Calow, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire born centre forward Harry Bedford began his football career with Chesterfield League side Grassmoor Ivanhoe in 1918 and before the end of wartime league football Bedford had played twice for Nottingham Forest and once for Huddersfield Town as a wartime guest. Nottingham Forest then signed Bedford as a professional in August 1919 and he made his Football League debut in the Second Division against Rotherham County in September 1919, scoring twice in a 4-1 victory. Despite this successful debut he found opportunities limited at The City Ground, and he was sold to Blackpool for £1,200 in March 1921 after 9 goals in 20 appearances for Forest.
He soon blossomed into a prolific striker at Blackpool, after 12 goals in his first full season he was an ever present in 1922-23 and in each of the next two seasons he scored 32 League goals as Blackpool missed out on promotion finishing 5th and 4th respectively, as Bedford finished as the country’s leading goalscorer in both seasons. In 1922-23 he recorded hat-tricks against Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and Bury, and in 1923-24 he scored successive hat-tricks in their home and away wins over Port Vale in March 1924.
Not surprisingly he came to the attention of the England selectors and made his England debut on their summer tour, playing in a 4-2 win over Sweden in Stockholm in May 1923, and winning a further cap in October 1924 when he scored in a 3-1 win over Ireland at Goodison Park. He also appeared twice for The Football League and played for The Professionals in their 3-1 victory over The Amateurs at Highbury in the FA Charity Shield in October 1924.
Although they struggled in 1924-25 he remained Blackpool’s leading goalscorer with 28 goals, a total including 4 goals against South Shields in a 5-0 win in September 1924, and he had already scored 6 goals in the first 7 games of the 1925-26 season when he was sold to fellow Second Division club Derby County for £3,900 in September 1925, scoring hat-tricks in his second and fifth games for The Rams against Swansea Town and Stoke City and a further treble against Sheffield Wednesday in February 1927 as Derby gained promotion as Second Division runners up at the end of the season, Bedford top scoring with 28 goals in 35 games.
His phenomenal strike rate continued in the top flight for Derby, Bedford scoring 26, 28, 30 and 31 goals in each of the next four seasons, scoring 4 goals in a match on 3 occasions and 5 further hat-tricks during those seasons as Derby emerged as one of the best teams at the end of the 1920’s, finishing runners up in the League Championship in 1929-30. Having already scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 win against Sunderland in September 1930, he was transferred to Newcastle United in a swap deal for Eric Keen and £4,000 in December 1930 after a phenomenal 152 goals in 218 appearances for The Rams, scoring in wins over Leicester City and at Arsenal in his first two matches for The Geordies. He managed a single hat-trick for Newcastle in a 5-3 win over Sheffield United in December 1931, joining Sunderland for £3,000 in January 1932 after 18 goals in 32 appearances.
However his spell at Roker Park was not a success and he scored twice in only 7 appearances for The Wearsiders before joining Second Division Bradford Park Avenue in May 1932. His single season at Park Avenue saw him score 15 goals in 33 appearances, signing off with a hat-trick against Lincoln City in May 1933, and he then joined Chesterfield in June 1933, scoring 12 goals in 26 appearances in his final League season including a hat-trick on his Spireites debut against Gateshead that August. In August 1934 he became player coach of non league Heanor Town, where he finished an illustrious career that saw well over 300 goals at a ratio of nearly 2 goals every 3 games.
In the late 1930’s Bedford joined Newcastle United’s coaching staff, before joining Derby County where he became the club’s masseur in 1938. After the Second World War he became manager of Heanor Town, a position he held until he resigned in 1955.
Bedford was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Bloomfield Road, when it was officially opened by former Blackpool player Jimmy Armfield in April 2006.
NB This photograph shows Bedford tossing the coin with Derby County captain Tom Cooper. Logically the photograph must have been taken after Bedford left Derby in December 1930 and would appear to show Bedford in a Sunderland shirt as the stripes don’t appear to be black. However Bedford never played against Derby County for Sunderland (unless in a pre-season friendly) and played once for Newcastle, scoring in a 5-1 win at The Baseball Ground in February 1931. The only conclusion is that this photograph was taken at that match.