PC LEG­END SURE MADE

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Matt Bad­cock

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.

FIRST CLUB

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.

BEST MANAGER

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.

BEST TEAM-MATE

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.

FIRST PRO­MO­TION

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

did.

FUN­NI­EST PLAYER

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.

FUN­NI­EST IN­CI­DENT

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.

BIG­GEST ACHIEVE­MENT

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

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

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

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