Bolton, Lancashire born left back Horace Fairhurst joined Lancashire Combination club Darwen from Bolton Juniors in 1914 prior to the First World War, having joined Second Division club Preston North End in December 1912 where he was on their books as they won the Second Division Championship in 1913 but where he failed to make a first team appearance for The Lambs, and after the intervention of war, during which he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he guested once for Liverpool in wartime football during the 1916-17 season.
Fairhurst first played for Blackpool in the 1917-18 wartime season, on 1st September 1917 against Oldham Athletic, while he was serving at the Royal Army Medical Corps Depot in the town. He made a total of 27 appearances for the club that season. He returned to the club on 8 February 1919, in a 1-1 draw at Burnley and made a total of ten appearances for the Seasiders that season. he signed for Second Division Blackpool in May 1919, for whom he made his Football League debut against Lincoln City in September 1919.
In addition to his 9 appearances for the Blackpool reserve team won him a Central League Championship medal in 1920, he made 57 further official first team appearances for The Seasiders during 1919-20, when he missed just 8 matches, and the first half of 1920-21. But in his twentieth League appearance of the 1920-21 season, on 27th December 1920, tragedy struck when Fairhurst suffered a head injury during Blackpool’s single-goal win over Barnsley at Oakwell. At one point it looked as though he would recover, and he reported for training at the Balmoral Hotel for the FA Cup tie at Darlington on 8th January; however, he was deemed “not recovered sufficiently to run the risk of playing him”.
He was initially named in the Blackpool team to face Notts County on New Year’s Day, but he had “a touch of gastritis” and did not travel. He died at home on 7th January 1921 as a result of the injury, with the club stating, “We have lost one of the best backs in England”. He was buried at Tonge Cemetery on 13th January. On 4th May, Blackpool played a benefit match against Preston North End with the proceeds to go to his widow and to the children of his partner at full back, Bert Tulloch, whose wife had died the same weekend as Fairhurst.