Stevenson, Alexander Ernest ('Alex') (1912–85), footballer, was born on 9 August 1912 in the Rotunda hospital, Dublin, the fourth of eight children (five girls and three boys) of Alexander Riach Stevenson (1883–1960), a blacksmith, of Palace View, Richmond Road, Drumcondra, and his wife Rosalina Bertha (née Caprani) (1885–1951); the family were Church of Ireland. Alex began his football career with St Barnabas and helped them to win the Leinster junior cup in 1930 (his elder brother Henry (b. 1907) played on the same team), before moving to the League of Ireland side Dolphin FC of Dublin (originally from Dolphin's Barn but based in the 1930s at Tolka Park in Drumcondra). Small and light (5 ft 5 in tall and weighing 10 st), he played at inside-forward and more than made up for his diminutive stature with great ball skills, nimble footwork and a keen footballing brain. In October 1931 he was selected to play for Ireland (FAI) in a junior international at Falkirk, losing 3–2 to Scotland. He was a key player on the team that lost 1–0 to Shamrock Rovers in the 1932 FAI Cup final, Dolphin's first appearance in a senior cup final. His excellent form with Dolphin impressed the selectors of the international team and on 8 May 1932, aged only 19, he made his full international debut for Ireland (FAI) in a 2–0 away win against Holland. He also managed to attract the attention of the Glasgow Rangers scout Arthur Dixon, and signed for Rangers in August 1932, becoming only the second player from southern Ireland and the only player capped by the FAI international team to play for the club. (As part of the transfer deal Rangers played Dolphin in a friendly match at Dalymount Park in 1933.) Playing at inside-left, Stevenson performed well for Rangers, scoring 7 goals in 12 league appearances.
In January 1934 he joined the English first-division club Everton for the substantial fee of £37,000 and made his debut in a 2–1 win against Arsenal on 3 February 1934. At Everton he formed a fruitful partnership with outside-left Jackie Coulter (1912–81) from Whiteabbey, Co. Antrim, who played 50 league games for the club (1934–7) and was capped 11 times by Northern Ireland (1933–8). Stevenson made 255 league appearances for Everton (1934–49) and scored a total of 82 league goals (he also scored 8 goals in 16 FA Cup games). He finished as the club's second top goal scorer on three occasions, his most prolific season being in 1936/7, when he scored 21 league and cup goals. His incisive passes and pinpoint crosses also made numerous goals for free-scoring teammates such as Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton. A winner of a first-division league medal in 1938/9 (the last pre-war Football League season), he scored 10 league goals in 36 games that season. After the outbreak of war, he joined the RAF and was assigned to ground crew duties but continued to play for Everton in wartime regional leagues, making 202 appearances and scoring 89 goals (1939–46) (during these years many observers believed that he played some of his best football). He also guested for Blackpool and Tranmere Rovers. When the war was over he resumed his professional career with Everton, playing in a team that had a strong Irish representation, with players such as Peter Farrell (qv), Tommy Eglington (qv) and Peter Corr (1923–2001). Stevenson made his final league appearance for Everton on 7 May 1949, losing 1–0 at Bolton Wanderers.
He also had a significant international career. Having already played for Ireland (FAI) in 1932, he made his debut for Northern Ireland (IFA) in a 2–1 victory against Scotland in Glasgow on 16 September 1933. In all he won a total of 17 full caps for Northern Ireland and scored 5 goals over a fourteen-year period (1933–47) (there were also 3 wartime caps and 1 goal (1941–4)). He scored his last goal for Northern Ireland in a 2–1 win over Wales on 16 April 1947, helping the team to finish as runners-up in the 1947 British home championship, and made his last appearance in a 2–0 win over Scotland on 4 October 1947. He was though not selected by Ireland (FAI) for many years after his 1932 debut, although several others played for both teams. There were rumours that he had refused to play on Sundays on religious grounds, but he insisted that he was always available for selection. It seems that Everton was unwilling to release him for two different international teams and after receiving a number of refusals the FAI stopped asking. Eventually, he won his second cap for Ireland (FAI) against England in Dublin on 30 September 1946, the first time that the team had played England. Stevenson was one of the outstanding players in that game and was desperately unlucky to hit the crossbar with a powerful thirty-yard drive before Ireland lost to a late goal by Tom Finney. Stevenson went on to appear seven times in total for Ireland (FAI), playing his last game against Switzerland on 5 December 1948. The gap of fourteen years between his first and second caps is a record.
In 1949 Stevenson left Everton to join the Merseyside non-league team, Bootle FC, as player-coach. He was appointed national coach to the Ireland (FAI) team in September 1953, but did not enjoy the role: the team was selected by an FAI committee and there were few opportunities to coach the players, who spent little time with the international team; his duties mainly involved giving evening lectures on football. In January 1954 he resigned to become player-manager with St Patrick's Athletic, making his debut against Dundalk on 7 February. His footballing skills and tactical acumen invigorated St Patrick's who were soon challenging for national trophies: they lost 1–0 to Drumcondra in the 1954 FAI Cup final, and won the League of Ireland title in his first full season in 1954/5 and again in 1955/6, with Stevenson still turning out for the team at the age of 43. In June 1958 he became manager of Waterford FC, taking them to third place in the league and runners-up to St Patrick's Athletic in the FAI Cup final in 1959.
In later years he returned to Bootle, and worked as a local government officer with Bootle Borough Council. He died on 2 September 1985 of heart disease in the Walton Hospital, Liverpool. He was survived by his wife Ethel (née Consterdine) (1914–2006), whom he had married on 8 June 1937 at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bootle; they had eight children.