Jack Stevens was born in Broomhill, Northumberland, As a young man, he was a professional sprinter who won the Morpeth Handicap Sprint. He began his Football League career with Ashington, for whom he appeared twice, and was on the books of Manchester City without playing first-team football, before joining Stockport County in late 1932. He became a regular for Stockport over the next 18 months, was ever-present in the 1933–34 season, and appeared on the losing side in the inaugural Third Division North Cup Final. Stevens then signed for Brighton and Hove Albion. Appearing infrequently in his first season, he missed only five matches in the next three. He remained with the club during the first season of wartime competition before joining the Manchester Police.