Striker Jordan Owens wants more league titles with Crusaders
Danske Bank Irish Premiership: Crusaders v Glenavon (today, 3pm)
HE’S a centre half’s nightmare and got better and fitter with age. He’s affectionately known around Seaview as ‘Chicken’.
Given his 11 years of unstinting service, nobody will argue that Jordan Owens hasn’t earned his Testimonial.
While there are a number of events planned to celebrate the striker’s more than a decade contribution to Crusaders, Owens remains focused on scoring goals and trying to win the league title back this season.
“I never thought I’d get a testimonial,” said the 28-year-old, who has bagged 190 goals for the north Belfast club.
“Colin Coates got one four or five years ago and you say to yourself: ‘Could I reach the stage where I get a testimonial?’
“I’ve worked hard and I’ve got my rewards now.”
A poker night will take place in Seaview's social club this evening as one of several events taking place in Owens’ testimonial year.
“I’ve people working around the scenes on events but my focus is trying to win the league back this year.”
After playing for Loughside in his early teens he joined Crusaders at U16 level and moved up the ranks before breaching Stephen Baxter’s first team.
“It was Jeff Spiers [now first team coach] who took me on and from there I just worked my way into the first team,” said the bustling striker.
“I enjoyed playing for Crusaders through the youth teams and it’s a club that looked after me well. It wasn’t a big club when I joined; they were down in the First Division but now it’s one of the biggest clubs in the league.”
He added: “Stephen Baxter has looked after me well since I went in there and he’s a manager I always looked up to. It’s a real family club - we stick together and we play together.
“Stephen has been superb with me with the testimonial and he’s given me a new contract. So I try to be as good to him as he is to me. He’s a great manager.”
Owens has enjoyed astonishing success over the last few seasons, winning back-to-back titles with the club, and is one of the most improved players in the domestic game.
“I’m probably fitter now than I was when I was 21,” he said.
“I’d a wee bit of weight about me when I was younger and Stephen actually pushed me to get the weight off and get fitter. I work hard for the team because you get rewards at the end of it.”
Owens has notched five goals in the early stages of the current campaign and is aiming for his now customary 20-25 goals per season which would go a long way to giving Crusaders a chance of wrestling back the Gibson Cup from Linfield.
“I always want to score 20-25 goals a season and I’ve done that over the last couple of years. My aim is to keep scoring goals and keep moving the club forward, win more league titles and more cups. You just want to win every week because we’re a big club now.”
“They say teams come back stronger and we’ve a stronger team this year, but it’s always going to be tough.
“You look at our last two games – Dungannon and Ards – teams are trying to stop us playing, and we’re going to get that in every game.
“But we’ve more depth this year and if a couple of players get injured we’ve got good players to come in.”
Third-placed Crusaders, who host high-scoring Glenavon this afternoon, are five points adrift of leaders Coleraine and one behind the Blues.