Les Hart

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For the South Australia politician, see Les Hart (politician).
Les Hart
Personal information
Full name John Leslie Hart
Date of birth (1917-02-28)28 February 1917
Place of birth Ashton-in-Makerfield, England
Date of death 20 August 1996(1996-08-20) (aged 79)
Place of death Bury, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Playing position Right-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1936–1953 Bury 280 (2)
Total 280 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

John Leslie 'Les' Hart[1] (28 February 1917 – 20 August 1996) was a professional footballer who has an association with one club, Bury F.C. for 44 years.

Early career[edit]

Hart was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield and started his footballing career at Earlstown White Star. He was quickly scouted and a number of clubs were after his signature including Liverpool but he signed for Bury, starting a career which would last until 1980 in various roles.

He took over the right-back position from Irish International Bill Gorman. He made his debut against Tottenham on 17 December 1936. Hart would become Bury's Captain for 12 seasons and in 1948/49 season he skippered a side that found themselves four points clear as leaders of Division 2.

His career spanned the era of footballing greats including Tom Finney, Sir Stanley Matthews, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Frank Swift. He completed his football coaches badges and physiotherapy qualifications over a period at Lillishall in preparation for his retirement from playing which came after the 1953/54 season. Although his career shows 265 appearances for Bury, he also made over 200 appearances during the war years of 1939-45. After quitting from playing, he worked at Bury as first team trainer/coach, and became the club's physiotherapist. Leeds United offered him a position as head coach but he turned it down to stay at Bury.[1]

In season 1969/70 he was asked to take up the position of manager and he steered the club to a record 8-0 win against Tranmere Rovers. In 1971 he reverted to his job as physiotherapist. Les retired on 29 March 1980 after 44 years at one club, Les decided the time was right to look after his wife May, who had suffered from ill health for some time.[1]


Hart died on 20 August 1996, but he had never received any formal recognition during his lifetime from Bury. There had not been a testimonial game in his honour, but the National Football Museum in Preston staged an exhibition and displayed his ashes in their hall of fame as a tribute to Les and his 44 years association with one Club.[1] Stanley Matthews called him the best sliding tackler he had played against. On 17 January 2010, the South Stand at Gigg Lane was renamed The Les Hart Stand.


  1. ^ a b c d The Les Hart Files buryfc.co.uk Archived 4 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.