Sam Hardy (Liverpool, Aston Villa)
Samuel ‘Silent Sam’ Hardy was born on August 26, 1882, in Newbold, England. In 1902, Chesterfield manager Jack Hoskin had beaten Derby County to sign Hardy under a lamppost in Newbold. A wise character, Hardy signed the forms when Hoskin promised to pay him 18 shillings when the initial bid was 5. Hardy soon rose to fame, and it wasn’t long before he started to attract the attention of top clubs in the country.
Liverpool manager Tom Watson liked Hardy’s performance despite conceding so many goals in their 6-1 win at Anfield 2nd Division. After 77 matches, 30 of which Hardy admitted, Watson approached Chesterfield and Hardy and signed him to a £500 contract in May 1905. After Ned Doig started the season as No. 1, Hardy took the field in a league match against Nottingham Forest at Anfield on October 21, 1905, as Liverpool won 4-1, and Hardy would later establish himself as the No. 1 in the Reds. By the end of his first season, Liverpool had won their second title in five years. Hardy played in 30 league and 5 cup games in the 1905–06 season, with the Reds beating Preston North End by two points, four points on the system.
Hardy became one of the best goalkeepers of his generation for the next few seasons, earning himself the nickname ‘Safe and Steady Sam’ when he was allowed to leave Anfield in 1912. He made 239 appearances for the Reds for £1500 when he went to Aston Villa, where they won two FA Cups in 1913 and 1920.
Like many other professionals, his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. Hardy became a member of the Professional Footballers’ Association in 1921. After playing 183 matches, he left Villa and joined Nottingham Forest for £1,000. He was 40 years old when he helped win the Second Division title at the end of his first season at the club in 1922. He played 102 times for Forest before the injury ended his career.
In 1907, Hardy made his international debut against Ireland at Goodison Park, with England winning 1-0. Hardy has been England’s leading goalkeeper in 21 appearances over 14 years.
Hardy was a relative of Nottingham Forest manager Stan Hardy. His son Jack, grandson Sam, nephew Edgar, and cousins Ernest and Harry also became football players.