'I just wanted to score one goal' – Hull's Bowen on non-league roots & re-evaluating his targets
It took Jarrod Bowen 62 minutes of Hull City’s opening game to hit his target for the season.
“You set goals at the start of the season and I didn’t know how much I was going to play so I just said I wanted to score one goal,” forward Bowen told BBC Radio Humberside.
“I did that in the first game and now I think that, if I keep playing, double figures is achievable for me.”
Given the 20-year-old is already up to five goals for the campaign – form which has seen him win the EFL’s Young Player of the Month award for August – you would be surprised if there was not a further revision of his target pretty soon.
However, it is unlikely that any of his goals will mean quite as much to him as that first one at Villa Park.
From a family of Aston Villa fans, Bowen could not have picked a better place to score his first goal in league football, especially as he had an unsuccessful trial with the then Premier League side aged 10.
“With having all my family there and it being my first goal for the club on the first day of the season, it was really special,” he said of his equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
But the leveller did come at a cost for one member of Bowen’s family. Jubilant father Sam injured ankle ligaments rushing down the stand to celebrate with his son.
“I must have been about 14 rows back to start with but I probably cleared five rows of seats before I’d even touched the floor,” he told the Hull Daily Mail.
‘The talent is there’
Although Bowen has had to bide his time to get his chance with the Tigers, he is no stranger to first-team football.
It is a shade over three years since the then 17-year-old was thrown into a non-league relegation battle with Hereford United in 2014.
The teenager’s first goal gave the Bulls victory over Alfreton and they managed to avoid being relegated from the National League thanks to a late win at Aldershot the following week.
Bowen joined the Premier League Tigers from the financially-stricken Edgar Street side that summer. Six months later, Hereford were wound up.
As starts to careers go, it is a far cry from the relative safety of academy football.
“I think being in a men’s environment at such a young age has stood me in good stead,” he said. “It’s all about confidence and playing against men from a young age was beneficial.”
He is not the only player to go from non-league to East Yorkshire, with former Hereford midfielder Sam Clucas also having a big impact at Hull before joining Swansea in August.
Bowen, who also had the chance to sign for Wolves and West Bromwich Albion when he joined Hull, believes clubs could benefit from increasing their scouting outside the professional ranks.
“The talent is there but it’s about finding the players. Arsenal signed a player from Hednesford (Cohen Bramall) recently and you can see Jamie Vardy has set up his own academy to help that,” he added.
“I was at little old Hereford so when a Premier League team came in it was delightful really.
“My manager at Hereford (Peter Beadle) knew Tony Pennock here. Everyone knows everyone in football and thankfully it’s worked out well for me.”
Bouncing back… again
Bowen joined the Tigers just after Steve Bruce’s side had fallen to a 3-2 defeat by Arsenal in the 2014 FA Cup final at Wembley.
By the time Mike Phelan gave him his debut two years later, Hull had been relegated from the Premier League and promoted back to the top flight again.
Last season ended in another relegation and, while Bowen has enjoyed a fine start to the season under new boss Leonid Slutsky, the side have endured a more mixed time – Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham was their fourth in seven Championship games.
“Individually it’s been very good but as a club it could have been better,” said Bowen.
“If you look at the defeats we’ve had, Wolves are a good side, QPR was frustrating and Friday (a 5-0 defeat at Derby) was a shambles really. We can’t dwell on that, it’s football and it happens sometimes.
“The manager came out and took responsibility, but we were on the pitch so it was our fault.”
Bowen might have had to re-evaluate his targets for the season, but he will be hoping his goals will mean Hull will not have to change theirs.