Billy Hardy (footballer)
Hardy began his career at his hometown club Bedlington United before moving to Scotland with Hearts quickly followed by a one-year spell at Stockport County. In 1911 he signed for Cardiff City for a fee of £25, which was paid by manager Fred Stewart, and it was there his career flourished. Having joined the club when they were playing in the Southern League he was an ever present for the next decade before Cardiff joined the Football League in 1920. His first ever match in the Football league was against his former side Stockport County and he was the club's only ever-present player in the 1920-21 season.
Incredibly Hardy continued to be ever-present in the following decade for the Bluebirds, including both of their FA Cup final appearances in 1925 and 1927. Instantly recognisable - he was stocky and practically bald from an early age - he played his last ever game for Cardiff in March 1932 in a 1-0 win over Gillingham at the age of 41 and when he left the club he had played in a total of 585 first team games. After leaving Cardiff he joined Bradford Park Avenue as a coach, later managing the Yorkshire club between March 1934 to April 1936.
Despite his unquestionable ability Hardy was never selected for the England national football team. It was often thought he was denied an international cap because he played for a Welsh team.
Hardy's long career with Cardiff established him as a hero in the town. Described by a local newspaper as "the idol of all South Wales," it was said that when he appeared on a newsreel shown in Cardiff cinemas, the audience cheered for 10 minutes.
Following his retirement he ran the Dolphin Hotel in Somerset until 1949 when he emigrated with his wife Olive to Tasmania where he ran a grocery store. They returned to Cardiff in February 1963 eventually moving to Teignmouth in Devon. Hardy died in March 1981 in Iver, Buckinghamshire at the age of 89.
Hardy still remains as Cardiff City's record appearance holder with 590 appearances over all competitions.