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GCR Books

Wally Hardinge, played in Arsenal’s first Highbury game, and a top cricketer too.

By Tony Attwood

Wally Hardinge has already had one reference on this site – for he played in a match on 23 September 1912 for Sheffield United.

Harold Thomas William Hardinge, to give him his full name, was born 25 February 1886, and died in Cambridge on 8 May 1965.  He was not only an Arsenal man, he was also an England international, and played cricket for Kent and England.

He started out in first class cricket aged 16 and scored 33,519 runs.  He played in one Test match against the Australians.  In 1913 he scored four consecutive centuries.  He also bowled and took 371 wickets – and was Cricketer of the Year in 1915.

But moving back to football he played inside forward, moving from Kent to Newcastle United in 1905.  After just nine games in nearly three years he went to Sheffield United for £350 and scored 50 goals in 150 games, as well as getting an England game against Scotland in 1910.

He joined Woolwich Arsenal in the summer of 1913, signed by George Morrell – so as I write this we are just coming up to 100 years anniversary of his arrival.

Arsenal had just had the worst ever season being relegated at the end of the 1912/13 season, but were now set to open up in the second division at Highbury, moving grounds in the summer.  Indeed he played in Woolwich Arsenal’s first-ever game at Highbury, the 2-1 win over Leicester Fosse on 6 September 1913.

After the next two seasons Wally Hardinge served as a CPO in the Royal Navy, and then after the war played one more season for Arsenal’s first team.  He continued in the reserves however until 1921 playing a total of 55 first team matches and scoring 14 goals.  He also made 70 wartime appearances for Woolwich Arsenal FC.

After retiring from both cricket and football, Wally worked as a sales rep for John Wisden & Co the cricket manual publishers.  He also went and worked as a coach for Tottenham Hotspur, having responsibility for the reserves, and was also caretaker manager of the first team in 1935 for a short spell.

Harold Thomas William Hardinge

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