George Hardy is one of the few men to have been associated with both Spurs and Arsenal over the years in a backroom role. He served for over 15 years as trainer at each, this in the days when the coaching staff numbered barely a handful.
Arsenal were still based at Woolwich when he joined their training staff during July, 1910. By the time he left in February, 1927 he was right hand man to Arsenal boss and former Spurs player Herbert Chapman. In fact, it was a dispute with Chapman which led to his departure from Highbury, the manager taking offence when Hardy shouted some instructions from the touchline. Arsenal did reward him with a benefit game against the Corinthians on September 21, 1927 which raised £251.
Born at Newcastle, on February 20, 1877, Hardy lived in the Byker district and won several sprint handicaps during an athletics career which ended when an industrial accident robbed him of his left eye. That occurred on January 25, 1905 at the saw mill where he worked. He spent four years as an assistant trainer to Sandy McPherson at Newcastle United where future Spurs boss Peter McWilliam was a player.
Ironically, it was McWilliam’s departure which opened the way for Hardy to come to Tottenham. Billy Minter was promoted from trainer to manager and Hardy took over training duties in time for the 1927-28 campaign.
His role at the time included looking after the day to day running of the professional staff plus the players employed on the groundstaff. With the expansion of our Northfleet United nursery team in 1931 his duties increased further. Weekly Illustrated magazine dated August 29, 1936 featured a picture spread of George taking a group of young Northfleet players.
With White Hart Lane being selected to host international and inter league representative matches George was also called upon to act as trainer, a role he filled for England against Germany here in 1935 and Czechoslovakia two years later. He had fulfilled a similar role when Highbury staged an international versus Belgium back in 1923.
His favourite pastime outside of football was bowls which featured regularly amongst the activities of our players during their pre-season preparations. A member of the Bruce Castle Bowls Club, George won the London Public Parks Bowling Association pairs final at Hyde Park on July 31, 1936, along with one George Smith, and also played for Middlesex that year.
George passed away suddenly at Southend on January 2, 1947, aged 69. The Essex seaside town was a favourite venue for taking the players away to train and it was whilst preparing for the visit of West Bromwich Albion on January 4 that the team were there. Prior to the match our players, wearing black armbands, stood to attention while the band played his favourite hymn “Abide with me”.
A tribute to George appeared in the club programme for the visit of Stoke City a week later, including the following extract:
“Tottenham had good reason to be satisfied with the services rendered to them by Hardy. He had a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy, and he applied that knowledge to the great advantage of the players who were in his charge.
Hardy was a lovable character. Only those who knew him well, and were behind the scenes of his work, are able to appreciate him at his true worth. He was more than a trainer to the players. He was to them a firm and kindly friend, and he won the affection of all who went through his hands. His passing is mourned by all with whom he came in contact.”
The Hardy family connection continues to this day with his grandson Barry being a season ticket holder here at White Hart Lane.
By Andy Porter, Club Historian
Picture: (left to right) George Hardy with Willie Hall and Arthur Rowe