A DEVOTED player-manager missed the birth of his daughter so he could play for his beloved football club in a vital FA Cup tie.
When 34-year-old Steve Bowey’s wife, Nicola, went into labour on Sunday morning he was faced with a difficult choice.
The Newcastle Blue Star midfielder was due to lead his team out in a crucial third-round qualifying clash against Hucknall Town in the FA Cup.
But Nicola, 36, a medical secretary, began having contractions at 5am and Steve had two options – meet the team and play the game and risk missing the birth, or stay by his wife’s side.
So he begged for leave of absence and swapped his wife’s bedside at the University Hospital of North Durham for the football field.
And last night, as he held little Lucy, he said it was one of the best days of his life.
Father-of-five Steve, a part-time floor fitter from Langley View, in Annfield Plain, Stanley, County Durham, said: “I took Nicola to hospital at around 11.30am and all I could think about was the baby and the game. She had started having contractions at around 5am, and they were getting longer as the day went on.
“I just kept thinking, ‘We’ve got a big game’, but my wife just said, ‘The baby doesn’t know anything about that’.
“They said it was going to be around 7pm before anything happened, so I asked if I could go to the game. She was with her sister and she said it was fine. We won 4-0 in the end and after holding Lucy it was an amazing day.”
Steve has four other children – James, 14 months; Joseph, four, a pupil at Beamish Primary School; Tamzin, nine, who attends Birtley East Primary School; and Aaron, 12, a pupil at Lord Lawson School in Beamish.
The football fanatic has been the player-manager of the Northern Premier League Division One team since his move from Gateshead earlier this year.
Hucknall Town play their football two leagues above Newcastle Blue Star. So when his team left the field for the half-time interval with a 2-0 lead, Steve was pleased as punch.
But moments later his mobile phone rang and he was given even better news – the arrival of Lucy, weighing in at 6lbs 13oz.
Steve said: “I couldn’t stop thinking about it in the first half, but I felt incredible in the second half.
“After I found out I felt like I had an extra yard on all the other players. I got the phone call and I had to take myself away for a minute because I didn’t want the lads to see me shed a tear.
“I tried my best to get a goal for the baby, and I had a shot that was heading for the net, but I couldn’t quite do it.”