It looked an ominous task for City facing Villa and Steve Bruce at Villa Park, at least until young Jarrod Bowen stepped up in the second half.
Bowen pulled away from his marker at the back post and met a Kamil Grosicki cross with a cultured left foot volley, a volley befitting a much older and more experienced player to earn City a very important opening day point. He celebrated in style as he sprinted across to the City fans and found his Dad in the crowd, despite the Villa stewards best efforts, and this really showed what his first competitive City goal meant to him. His Dad even injured himself in an effort to join his son to celebrate but we’re sure he won’t be bothered about that.
Marco Silva handed Jarrod his Premier League debut in the 7-1 defeat to Spurs at the end of last season but before that few people had heard of the young winger from Hereford. Everyone knows his name now though as he thrust himself into the spotlight in front of the Sky TV cameras. His rise to the City first team is certainly an interesting one and the demise of his hometown club could turn out to be a massive blessing for the Tigers.
Like most young lads Bowen was football mad from an early age. He would watch games and then attempt to replicate the best skills that had been on show. His very early career had some bumps in the road though. Ironically he was rejected by Villa as a ten year old, unlucky lads. Three years later the same thing happened at Cardiff and to be honest many kids may well have given up at this point.
Bowen finally got the chance he had been waiting for when his hometown club Hereford United finally saw something in the youngster that other clubs hadn’t. Peter Beadle handed Bowen his chance with a Scholarship contract in 2013 and the young lad grasped it with both hands.
He made his Conference debut aged just 17 and scored one goal in 8 appearances for the club before disaster struck. Bowen scored in a 3-2 victory over Alfreton which kept the Bulls up but soon after Hereford United spectacularly went bust and ceased to exist. They have since reformed as Hereford FC with Beadle as the manager but Bowen had already departed. Bowen hadn’t been paid during his spell in the first team and therefore left as a free agent.
City can still think themselves lucky that they managed to snare the blonde haired flyer though. He went to look around several other clubs first namely West Brom and Wolves who were a lot closer to home for the teenager than Hull. After seeing the set up and training regime at City though there was no turning back for Bowen and his dad who became almost as famous as his son on Saturday when Jarrod forced his way past Villa Park stewards to celebrate with him.
The final decision was Jarrod’s but his father gently nudged him towards Hull after being impressed with the workmanlike nature of the youth set up. Bowen has since worked his way up the youth ranks at the club and was finally given his first team debut in an EFL tie at Exeter last season. A Premier League debut followed on the final day of the season. After another turbulent off season and the departure of Marco Silva his future may have been up in the air again. Bowen though is clearly not one to shy away from a challenge and he impressed during City’s pre-season campaign.
He scored two fantastic goals against Bristol Rovers and Benfica which went a long way towards winning him a place in the starting line up at Villa. His big moment came early in the second half and the rest as they say is history. It must have been sweet for him to show Villa what they rejected a decade earlier.
The challenge now for Bowen will be to keep his place in the side alongside other youngsters like Hull born defender Max Clark.
With a threadbare squad to pick from Leonid Slutsky will be looking to these young lads to defy their age and experience and be key players in City’s Championship campaign. If the opening day performance is anything to go by though Bowen is here to stay and could be the real deal. Try not to injure your Dad every time you celebrate though Jarrod, lad.
This article first appeared in Issue 16 of the FanaticHull Fanzine. For more like it be sure to check out our new edition out this Friday night at the Bolton game.