Originally posted on Goonersphere
Born on the 16th of November 1962 in the balmy heat of El Flangio, Nicaragua; Stephen Muriel Bould was a hefty baby – weighing in at two stones and ten ounces. His mother Fangita tragically died giving birth to this gargantuan infant, leaving Steve’s father, Admiral Quentin Farquhar Askwith Bould III, to shoulder the burden of an infant whilst maintaining a Royal Navy Fleet.
Steve’s formative years were spent being passed from submarine pillar to aircraft carrier post as his father juggled the responsibilities of his high-ranking position with the ardours of bringing up a rapidly growing child. Inevitably, the Admiral found solace in the bottle. His career hung in the balance as the high standards required by the Royal Navy cannot be met whilst inebriated. The Admiral’s health suffered too, as the years of sustained alcohol abuse took their toll on his vital organs.
Young Steve weathered the turbulent storm however. A stern upbringing instilled in him rules and regulations he could carry into adolescence. At school, he was taunted by the native Nicaraguans at first, but his Naval teachings enabled him to quell the insults and vitriol from his classmates in the most effective way – boxing.
As the Royal Navy prides itself on having a string of impressive boxers and boxing tournaments, an eager Steve took his chance to learn from the best. He showed an instant propensity for the Queensberry Rules. Coupled with his disciplined approach to life thanks to his many Naval nannies – Steve developed the iron core which became his characteristic during his Arsenal career.
Steve sailed through school with an excellent record – despite his father slowly drinking himself into an early grave. Steve never showed weakness but everything he achieved was to gain the one thing he craved – his father’s love. Steve continued his pugilist ways but slowly lost interest. The challenge to feed his animalistic competitive streak could not be found within the boxing ring.
At the age of 16, Steve followed his father back to the UK. The Admiral was swept quietly to a position that kept him out of the public eye. The Admiral by this point had lost all of the values that had ran so deep within him previously. He awoke from slumber to drink and went to bed with the same partner every night – alcohol. Steve had also hit a vital moment in his life. The move to the UK allowed him a plethora of choice regarding where his new focus would lie. His grades were enough to allow passage to the finest of Universities but Steve prioritised sport above an academic career.
His hunger to learn also shaped his next two years. He tried many different pursuits and excelled in them all. Fencing, carpentry, mime, they were all mastered within weeks. To this day, Steve still attends local youth clubs around North London to entertain kids with his miming repartee. None of these talents sated his voracious appetite though. Not until he encountered football by chance.
One evening in his 18th year, Steve was walking home to the Naval Camp in Portsmouth after attending yet another Street Jazz Dance Class. His tutor to this day takes on a glazed expression when asked to reminisce on his star student and his twinkling feet. Steve was on his way when a cadre of youths with nothing better to do surrounded him.
They numbered in the teens. Ages ranged from 15-21 but all were looking for one thing – trouble. Unfortunately for them, they were unaware of Steve’s firm grasp of combat so as one after the other waded in – in a vain attempt to steal his wallet – each of them met concussion with a bony fist. Five or six were now crumpled on the floor, but the surprise factor was now gone. The menacing youths now brandished shiny, pointy weapons which overruled Steve’s power. Steve was powerless.
The youths took his wallet, but they weren’t done with Steve yet. They wanted to punish him for shaming them with his fists. They took him to a nearby farm which housed a gaggle of chickens. The chicken house – or to use its official term, the Cock Inn – which had the male chickens was the one they chose to lock Steve into.
The small building was pitch black, but he could hear plenty. There was a raucous rush of clucks and whoosh of feathers as the cock’s took umbrage with being disturbed from their slumber. Steve, robbed of sight and now completely bewildered, lost all composure and panic wrapped its icy digits around his throat. The cock’s set about Steve and pecked at him in a ferocious manner.
What was two minutes felt like days to Steve, until the youths opened the door. The sliver of light was enough for Steve to allow him to find the exit and stagger out. The hairline he is famous for was borne from this experience. The cock’s had attacked his head and plucked his hair from his scalp. The thinning thatch he now sports is thanks to irked male chickens.
Steve was on the floor, his face a macabre mix of gurning pain and dripping blood. The youths who had sent him to his beaked fate were taken aback by this vision. Some flew the coop but a handful tried to rectify the situation. They picked him up and took him home. A budding but unlikely friendship ensued.
The three youths who had aided Steve liked nothing more than to play football in the oodles of spare time they had. Steve had never played football previously. In between his many pursuits, he had never had the time nor the inclination.
Much like his previous exertions, he showed an instant affinity to the sport. It went further than that though. Upon playing football for the first time, a person will undoubtedly chase the ball and show an instinct for glory – therefore looming around the opposition box for a mere sniff of a goal. Steve however, sat back and set his stall out in the centre of defence. He issued a challenge that wasn’t verbal, but sent through his confident stance.
Try to pass me. They did. They dribbled. They ran. They barged. Steve tackled, Steve ran faster, Steve barged back harder. He proved to be an immovable obstacle. He also was a magnet for aerial balls flung into the area. His friends marvelled at his talent. Night after night Steve took to the local pitches and defied scores of players.
Not only were his friends amazed at Steve’s showings, but a number of scouts were drawn to his burgeoning reputation. Being 18, Steve had been drawn to the female form and an active social life. His disciplined approach had not left him bereft however. Even though the academic path had been abandoned and Steve was recognised in every brothel from Southampton to Brighton – he never wavered in his pursuits nor his job, which earned a modest crust. He could have worked in far more glamorous surroundings given his brainpower and dedicated standpoint, but being a dinnerlady at the local school allowed him the freedom to spend time with the ladies of the night and also his most beloved – football.
The scouts sent rave reviews to their superiors upon witnessing Steve take to the field. He met with many different representatives of many different clubs, but only one took his fancy. The club with ideals to match his own – Arsenal.
The Admiral had by this time freed himself from the shackles of the demon drink but its fingerprints left an indellible mark on him – he was on borrowed time. He wanted dearly to develop a bond with his only offspring but he was also a proud man which left him unable to pick up the phone and utter words of reconciliation to his son.
Steve took this matter into his own hands however. Upon signing his contract with Arsenal – by far the proudest moment of his young life – he went to visit his father.
The Admiral now resided in the Retirement Halls of the Royal Navy HQ. Steve, upon seeing the haggard visage of his father, ran to his bedside.
All the years of silence and shunning eroded into a torrent of tears from both men. The internal dam that both men had erected was now just mental driftwood. They both embraced heartily and set about attempting to catch up a lifetime of memories. The next few hours were the happiest of Steve’s life but visiting hours were over. Steve had informed his father of his new career with Arsenal. His father vowed to be at every game but they were both painfully aware that wouldn’t be the case.
Steve played with honour and with the fiercest of wills. Opponents can testify he was one of the toughest they were likely to face. With an upbringing such as the one above, the man who is now our Assistant Manager teaches his young charges the fundamentals required to possess this mammoth framework of skills and hungers. He is the ideal man for the job.