney.
And Dean Bowey is aiming to score number 300, on his 40th birthday on Saturday 18th September, against one of his former clubs, Ramsgate.
Currently at Slade Green, Maverick, as he is known to his team-mates, has already found the back of the net, in the 3-3 Go Travel Kent League draw against Maidstone United on the opening day of this season.
Keen to look back on his career, by keeping a tally on his goalscoring feats and appearances for all the clubs he has played for, Bowey has been a valuable player for the clubs he has turned out for, mainly in the Kent League, but he has also had stints at three Southern League club's, Gravesend & Northfleet, Dover Athletic and Dartford.
And at the time of writing, he has notched up his 295 goals in only 415 games.
In 1989-90, Bowey was given his chance at Kent League level when Micky Watts, a big influence throughout his career, saw his potential and he went on to score 34 goals for Darenth Heathside.
Bowey's scoring antics in his first season drew the attention of Gravesend & Northfleet manager Dennis Moore. At that time, the Fleet were plying their trade in the Premier Division of the Southern League.
Bowey said: "Dennis Moore came to see me play a few times for Darenth Heathside, and I played twice for Gravesend during the season."
He remembers he scored one and set one up for Colin Blewden, who went on to manage Tonbridge, as the Fleet defeated Dorchester Town 2-1.
This was followed with his second appearance on Easter Bank Holiday Monday against Dartford, and although Bowey didn't find the net, Micky Crow did, and a 1-0 win was registered.
After the game, however, Bowey declined the chance to sign for the Stonebridge Road outfit, deciding to stay at Darenth Heathside, opting to sign for Gravesend for the 1990-91 campaign.
On 8th November 1990, Bowey recalls he signed for Dover Athletic, managed by current Margate boss Chris Kinnear, as the Whites were also playing Southern League Premier Division football.
Bowey said: "Dover were a very successful side, and to be fair, I wasn't a regular.
"I went on loan to Erith & Belvedere and from there I was loaned out to Slade Green."
However, Bowey came to prominence in the 1992-93 campaign, when he played for Thamesmead Town.
He was player of the year twice at Bayliss Avenue, and scored 47 goals in 43 games in one season, which is still a club record.
Bowey admitted he was disappointed to drop out of Southern League football into the Kent League, but has been happy turning out for clubs at this level ever since.
He added: "I was disappointed with the drop into the Kent League but the manager at Thamesmead at the time was Micky Watts, who was my first manager when I was at Darenth Heathside.
"I got on quite well with him and he asked me to come to the club."
Bowey found the net on 84 occasions for Thamesmead in only 107 games before he moved to Dartford, then a Kent League club, for season 1994-95.
Bowey said: "A good move for me. I was in the side and in their last season in the Kent League we were unbeaten in the league but lost to Furness on goal difference.
"However, we won the Kent Senior Trophy, I scored the first goal and we beat Chatham Town 3-0 in the final, played at Welling United."
Tony Burman was the Darts' manager but Gary Julians took over the reigns when the club were in the Southern League.
He played 20 games in the Southern League, scoring 8 goals, before moving to help VCD Athletic clinch promotion out of the Kent County League, scoring nine goals in their last ten games, to give Martin Ford's side a key into the Kent League.
In the club's first ever campaign at the higher level in 1997-98, Bowey scored 30 goals in 41 games, and was voted player of the year at the Old Road outfit in Crayford.
However, the most successful club he has played for must be Ramsgate.
The Rams clinched the Kent League and Kent Senior Trophy double in 1998-99, and the following season reached the quarter-finals of the FA Vase - although local rivals Deal Town, managed by current Dartford boss Tommy Sampson - went onto win the competition, beating Chippenham Town 1-0 in the final played at Wembley Stadium.
Bowey, who won the Kent League golden Boot, scoring 36 goals for Ramsgate, got on well with manager Jim Ward, who has since returned to Southwood after a spell with Maidstone United.
The hit-man added: "He was fabulous and we got on well. It helped that we were successful during the two seasons, and in 1999-2000 we reached the quarter-finals of the FA Vase."
However, Bowey admitted he felt his side could beat Deal Town in the semi-finals, although their dreams were dashed by going out 1-0 to Newcastle Town after 120 minutes of football in the last eight.
Bowey scored 59 goals for Ramsgate before the striker moved to Erith Town.
In his one and only season for the Dockers, he scored 18 goals in 36 games.
"I must admit, I've had a few clubs, but Erith Town was a good little club", he said
"I enjoyed my time there. They had a good few lads at the time, and Micky Watts was another reason why I went there."
Watts, who was joint manager with John Adams, has been a major influence on Bowey's career.
He added: "I've been to the bigger clubs, like Dover and Gravesend & Northfleet, but without a shadow of a doubt Micky Watts was the biggest influence on my career.
"He gave me a chance at Darenth Heathside - and I owe him a lot really.
"Every time I had the opportunity to play for him, I took the chance." he said.
In season 2001-2002, Bowey got itchy feet and decided it was time to move into coaching.
He scored 4 goals in 6 games for Slade Green and an opportunity to move into coaching came up.
Looking back, Bowey said: "A chance came up at VCD Athletic's reserve team. At the end of that season, 2001-2002, I went there and became player coach.
"However, I realised at the end of that season, I didn't want to give up playing top flight Kent League football."
Bowey, however, didn't regret his stint as reserve team player-coach with VCD Athletic
"It wasn't a regret, I did enjoy it. It was good to work with a few young lads, and now it's a bit of experience in my locker."
In season 2002-2003 Bowey returned to Slade Green - his present club.
However, in the summer of 2003 he signed as player assistant-manager for Greenwich Borough under manager Dave Ward, and Theo Foley, who was coaching at the Harrow Meadow club in Eltham.
Bowey admitted: "To start off I really enjoyed it there, being an assistant manager, but combining the coaching and playing was a bit difficult at times.
"I was the easy option to be left out of the side, which in the end, was one of the reasons why I left.
"Dave Ward is a very good mate of mine and we never let the football side affect our relationship.
"At the time, we had a chat and I told him I needed to play regular football and I left on the 5th February 2004."
In total, Bowey played 14 games for Borough, finding the back of the net an impressive ten times.
Even though he left Greenwich Borough in February, he was still the club's leading goalscorer come May. Proving a point to Ward that he should have played more often.
On 5th February 2004, Bowey, who was already cup-tied, signed for Cray Wanderers - on their way to promotion from the Kent League into the Ryman League.
He said: "I knew Jenko (Ian Jenkins, Cray Wanderers' manager) quite well, having played against him numerous times.
"I was actually going to sign for him a couple times before but things happened and the move didn't materialise.
"When I left Greenwich Borough I had a chat with Cray and decided to sign for them.
"I was looking forward to getting a few starts with my old mate from Dartford, Ricky Bennett, but they played lots of cup games and I was cup-tied in all of them."
Back at Slade Green, already this season he has scored once in their opening two Kent League games.
Bowey is a good ambassador to the game of football - keeping himself fit - and a good role model to all young footballers.
He said: "Football is one of the important things of my life - I love the game.
"On September 18th we (Slade Green) are away to Ramsgate, which is my 40th birthday.
"I'd like to think I'd have my 300th goal before then!"
So, what does the future have for Bowey?
"I don't know!" he said.
"I want to carry on playing as long as I can.
"I've always promised myself once I hang up my boots I won't go lower than the Kent League.
"But, who knows?
"If I give up and miss it that much, I might have to bring them out again.
"I said to the lads at Slade Green in pre-season, if they catch me anywhere near the hills in Shooters Hill next season - send me home, because it's hard. However, I got through it.
"People have told me I look fit at 39, which is a compliment, and I am quite proud of that."
Looking ahead to the rest of the season at the club, he added: "I am looking forward to a good season with Slade Green.
"We've got a good side, we've got a few players back - Tony Gallagher, Wayne Barrett and Ryan Hayes, who is playing well and doing a good job."
Like many footballers, his father Terry has been an influence on his life, and has watched the prolific striker's career unfold.
Showing emotion, Bowey added: "It this is to be my last season, every goal I score is dedicated to my eight-year-old daughter, Mollie, my princess."
Bowey, who lives in Charlton and owns his own plastering and pebbledashes business, said: "I've played under some good managers but Tony Burman was a great influence at Dartford, and to be fair, I wouldn't mind mentioning Terry Malin and Phil Miles.
"When my career was going a bit stale, they gave me the opportunity down at Slade Green."
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