Marcus Stewart has legendary status at Huddersfield Town and his sale to promotion rivals Ipswich remains one of the most hotly-debated transfers in the club’s history. Stewart made over 160 appearances for the Terriers between 1996 and 2000, scoring 68 goals.

Bristol-born Stewart, 49, was loved by Town fans and the feeling was mutual. He remains passionate about the club today and still has links to the town.

Looking back on how it all started Stewart said: “Back in the day I loved football, it’s all I played as a kid. I remember getting up and going off to find a stretch of grass that I could play on. Kids would then turn up and we’d get a game on, jumpers for goalposts and first to 20 and all that. 

“You then start to take the sport more seriously. I joined a local boys’ team and played for my school. I got scouted by Southampton when I was 13, it didn’t work out there and when they released me I ended up joining Bristol Rovers. I came up through their youth sides and then played for their first team before leaving to come to Huddersfield at the age of 22. 

Marcus Stewart

“Some players forget about that first meeting with a manager where you sign that first professional contract. I think at the time there were eight lads looking for a deal and four of us were signed up and the other four weren’t so I was one of the lucky ones. 

“Being told you’ve been signed up and then getting your first ever debut there’s no better feeling in football, bar scoring goals.” 

Town, under the stewardship of Neil Warnock, would battle against Stewart’s Bristol Rovers side in 1995. Both clubs had strong seasons and it all hinged on the Division Two play-off final where one team would gain promotion.

Despite Stewart actually scoring in the game, the day wasn’t to be for Bristol as Andy Booth, Ronnie Jepson, Chris Billy and Darren Bullock all wrote their names into the Huddersfield history books. 

Stewart remembers the day well and said: “We had great spirit at the time at Bristol which wasn’t too dissimilar to Huddersfield. There were a lot of good local lads coming through the academy. We also had some decent older professionals so it was a great mix. 

“Looking back now I’m not surprised we did so well. It wasn’t to be on that day but that was my fourth time playing at Wembley because I’d played there for England youth sides. I’d been involved in matches against Brazil, Italy and Northern Ireland. I’d never scored there until that play-off final. 

“It was a bittersweet day for me because I had scored at Wembley which every footballer wants to do but we lost the final. As you can imagine the bus on the way back to Bristol was dour. There were a lot of tears and I cried myself because I wanted to win.

“We’d worked hard all season to get to that moment and the whole thing was decided on one day and we didn’t go up. It was a very tough day.” 

READ MORE: Former Huddersfield Town striker Clyde Wijnhard wants to see the club playing more sexy football.

Unbeknown to Stewart Huddersfield were preparing to sign him. The Terriers signed Stewart in 1996 for £1.2 million and a new chapter at the John Smith’s Stadium began. With Andy Booth and Ronnie Jepson departing the club for pastures new, Stewart had big boots to fill. 

On his move to the club Stewart said: “I was born in Bristol, I have lived here all my life and I’m a proud Bristolian. When Huddersfield were interested in me, despite playing against them, I didn’t know a lot about the club. It was a big move for me, a new area, new community and new set of fans, new players and so it was a challenge but one I embraced. 

“I knew that Andy Booth was going to Sheffield Wednesday and I was coming in to replace him. There was a changing of the guard really. I didn’t know Boothy back then, I knew of him but we didn’t speak.

“At the time him and Ronnie Jepson had created a great partnership. When they both left and I was brought in I didn’t know how it was going to go but luckily for me I was the right player at the right time for the club. I speak to Boothy and we get on great, he’s a fantastic fella. 

“Brian Horton signed me and then Peter Jackson came in and we completed the ‘Great Escape.’ Steve Bruce then arrived as manager and had us pushing for promotion. 

“Despite not winning anything at the club I loved my time there. Obviously it would have been great to get a promotion but it wasn’t to be. I enjoyed working under all the managers I had at the club.” 

Marcus Stewart

As the new millennium ticked over Huddersfield Town went through one of the strangest moments in its history. Stewart had formed a good partnership with Clyde Wijnhard up front and Steve Bruce’s men were battling away trying to achieve promotion to the Premier League.

However something strange happened and the club decided to sell Stewart to promotion rivals Ipswich Town for £2.5 million. Stewart at the time was described as a “depreciating asset.” After the sale, the promotion bid – and the club as a whole – fell apart. It is still a mystery why the club decided to sell. 

On that decision, Stewart said: “It was out of my control, I didn’t instigate the move, the club did. It was a bit like when I left Bristol Rovers to come to Huddersfield, I didn’t know if it was going to work out and I didn’t know if it was going to work at Ipswich. 

“Lots of things went through my head like: Are Ipswich going to get promoted?’ Will Huddersfield? Will I get off to a good start? I did get off to a good start and scored against Huddersfield in my first home game which was a really weird feeling.

READ MORE: Here’s our Huddersfield Town archive with more great stories

“I have a great skill of just switching my mind to what I need to do. At the time that was to score goals for Ipswich. Of course I hoped both Ipswich and Huddersfield would have gone up, that would have been ideal but it wasn’t to be.” 

Stewart still watches out for the club’s results today and sees no reason why the Terriers can’t earn promotion and a return to the Premier League. 

“There is no reason why Town can’t make the play-offs as long as they carry on getting results, scoring goals and keeping people fit,” said Stewart.

“As long as they are around the play-offs with 10 games to go, of course, they have a great chance of going up. I still love the club and always want it to do as well as it can and that includes promotion.”

READ MORE: Marcus Stewart is playing in Match for Heroes 3 at Golcar United in May

Since retiring from playing in 2011 Stewart has had a number of coaching positions. He is currently coaching in the Maccabi GB charity set up. It is Britain’s leading Anglo-Jewish sports, health and wellbeing charity and has flourished for over 80 years.

He is also enjoying watching his two sons Kian and Finlay playing rugby. 

He said: “One lad plays for Rochdale Hornets in rugby league and the other for Huddersfield RUFC in rugby union. I try to watch them as much as possible.

“I coach the Maccabi GB team and play golf. I live in Bristol but still have a place near Golcar in Huddersfield. At the moment I’m enjoying life and enjoying the fact I can do what I want.”

Stewart is playing for a Huddersfield Town Legends side in Match for Heroes 3 at Golcar United’s Skye Direct Stadium on May 1.

Tickets for the game can be bought HERE but they are selling fast.