Phil Stephens was born in 1935 and was recruited from Victoria in 1960 along with Peter Brenchley, George Dellar, Geoff Feehan and Ian “Buster” Gordon. In 1959, under new coach Alan Killigrew, Norwood had finished in sixth place, having introduced 21 new players to the team, but Killigrew and others felt that a core of hardened, experienced players was required if the club was to challenge for the premiership.
Stephens was originally from North Launceston where he played about 50 games before moving to St Kilda in 1959 where he played six games before a knee injury kept him out for the season. In 1960 he applied for a clearance and St Kilda agreed to clear him to Norwood after refusing to release him to another VFL club.
A tall, powerfully built forward and occasional ruckman, he was strong overhead or on a lead and usually finished off with a long torpedo punt. He quickly established himself as the glamour full forward in the competition, kicking 33 goals in the first 10 games and earning state selection in the team to play Victoria at Adelaide Oval in July 1960. Stephens kicked six goals for the victorious SA team and appeared set to become one of the great full forwards. Shortly after the state game however, he entered hospital for an appendix operation and although he returned later in the season, never recaptured the form shown in those early games. Stephens kicked 50 goals in 16 games to become Norwood’s leading goal kicker for the season. In 1961 injuries and suspension limited him to 14 games and 33 goals and he was dropped for the grand final against West Adelaide.
In 1962 he played just one game, and in 1963 returned to his old club North Launceston where he played 163 games and represented Tasmania in the 1964 interstate match against Western Australia.
Phil Stephens passed away in Launceston on 31 December 2015
W Heading March 2013