Blyth, Northumberland born left back David Fairhurst started his football career with junior clubs New Delaval Villa in 1925 and Blyth Spartans in 1926 before being signed by Jimmy Torrance for Third Division (South) club Walsall in June 1927, making his Football League debut for The Saddlers at Swindon Town that October. After two seasons playing for Walsall, having made 59 appearances, he was signed by First Division Newcastle United for a transfer fee of £1,750 in March 1929.
At St James’ Park, Fairhurst was a consistent performer and gave the club over a decade of stout service. He took a while to get into the first team, and although he made his debut in a 2-1 victory at Derby County on 27th April 1929 his next appearance was not until December, when he displaced Scottish international Bob Thomson. From then on, Fairhurst was the first choice left back for several seasons. In 1930 he was described as “a capable defender, Fairhurst is never prone to tackle and is a clean two-footed kicker, who finds his wingers with long, sweeping passes.”
He was an ever present in the successful FA Cup campaign in 1932, in which Newcastle defeated Arsenal in the Final at Wembley in rather controversial circumstances. Arsenal took an early lead, when Joe Hulme beat Fairhurst and centred the ball to Bob John who easily beat goalkeeper Albert McInroy. Newcastle’s equaliser came after a long ball had appeared to go over the goal line, and out for a goal kick; Newcastle winger Jimmy Richardson nevertheless crossed the ball back into play and Jack Allen levelled the match for the Magpies. The referee ruled that the ball had not gone out of play, even though photographic evidence later showed that the ball had actually crossed the line, and the goal stood. Allen scored again in the second half to win the match 2-1.
The following year, Fairhurst became an England international when he won his solitary England cap in the friendly against France at White Hart Lane on 6th December 1933, which England won 4-1, with two goals from George Camsell.
Fairhurst was ever present for Newcastle in 1932-33 and only missed two matches in the following season, which ended in Newcastle being relegated to the Second Division. Fairhurst continued to be a first choice regular for the next few seasons, but the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 brought his career to an end, although he did not officially announce his retirement until May 1946. He played his last of 285 appearances for Newcastle in February 1939, scoring twice, both goals coming in a 5-1 victory over Nottingham Forest on 30th November 1935.
After his playing retirement Fairhurst later had a spell as a trainer with Birmingham City.
His older brother Bill Fairhurst, also a full back, played League football for Southport, Nelson, Northampton Town and Hartlepools United in the 1920’s and 1930’s.