The trend of appointing Lancastrians as Boro manager continued when Rowley succeeded David Jack after 38 years as a player, coach and manager of Bolton. His tenure in the Burnden Park hotseat ended through ill health and he was made a life member of the club. 

Fully recovered he moved to Boro, finishing 13th in his first season in charge - and it was to prove an unlikely omen for the Teesside club. In the midst of a relegation struggle Rowley submitted his resignation. 

He was suffering from a stomach ulcer and felt the club needed a fully fit man at the helm. 

On March 10 1954 the board announced they had reluctantly parted company with their manager, but by this time Rowley had recovered. But it was too late, the search for a new manager had already begun. 

Rowley spent three seasons in charge at Shrewsbury Town before leaving the game in 1957.