Hardy played with North Melbourne in the VFA for over a decade where he formed a strong ruck combination with Syd Barker. At just 157 cm and 54 kg Hardy is one of the smallest players to ever play at a top level. He captained the club in 1914, and served as a brilliant rover helping North to premiership victories in 1910, 1914, 1915 and 1918. He was also a member of the famous "invincibles" side that went undefeated in a record 58 games. Hardy left the club along with many of his teammates upon the temporary disbanding of North Melbourne in 1921, and joined Essendon in the VFL.
Hardy made his senior VFL debut in Round 10 of the 1921 season he was aged 34 and became the oldest player in the history of the league to make his debut. In 1921 he also represented Victoria at the Perth Carnival. Hardy continued to be a leading player for Essendon, playing in both the 1923 and the 1924 premiership teams. Hardy retired at the end of the 1925 VFL season, aged 38, becoming the oldest player to play a VFL match for Essendon.
Hardy started his coaching career at VFA club Coburg and coached them to premierships in 1926 and 1927, the club's first two. This effort saw him rejoin Essendon in 1928 as their non playing coach and he spent three years in this role with the Bombers, narrowly missing the finals on each occasion. In 1931 he crossed to St Kilda and was coach for two seasons, with little success.