This is probably the best Â£ 500 Cameron Stewart has ever spent.
When he shelled out the money to pay for his own son’s transfer fee, it was a bet he might never see a return on.
But now, when her boy Ross races to the Stadium of Light in front of 30,000 adoring Sunderland fans, he’s paid back in spades.
And with every goal the big forward scores for the Black Cats, his father’s decision seems to be worth every penny.
It may sound ridiculous but it is true.
Get all the latest sports news delivered to your inbox every day by subscribing to our newsletter.
We cover every bit of information about your favorite club in the form of articles, videos and podcasts.
The newsletter will arrive daily at noon, giving you an overview of the best stories we’ve covered over the past 24 hours.
To register, simply enter your email address in the link here.
When Albion Rovers tried to buy Stewart from the Kilwinning Rangers five years ago, they had to fork out Â£ 1,500.
But the Cliftonhill club were only able to raise a thousand dollars, leaving the crack of the young SPFL striker in danger.
It was then that his math teacher father stepped in and paid for the rest himself.
And by all calculations, it pays off.
Stewart is now Sunderland’s main forward and a big favorite for the Mackems.
Via Rovers, St Mirren, Alloa and Ross County he has joined one of England’s biggest clubs trying to get back to its place in the Premier League.
Stewart knows about the transplant he had to do to get there.
But he also couldn’t have done it without his family, especially Cameron who took an unusual kick on his boy’s abilities in 2016.
Who knows where he might have ended up if Cameron hadn’t stopped and taken him out of junior football?
Certainly, as far as where he is now, Ross knows it was a huge display of conviction that he will be eternally grateful for.
He said Sport record : âAt the time, I was trying to get away from Kilwinning.
âGus MacPherson from Queen’s Park was trying to get me there, but they couldn’t pay a fee because it was an amateur club.
âKilwinning wanted money for me, which I was not very happy with. I was young, I had the chance to take a step forward so their fee claims were killing me.
âAlbion Rovers then arrived, but only had part of what Kilwinning asked for.
âTo top off the asking price, my father paid the rest himself. I think it was Â£ 500 more.
âHe basically had to buy me back from my Kilwinning contract and pay the rest of the transfer fees.
“I’ve paid it back now!” I can only look back now and realize how good that decision was on his part.
âIt’s probably the best Â£ 500 he’s ever spent. He keeps telling me.
“He jokes with me all the time but I haven’t fully paid him back yet – he always wants more.” Hopefully it doesn’t add interest or I’ll be in big trouble.
âWhen I run to the Stadium of Light now, I hope he feels a sense of pride and satisfaction that it was worth it.
âI think he always knew I had a chance in the game. But when I became Junior, it became more difficult.
âFortunately, he still believed in me to make the decision. I have a lot of reasons to thank him.
Stewart enjoys life in Wearside under gaffer Lee Johnson, having left Ross County in January.
With four goals in seven games so far this season, the Sunderland loyalists have already dubbed him “Loch Ness Drogba”.
Given where he is from, the great forward admits that during the preseason he took the time to reflect on how far he has come.
And from the outside, you get the feeling that Stewart’s humility is exactly the type of trait Sunderland needed in the players, after their catastrophic fall from the England top flight.
The 25-year-old said: âWith the way the move went in January, I didn’t really have time to think about it.
âThe games are so dense and fast. You are always just focused, and in the moment.
âBut in the preseason, when I was with my parents and my family, I thought about this trip I took.
âFrom Ardeer Thistle and the Kilwinning Rangers to Sunderland. It surprises me a bit.
âBut at the same time, there is still this motivation and this pressure on me to try to take a new step.
âI know how hard I worked to get here, but it doesn’t stop now – it continues.
âThis season has started very well and I hope to be able to take another step forward.
âThe days have changed for me when I walk in here every day on the training ground.
âIn the juniors, it was about finding any public park to run. And that was it – just running.
âWhatever the weather – wind, rain or snow, you would always be running. The grass could reach the knees in some places, but you still had to.
âWhen I look at the facilities that I have now, I realize that I saw the other side.
âIt makes me appreciate what I have here even more.
âI try to be humble about anything that comes my way. I took that away from my parents and it helped me.
âI will never have any kind of ego.
âThe best thing I can do is learn from my older professional teammates and coaching staff.
âEverything they tell me, I try to take it into account and improve myself as a player and as a person.
âThat, in addition to taking advantage of the facilities I have here, has gone a long way in making me who I am now. “
Physically, Stewart has all the attributes to succeed in League One and he has already made Sunderland fans forget former leader Charlie Wyke.
But in terms of mentality, it’s a different ball game going from the Highlands to a North East football hotbed.
It’s something Stewart longed to taste – and find out if he could handle it.
He said: âEverything about this place attracted me. And it’s a place where I knew I could test myself.
âThere is a lot of pressure to play for Sunderland. But I wanted to see how I would cope with this on my own.
âIt’s totally different to be in Ross County where there are obviously not that many.
âYou have to kiss her here and I did.
âThe manager and Jamie McAllister had a huge effect on me making me feel comfortable here.
âThey also gave me the belief that I can do well and play for a club the size of Sunderland.
âWe also have a great group of guys in the locker room here.
âWhen you combine all of that, it makes it easier for me. “