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Harold Norman Horder (1894–1978)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Harold Norman Horder (1894-1978), footballer, was born on 23 February 1894 at Surry Hills, Sydney, fourth surviving son of Charles Horder, machinist and sometime professional runner, and his wife Ellen, née McBride, both native born. Harold went to Albion Street Superior Public School, leaving in 1907 to join the Government Printing Office, where he worked for over ten years.

Following his brother Clarence, later also a representative footballer, into South Sydney Kinkora junior Rugby League team, Horder represented Souths in the under-21 President's Cup in 1911 and also in 1912, when in his first-grade début for the 'Rabbitohs' he scored a sensational length-of-the-field try. In September the Referee reported the meteoric rise of the young inside centre—more orthodox than Messenger, resembling 'in his dodging and swerving runs' A. S. Spragg. A 'finely built, well-balanced athlete', Horder weighed 9 st. 7 lb. (60 kg); later his playing weight was about 10 st. 9 lb. (67 kg) when he was normally a winger.

He toured New Zealand with New South Wales in 1913. Horder contributed to Souths winning the premiership in 1914 and 1918. During the war he served with the naval reserve. In 1913-24 he represented his State against England five times, Queensland seven times and New Zealand five times. First picked for Australia in June 1914 against Wagstaffe's touring English side, he did not shine. But in 1920 he played in all tests against England, and went to Britain with the third Kangaroos in 1921-22, again playing in all tests; with 35 tries and 11 goals (127 points) he was leading scorer on the tour.

By 1919 Horder was a steward at the New South Wales Leagues Club. He also worked as a labourer and a plasterer's assistant. In 1920 he left Souths, joining North Sydney at a retainer of 30s. per week. With Cecil Blinkhorn and Duncan Thompson he was responsible for the 'Shoremen' winning the premiership in 1921 (with Horder as captain) and 1922 (when he was vice-captain); up to 1982 Norths have never repeated this success. He returned to Souths in 1924 and played in two tests against England. In November, promised a job as a traveller for the Perdriau rubber company, he moved to Brisbane, where he was captain-coach of Coorparoo Club in 1925-27. He represented Queensland against New Zealand in 1925 and continued playing club football until he injured his knee in 1926. In 1928-30 he was a referee.

A motor-vehicle salesman in Sydney from 1935, Horder returned to Brisbane in 1937 and was a salesman with Moreton Rubber Works, then with Hirmac Remoulds. For about ten years he was a clerk with Brown's Transport, retiring in 1960. He was a keen bowler with East Brisbane and Coorparoo clubs. He had married Ruby Anne Clay (d.1975), a book-sewer, at St Pius Catholic Church, Enmore, Sydney, on 8 January 1916. Survived by his son, he died at South Brisbane on 21 August 1978 and was cremated.

Although not a robust defender, Horder was one of the greatest attacking wingers of the code, and a good goal-kicker. He rarely used the short kick. His speed off the mark, side-step off either foot and hare-like swerves left worthy opponents flabbergasted and 'gave the League game a splash of the spectacular'; he was a main reason for it consolidating its appeal as the top winter game in Sydney by the 1920s. A showman, after scoring a try Horder would 'trot back jauntily, like a peacock with feathers preened'. The mob loved it; they called him the 'wonder winger'.

Select Bibliography

  • ‘Redcap’, Queensland Rugby League Annual, 1927
  • Rugby League Annual (NSW), 1928
  • Referee, 18 Sept 1912
  • Brisbane Telegraph, 27 Mar, 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Apr, 7, 14, 21, 28 May, 4, 11, 19, 26 June 1949
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Aug 1978
  • private information.

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Horder, Harold Norman (1894–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 27 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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