Walter 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 1913.
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 against Huddersfield.
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 ill-health.
Walter Rowley died in 1976.