Midfield prompter Tommy Gardner joined Hull City in May 1932. He made his debut in an away defeat at Wrexham in early September and scored his first goal three days later in a 5-3 win at Stockport. His impact was immediate and in the 75 City senior matches that included and followed his debut, Gardner started 73 of them. As the Tigers advanced to promotion back to Division Two in 1932/33 Gardner’s reputation grew as a capable midfielder with a prodigiously long throw-in, and he carried this fine form into 1933/34. By February 1934 he was attracting the attention of First Division sides.
Born in Huyton, a suburb of Liverpool, Gardner played as a youngster for local side Orrell while working as a furniture van driver. He joined Liverpool as an amateur in July 1928 and signed professional terms for the Reds in April 1929, starting five senior matches in January and February 1930. He struggled to gain a foothold in the Liverpool first team and in June 1931 he transferred to First Division rivals Grimsby Town. A year later, after 13 league starts for the Mariners, he joined Hull City.
In February 1934 Gardner returned to the First Division, joining Aston Villa for a £4,500 fee. For the remainder of 1933/34 and throughout 1934/35 Gardner was a first team regular for the Villians. In August 1935 Gardner appeared in an instructional film produced by the FA to showcase exemplary football skills – Gardner’s lengthy throw-in featured in this masterclass. In 1935/36 Gardner managed only five league starts as Villa were relegated to the Second Division, only to bounce back as champions and FA Cup semi finalists in 1937/38. Gardner played just a handful of games for Villa in that promotion season and in April 1938 he switched to Second Divison rivals Burnley. Gardner missed only one match all season for the Clarets in 1938/39 before the Second World War applied an abrupt pause to Gardner’s Turf Moor career, although did make wartime guest appearances for Blackpool and Southport.
In December 1945 Gardner signed for Wrexham, breaking the Welsh club’s transfer fee record. While the Football League had not yet resumed Gardner was signed to play in Cup matches. He was a regular for Wrexham when the league did resume in 1946/47, but in Summer 1947 he joined non-league side Wellington Town. After two seasons at the Shropshire side, Gardner joined Oswestry Town as player-coach in 1949. He stayed with Oswestry for two seasons and spent a further two years playing for local league side Saltney on the Welsh border near Chester. Gardner was appointed trainer at Chester in 1953, a job he fulfilled for 14 years until 1967. After working as steward in the Chester FC social club, Gardner died in February 1970 after suffering heart trouble.
Tommy Gardner was capped twice for the England senior team against Czechoslovakia in May 1934 and Netherlands a year later. He was also selected for an FA XI tour of Austria over the summer months of 1934, and represented the Football League in a charity match in 1939. Much later, Tommy Gardner’s great-granddaughter Hannah Keryakoplis won international caps for Wales and played in the Womens’ Premier League.
Date/Place of Birth: 28 May 1910, Huyton
Hull City First Game: 7 September 1932, Wraxham A (Division Three North), 22 years, 102 days old
Hull City Final Game: 17 February 1934, Fulham H (Division Two), 23 years, 265 days old
Orrell (1926-1928), Liverpool (1928-1931), Grimsby Town (1931-1932), Hull City (1932-1934), Aston Villa (1934-1938), Burnley (1938-1945), Wrexham (1945-1947), Wellington Town (1947-1949), Oswestry Town (1947-1952), Saltney (1952-1954)
Hull City Record
Career: 73 apps, 2 goalsTommy Gardner