Joseph Mason 'Possum' Stevenson
- First Wallabies (1908/09)Caps
Joseph Stevenson was a man blessed with both good luck and bad luck A halfback from Newcastle, though born in Queensland in 1883, he never played for his State but was unexpectedly chosen for the tour of tours up to that time in Australia, the 1908-09 tour of the British Isles, France and North America.
The number one halfback in Australia at this point in time was Glebe’s Fred Wood, who was also vice-captain of the Wallabies. Stevenson was theoretically the number two halfback, though during the tour Wood suffered from the cold and Chris Mckivat, a five-eighth also from Glebe, increasingly took over as halfback.
At the time of his selection Stevenson was 24-years-of-age, 5ft 9in in height and weighed 11 st 10 lbs, an ideal size for a man in his position. The reason for his selection as a real ‘bolter’ was that he played an outstanding game for the Combined Country Second XV against City in 1908.
The Wallabies played against Victoria, Western Australia, Devon, Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Glamorgan County before finally Stevenson got a run against Penygraig. The lateness of his appearance is stark evidence that he was not held in high regard. The Penygraig match was won by Australia 11 to 3, at the Mid-Rhondda Athletic Ground at Tonypandy. There were 5,000 spectators, mainly miners and their families. Stevenson was severely injured in the game.
The team in his debut match was W.Dix, C. Parkinson, H.Daly, F.Bede Smith, D.B.Carroll, J.Stevenson, W.Prentice, H. Moran (capt.), N.Row, C.McMurtrie, S.Middleton, E.McIntyre, C.Hammond, J.Barnett, M.McArthur.
According to Peter Sharpham, who wrote The First Wallabies, that was his sole game on tour. There was, however, a game against Glamorgan, and he played in that. The jury is still out on whether this was an official game. Thus ended the representative career of Stevenson. His rugby was not successful, but he saw the world as few Australians had done.