Willington Quay, Northumberland born centre forward Harry “Smiler” Chambers was a youth prodigy in the North East and a schoolboy international at age eleven and played for Willington United Methodists in 1912 and North Eastern League club North Shields Athletic in 1913 before he was signed, from North Shields for Liverpool by manager Tom Watson in April 1915 (only days before Watson’s death) shortly after football was suspended due to the onset of the First World War. He enlisted in Irish infantry regiment The Connaught Rangers, with whom he served until invalided out of the Army in 1917. He also played for Kings Park (on loan), Belfast Distillery and Glentoran, both as a wartime guest, collecting an Irish Cup runners up medal with The Glens in 1919.
He also played twice for Liverpool in wartime matches before he eventually made his Liverpool debut at Bradford City in August 1919, scoring in a match Liverpool won 3-1, and he soon became a consistent goalscorer as Liverpool won back to back League Championships in 1922 and 1923, top scoring for Liverpool in each of the first four post war seasons. He scored a hat-trick against Cardiff City in their first League Championship campaign and then a notable treble in a 5-1 thumping of Everton in October 1922 during the second.
“Smiler” played eight internationals for England making his debut in a 0-0 draw with Wales at Ninian Park, Cardiff on 14th March 1921, scoring five goals in 4 internationals from May 1921 to March 1923, including a brace in a 2-0 victory over Ireland at The Hawthorns, playing his last international against Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast on 20th October 1923. He also represented The Football League on five occasions and played in the FA Charity Shield for The Professionals against The Amateurs, scoring in a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in October 1923.
Liverpool fans were shocked to hear in March 1926 that Chambers wanted to leave the club and had been placed on the transfer list. This was described no less than the “biggest noise in the football world.” Chambers was the darling of the supporters due to his cheerfulness, which rubbed off on everybody around him. He had scored nine goals in the 1925-26 season but since netting a hat-trick against Newcastle on Christmas Day had only scored once in two and a half months. Thankfully Chambers found his scoring instincts again, netting seven goals in the remaining eleven games of the season and was once again the club’s top scorer the following season, scoring 21 goals in 1926-27 including a hat-trick in an FA Cup replay win over Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic in January 1927.
After 151 goals in 339 games he was transferred to West Bromwich Albion for £2,375 in March 1928, scoring on his debut against Fulham. His spell with The Baggies produced 3 goals in 38 games, many played at centre half, before he dropped into local league football as player manager of Oakengates Town in June 1929 and then became player-manager of Hereford United in January 1933, retiring as a player in May 1934 but remained as their manager until May 1948. He continued playing for Oakengates right up until his death at Shrewsbury in 1949 aged 52.
NB the striped shirt is in fact a Liverpool change strip and not a West Bromwich Albion shirt.