A Dewsbury Great.
One of a select group of individuals born, bred or living in Dewsbury who have made their mark on their town and country. The Dewsbury Greats have featured in various exhibitions and publications since they were first researched and published in 1992.
THE golden boy of Rugby League, Dewsbury-born Mick Stephenson, secured his place in history when he signed a life contract for the Penrith, Australia team for a world record transfer fee of £20.000 — a fortune in 1973.
The transfer was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records and has not been beaten since because life transfers are no longer made.
Now Mick divides his time between living in Dewsbury half the year and living in Australia the rest as he follows a career as a television commentator — in the footsteps of another Dewsbury boy, Eddie Waring.
Mick, who grew up in Warren Street. Savile Town, rose to fame when he was captain of the Dewsbury side when they won the Rugby League Championship Cup in 1973.
Thousands of local people were waiting in Dewsbury town centre to greet the jubilant team when they returned with the coveted cup.
The sight of the victorious team from Crown Flutt carrying Mick shoulder high towards the town hall, holding the massive trophy aloft, will live in the minds of Dewsbury people for ever.
A world famous hooker, Mick, w ho started his Rugby career with Shaw Cross Boys Club, also brought honour to the town when he was part of the Great Britain Rugby League team who won the World Cup in 1972.
Mick, who was a plumber with Beaumont’s and Blackburn, Dewsbury, revelled in his move to Penrith, but always remained British at heart — and Dewsbury' to the core.
*i was lucky to get such a break, the money was unbelievable and on top of that we got holidays abroad just as perks,” he recalled.
End of season trips took him to the United States. Fiji. Singapore, New’ Zealand and Hong Kong
‘The final was my last match with Dewsbury'
ALWAYS one of the most popular players in Rugby League, Mick projected the dynamism that surrounds all "super" stars
But at heart he has remained the same Mick Stephenson who was carried shoulder high through Dewsbury with the Rugby league Championship Cup amidst a tumultuous reception from local supporters in May 1973.
"That is the memory’ I will always carry in my heart — the final against Leeds was my last match with Dewsbury," said Mick.
"I was captain of my home club, we’d just won a great game. I’d done everything in England I’d ever wanted to do — I couldn’t have left at a better time."
The previous year. Mick had attracted international fame when he was part of the Great Britain World Cup winning team in France — ironically scoring a try in the final against Australia.
After moving to Australia. Mick suffered a catalogue of injuries including broken ribs and fingers. His nose was broken five times and he had a cartilage removed from his knee.
"I had to build myself up to take all the knocks. The game is so much different here. We had to train every day and be 100 percent fit otherwise you couldn't survive," he said.
"The Australian outlook on Rugby league is completely different. It’s the national sport and the players are regarded as stars.
"All the school kids play Rugby and a star player cannot go far without being recognised and asked to sign autographs.
"But people are only interested in you if you play well. You are only as good as your last game."
Mick’s mother Alice, also Dewsbury born and bred, cannot remember her son without a ball at his feet.
“From being a little toddler all he wanted was to be out in the street kicking a ball,” she recalled.
“I would send him to school neatly dressed with collar and tie and within five minutes his coat would be off, his shirt tail hanging out and his tie all over the place "
Mick loved all sports and won the Victor Laudorum award for the best all round sportsman at Victoria Council School
“But his great love was Rugby,” said Alice.
“As a young child he’d come home from school looking as though he'd just finished a shift down a coal mine.”