15 April 2007

Arthur Stewart

Steely half-back Arthur Stewart had a near two-decade career in the Irish and Football Leagues, punctuated with some fantastic successes…

Name: Arthur Stewart
Born: 13 January 1942, Ballymena
Height: 5.08 ft
Weight: 11.00 st
Position: Full-Back/Half-Back/Midfielder

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 7 Full Caps (1967-1968), 5 Amateur Caps (1959-1961), Youth, 1 Schoolboy Cap (1957); Irish League: 5 Caps (1961-1974).
Club Honours: (with Ballymena) Irish Cup Runner-Up 1973/74; Gold Cup Winner 1974/75; Ulster Cup Winner 1960/61; (with Glentoran) Irish League Champion 1963/64, 1966/67, 1967/68; Irish Cup Winner 1965/66, Runner-Up 1966/67; Gold Cup Winner 1962/63, 1966/67, 1977/78; City Cup Winner 1964/65, 1966/67; Ulster Cup Winner 1966/67.
Awards: Ulster Footballer of the Year 1974.

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
FL Cup
Europe
Other
Ballymena Utd
57/58-60/61
-
Amateur
*94(0)/12
-
-
-
-
Glentoran
61/62-67/68
c/s-61
-
*279(0)/41
-
-
8(0)/0
-
Detroit.Cougars
1967
c/s-67
Guest
12(0)/ 2
(USSA)
-
-
-
Derby County
67/68-69/70
Dec-67
£10,000
29(1)/ 1
1(0)/0
4(0)/1
-
-
Ballymena Utd
70/71-75/76
Aug-70
-
*272(-)/21
-
-
-
-
Distillery
75/76
Mar-76
-
-
-
-
-
-
N.J. Americans
1976
c/s-76
-
-
(ASL)
-
-
-
Bangor
76/77
-
-
/ 5
-
-
-
-
Cliftonville
76/77
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Glentoran
77/78-78/79
May-77
-
*15(1)/ 0
-
-
-
-
TOTALS
-
£-
701(2)/82
1(0)/0
4(0)/1
10(1)/0
-
* All domestic games.

Biography:
As Ballymena came out of their golden-age of the late-fifties one of their most recognised stars was the teenage Arthur Stewart. Already a youth and amateur international, and with English scouts circling, he transferred to Glentoran in the summer of 1961. He soon drew comparison with some of the game’s leading stars, a “second Danny Blanchflower” with the ability to produce a “Johnny Haynes-like through ball”. Within months of his arrival at the Oval, Stewart, still just nineteen, had appeared for the Irish League, and by the season’s end had made 52 appearances as Glentoran finished sadly in the shadow of Linfield, a status best illustrated by their 5-0 defeat in the Co. Antrim Shield that saw Linfield complete their domestic “clean-sweep”.

It took Glentoran until the mid-sixties to emerge fully from their near-decade lull. A Gold Cup win in 1963, Stewart scoring twice in the 2-1 semi-final win over Distillery, set the ball rolling on one of their most consistently successful periods. By now Stewart was becoming more noted as the hard-tackling rock on which the Glens’ great side was built, with his passing range and consistent goalscoring making him close to the complete midfielder. The Gibson Cup arrived at the Oval for the first time in eleven years in 1964 and the following season a fifteen year wait for an Irish Cup success was ended.

1967 proved to be perhaps the best year of Stewart’s long career. The 1966/67 began with the an Ulster Cup success, by February the Gold Cup and Irish League title had also been claimed, and the City Cup was added with a final win over Linfield in May. Only the Co. Antrim Shield slipped through Glentoran’s fingers, with Linfield gaining a measure of revenge in a 2-1 semi-final win. Stewart was rewarded for his form with his first cap, in a 0-0 Home Nations draw with Wales. With Stewart freshly crowned as the club’s Player of the Year, the Glens departed for America to take part in the trail-blazing US Soccer Association championship. The Detroit Cougars, the name given to the Glens team, held their own against teams from across the world – including Stoke, Wolves, Hibs and Shamrock Rovers – finishing with a 3-6-3 record.

As the 1967/68 campaign began Stewart continued his good-form. He added two further caps, including in the famous 1-0 ‘Best’ victory over Scotland, and his third inter-league appearance before his transfer to Derby County in December 1967 for a £10,000 fee. Brian Clough saw him as the man to add the necessary steel to the struggling Second Division side, Derby rallying late in the season, eventually finishing in eighteenth place and reaching the League Cup semi-final. Any confidence carried over from Derby’s strong finish to the 1967/68 season was seemingly lost over the summer as the team began with four straight defeats - Clough made changes. With Stewart dropped, Derby hit a vein of form that took them to the Second Division championship. After a season as merely top-flight back-up, Stewart returned to Ballymena in August 1970.

Immediately on his return to the Irish League, Stewart reminded anyone who may have forgotten what he was all about. He returned to the Irish League representative side, but it took his appointment as player-manager in 1971 to take Ballymena near their previous successes. The City Cup win early in his first term in charge was Ballymena’s first trophy for eleven years. It was his performances on the pitch in 1973/74 as Ballymena pushed close for honours, only to lose out to Ards in both the Irish Cup and Blaxnit Cup finals, which earned Stewart the Ulster Player of the Year title. Over the next few seasons success was limited to the Gold Cup, with a win in 1974 and a final defeat by Coleraine in 1975 preceding Stewart’s departure early in 1976.

In March 1976 Stewart signed as a player with Distillery, helping them regain some pride in a season in which they had finished bottom of the Irish League, with an appearance in the Co. Antrim Shield final. That summer he departed for a lucrative five month spell in the American Soccer League with New Jersey Americans. He returned to the Irish League early in the 1976/77 season, taking in brief spells with Bangor and Cliftonville before he accepted a return to Glentoran as player-manager in May 1977.

Stewart’s role as both experienced tactician and seasoned player aided Glentoran to some early successes. They embarked on a European Cup campaign which would take them past Icelandic side Valur and within a whisker of a famous draw with Juventus. The Gold Cup continued as Stewart’s ‘lucky’ competition, Glentoran winning 3-1 against Glenavon in the final having free-scored their way to the decider. While Glentoran lost out to Linfield in the race for the League title, they did defeat Crusaders in the Co. Antrim Shield Final. Stewart however did not select himself for the final show-down, thus missing out on the final local honour needed to complete his collection – he was however presented a winner’s medal by one of his own players (let me know who).

In December 1978 Stewart resigned as Glentoran manager to take the over as head coach at New Jersey Americans. He returned to Northern Ireland as manager of Ballyclare Comrades in 1981 and later managed Ballymoney United. Like many ex-footballers, Stewart’s sporting interests now largely centre around the golf course.

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
12-04-1967 Wales... H D 0-0 ECQ
21-10-1967 Scotland H W 1-0 ECQ
22-11-1967 England. A L 0-2 ECQ
28-02-1968 Wales... A L 0-2 ECQ
10-09-1968 Israel.. A W 3-2 FR
23-10-1968 Turkey.. H W 4-1 WCQ sub
11-12-1968 Turkey.. A W 3-0 WCQ

Summary: 6(1)/0. Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2.


Northern Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
26-09-1959 England. H D 1-1
16-01-1960 Wales... H W 3-2
25-04-1960 Scotland A L 0-2
24-09-1960 England. A L 2-3
18-02-1961 Scotland H D 3-3

Summary: 5/0. Won 1, Drew 2, Lost 2.

Ballymena appearance details from Neil Coleman - The Official History of Ballymena United FC

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