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Players must put themselves ‘in the shoes of the fans’ on derby day says former Ipswich Town star Marcus Stewart

Marcus Stewart, knows what it takes on derby day.

Marcus Stewart, knows what it takes on derby day.

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Former Ipswich Town star Marcus Stewart says players have to put themselves “in the shoes of the fans” on derby day.

The ex-hot shot Blues striker, who was part of Town’s 2000 Wembley play-off-winning team, has played in his fair share of derby clashes during a career spanning more than 600 League games.

Born in Bristol, and current assistant manager at League One Bristol Rovers, Stewart is well aware of fans’ rivalry in derbies - something he always remembers.

“Local derbies are about the fans, it’s about where they come from, where they were brought up,” he said.

Marcus Stewart, currently assistant manager at Bristol Rovers. Marcus Stewart, currently assistant manager at Bristol Rovers.

“There is plenty of rivalry, that’s the point of derbies.

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“Wherever I played at, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Sunderland, to name a few, I always put myself in the shoes of the fans. As a player you have to understand what it means to the fans to win their local derby.

“What it means for Huddersfield to beat Leeds, Ipswich to beat Norwich, Sunderland to beat Newcastle.

“It’s bragging rights on the day, on the week after, it’s bragging rights until the next derby comes round. It’s important to fans, really important.

“It was never hard for me to get up for any derby game, coming from Bristol where the rivalry is fierce.

Ipswich Town win the Division One play-off final at Wembley in May 2000: left to right, Richard Naylor, Tony Mowbray, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart celebrate. Ipswich Town win the Division One play-off final at Wembley in May 2000: left to right, Richard Naylor, Tony Mowbray, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart celebrate.

“Although I had a hopeless record for Ipswich against Norwich. I only played a few games, I never won a derby and I played rubbish in them too.”

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Stewart was a huge fans’ favourite at Portman Road, his woolly glove accessories and stack of goals bringing good times to George Burley and his side as Town finished fifth in the Premiership in 2001.

Stewart finished as the Premiership’s second top goalscorer (and the division’s highest English goalscorer) during 2000/01 with 19 goals – many fans calling for him to be included in the England team.

“They were great days,” Stewart added.

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“I remember them with fondness and of course I would love to see Ipswich win on Sunday.

“Derby games have no relevance to league position though. It can be top versus bottom, that will make no difference to the outcome of the game. There will be plenty of blood and thunder, an emotional overload from everyone.

“In saying all that, players need to stay calm and control their game.”

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