On this day in Town’s history: Stewart celebrates hat-trick at post-Hoddle Saints
PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 April 2020
In our daily feature, we take a look at what happened on this day in Ipswich Town’s history, selecting one particular year, this time focussing on Marcus Stewart’s hat-trick at managerless Southampton on April 2, 2001
Town were on the up, and hosts Southampton were in turmoil following manager Glenn Hoddle’s dramatic exit, when George Burley’s men coasted to a 3-0 win at The Dell on April 2, 2001.
For the Suffolk visitors, it was a great night, capped by Marcus Stewart celebrating a hat-trick to propel the club up to third place in the Premiership.
A few days before, Hoddle had left Southampton to take on his dream job as manager of Tottenham, and by the evidence of this first match since his departure, the Saints were still in disarray.
Ironically, the Saints had won their previous five league games, but they had no real rhythm or plan against a Town side who were very well organised, and very hard-working.
Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe admitted: “I think it’s (Hoddle’s departure) probably had an effect on everybody,”
But enough of Southampton.
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A bang-in-form Stewart achieved the accolade of being the first player in the Premiership to reach 18 goals, with his trio of efforts against the Saints.
The visitors were a threat all night, home keeper Paul Jones denying Stewart early on, while Dutchman Martijn Reuser hit a post.
Stewart broke the deadlock by steering home Jamie Clapham’s cross in the 33rd minute, and he doubled the lead with a header from Hermann Hreidarsson’s delivery on 68 minutes.
Three minutes later, Stewart completed his hat-trick with a penalty, to make it 20 goals in all competitions (the first Town player to do this for 18 years).
In fact, he was the first Ipswich player to celebrate a hat-trick in top-flight football since 1985.
As a footnote, this was Southampton’s last season at The Dell, and also Town’s last visit.
After a 103-year stay at the famous old ground, they moved to St Mary’s Stadium for the start of the following season.