Huddersfield have had their fair share of lethal strikers over the years yet one in particular still brings a buzz to the club’s supporters when his name is mentioned.
After enjoying an immensely successful start to his career with Bristol Rovers, Marcus Stewart initially attracted the interest of the Terriers after scoring against them in the Second Division (now referred to as League One) play-off final in 1995. Huddersfield would emerge victorious at Wembley Stadium and used their promotion to lure the forward to join them a season later after he once again impressed at the Memorial Stadium.
Under the guidance of then-boss Brian Horton, Stewart made a bright start to life in Yorkshire, scoring 11 goals in all competitions as his side narrowly avoided relegation. The following two campaigns saw the former Rovers ace really start to flourish as he fired in 16 and then 26 goals for the Terriers as they began to establish themselves as a regular First Division side.
The 1999-2000 season saw the arrival of Steve Bruce as manager, who looked certain to secure promotion with Stewart flying up-front. The forward hit the back of the net on 15 occasions in the first half of the campaign which played a huge role in Huddersfield leading the standings at Christmas. However, at the turn of the century, the Terriers experienced an incredible collapse in form, which could be attributed to one event.
After demonstrating an outstanding level of consistency in the first division, Stewart caught the attention of Ipswich Town who decided to swoop in the winter transfer window, offering a fee of £2.5m to Huddersfield. Although Bruce was reluctant to accept, the club eventually agreed a deal which turned out to be a disastrous decision.
Not only did the Tractors go on to achieve promotion later on in the season with Stewart leading their line but it was his absence from the Terriers side that eventually saw them drop out of the promotion hunt as they finished in a disappointing eighth position. Whilst Ipswich would go on to enjoy a successful season the following year in the Premier League, Huddersfield never recovered and as a result were relegated back to the Third Division in 2001, just a year after selling their most prized asset.
Although the move was regarded as controversial at the time, the club’s supporters now regard Stewart as one of the cult heroes. During his five year spell with the Terriers, the marksman scored a total of 58 goals in 133 appearances and provided a number of memorable moments.
In what is a testament to the player, only two other forwards have managed to beat his total of 26 in a single season in the last twenty years.
Now considered a marker in which every Huddersfield striker is judged by, the likes of Karlan Grant and Aaron Rowe will be hoping to reach the levels displayed by Stewart next season in the Championship. If they can do this, there is no reason why the Terriers cannot secure an immediate return to the top flight.