322. Phil Stephens

Player Inductee

Deloraine/North Launceston/St. Kilda/Norwood, Forward, 1952-68

c. 30 games for Deloraine, 1952-54
163 games for North Launceston, 1955-58; 1964-68
6 games for St. Kilda, 1959
31 games for Norwood, 1960-62
Deloraine NTDFL* premiership, 1952
NTFA Leading Goal-Kicker, 1956
North Launceston Leading Goal-Kicker 1956, 1965
Norwood Leading Goal-Kicker, 1960
One state game for South Australia, 1960
One state game for Tasmania, 1964
NTFA representative 1956; 1958; 1964-67
North Launceston FC Life Member, 1993

A powerful forward and occasional ruckman, Phil Stephens played in a premiership with Deloraine aged 17 before being recruited by North Launceston in 1955. Within two years, he was a star of northern football, topping the NTFA goal-kicking table and earning representative honours for the NTFA.

He soon attracted the attention of the VFL, and in 1959 he became one of the many Tasmanians of the era to join St. Kilda. Unfortunately, Stephens managed only six games with the Saints before a knee injury ruined the rest of his year, and at season’s end he sought a clearance. St. Kilda refused to clear him to another VFL club, however he eventually found his way to SANFL club Norwood as one of several new recruits targeted by their ambitious coach Alan Killigrew.

Through his superb leap, strong hands and reliable, booming torpedo punts, Stephens quickly became the SANFL’s newest glamour Full Forward, booting 33 goals in his opening 10 games in 1960. This form led to Stephens earning his first interstate appearance, booting six of the Croweaters’ 14 goals in their 69-point victory over Victoria. Unfortunately, Stephens’ form never recovered after surgery for appendicitis later that year, and although he managed 33 goals from 14 games in 1961 he was dropped for that season’s ‘Turkish Bath’ Grand Final loss to West Adelaide**.

After three seasons and 31 games, Stephens departed Norwood at the end of 1962, returning to Tasmania and North Launceston. He quickly picked up where he had left off before departing for the mainland, slotting into the strong Robins team under Bob Withers and being a member of their losing Grand Final teams in 1965 and 1967. He also continued to be a prolific representative player, and earned his only Tasmanian state guernsey in 1964 against Western Australia.

After 163 games in nine seasons with North Launceston, Stephens retired at the end of 1968. His service to the club was honoured with life membership in 1993, and he passed away aged 80 in 2015.

 

*Northern Tasmanian District Football League

** So called because it was played in 35˚C heat.