Birdwell, near Barnsley, Yorkshire born wing half Herod “Harry” Ruddlesdin began his football career with local junior club Birdwell in 1897 and joined Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 1898, making his Football League debut against Nottingham Forest the same September. He soon slotted into the half-back line as a first choice, being able to play equally well on either wing. His first season saw The Wednesday relegated to the Second Division, but in 1899-1900 he was an ever present as Wednesday regained their place in the top flight, claiming the Second Division Championship by two points over Bolton Wanderers. During the period from his debut on 10th September 1898 through to 23rd March 1901, Ruddlesdin played every match, an unbroken run of 100 games.
Back in the First Division, Ruddlesdin formed a settled half-back line alongside Tommy Crawshaw and Bob Ferrier, who between them hardly missed a match over the next four seasons, as Wednesday took the League Championship in 1902-03 and again the following season. He was also twice an FA Cup semi finalist with The Wednesday, being part of their teams that lost to eventual winners Manchester City in 1904, and finalists Newcastle United in 1905.
Ruddlesdin made his first appearance for England playing alongside Crawshaw in a 2-2 draw with Wales at Wrexham on 29th February 1904. Both Ruddlesdin and Crawshaw retained their places for the next match, against Ireland at Cliftonville Gardens, Belfast two weeks later, which ended in a 3-1 victory, with Alf Common scoring twice.
Ruddlesdin’s final international appearance came the following year in a 1-0 victory over Scotland at The Crystal Palace. By now, illness was beginning to restrict Ruddlesdin’s appearances for Wednesday, and although he made a recovery for 1905-06, his health soon deteriorated. Although he attempted a comeback, first with Wednesday and then with Southern League Northampton Town, joining them in May 1908, it “soon became apparent that he was no longer up to the rigours of full time football” and he retired in August 1908 suffering from tuberculosis. Ruddlesdin never recovered and died on 26th March 1910 at the age of only 33.
A younger brother, William, played 11 times for Barnsley in 1906-07, and two nephews, Frank and Arthur, played for Barnsley either side of the First World War, Frank played once before the War and Arthur 4 matches after the War, he also scored 12 goals in 30 appearances for Swindon Town in the early mid 1920’s.
NB in the photograph Ruddlesdin plays for England against Scotland at The Crystal Palace on 1st April 1905.