Andrew Barrowman is beginning to realize his dream of becoming a professional soccer player, but his path from Bangor High School standout to a new contract with Cowdenbeath FC of Scotland has been difficult.
The 23-year-old Barrowman was on track to achieve some professional stability after signing with another Scottish team, Airdrieonians FC, for the 2019-20 season and playing with the club’s reserve team.
The central midfielder attracted attention with his early play, scoring four goals in a game and earning a spot on the club’s first-team bench. Then COVID-19 intervened.
“Our season was canceled and I had to go home,” he said. “It was a tough pill to swallow and it was frustrating but the experiences I had when I was back were amazing.”
Those included time with family, helping a friend renovate the Travel Lodge on Odlin Road in Bangor and completing an internship with Bangor Natural Gas Co. under his father Andrew, the company’s sales and marketing manager.
The elder Barrowman, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, played professional soccer in his home country as well as England and during the late 1970s with the Chicago Sting of the North American Soccer League.
“I didn’t let the pandemic beat me down because I knew I had the talent to kick on when the doors would be opened again,” the younger Barrowman said, “but I was naive to how long it would actually take and how many hurdles I’d have to jump to get back in the pro circuits.”
Getting beyond those hurdles has taken nearly two years. Barrowman finally returned to the United Kingdom last September and caught on with an English club, Yeovil Town FC.
After a lengthy trial period he was invited to rejoin the team in January when the transfer window opened for international players to change teams, but Barrowman’s agent got a call before then from Maurice Ross, a well-known Scottish player and Cowdenbeath’s new coach.
“He liked my resume, footage and style of play in training so they offered me a contract and the opportunity to get a lot of pro minutes under my belt,” Barrowman said.
Barrowman signed with Cowdenbeath this week and is set to join the team as it enters the second half of its season in League Two, the fourth tier of the Scottish Professional Football League. Cowdenbeath currently stands in 10th and last place with a 2-12-4 record entering Saturday’s game against third-place Annan Athletic FC (10-6-3) and is at risk of relegation.
Barrowman hopes to debut for his new team in that game with the club’s history at stake.
“At 23, now I have the opportunity to play a ton of pro minutes and work under a significant figure in Scottish soccer,” he said.
Barrowman’s ultimate goals are to reach the highest level of European soccer and emerge on the U.S. national team picture, but he also is taking business courses online through the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Bangor remains a continuing stop in his soccer travels. His family has a camp in Plymouth. Barrowman played at Bangor High School in 2013 and was named to the Eastern Maine all-star team after helping the Rams reach the Class A regional semifinals and also played for the Seacoast United club team while living in Maine.
He joined the New England Revolution’s under-16 developmental team in 2014 and moved to Marshfield, Massachusetts, to live with his mother in order to attend school beginning that fall near the team’s training complex at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Barrowman made 36 appearances, including 26 starts, overall during his first season with the Revs’ developmental program. He played in 34 games with the Revs’ Under-16 team and amassed nine goals and three assists, and made two appearances with the Under-18s. He also spent a week training with the U.S. U-17 men’s national team.
Barrowman went on to accept a scholarship to play NCAA Division I soccer at the University of Massachusetts but eventually opted to continue pursuing his professional dreams, winding up in Europe after coaches changed over with the Revs.
“After being in the Revs first-team picture, playing with guys like [former U.S. men’s national team star] Jermaine Jones and playing at Gillette Stadium every week, I knew I had to get myself to the next level,” he said.