It’s been a remarkable few weeks for the Horsfall College of Sport, as four scholars have stepped up to feature in the first-team.
Defender Lewis Johnson, midfield duo Matthew Rowntree and Hassan Ali and forward Bradley Oliver have all appeared in pre-season friendlies alongside the club’s senior players.
First-year scholar Rowntree has been making rapid progress at his tender age, featuring against Silsden, Hemsworth Miners Welfare and Mansfield Town and impressing manager Mark Bower.
His debut came against the Cobbydalers in the opening fixture of the summer as the hosts held Bradford to a 1-1-1 draw. He entered the fray from the bench, joining the vastly-experienced Nicky Wroe in central midfield. Playing a simple but effective game of spreading the ball wide or into the feet of strikers at every opportunity, he stood out on a pitch full of seasoned semi-professionals and former professionals. His ability to read the game and make good decisions impressed Bradford and Silsden staff alike, and the midfielder was once again given a first-team call-up for the trip to Hemsworth Miners Welfare.
Rowntree partnered Assistant Manager Danny Boshell in the heart of midfield and continued to impress, retaining possession well and creating opportunities for Bradford’s attacking contingent. After demonstrating an ability to compete with non-league talent, Rowntree was handed a third first-team appearance for the visit of League Two side Mansfield Town. Operating on the right-hand side of midfield, the dynamic youngster didn’t look out of place up against the Stags’ professional talents and proved that he is one to watch for the future as he enters his second year with the Horsfall College of Sport.
Rowntree, alongside Johnson, Ali and Oliver, has proven that the pathway between the College and the first-team has been developed and opportunities are available for those willing to work hard.
The young midfielder sat down with physio Tally Clayton to discuss his progress:
The opportunity to play in the first-team came out of nowhere. Calling up a first-year scholar is a brave thing to do but I’m glad they did because I really enjoyed the experiences. Playing alongside the likes of Nicky Wroe and Danny Boshell in midfield is brilliant as they’ve played a lot of professional games between them, and that can only be beneficial for me.
First-team games are more physical and I quickly realised that you have to have good levels of fitness. It’s important that you don’t over-complicate things and that’s something I try not to do.
My aim now is to push myself into the first-team for league games. The Horsfall College of Sport has given us a pathway to the first-team so I just need to keep working.