Safe and Steady Sam
I decided to draw up a basic family tree for my mother-in-law for her 50th birthday. I had remembered her talking about her grandad being friends with a famous footballer, Samuel Hardy, and that they were related, so I started to research their connection, although my efforts were unsuccessful.
Unperturbed, I challenged the members of Family Tree Forum on the Generations Game thread on the General Discussion Board, and sure enough, after two weeks of searching, they found the connection! It was, however, much more distant then my mother-in-law was led to believe.
Sam Hardy was born 26th August 1883 in Chesterfield. In 1903 he made his playing debut as goalkeeper for his local team, Chesterfield Town, but his talents were soon spotted, and was signed up by Liverpool Football Club for the sum of £500, just two years later. At the end of his first season the team won the Football League First Division Championship.
In 1907 he played his first international match for England, at Goodison Park, against Ireland, with England winning 1-0. He was to be the best goalkeeper of his generation, appearing 21 times for his country, and was known as ‘Safe and Steady Sam’.
He left Anfield for Aston Villa in 1912, subsequently helping the team win two FA Cup titles.
Sam served in the Royal Navy during World War One and at the end of hostilities returned to his club, Aston Villa, although in 1921 he transferred to Nottingham Forest and by the end of his first season they had won the Second Division title. It was an injury which forced his retirement in 1925, at the age of 42.
After his retirement he owned a hotel in Chesterfield and a billiard hall in nearby Alfreton. He died on 24th October 1966, aged 83.
I do need to do some more research into the hotel and billiard hall, although I’m thinking of leaving this to my mother-in-law as a challenge for when she retires. I have asked her about Sam and she has told me that he was a very down to earth man, quite unlike modern day football players.
However, the icing on the cake has been finding out that he played for Nottingham Forest, when all of her family are fans of the club.
© jennie 2008