Bustling forward Samuel “Sammy” Stevens was born in Netherton, a Black Country town south of Dudley that grew around its coal mining and iron smelting industries. As a young man Stevens worked as a labourer making iron chains while playing football for a local side Cradley Heath St Luke’s. He was scouted by Hull City and joined the club on the first day of February 1912, going straight into the Reserves XI the following day. City were looking for a new centre forward to replace teenage goalscorer Tommy Browell, who had just been sold to Everton, and it was quickly determined that Sammy might fit the bill. Within ten days of signing Stevens was given his first team debut and while he scored only once in seven starts during February and March 1912, a consolation goal in a 1-3 defeat at Bradford Park Avenue, City manager Ambrose Langley saw promise in his new signing and kept him on for the 1912/13 season.
Stevens began the season as first choice centre forward and opened his scoring account on the first day of season in a 4-1 win over Blackpool. He had to wait for his eleventh start of the season for his next goal, when he scored four times in a 6-2 thumping of Leeds City. Sammy was not a regular goalscorer and in March 1913, during the closing weeks of Langley’s tenure as City manager, he was moved to the inside forward positions. This invigorated his play and he scored seven goals in the last 8 matches of the season as Harry Chapman took over as City manager.
After starting the 1913/14 season at inside forward, Chapman moved Stevens back to centre forward in October 1913 and the goals continued to flow. A November 1913 hattrick against Stockport was followed by eight goals in seven starts late November and December, then a club record for scoring in consecutive matches. While the Tigers were struggling for wins, Stevens’ goalscoring continued and he finished the season with 26 league goals. With Fred Stringer installed as City manager early in the 1914/15 season, Sammy maintained his form as he struck 24 times in the league and 6 more in the FA Cup. Sammy missed only one game all season and his scoring exploits attracted the attention of England’s international selectors, who chose him as a squad reserve for the 1914/15 British Home Championship that was never played due to the outbreak of World War One. With his reputation now firmly made, Stevens’ progress was abruptly halted when the Football League was suspended due to the War. He remained working in the Hull area during the war and played regularly for the Tigers in wartime regional league matches – between 1915 and 1919 he played in 30 fixtures and scored 23 goals.
When the Football League resumed in the 1919/20 season Stevens was retained by Hull City and he resumed his fine form, scoring 20 goals in the season including a festive hattrick against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 10-3 demolition – between Boxing Day 1919 and Valentines Day 1920, Stevens hit 10 goals in 9 starts. With Sammy’s reputation as a goalscorer intact, it was inevitable that transfer talk would ensue and in July 1920 he joined City’s Second Division rivals Notts County for a £1,750 fee. Stevens scored 11 times in 24 starts but in mid-March 1921 he played his final game for the Magpies – against Hull City – and transferred to Coventry City, who were drifting in the lower reaches of the Second Division table and willing to pay £1,300 for Stevens’ prowess in front of goal. Sammy’s three strikes were sufficient to help the Sky Blues avoid relegation and he was an ever-present in the 1921/22 season leading the Coventry front line and scoring 21 times including an Aprils Fools Day goal against the Tigers in a 2-0 win.
Stevens started the 1922/23 season in the Coventry first team but illness meant he had to drop out of the side in early September and he played only one more time for the club before being released in the 1923 close season, having made 62 starts and scored 25 goals for the Sky Blues. Stevens returned to the Black Country and played local football for a short time before retiring. By 1939 he was living in Dudley and working in the steel manufacturing industry once again. He died in Dudley in the winter months of 1948.
Date/Place of Birth: 18 November 1890, Netherton
Hull City First Game: 10 February 1912, Fulham H (Division Two), 21 years, 84 days old
Hull City Final Game: 24 April 1920, West Ham United A (Division Two), 29 years, 158 days old
Cradley Heath St Luke’s, Hull City (1912-1920), Notts County (1920-1921), Coventry City (1921-1923), Dudley Bean
Hull City Record
Career: 161 apps, 93 goalsSammy Stevens