Are we all ready for the pantomime to come to town early?
That’s right, Alex Neil is back, this time in Stoke City form, and I suspect he’ll probably get the booing of a lifetime. So, as a fully paid up member of the Bald Man’s union, I want to undo some of the damage Neil is doing to our people by remembering a shiny-headed man we all still hold in high regard, who also enjoyed spells at both Sunderland and the made up city of Stoke.
Some say Steve Bould has never been any younger than, at a push, 38 years old, but he emerged through the youth setup of hometown club Stoke City way back in 1980, as a fully formed, battle-hardened veteran at the age of 18.
An absolute unit of a centre back, Bould was a regular from the off with Stoke during the club’s last stint in the top flight until they made their Premier League debut in 2008. During his eight years as a first teamer, he counted former/future Sunderland alumni Dave Watson and Paul Bracewell as teammates, and there’s a lot to be said for how much he’ll have learned from the former in his quest to become one of the hardest centre backs in the football league.
Stoke’s time at the top came to an end in 1985, and Bould stuck around for three more years before Arsenal came calling in summer 1988, paying £390k for his services. This would kick off an association with the Gunners which would last for 32 years over two spells.
The famous back four of Arsenal’s late 80s and 90s side (comprised of Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon) was, quite frankly, stupidly good at stopping teams from having any kind of fun up front. Things seemed to click immediately for Bould at Arsenal, with the Gunners winning the First Division title in each of his first two season, and won the player of the year award in 1992.
Incredibly, despite the array of attacking talent Arsenal have seemingly always had at their disposal, it was also Bould who scored their very first Premier League goal in August 1992. Once the Arsene Wenger era kicked in though, Bould’s game time slowly started to decrease as he advanced in years and Arsenal began switching him out for Martin Keown.
Eventually, Bould’s time in London came to an end in 1999, when he was allowed to leave for £500k, joining Peter Reid’s newly promoted Sunderland. At the age of 37, his transfer value had gone up from 11 years earlier, incredible stuff.
Bould was exactly what Sunderland needed in our return to the big boys league – an experienced head with decades of defensive know-how at his disposal. It also helped that Steve Bould was arguably the player they had in mind when they coined the phrase “Rolls Royce of player”. He may have been very much at the end of his playing days, but he more than held his own as a first teamer and, along with Kevin Ball, instilled a calmness thanks to his leadership that helped see us claim the first of our fabled 7th place finishes.
When Bally left the club in December of 1999, the armband was handed to Bould to see out the season. However, injuries over his 20 year career finally caught up to Bould and he was forced into retirement in September 2000. He may have only played 23 games for the club in total, but those who saw him will happily chime on about his influence over the team to this day.
On retiring, Bould headed back to Arsenal and became part of their coaching setup for the next 20 years, only leaving last summer to take up what is, incredibly, his very first managerial role in Belgium with Lommel.
|Joined||Left||League Apps||League Goals|