Centre forward Isaac “Ikey” Owens was born in Howden-le-Wear, County Durham and played for local sides Darlington in 1899, Bishop Auckland in 1900, winning the 1900–01 Northern League title with them, and Crook Town in 1901 before joining Woolwich Arsenal in October 1901.
Owens made his Football League debut in away to Gainsborough Trinity on 12th October, playing at inside left, he scored one of the goals in a 2-2 draw. He was not selected for the next match, but returned to the side for the match after that, in the London League, and retained the inside-left position for eleven senior matches, scoring once more, in a 2-0 win at home to Newton Heath. He also scored on his last senior Arsenal appearance, playing at outside left in a London League match against Queens Park Rangers. When not required for first-team matches, Owens contributed to Arsenal’s junior teams winning the London League Reserve Championship and West Kent League titles.
Owens returned to Darlington in 1903, playing for them in the Northern League and 1903-04 FA Cup when he contributed the winner against Shildon in the preliminary round replay and two goals in a 5-2 defeat of Bishop Auckland in the second qualifying round. Then, in May 1904, he signed for Plymouth Argyle of the Southern League. The Plymouth Argyle handbook of 1905-06 describes him as “a veritable terror to goalkeepers when within shooting distance” and that his “youth, physique, pace and knowledge of the game point to a particularly bright future”.
His first appearance for Argyle came on 12th October in a Western League match at home to Queens Park Rangers. He played his first Southern League match some six weeks later, and scored his first goals on 10 December, contributing both Argyle goals in a 2-2 draw at home to Northampton Town in the Southern League. Assessing his performance in a friendly match against First Division club West Bromwich Albion, the Daily Express reporter described him as “essentially a trier, by no means lacking in dash or the finer points of the game.” In the 1904-05 season, Owens was used as backup to centre-forward Jasper McLuckie, and finished the season with four goals from 13 League appearances. With the arrival of Harry Wilcox ahead of the 1905-06 season, Owens’ chances of first-team football appeared limited, but he had a run in the team when Wilcox was used at centre half, and ended up making 28 appearances from which he scored seven goals.
After two seasons at Home Park, with only a fair goalscoring record of 11 goals in 41 appearances, he signed for Bristol Rovers in the summer of 1906, where he scored 6 goals in 17 Southern League games during his only season with the club, including the first goal of a 2-0 win against Plymouth Argyle in January 1907. In 1907-08 he played for Crystal Palace for whom he appeared at half back as well as in the forward line, and netted 8 times in 22 appearances, before returning to Football League action with Grimsby Town in the summer of 1908. Despite scoring on his debut against Stockport County on the opening day of the season, and adding two more goals from just five more Second Division matches, he was rated “disappointing and lacking pace” scoring 3 times in a total of 7 appearances for The Mariners before moving back to Darlington in February 1909 to finish his career. He scored 15 goals for them between then and the end of the season, including a run of at least one goal in each of the eight North Eastern League matches in February and March, and also scored in the 1909-10 FA Cup in a 2-0 defeat of Horden Athletic.