There is a pretty obvious starting point for the number 9 shirt and this is Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson MBE!
A Thornhill lad who came to Dewsbury from the prolific Shaw Cross Boys Club in 1966.
His greatest moment in a Dewsbury shirt was the final time he wore his hometown colours. He captained us on that never to be forgotten sunny day in 1973 when we beat Leeds at Odsal to become Champions.
Stevo was the Harry Sunderland Trophy winner as man of the match that day.
Earlier on in that season he had captained Dewsbury in the Yorkshire Cup Final (also against Leeds) and in our run to the semi finals of the Challenge Cup where Bradford ended our Wembley hopes.
Stevo departed Crown Flatt for a world record transfer fee to join Australian giants Penrith Panthers.
Moving to Penrith meant the end of his fine international career too as players who left to play in Australia were not eligible to play for Great Britain back then.
His greatest moment in the GB shirt was becoming a World Cup winner in 1972, Stevo was a try scorer in the final against Australia.
His debut in the international no 9 jersey was against New Zealand in the test match at Castleford in 1971. What a way to depart the British game in the season 1972/73, captain your hometown club to the Championship and win the World Cup for your country.
Stevo went on to make 69 appearances for Penrith & scored 21 tries in the process before briefly becoming player coach before hanging up his boots.
He subsequently became a big part of the rugby league media in Australia including radio & television. His first foray into the UK media came in 1988 when he debuted on Radio Two.
He joined Sky in 1990 and thus began his iconic partnership with Eddie Hemmings. Eddie and Stevo became to rugby league what Morecambe & Wise were to British comedy! Eddie played the straight guy whilst Stevo was the controversial villain!
This partnership on Sky incredibly lasted 26 years, Stevo bowed out after being part of the commentary team for the 2016 Super League Grand Final.
Eddie and Stevo let’s be honest it’s not the same without them!
It was during this period that Stevo also established the Rugby League Heritage Centre at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, his own personal collection of memorabilia.
One thing that frustrated and saddened me was that the generations of fans who only knew him as a Sky commentator have no idea of how great he was as a player.
Stevo used to sing the praises of hookers like Kieron Cunningham and James Lowes but if you were lucky enough to see Stevo play you knew he was the greatest 9 of them all.
John Kear made reference to this in his autobiography, John had seen Stevo play and described him as a hooker way ahead of his time. John was keen to let his readers know what a top player Stevo had been.
I also recall a story that Maurice Bamford told in one of his books when he recalls Stevo winning a contested scrum on his own line when Dewsbury were playing up the slope against Featherstone Rovers at Post Office Road, Dewsbury immediately sent the ball through many pairs of hands as they bewildered the crowd as they sped up the hill eventually without a Featherstone player making a tackle, it was Stevo who had emerged from winning the ball against the fearsome Rovers pack to take the final pass & sprint under the posts to score the try! That summed Stevo up!
He played in an era when scrums were contested and you played 80 minutes and he still spent the game making darting runs from dummy half .
So the question is, who had the unenviable task of replacing Stevo at no 9? Surely a task comparable with replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as the manager of Manchester United! It was Keith Voyce, cousin of the aforementioned John Kear.
Another guy who made a massive impression on the Dewsbury faithful was Richard Chapman. When Chappy was at acting half near the opposition line everyone knew what he was going to do but incredibly defenders were generally powerless to stop it. He would strike like a cobra & somehow ground the ball for a try.
Before coming to the Tetleys Stadium he had acquired legendary status as a Featherstone Rovers player.
Neil ‘Ned’ Kelly achieved glory as a coach at Dewsbury but he was also a very intelligent player and onfield leader.
He was versatile enough to play at loose forward but was generally at 9 in his two spells with us. Neil has played and coached at several league and union clubs but always seems synonymous with Dewsbury .
David Watkinson was a product of the Heworth amateur club who played in the very successful Hull KR team of the eighties. He also played for Yorkshire, England and Great Britain. He had a testimonial at Hull KR in 1988 before joining Dewsbury.
Kevin Ashcroft had a stellar career playing for Rochdale Hornets, Leigh, Warrington and Salford, He also played for Lancashire and Great Britain.
He had a successful coaching career across the pennines and is a Warrington Hall of Famer but it all started at Crown Flatt when he played 5 games for Dewsbury in 1964.
A much travelled Super League player and maverick larger than life character is Wayne Godwin, a man who firmly believes that if he doesn’t need stitches after a game that he can’t possibly have had a good game! I bought one of his old playing shirts from our club shop last season, I cannot believe how small it is but Wagga was notorious for wearing shirts several sizes too small so opponents could not grab him!
Going back further I note that England international Harry Bradshaw played for Dewsbury in the fifties before moving to Huddersfield.
During the period when Andy Fisher was coach we had Andy Speak in the Jersey, another guy who was useful at dummy half within sight of the line.
Recent incumbents have been Ryan Wright, Robbie Ward and Dom Speakman.