Jeff Stevenson

DOB
15/05/1932
Position
Scrum Half
Honours
Great Britain
Heritage Number
887
APPS
228
POINTS
209

BIOGRAPHY

228 appearances between 1952-59 
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2018

Individual awards in finals were instituted in 1946, the Lance Todd trophy for the best player in the Challenge Cup final. The first Leeds player to win one came nine seasons later when Jeff Stevenson collected the award.

Stevenson made 228 appearances between 1952 and 1959 and was one of the most liked and well respected players of his generation and was the last skipper to lead Great Britain to a rugby league series victory over Australia on home soil.

Alex Murphy had been preferred for the opening Test match at Swinton in 1959, which Britain lost but Leeds’ scrum half came into the side for the next two matches at Headingley and Wigan, assumed the captaincy from Eric Ashton and helped to inspire two victories to retain the Ashes.

His trademark blistering pace from the base of the scrum and clever distribution were encapsulated by a lightning break and flipped inside pass from which Johnny Whiteley scored the winning try in the 11-10 win on his home ground that salvaged the series.

It was the highlight of an outstanding playing career at Leeds, York and Hunslet. He won most of his 19 Great Britain caps while playing for his home city Loiners, having been born in Meanwood and taken up the game at Buslingthorpe National school.

He joined Leeds after an eye-catching display for the RAF against the Royal Navy in a rugby union match at Twickenham in 1952 during his national service.

A senior officer told him that he would be a fool to turn professional and that if he stayed in the airforce he would be promoted to sergeant and probably play rugby union for England – but to no avail, his heart was set.

Although only 5ft 5in, his size never held him back, he was a ferocious defender who tackled well above his weight, and was also a wonderfully selfless ball player who dovetailed perfectly with Lewis Jones.

In six-and-a-half years in blue and amber, he excited crowds with his speed, verve and daring, scored 67 tries and memorably landed the late, 40-yard drop goal in a torrid semi-final against Whitehaven to get the side to Wembley in 1957 where he shone.

He collected two Yorkshire League Championship medals but appeared in only one other final for Leeds, leading the team to victory with a try-scoring performance in the 1958 Yorkshire Cup final against Wakefield, bringing the trophy back after 21 years’ absence.

He joined York in 1959 for £7,500, a record fee paid by a Yorkshire club, and played three seasons there before he led Hunslet to Yorkshire Cup and second division championship honours.

His last game was a Yorkshire Cup defeat by Leeds at Headingley in 1964. He had a spell as landlord of the Anchor in Hunslet, before moving to York and running two more public houses.

Fittingly and most poignantly, on his passing on the day of the 2007 Grand Final, the Leeds number seven, Rob Burrow, won the Harry Sunderland award, skipper Kevin Sinfield dedicating victory to his forerunner.

He becomes the first player to be granted a place in both the Leeds and Hunslet Hall of Fames.

Hall of Fame Inductee - 2018