Player profile

Sam Hardy

Sam Hardy

Birthdate: 26 August 1882
Birthplace: Newbold, Chesterfield, England
Date of death: 24 October 1966
Other clubs: Newbold White Star (1899-1902), Chesterfield (1902-05), Aston Villa (1912-21); Plymouth Argyle, Nottingham Forest (wartime guest), Nottingham Forest (1921-25)
Bought from: Chesterfield Town
Signed for LFC: £340, May 1905
International debut: 16.02.1907 vs. Ireland
International caps: 21/0 (14/0 at LFC) - 10.04.1920
Liverpool debut: 21.10.1905
Last appearance: 06.04.1912
Contract expiry: 9 June 1912
Win ratio: 45.83% W:110 D:44 L:86
Honours: League Championship 1905/06
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 16 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 219 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 240 / 0

Player profile

"Hardy, I consider the finest goalkeeper I played against. By uncanny anticipation and wonderful positional sense he seemed to act like a magnet to the ball. I never saw him dive full length to make a save. He advanced a yard or two and so narrowed the shooting angle that forwards usually sent the ball straight at him." Legendary player and later co-founder of the Football Writers' Association, Charlie Buchan, had plenty of praise for Hardy's abilities.

Born a miner's son in a house on Highfield Lane, Sam first came to Chesterfield's attention as a member of the Newbold White Star side that beat their reserves in the 1902 Byron Cup final. Legend has it that, when manager Jack Hoskin was tipped off about Derby's reported interest in him, he rushed to sign Hardy, finally getting the man's signature under a lamp post in Newbold, but not until Hardy had forced Hoskin to increase his offer of five shillings (25p) a week to eighteen shillings (90p). His on-field performances reflected his character off it, for he was an even-tempered, down to earth man. Considering his great talents it was only a matter of time before he moved to a bigger club. Liverpool put six past Sam Hardy while he was in goal for Chesterfield in January 1905, but remembered that, but for Hardy, it would have been closer to twenty on the day. Accordingly, four months later the Reds came in with an offer of £300 plus a friendly, and the 22-year-old Hardy was on his way to greatness after keeping 30 clean sheets in 71 League appearances for Chesterfield. The friendly never took place, and Liverpool topped the fee up with another £40.


Hardy replaced Ned Doig, who had been the club's main 'keeper for the opening eight fixtures of the 1905/06 season. Liverpool had been struggling for consistency until that point, but Hardy's debut saw Forest beaten 4-1 and the Reds went on a terrific run, beating Middlesbrough 5-1, conquering champions Newcastle at St James' Park 3-2 and first-place Aston Villa were buried 3-0 at Anfield, Hardy saving a penalty from William Garratty. After only four games for the first team the joint Everton/Liverpool programme afforded Hardy the following praise: "Judging from the cool, yet effective, methods which he adopts in clearing his goal, we feel pretty well assured in prognosticating a successful future for this young player. He is fearless in stopping a rush, and remarkably agile in covering the goal space, and is equally at home with both high and low shots. When his first grueling afternoon comes, we trust Hardy will show himself a master of his craft." After winning nine out of ten games, Liverpool were top of the table at Christmas, one point ahead of Aston Villa and with a game in hand. Hardy and his strong defence keeping four clean sheets. Liverpool didn't falter and finished four points ahead of Preston. Liverpool had won the League Championship for the first time in Hardy's first season.

Ten-year-old by the name of Walter Dutton was so impressed by Hardy's performances in goal that he put together a little poem for publication in the Liverpool Football Echo in April 1906.

I know a good goalie called Hardy
And when the ball comes he's not tardy
He belongs to the 'Pool
And he's been to school
Has that jolly good goalie called Hardy

Walter was not the only youth in Liverpool whose imagination Hardy had captured as T. Ellis' story records in the same issue as the poem above: "While walking through one of our parks the other day I met a youngster about the age of three walking along by his father's side. 'Eh, daddy,' said he, 'there's Hardy.' 'Where and what Hardy?' asked the parent. 'There he is, daddy - him as keeps goal for the Reds.' The father looked and I looked in the direction indicated by the youngster's pointed finger, and there stood, between two piles of coats and caps, a ragged barefoot lad, about ten, engaged might and main in resisting the earnest attempts of other lads to force a penny soft indiarubber ball between the said piles of coats and caps. This is true."

Looking through old copies of Liverpool Echo, some curious facts about Hardy can be found. 

- He was a smoker. Here's a description of him after a game: "Silent Sam, enjoying his cigarette whilst having his after-the-match bath at Anfield, is a picture of contentment." When Hardy was missing from Liverpool's starting line-up against Blackburn on 10 September 1910, he was in the stands smoking away...

- Hardy was a pig-breeder on a very large scale in Chesterfield, clearly keeping himself busy outside of football.

- Was originally a centre-forward.


On 17 April 1911 Hardy got his much deserved benefit game when Liverpool faced Woolwich Arsenal at Anfield. The club and the Anfield crowd showed Hardy their appreciation: "Twenty thousand throats cheering the silent custodian to the echo. The band departed decorously, and the rival captains took the centre, Hardy proving fortunate with the coin, at which the generous crowd cheered again." Hardy was firmly first choice at Anfield for seven years until the 30-year-old was replaced by Scotsman Ken Campbell, ten years his junior, at the end of the 1911/12 season. Manager Tom Watson was clearly not afraid of putting his faith in his 'keepers while they were young. The Echo agreed with the management: "The change has been beneficial for the club, for whereas Hardy was beginning to show signs of inability to get to a shot with that electric speed that made him famous." Incidentally Hardy's last game for Liverpool was on 6 April 1912 against Aston Villa. Campbell's success and Hardy's denial to move into the city of Liverpool signalled the end of his Reds' career. Two months later he joined The Villains who paid £1,500 to Liverpool. Following his move Liverpool's board said they "were going to insist in future that their players should reside in the district." As in his debut season at Liverpool, Hardy was victorious in his first season with Villa. Villa won Sunderland 1-0 in the 1913 FA Cup final. Villa finished four points behind Sunderland in second place, but Liverpool with Ken Campbell in goal finished a disappointing twelfth. The following season Hardy suffered FA Cup heartache at the hands of his former team. Villa played Liverpool in the 1914 semi-final and Jimmy Nicholl scored two goals past Hardy. Liverpool had finally reached the final but lost 1-0 to Burnley. Hardy won a second FA Cup winners' medal in 1920, when Villa beat Huddersfield 1-0, but a year later he was on the move again after 183 games for the Villains.

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Hardy further cemented his reputation as a conqueror of penalty takers in September, November and December of 1906
by saving three penalties from Everton, Newcastle and Sheffield United.

In 1921 he took over the pub Gardener's Arms on Glumangate in Chesterfield. His return to town fuelled fierce speculation that Chesterfield were going to sign him for their impending return to the Football League, but Villa, who had upset the player by insisting that he travel every day to Birmingham to train, were not taken in by Chesterfield's suggestion that a free transfer might be a fitting reward for his services. Villa got £1,000 from Nottingham Forest for him as the season started which was a gamble considering Hardy was a few days short of his thirty-ninth birthday. Of course, Hardy became a key member of Forest's team, helping them to promotion to the First Division in his first season. He paid scrupulous attention to his fitness which allowed him to keep playing in the top flight until just before his forty-third birthday, in an era when most players were clapped out at thirty. Hardy played 109 games for Forest before retiring in May 1925. He played 551 League games in 22 years and would have played many more if WWI had not intervened where he served in the Navy. He won one Championship medal and two FA Cup winners' medals in his brilliant career.

"Safe and Steady Sam" was one of the outstanding English goalkeepers of his time. He made 21 England appearances between 1907 and 1920, at a time when England usually played only three games a season and the nation went to war for four years. Any keeper enjoying a fourteen-year spell as his country's first-choice at the end of the twentieth century would have earned around 140 caps, knocking Peter Shilton's record easily of its perch. Hardy won his last and twenty-first international cap for England against Scotland on 10 April 1920. England beat the Scots 5-4.

"I liked Ray Clemence but he wasn’t as good a goalkeeper as Sam Hardy."
Bob Evans, a Liverpool fan of 76 years in the 1983 Liverpool annual

Sam Hardy was a man of strong principles and was aware of the good that a man of his profile could do towards improving the lot of his fellow professionals; accordingly, he became a prominent member of the PFA. Hardy was also a hotelier in Chesterfield and ran his own billiard hall in Alfreton in Derbyshire. Sam died in Chesterfield on 24 October 1966.

Appearances per season

Please note

Special thanks to Chesterfield FC historian Stuart Basson for allowing us to use his research into Sam Hardy's life and times before and after Liverpool. Contrary to popular belief Sam was born in 1882 not 1883. Mr. Basson was shown a copy of Sam Hardy's birth certificate by a relative of Sam's who was doing the family's history.

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 219 20 0 0 1 240
1905-1906 30 5 0 0 1 36
1906-1907 34 4 0 0 0 38
1907-1908 33 4 0 0 0 37
1908-1909 32 2 0 0 0 34
1909-1910 32 1 0 0 0 33
1910-1911 27 2 0 0 0 29
1911-1912 31 2 0 0 0 33

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
14 Middlesbrough
13 Newcastle United
13 Everton
12 Arsenal
12 Notts County
12 Bury
12 Aston Villa
11 Sunderland
11 Sheffield United
11 Blackburn Rovers
11 Sheffield Wednesday
10 Nottingham Forest
10 Manchester United
10 Preston North End
10 Bristol City
9 Manchester City
9 Bolton Wanderers
7 Bradford City
6 Tottenham
6 Birmingham City
6 Chelsea
3 Oldham Athletic
3 Derby
3 Stoke City
2 Brighton & Hove Albion
2 WBA
2 Wolves
1 Leicester City
1 Fulham
1 Brentford
1 Barnsley
1 Corinthians
1 Gainsborough Trinity
1 Leyton
1 Lincoln City
1 Southampton
1 Norwich City
Total Competition
219 League
20 FA Cup
1 Sheriff of London Charity Shield

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 21.10.1905 Nottingham Forest Anfield League
50 24.11.1906 Aston Villa Anfield League
100 08.02.1908 Sunderland Roker Park League
150 25.09.1909 Sunderland Anfield League
200 18.03.1911 Preston North End Deepdale League

Related Articles

Alex Raisbeck wants to leave Liverpool! - Chapter IV

Only two years had passed since Liverpool won the League Championship for the very first time, yet Raisbeck wanted to taste pastures new and ahead was a monumental struggle for the Reds.More

Liverpool capture Hardy

From the Liverpool Daily Post on 19 May 1905.More

Young Scot makes his bow

An excerpt from the Daily News on 21 May 1921.More

Kenneth Campbell continues his life story – Chapter 2

Scottish keeper, Kenny Campbell, told his life story in the Weekly News. Chapter two was published on 14 May 1921.More

The thoughts of Sam Hardy

Published on 2 December 1909.More

The outlook – changes and revisions (by Sam Hardy, Aston Villa)

Published in the Tamworth Herald on 7 September 1912.More

1901-1906: A rise from 2nd division to the title!

In 1904 Liverpool had been relegated to 2nd division only three years after winning the title for the first time. Liverpool were on their way to an amazing success!More

Related Quotes

"I liked Ray Clemence but he wasn’t as good a goalkeeper as Sam Hardy."

Bob Evans, a Liverpool fan of 76 years in the 1983 Liverpool annual

Will be recorded in football history as one of the greatest goalkeepers the game has known, and although Tim Williamson "kept" for England in fine style last season, Hardy was well worth his place in his country's team this season despite the continued brilliance of his Middlesbrough rival. Originally a centre forward, he joined Liverpool in the 1905-6 season, and possesses ten international caps, having played against Scotland on four occasions, Wales three, and a like number of games against Ireland.

Sam Hardy was previewed in the Fulham match programme ahead of the Cottagers' duel with Liverpool in the 2nd round of the FA Cup on 3rd of February 1912.

"Of course, I was introduced to Sam Hardy. He greeted me very kindly, like the splendid fellow he is. “Glad to meet you, young ‘un,’ he said: “hope you like Liverpool, and I wish you all success.” I was proud to meet the man I had heard so much about, and there should be no need to tell you that it was on him I focused my eyes during the whole of that game at Bolton. What a great player he is, was my impression. I watched him carefully, and am not ashamed to own that I learned thoroughly one or two things which have been helpful to me in my career. I noticed, for instance, that there was no gallery play with Sam. He had an unerring eye, and if a ball was going past the upright he made no wild grab at nothing. He simply stood still and watched it go by with the tail of his optic. The same when a high ball came in. Sam didn’t make a jump upwards and catch the bar, as is the fashion of many goalkeepers. An upward glance told him the flight of the ball, and he stood as unconcerned as though the ball had been in midfield. To me his intuition seemed extraordinary. He seemed to place himself right in the spot where a shot was to come in, and by so doing was able to clear his lines with the least possible fuss. Frankly, my ideas of goalkeeping underwent a change, and, although I had a fairly respectable reputation as a ‘keeper at that time, my own feelings were that I was but a tyro. And right here just let me say that I was indebted to Sam for many valuable tips during his term at Anfield while I was there."

Kenneth Campbell on Sam Hardy

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Newbold White Star 1899-1902 East Derbyshire League N/A N/A N/A N/A
Chesterfield 1902-1903 England Second Division 5 0 5 0
Chesterfield 1903-1904 England Second Division 32 0 35 0
Chesterfield 1904-1905 England Second Division 34 0 37 0
Aston Villa 1912-1913 England First Division 33 0 39 0
Aston Villa 1913-1914 England First Division 30 0 35 0
Aston Villa 1914-1915 England First Division 37 0 39 0
Aston Villa 1919-1920 England First Division 34 0 40 0
Aston Villa 1920-1921 England First Division 25 0 30 0
Nottingham Forest 1921-1922 England Second Division 32 0 34 0
Nottingham Forest 1922-1923 England First Division 37 0 41 0
Nottingham Forest 1923-1924 England First Division 24 1 24 1
Nottingham Forest 1924-1925 England First Division 9 0 9 0
Total 332 1 368 1
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