PC LEGEND SURE MADE
THERE can’t be many young bedroom managers who, when trying to lead a club to the Premier League on PC football simulator Championship Manager, didn’t try to sign Marcus Stewart.
Put simply, Stewart knew where the back of the net was. But he also managed to live the dream out in reality.
Having started out at Bristol Rovers and then Huddersfield, the Bristol-born striker helped Ipswich Town to English football’s elite.
Aged 26 his journey to the top was a long one. And when he got there he scored 19 goals, finishing second only to Chelsea’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the scoring charts, in his first season as the Tractor Boys finished fifth to make it into Europe.
Later Stewart won the Championship with Sunderland and continued scoring for Bristol City, Yeovil Town and Exeter City.
When he played his final game, fittingly against the club where it had all started, Stewart had amassed 254 career goals.
I was released from Southampton when I was a schoolboy – 13 or 14 – and I joined Bristol Rovers straightaway after a phone call from a gentleman called Roy Dolling.
I was a left-winger back in those days. As time went on a gentleman called Des Bulpin realised I wasn’t quick enough to be a winger and I was put up front.
I was quite prolific in the youth team. Taking the step up was obviously a bit more difficult, Bristol Rovers were in the second tier at the time, and took me a bit of time to get used to it.
I work things out eventually and I worked out you had to train hard, be the best you could and be a team player. They’re the principles I stuck to for the rest of my career.
All the managers I’ve come across have brilliant qualities. As you go up the ladder and become a coach you learn what to take from managers and what not to.
The best was Mick McCarthy. He was a proper manmanager who told you how it was. When you got a bollocking, you knew you were in for a bollocking. He was honest. How he comes across on the TV is how he comes across to the players.
He’s got a funny side and a serious side that I really liked. At Sun- derland he got us promoted to the Premier League as champions. He creates an environment where you want to run around for him and be a team player for him. He’s a top person as well as a top manager.
Claudio Reyna at Sunderland was fantastic on the ball. He was in the middle of the park where there was a lot of mayhem going on and he looked like he had loads of time on the ball. He was so composed without complicating things.
I wasn’t with him a long time, I didn’t know him very well, but I always remember you could give him the ball and know he wouldn’t give it away.The year we went down from the Premier League at Sunderland, he was the one least affected by the pressure of the fans.
With Ipswich Town to the Premier League in 2000.We did it through the play-offs at Wembley. I joined in the transfer window from Huddersfield. The previous three seasons they’d missed out in the play-offs – they hadn’t even got to Wembley.
A lot of the players had been there in the previous seasons and missed out. The majority had gone through the same thing. I’d only been there three months but I got the feeling of what it meant to everyone straightaway.
I suppose there was a little bit of pressure on me because Kieron Dyer had left for Newcastle United and I was there to get them goals.
Fortunately I came into form at a good time and scored some goals that helped us get promoted, including in the final at Wembley.
We played Bolton Wanderers in the semi-final. We went two goals down in the first leg and got it back. We went a goal down again in the second leg and came back to win. And in the final against Barnsley we went a goal down again. Every game we had to come back from behind. If you’re going to win games like that you need to show the character we
I played with Michael Bridges at Sunderland and Bristol City. I just liked him. He was a normal chap who had played at the highest level of football. He didn’t have an ego at all. He was a top lad who enjoyed football, enjoyed life and having a laugh.
If you spoke to him in the street you wouldn’t say he was a stereotypical football. He was always smiling and making a joke. He didn’t do it for show, he did it because that’s the way he was. He was a funny lad –
but daft with it.
When I was a YT at Bristol Rovers there was a first team game at Twerton Park. We would sit on one of those wooden benches you got at school alongside the actual substitutes’ bench.
I remember this one game where Devon White had to come off the pitch. I was looking at him and he was waving over to the bench and he just suddenly ran off down the tunnel.
He needed the toilet and he was gone a good ten minutes! Gerry Francis was the manager at the time and he wasn’t too happy. I found it quite funny, and strange, that everything wasn’t sorted before the game or why he couldn’t wait until halftime.
Becoming a professional footballer, because that’s the ultimate goal. Then your goals change to play as high as you can. For me that was the Premier League and then in Europe, which I did with Ipswich.
Each promotion I achieved as well is very special. Both seasons I got promoted were fantastic. That’s what you play football for. I don’t go looking back at them because it’s the past and you look forward. But I
Best manager: Mick McCarthy Funniest player: Michael Bridges Best team-mate: Claudio Reyna Favourite place to go: St Marys HEAD BOY: Marcus Stewart scores for Ipswich at Wembley