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We’re all with you, Marcus!

Marcus Stewart played a key role in Sunderland’s promotion of 2004/2005, and the news of his MND diagnosis was a major shock. Here, our writers offer their support, as well as their favourite memories of his time in red and white.

Photo by Nick Potts - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Gav says...

Mine has to be his goal away at Wigan.

There were almost 9000 Sunderland fans inside the ground that night - for a midweek game! - and there was an immense sense of occasion as it was the top two sides in the league duking it out at a key time in the season.

Stewart joined Sunderland in 2002 alongside Tore Andre Flo, and I always felt it was unfair on him to have been cobbled with Flo when the signings were announced.

Infamously, the signing of Flo in particular was seen as evidence of Bob Murray and Peter Reid ‘panic buying’ players before the transfer window closed, so I’m glad that mainly due to circumstances out of his control, i.e. the club getting relegated, he was able to get a second chance as a Sunderland player during those two years in the Championship under Mick McCarthy.

Having sold off most of our Premier League regulars, McCarthy had to rebuild his squad with whatever was left over from that relegated team, some youngsters and some cheap signings/freebies, and Stewart became an important part of the side as we attempted to return to the Premier League.

He formed a decent partnership with Kevin Kyle and scored plenty of goals - ensuring that his reputation with the supporters was rescued after the misery of our demotion from the top tier of English football.

That is why the win that night at Wigan was so special.

It wasn’t a classic game by any stretch, but the sight of Stewart wheeling away in front of the 9000 Sunderland fans in attendance after netting what would eventually be the winner in just the third minute is a moment that will live with me forever.

We were top of the table at the time, and those three points were crucial as we played out the rest of the season, holding our spot at the top of the league for the remainder of the season and eventually finishing as champions.

He didn’t stick around as we entered the Premier League, but he left the club on a high having bagged seventeen goals. He undoubtedly played the biggest part of any player in our return to the big time that season, and for that we should always be thankful.

Marcus - if you are reading this, please know that Sunderland supporters everywhere are rooting for you, marra. Gan canny.

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Jon Guy says...

For me, it was a crisp November night in 2002, when we played Arsenal at Highbury in the third round of the League Cup.

They fielded a strong side and were one up after twelve minutes, before it became 2-0 just after the half hour mark.

This prompted the fans in the Clock End to chant ‘go home, you might as well go home’, for the rest of the half and throughout half time.

However, we were a different side after half time, and Stewart was at the heart of that as he pulled the home defence everywhere, allowing big Kevin Kyle space in which to work.

Kyle equalised on fifty five minutes, before Stewart levelled on seventy minutes, and Darren Williams eventually scored what proved to be the winner. Naturally the moment the third goal went in, ‘you might as well go home’, was booming out from the away end, and it didn’t stop!

A great night, given Highbury was never a good ground for us in the time I’ve been watching Sunderland

Keep fighting Marcus - we are all with you marra.

Soccer - Worthington Cup - Third Round - Arsenal v Sunderland Photo by Tony Marshall/EMPICS via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

This is of course very sad news, but I must say that I was mightily impressed with the statement that Marcus gave, and how he hopes to raise awareness of MND. I also hope that in time, this can help others who are stricken with this horrible disease.

When he played for us, Stewart gave Sunderland fans a host of happy memories, not least a couple of quality hat-tricks and some other very important goals during the promotion campaign of 2004/2005.

It was the year before that really sticks out for me though, because at that point the club was in a real mess and in desperate need of a pick-me-up.

Stewart played massive part in that, starting with his goal against Preston North End on the day Sunderland avoided equalling the record for consecutive league games without a win.

He then followed it up with goals in each of the next three matches, all of which we won, helping the side to really start turning things around in the process. That mini-run culminated with a last gasp, cool-as-you-like penalty from against Crystal Palace that kept the recovery going - and his role in it will always be appreciated.

I wish Marcus and his family all the best, and I thank him for his efforts in a Sunderland shirt.

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