'Those sort of players aren't going to last long' - Town legend Stewart on impact of fans' return

Marcus Stewart celebrates during Ipswich Town's play-off final win against Barnsley in 2000. Photo:

Always a legend Blue, Marcus Stewart

Marcus Stewart is back in Suffolk next month speaking at an Ipswich Town Legends night at Bury Town Football Club. MIKE BACON caught up with him to see what he's up to, as well as a bit of an England Euros prediction.

Former Ipswich Town striker Marcus Stewart feels it is going to be interesting to see how players react when crowds are back next season.

Former Ipswich Town striker Marcus Stewart believes the good times will return at Portman Road. Phot

Goals, goals, goals, Marcus Stewart - Credit: PA

Bristol-born Stewart, who was a huge fans' favourite at Portman Road during George Burley's reign, as his goals helped fire Town into the Premiership and then a fifth place finish in 2000/01, says he thinks some players have enjoyed having no fans in the stadium.

"I really do think some players have enjoyed not having the pressure of having fans around them," he said.

"Those sort of players aren't going to last long in the game.

There are cardboard cutouts of fans at Portman Road for the time being Picture: STEVE WALLER

Cardboard cut-outs. Have some players got used to playing in front of no fans? - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

"Those that kick on, love that sort of crowd stuff, even when it's negative. It makes you a stronger person if you get through it. So, yes, I think some have loved having no crowds and some have really missed it.

"And you'll find out who those players are when the crowds start to come back."

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Stewart is currently taking a self-imposed break from the game. He's 48 now and has only known football week in, week out, since he was 16.

BBC Radio Suffolk football commentator Brenner Woolley pictured before the Ipswich Town v Bolton Wan

BBC Suffolk's Brenner Woolley, who Marcus Stewart has worked alongside covering Town - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

However, he's not totally divorced from it, as he has been doing a bit of media work with the BBC.

"I've done some Town games after Brenner Woolley at Radio Suffolk called me up to see if I wanted to do a few games down here in the south-west," Stewart says.

"I've really enjoyed it.

"I like to have an opinion. I like to break games down, not just cliche them. I try and paint a picture. Off the back of Radio Suffolk, I've done some work with Radio Bristol as well, so that's been nice.

"It keeps me thinking about the game. I pick holes in it, so it's nice to do that on the radio."

Stewart will be back in Suffolk at the start of next month, when he is appearing at Bury Town Football Club on Thursday, July 1. The night will take the form of an open Q&A, Meet and Greet, as well as the usual raffles. 

The main-stand at Ram Meadow, the home of Bury Town FC since 1977. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Ram Meadow, Bury, where Marcus Stewart will be in July - Credit: Archant

Again, it's something he is looking forward to.

"I've done a few of these nights now and I really like them," he said.

"Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a pretty laid-back sort of bloke. I'll talk to anyone. Should be good."

Nick Pope was released by Ipswich Town as a 16-year-old but is now set to make his England debut. Pi

From Bury Town to England... Nick Pope - Credit: PA

And while at Bury Town the news that former Bury and Ipswich Town keeper Nick Pope has had to miss the Euros through injury is a topic likely to come up. Stewart admits it is a big blow for the stopper, who has risen from non-league to international football.

"It's a massive shame for Nick," Stewart said.

"Heartbreaking actually. Being picked all year for England and then having that taken away from you because of injury is awful, because he'd be a guaranteed number two to Pickford, he might even be the number one.

"Luckily he's got the World Cup next year, so he's got that to look forward to. But it still must be the worse feeling in the world for a professional footballer to miss out on playing for your country in a major tournament."

So, how does Marcus think England will do in the Euros?

"Well, I'm very patriotic," Stewart said.

"I think Harry Maquire is key. But I can't see him being fit, and even if he is, he's not going to be football fit. He's got to get up to speed very quickly. He needs to be training this week.

"In saying that, I'm really excited about our forwards. Calvert-Lewin has come on leaps and bounds. Harry Kane of course. Our attacking line-up is brilliant.

"There's goals in us, but I just think Maquire keeping the back door shut, a bit of calmness on the ball, is so important."

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin shoots during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manche

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin shoots during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. He's enjoyed a great season and is in the England Euro squad. - Credit: PA

And of course VAR is making it's debut in the Euros. Stewart is not sure whether to be happy or sad about that.

"Obviously when I played there was no VAR," he said. "It gives me nightmares now.

"I think it's the right thing to do and VAR has been more right than wrong. But from a striker's point of view, I don't know, it would torment me, scoring and then having to wait for minutes for VAR to decide whether it is allowed.

"I wonder if I looked back at my goals, how many were offside? How many did I have ruled out for offside that weren't?'

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