Bonnyrigg Rose midfielder Jonathan Stewart used to fight for a first-team place at Hearts against the likes of Michael Stewart, Ian Black and Bruno Aguiar, but the 24-year-old is just happy to be playing regular football at New Dundas Park.
Former Hearts Under-19s captain Stewart broke through the Riccarton Academy under youth coach Darren Murray but made just two appearances for the Tynecastle first-team as a substitute while Hungarian manager Csaba Laszlo was in charge.
He went on to spend time on loan at both Dundee at Raith Rovers before leaving Hearts in 2012 to join Brechin City and then, latterly, with East Fife in League One last season.
The centre-midfielder may have thought he had made a mistake in joining Rose over the summer after their poor start in the Super League which led to the man that brought him in, Max Christie, resigning as manager.
However, Stewart knew he’d made the right decision in joining after rejecting other Super League sides for the red-and-whites.
“It was a difficult start to the season for us. We had a small squad and a few injuries which didn’t help the old manager Max,” Stewart said.
“It never really crossed my mind that I’d made a mistake by joining Bonnyrigg. There were a few other junior teams in for me at the start of the season, but I always thought Bonnyrigg were one of the bigger and better junior teams so it was quite an easy decision for me when Max came calling.”
Christie quit after just one win in Rose’s opening five league games had left the club joint-bottom of the Super League alongside Camelon. His successor David McGlynn’s arrival has sparked a revival in the club’s fortunes, with Bonnyrigg now up to seventh in the table on nine points.
Stewart was concerned that new man McGlynn might have other ideas to Christie in terms of his position in the side, but he has retained his place and is happy with the style of football that the former Musselburgh manager is trying to instil.
“Since Davie has come in he’s managed to bring in a few bodies in and injuries have cleared up so we are getting more bodies at training,” said Stewart.
“That previous manager obviously took a shine to me because he was the one that signed me at the end of the day. It was always at the back of my head that with a new manager coming in he might not like me as much.
“He’s obviously changed the style quite a bit – he wants us to pass the ball out from the back and that is good for me. I enjoy the way he is trying to get us to play.
“I’ve been impressed with him. He’s changed a few things about the club as well – he’s introduced a fine system. Training has been good and it’s been a lot sharper.” Stewart was released at the end of last season at East Fife after the club were relegated after losing in their play-off with Stirling Albion. Willie Aitchison had signed Stewart for the Bayview side, but he resigned in October last year, with Gary Naysmith taking over. Naysmith subsequently decided at the end of the season to have a squad overhaul.
Stewart said: “We didn’t have a very good season last year in League One and we got relegated. Gary decided to start from scratch and let go of about 16 of us. He said he wanted to bring in his own team and freshen things up.”
Bonnyrigg take on Super League leaders Newtongrange Star tomorrow at New Victoria Park in a derby clash. Nitten have started the season in fine form and are unbeaten in their opening eight league games.
Stewart believes it will be a good test for Bonnyrigg to see how far they have come under McGlynn and is confident that they can come away with a result.
“They will be high in confidence with the start they have made,” he said.
“It’s always a tough game when it’s a local derby but even more so with the way they are playing at the moment.
“I’m sure if we play like we have been and put a few things right, we can come away with a result though.”