Jonny Stewart admits when he joined Dundee on loan 10 years ago, he didn’t fully grasp what was at stake for the club at that time.
However, it finally hit home when he saw a raging Rab Douglas pin Leigh Griffiths to a shower wall by the throat.
The now infamous bust-up showed Stewart exactly how much it all meant to the Dundee players who were battling for their First Division survival and the very existence of the club after it had been docked 25 points for entering administration for the second time.
The 30-year-old is still proud to have played his part in helping the Dark Blues overcome that massive penalty against all the odds as one of boss Barry Smith’s ‘Deefiant’ season band of brothers.
But tonight as skipper of Lowland League outfit Bonnyrigg Rose, he will be doing all he can to knock Dundee out of the Scottish Cup.
Stewart, who works as a buyer for a PPE industrial supplier, said: “I have lots of good memories from my time at Dens.
“I joined on loan from Hearts. I remember going up to Dundee and seeing how they had all pulled together because of everything that had happened off the park.
‘I didn’t realise careers were at stake’
“Boys’ jobs were on the line. When I went in they had made lots of cuts already.
“I was probably too young and a bit naive so I didn’t take in at the time that people’s careers were at stake.
“We didn’t have a big squad – I think we only had about 11 players when I went there.
“But it was no surprise that they managed to get themselves out of it because it was such a good team.
“I was delighted to play a small part in that – to be part of something special for Dundee.”
Stewart admits he cannot believe it is 10 years since that Deefiant season but the memories quickly come flooding back.
He added: “Being in that environment taught me a lot about how much it meant to people, especially the local boys.
“Big Rab was one of the main guys in there and was obviously a top goalie in his day.
“He was also a top professional and great to learn from just seeing how he trained and carried himself.
‘I wouldn’t mess with big Rab Douglas and it showed what Dundee meant to him’
“There were also players like Leigh Griffiths who was daft as a brush!
“You knew straight away that he was a quality player.
“But I remember we had played Motherwell in the Scottish Cup and they had beaten us 4-0.
“Leigh had turned up late for the game and he was sent off in the second half.
“We walked into the changing-room at the end of the match and Griffiths was down to his pants, ready to jump into the shower.
“The gaffer said what he had to say and Griffiths was the first into the shower. I just remember big Rab going in straight after him and picking him up by the neck.
“He gave him a right rollicking for being late and for getting sent off.
“I certainly wouldn’t mess with big Rab, put it that way but it showed how much Dundee meant to him.
“I cannot believe it is 10 years ago so this year is a big anniversary.
“I was only there three months on an emergency loan so it couldn’t be extended. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see out the season as it would have been delighted to have been part of that.
“I texted the gaffer and Barry Smith got back to me to thank me and say I had been part of it as well.”
However, there will certainly be no room for sentiment for the Bonnyrigg skipper tonight.
PLAYER SPONSORSHIP – Thanks to Bonnyrigg Rose 08s and Graham Burnett for renewing their player sponsorship of JONNY STEWART for next season 👏🏻🌹
— Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic ( with a 🌹😷) (@BonnyriggRose) May 28, 2020
Stewart added: “I have been at Bonnyrigg for a few years and captain of the club so obviously I am going up there trying to get a result for the Rose.
“It was only a few years ago that we beat Championship side Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup.
“We have to take confidence from that.
“We will be massive underdogs but it is the Scottish Cup and you never know what can happen.
“We have put a good run of results together recently so we will go into the game with confidence and nothing to lose.”