Born in Kirkmanshulme, Manchester, winger Harold Hardman started his football career with Worsley Wanderers in 1897, Chorlton-cum-Hardy and South Shore Choristers in 1898, and Northern Nomads in 1899 before he was discovered by Blackpool and thrown into the first team during their season in exile from the Football League in 1899-1900. He made his Football League debut on 8th September 1900 in a home draw against Gainsborough Trinity, the first competitive game played at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road ground. He became almost an ever-present for the club over the next three years, staying as an amateur as he would remain throughout his career.
Normally an outside-left, Hardman had the ability to switch flanks and sometimes played on the right wing. He possessed speed and a knack for trickery, and although not a regular goalscorer himself, he provided the final pass for many of the goals scored by Bob Birkett and Jack Parkinson. Blackpool, however, as a whole, were a team struggling in the Second Division, and they found it too difficult to hold on to him.
In the close season of 1903, he signed for Everton for a fee of £100 after 11 goals in 79 appearances for The Seasiders. He scored 8 goals for the Toffees as they finished League runners up in 1904-05, and appeared in both the 1906 and 1907 FA Cup Finals, gaining a winner’s medal in 1906 against Newcastle United but losing 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday a year later.
Hardman made four appearances for the full England team, all while with Everton, between 1905 and 1908, making his debut in March 1905 in a 3-1 win against Wales at Anfield and scoring once against Ireland at Goodison Park in February 1907. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning British team at the 1908 Summer Olympics, and won 10 England Amateur caps. He also played once for The Football League.
He joined Manchester United in August 1908 after 29 goals in 156 appearances, but played only 4 matches for United before leaving for Bradford City in January 1909, scoring 4 goals in 22 appearances during their first two seasons in Division One, before joining non league Stoke in 1910.
After his playing days ended, he became a well-known administrator and, later, director of Manchester United. He became Chairman of the club in 1951 after the death of James W. Gibson, and was at the helm at the time of the Munich Air Disaster on 6th February 1958, which claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight players, three non-playing staff, and ended the careers of two other players due to injury. He oversaw United’s three League titles of the 1950’s as well as their early foray into the European Cup from 1956 to 1958. Hardman also saw Manchester United win the FA Cup in 1963 and another League Championship in 1964-65, before his death in June 1965 at the age of 83. He was succeeded as Chairman by Louis Edwards.