He started watching Raith Rovers at the age of seven – now 18, Kieron Bowie has helped them win a league title, got them a big transfer fee and earned himself a move to the Premier League.
The Fulham striker joined the Craven Cottage side in the summer after a breakthrough at local club Raith. Stark’s Park boss John McGlynn handed him a chance whilst the teenager was still at school and he went on to make 39 appearances with 10 goals and six assists.
Now his development will continue in Fulham’s elite academy, where the 18-year-old will play for the Premier League side’s U23s this term. Moving in the middle of a health pandemic had postponed his move south for a short while, but now he’s delighted to get into the swing of things in London.
“It’s been strange but it’s been very good because everyone has made me feel so welcome,” Bowie told NTOF. “My move happened in January and that’s when I signed the deal. Nothing like COVID had been heard of yet so I thought I’d just finish the season at Raith and then I’ll get down.
“I didn’t expect any of it and I wondered what would happen. I was supposed to come down at the start of July but it never happened until the end of July because of the lockdown which wasn’t great. But I got here eventually.
“It’s just me but I’m in digs with another family which is good. It’s strange when you think of it in your head but it’s good. I’ve got to make some sacrifices if you want to do what you want to do, leave home and things like that. It’s a challenge but something I wanted to do.
“Because of COVID we can’t go near the first-team, we can’t even train at the same facilities. But it’s not a big deal, we’ll just stick to where we train. We beat Brighton in our first game and it’s always important to get a good start to the season.
“It’s a bit different but it’s more technical so it’s more of a challenge for me. It’s helped my development with the coaches here.”
Whilst the Fulham opportunity was one Bowie couldn’t turn down, it was something he thought long and hard about. His club that he watched growing up had allowed him to live his boyhood dream, something he’ll always be thankful for.
A humble young man who’s grateful for everything he gets, Bowie has had a very different football experience compared to many of those around his age group. McGlynn’s old-fashioned ways meant there was no time for the teenager to get too big for his boots.
Whilst thrilled to be a Fulham player, the youngster says he wouldn’t have been bothered by staying with two men he owes so much to in football.
“Him (McGlynn) and Paul Smith were great with me,” the forward explained. “I was still at school when they signed me and I trained twice a week, the school were good with them as well. I didn’t think I was going to play any games to be honest last season but obviously they believed in me.
“It was good of them to want to play me. I didn’t have any of the gear, I just got changed there, had a shower and then went back to school! I wasn’t playing games then, I was just going in for training.
“Some people like it at clubs like Celtic or Rangers but I don’t think I would like that. It was harder at Raith as I was an apprentice on not much money but I enjoyed it with the boys. After games we would sweep up and put everyone else’s boots away! It was very good for keeping you grounded.
“I don’t think I would have minded staying. I’m obviously delighted to be here but either way I would have been happy. I wouldn’t have been fussed if I was still at Raith.
“I spoke to a few people when I had gone in to get my medal. I spoke to the manager, Paul Smith and the chairman that’s now left. I’ve spoke to the players on social media but hopefully I can get back up to watch a game with any time off.”
Living the dream
Bowie’s time in football so far has been surreal for him. Not only has he cemented himself as a hero for young Raith fans just as the likes of Graham Weir and John Baird may have been for him, he’s also helped them win a league title.
Raith secured promotion back to the Championship last season as they pipped Falkirk to the crown in Scotland’s third tier. Bowie attracted plenty of interest in this campaign, including one particular night where Fulham came forward.
It’s all been a brilliant experience so far for Bowie as he admits that his Premier League move was a shock: “I didn’t think anything was going to happen. My agent never mentioned any moves, he just let me get on with it. I was oblivious to everything.
“You see a few scouts at games but it got to the point where there were nine or 10. We played against Montrose in January and I scored two goals. The Fulham scout was there and at half-time he said he wanted to sign me!
“The manager and my agent came to my house to talk about it because the manager wanted to do what’s best for me so it wasn’t about staying for him either.
“I’ve supported them since I was about seven. I watched them get relegated into League One. I then watched them for two seasons not get up before I had to jump in and help them! I still can’t believe I managed to go there, keep playing, and move down here.
“At the age of seven all you want to do is play for your local club. Sometimes that isn’t a reality but for me it was and I’m delighted Raith are back in the Championship and hopefully they can do well. I think they deserve to be there.”