|Full name||Raymond Ernest Stehr|
24 January 1913|
Warialda, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||2 June 1983
Maroubra, New South Wales
|Height||181 cm (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||84 kg (13 st 3 lb)|
|1931–41||New South Wales||30||2||0||0||6|
|1939, 41, 46 & 49||Eastern Suburbs||62||29||1||32||47|
|As of 27 October 2009|
Raymond Ernest Stehr (24 January 1913 – 2 June 1983) was an Australian rugby league footballer, a state and national representative player whose club career was played at Sydney's Eastern Suburbs club. He has been named as one of the nation's finest footballers of the 20th century.
Stehr was born in the country New South Wales town of Warialda in 1913. As an eight-year-old child, he was diagnosed an incurable cripple after developing blood clots at the base of his spine. He was unable to walk for two years and spent twelve months strapped to a stretcher, completely immobilised with his back encased in a plaster cast. His family moved to Sydney in search of some kind of miracle cure and, following a visit to a Chinese herbalist, the clots began to disappear. Nevertheless, Stehr was told not to contemplate playing contact sport. Stehr defied medical opinion, becoming one of rugby league's toughest front rowers.
First recruited as a schoolboy from Randwick Boys High School by the Eastern Suburbs club in 1928, Stehr made his first-grade debut in a trial match against Newcastle ahead of the 1928 season when he was aged just 15. The following season aged just 16 years and 85 days he made his regular competition debut - still the youngest ever first-grade Australian player.
In 1934 Stehr joined the Mudgee club in rural NSW as a captain-coach and also captained Country in their annual clash against a Sydney representative side. Midway through the 1934 season he rejoined Easts who were defeated by Western Suburbs in the premiership decider that year. Over the next three seasons, Stehr was a member of the Eastern Suburbs side that lost just one match, winning premierships in each of those years - 1935, 1936 and 1937.
In 1940 Stehr was captain of the Easts side that captured its 8th premiership. Regular captain-coach Dave Brown pulled out on match day with a leg injury and Stehr led the side to a victory in the final over Canterbury-Bankstown. Following WWII in 1945, he led Eastern Suburbs to further premiership glory.
All told he played in 184 matches for Eastern Suburbs a then record.
Stehr played in Test series against New Zealand and Great Britain. In the series against Britain he set an inglorious record when he was sent off in two of the three matches. The uncompromising, no-nonsense front rower was selected for his second Kangaroo tour in 1937-38.
All told he represented Australia on 55 occasions and in 11 Tests. He played 33 matches for New South Wales, a tally which stands today at third place in the most games by a player for the state (behind Clive Churchill and Graeme Langlands).
WWII brought a premature end to his test career and Stehr spent war in the services. Stationed in Darwin, Stehr was named captain of a North Australian representative side in a match against Central Australia.
During his career, the uncompromising front row forward had a short stint as a professional Boxer
After playing retirement in 1946, he remained involved with the game. He was coach at Manly in 1947-48 and Easts in 1949. A sports journalist – Stehr wrote a column, for many years, in a Sydney newspaper and worked in television media. He was also club president at Easts. In 1961 he was the commentator for the first Australian rugby league match ever broadcast live. His typical sign-off call in the media was always "Easts To Win!".
Ray Stehr died on 2 June 1983 aged 70.
Stehr was named in Eastern Suburbs greatest ever team - an honorary team. .
- Whiticker, Alan and Hudson, Glen (2007). The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Wetherill Park, NSW: Gary Allen Pty Ltd.
- Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
- Century's Top 100 Players
- Peter Cassidy (2008-02-23). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
- "Centenary of Rugby League - The Players". NRL & ARL. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-02-23.