FORMER Barrow AFC player, John Rowlands, has died at the age of 73.

Mr Rowlands played as both an attacker and a defender over the course of a 13-year-long career that saw him chalk up nearly 400 appearances for clubs in England, South Africa and the United States of America (USA).

Born in Liverpool, Mr Rowlands spent much of his career in the north of England and the North West, in particular - also turning out for Mansfield Town, Stockport County, Workington, Crewe Alexandra and Hartlepool United.

Besides these clubs, he represented Torquay United, Exeter City and Cape Town City - the latter forming part of a 1969 summer stint in the port city and de facto South African capital.

He finished his playing career in the USA, having enjoyed periods at the Seattle Sounders, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Tulsa Roughnecks and the Oakland Stompers.

His final spell is understood to have been at San Jose in 1980.

Then-manager of Barrow AFC Don McEvoy signed Rowlands in January 1971, with the club looming dangerously above the bottom of the old Division Four.

He had been signed as a solution to the club’s goal drought at the time - despite not being a prolific goalscorer. He notched up a total of just 67 goals across his playing career, with 46 of those during his time in English football.

Nevertheless, Rowlands chipped in with a number of goals over the course of several campaigns that saw him as AFC’s main target man up front.

He scored 54 goals for the club in total, before signing for Workington after the Bluebirds failed to gain re-election to the English Football League.

He went on to spend two seasons at the west coast club and Barrow’s traditional derby rival in the Football League.

Aside from having been a versatile and valued player at the club, Mr Rowlands is remembered as having been a well-liked squad member at AFC.

Club director Sid Blain paid tribute to Mr Rowlands with the following words: “I have many fond memories of John from his time with us in the 1970s.

“Being Manchester-based, I used to find myself sitting with him and other players like Bobby Noble on the long train journey back.

“He was always happy to answer questions and tell stories of his carer [sic] and his time at Barrow.

“Both mine and the rest of the football club’s thoughts are with his family at this most difficult time.

“He will be sadly missed.”