Birmingham born right winger Alf Horne began his football career with Alvechurch in 1922 and spent 1923-24 as an amateur on the books of West Bromwich Albion, without making their first eleven, before joining Stafford Rangers in 1924 and playing for Bromsgrove Rovers later the same year. In May 1925 he signed for Second Division Hull City and made his Football League debut against South Shields that October, soon establishing himself as a regular for The Tigers and scoring twice in 21 appearances during his debut campaign. In his second game against Nottingham Forest, two days after his debut, Horne scored his first goal as well as setting up another for William Cowan in a 5-0 win. The Hull Daily Mail’s pseudonymous “Veritas” thought he “appear[ed] to be as promising as anyone. Though not exactly a flier, he is not easily put out of step, and capable of giving as much as he received; he also knows when to cross a ball to the benefit of those in the centre”. However in 1926-27 he managed just 5 further appearances, before he joined Southend United in May 1927.
A regular in The Shrimpers’ first team, such were his performances that after 10 goals in 32 appearances he was signed by Second Division Manchester City in the middle of March 1928, scoring twice in 7 appearances for The Citizens on their run in to the Second Division Championship. The following season however saw only 4 top flight appearances before Christmas, before he was sold to Preston North End for £2,000 in September 1929.
At Preston he was a regular during his first season, but then spent two seasons on the fringes of the first team, before joining Lincoln City, newly promoted to the Second Division, in June 1932. Although Lincoln were relegated in his second season at the club, towards the end of which he started playing for The Imps at right half, he was a central figure in their team that twice finished fourth and were to finish runners up in 1936-37. He was an ever present in 1934-35 and against Accrington Stanley in March 1935, he took a ball in the face followed by a tackle which left his face bloodied, but he returned after 13 minutes’ treatment and set up the only goal of the game for Tommy Robinson; two weeks later, the Daily Express dubbed him “the star of Lincoln attack” for creating two first half goals for Robinson against Stockport County. When he resumed his right half duties, the Lincolnshire Echo wrote that “on the team captain’s recent displays one can well imagine that the management wish they could play him in two or three positions at once, but he can be relied upon to continue a dominating figure at right half.”
He achieved the unusual feat of scoring a hat-trick of penalties in a 3-0 win over Stockport County in September 1935 in a season where he scored a career best 15 goals, finishing as the club’s second highest goalscorer (a long way) behind centre forward Johnny Campbell in what the Echo’s review called “his best season with the club so far. As captain, whether playing at right half or inside right, he was always an inspiration to his colleagues, and was far from being a captain only in name. At home and away he always put all the energy and great skill he possesses into the game, and while some other members of the attack were sometimes but a mere shadow of themselves on opponents’ grounds, he was always in the thick of the game.”
He transferred to Mansfield Town after 39 goals in 181 appearances for The Imps, where he linked up again with former Lincoln manager Harry Parkes, and spent two seasons with The Stags, scoring 9 goals in 48 appearances, before retiring in the summer of 1938 after helping Mansfield to win the Notts FA County Cup.