Inside forward Harry Burgess was born in Alderley Edge, Cheshire and played for Alderley Edge and Wilmslow Albion in 1923 before appearing for Nantwich Ramblers in the Cheshire County League in 1924. In 1925 he signed for Stockport County making his debut on 13th March 1926 in the 4-0 defeat at Hull City. He made two more appearances in the 1925-26 season in which County were relegated from the Second Division. Burgess finished the season on loan at Sandbach Ramblers but returned to Stockport ready for the 1926-27 season.
The Hatters were playing in Third Division (North) for the second time but unlike 1921-22 they could not bounce back and finished sixth in a season that Burgess flourished. He hit his first professional goal in a 3-3 draw with Lincoln at Edgeley Park on 4th September 1926 and continued strongly finishing the season as County’s leading marksman with an impressive 28 goals from 35 matches including a hat-trick against Wrexham in March 1927 and all 4 goals against Nelson the following month.
The following season County finished third with Burgess scoring a dozen times and in 1928-29 he was an ever present and once again top scored for the Hatters with 31 goals with a treble against Ashington in September 1928. Burgess’ prodigious scoring talent and dribbling skills had attracted a number of First Division scouts to keep tabs on the 25 year old and although Arsenal and Newcastle United made attempts to sign him, the lure of First Division champions Sheffield Wednesday was enough for him to move to Hillsborough in June 1929 after 72 goals in 121 appearances for a fee of £3,500, which was a record fee paid for a Stockport player.
Adding Burgess to the team wasn’t the only change The Wednesday made in the summer of 1929 with the 1929-30 season being the first with their new name Sheffield Wednesday. Burgess joined a great team of players under their manager Bob Brown and he quickly showed his worth scoring on his top flight debut at Aston Villa on 14th September 1929. Wednesday went on to retain the League Championship title with Burgess scoring 20 goals, controversially losing an FA Cup semi final to Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford to miss out on the opportunity to be the first team to win The Double in the 20th Century.
At the start of the 1930-31 season the newly married Burgess’ form for Wednesday attracted the attention of the England selectors and he made his international debut on 20th October 1930 against Ireland at Bramall Lane alongside the great Dixie Dean. He scored twice in a 5-1 England win, a match in which three other Wednesday players also appeared – Ernie Blenkinsop, Alf Strange and Tony Leach. This is one of the two occasions to date that Wednesday have had four players in the England team. He made a further appearance against Scotland at Hampden Park in March 1931 and then 2 further caps for the Three Lions during the post season tour in May 1931, playing against France, then scoring two goals in a 4-1 win over Belgium.
That season Wednesday were again challenging for the First Division title this time against Arsenal under their great manager Herbert Chapman. Wednesday and Arsenal were first and second most of the season swapping positions regularly but three consecutive defeats put Wednesday out of the race and they disappointingly slipped to third in the end as The Gunners won the First Division title for the first time in the club’s history, a title they would win five times in the Thirties. He played in Sheffield Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat by Arsenal in the Charity Shield at Stamford Bridge in October 1930 and scored a hat-trick in a win at Blackpool in April 1931.
Wednesday flew out of the blocks in the 1931-32 season but a slump at the start of 1932 left them as low as 10th position. It took a tremendous seven wins from the final ten matches of the season for them to finish third for the second successive season. In 1932-33 Wednesday were back in a title race, again with Arsenal. Unfortunately injuries and suspensions to0k their toll in the end and despite all their promise, The Owls again slipped to third place for the third consecutive season.
Only five matches into the 1933-34 Wednesday lost their manager Bob Brown, the club’s form took a slump and Wednesday only managed to finish 11th but Burgess was the club’s leading League goalscorer. Halfway through 1934-35 Burgess, by now a fans’ favourite, was transferred to Chelsea much to the chagrin of the Wednesday faithful. Burgess had scored 80 goals in 235 appearances during five successful years at Hillsborough. He went on to play for Chelsea until the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 forced the suspension of peacetime football, scoring 37 goals in 156 appearances for the Stamford Bridge club before his retirement.
NB in the photograph he stands on the left with Sheffield Wednesday team mate Horace Burrows.