Stockport, Cheshire born goalkeeper Harry Hardy joined hometown Second Division club Stockport County from Alderley Edge in 1920, making his Football League debut at Cardiff City that September. He soon established himself as County’s regular keeper, being ever present for two seasons from 1922 to 1924 in a total run of 170 consecutive appearances before he missed his first County game, a 1-1 draw with Southampton on 11th October 1924, due to his involvement with the Football League representative side.
He is widely considered as County’s best ever goalkeeper. His statistics, though, in the Hatters’ Division Three (North) championship season in 1922, are remarkable. Hardy was an ever present conceding just 21 goals, a club record that stands to this day. He kept 23 clean sheets in his 38 games, which included a quite incredible 20 from his side’s opening 27 games of the campaign. Hardy held the club’s individual goalkeeping record for not conceding a goal for an amazing 85 years until it was beaten by current Welsh International goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
When Blackpool’s Barrass scored a 77th minute goal at Edgeley Park on 30th April 1921 Hardy was not beaten again until Tommy Robson scored an own goal at Southport on 8th October 1921 – 755 minutes later. He was the first, and to date the only, player for Stockport County to win an England cap when he played against Belgium at The Hawthorns in December 1924, keeping a clean sheet in a 4-0 win. He also went on the FA Tour to Australia in 1925 and made two appearances for The Football League.
In October 1925 he signed for First Division Everton for £2,350 after 214 appearances for The Hatters. He played 45 times in three seasons at Everton before joining Bury in July 1929, making a further 30 appearances for The Shakers between 1929 and 1931 before his retirement aged 36.
NB in this colourised image published in 1925, Hardy and Stockport defender Billy Richardson watch the ball go towards Hardy’s far post.