John was a familiar figure in Sydney football in the 1950s and 60s. He came from Melbourne where his father, Charlie Hardy (photographed left) was firstly a long term player with North Melbourne in their VFA days, then switched to Essendon in 1921 aged 34, the oldest player to make a debut in VFL. Hardy was so good, he was chosen to represent the VFL at Perth in the same year. He played for the Bombers until 1935 and is recognized as the oldest player, along with Dustin Fletcher, to play at Essendon. He then coached Coburg to two premierships in the VFA then switching back to Essendon as non-playing coach for three years before crossing the St Kilda for two seasons in the same role.
So John had a pretty good pedigree.
He was born at Essendon in 1927 and so wanted to follow in the foot-steps of his famous father. After lower school education at Essendon he went to St Kevins at Toorak then onto Melbourne University where he played with Uni Blacks, a great amateur club. An avid sportsman he was devastated when he broke a leg but the injury gave him more time to concentrate on his studies and he finished uni with a batchelor of science degree immediately gaining a position with a leading industrial firm in Melbourne.
By this time his dad was coaching Carlton 2nds, and justifiably so, John got a run. He won a few trophies but selectors were reluctant to choose him in the firsts, so much so that he almost had a mortgage on the 19th man spot – there was only one reserve in those days, no interchange. He is credited with eight games but in actual fact only played in one ‘run-on’ senior team.
John was transferred to Sydney and signed on with the North Shore Club in 1950. He won the club’s best and fairest 1950-52 and the Phelan Medal (league B & F) in 1951 with a massive 34 votes. John also represented. He played for NSW in 1950, 52 & 54 and Sydney in 1950-51 and is photographed on the right in the old North Shore FC jumper design.
Hardy became ensconced in football. He coached North in 1952 and 1954 and captain in 1952, 54 & 55. Then he took on the presidency from 1959-64 and after which he set about establishing the North Shore Junior Association, a task which took up so much of his time that it almost cost him his job.
Hardy not only worked for footy in and around the game he was also the ABC television’s Sydney football reporter in the late 1960s.
He died in Sydney in 1998 and is one person who officials could consider adding to the Sydney AFL Hall of Fame.