George Hedley was born in South Bank, Middlesbrough on 20th July 1876. He played local football before joining Sheffield United in 1897. At the time the team contained a lot of talented players including William Foulke, Ernest Needham and Walter Bennett.
Sheffield United won the First Division championship of the Football League in the 1897-1898 season. The club struggled the following year in the league but the team beat Derby County in the 1899 FA Cup Final.
With William Foulke in goal and Needham organizing the defence, Sheffield United was a very difficult team to play against and in the 1899-1900 season they once again had the best defensive record in the league. The club finished in second place to Aston Villa.
On 9th March, 1901, Hedley won his first and only international cap. The English team included Ernest Needham, C. B. Fry and John Robinson. England beat Ireland 3-0 but he failed to score and was not selected again.
The following season Hedley was a member of the Sheffield United team that reached the 1901 FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur. Hedley and the other players were on a £10 win bonus. However, the Southern League side was on a promise of £25 a man if they won the cup. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. However, Spurs won the replay 3-1.
Hedley was also a member of the Sheffield United team that played Southampton in the 1902 FA Cup Final. Sheffield took an early lead but Southampton scored a controversial equalizer and the game was drawn. C. B. Fry wrote in the Southern Echo: "The outstanding feature of the match was the grand goalkeeping of Foulke. he made a number of good saves, and on two or three occasions cleared the ball from what appeared impossible positions. Once, near the end, from a corner, he effected an absolute miracle with four or five men right on to him."
William Foulke was furious that the equalizing goal had been given after the game he went searching for the referee. The linesman, J. T. Howcroft, described how Frederick Wall, secretary of the Football Association, tried to placate the goalkeeper: "Foulke was exasperated by the goal and claimed it was in his birthday suit outside the dressing room, and I saw F. J. Wall, secretary of the FA, pleading with him to rejoin his colleagues. But Bill was out for blood, and I shouted to Mr. Kirkham to lock his cubicle door. He didn't need telling twice. But what a sight! The thing I'll never forget is Foulke, so tremendous in size, striding along the corridor, without a stitch of clothing."
Walter Bennett was injured and could not take part in the replay. He was replaced by the young William Barnes on the wing. The game was only two minutes old when a massive clearing kick by William Foulke reached George Hedley and Sheffield United took an early lead. Led by the outstanding Ernest Needham, Sheffield dominated play but Albert Brown managed to score a equalizer. Southampton began to apply pressure but according to the Athletic News, "Foulke was invincible". With ten minutes to go, Needham took a shot that the Southampton goalkeeper, John Robinson, could only block, and Barnes was able to hit the ball into the unguarded net. Sheffield won 2-1 and Hedley had won another medal.
After the game George Hedley was transferred to the defeated finalists. During his time at Sheffield United he had scored 34 goals in 120 matches.
Hedley returned to the Football League when he signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1908. Wolves enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup in the 1907-08 season. They beat Bury (2-0), Swindon Town (2-0), Stoke City (1-0) and Southampton (2-0) to reach the final against Newcastle United. Newcastle had just finished 4th in the First Division during this season, and after two successive league titles they were hot favourites to win the cup against their Second Division opponents. It was also Newcastle's third FA Cup final appearance in 4 years.
Newcastle United had the vast majority of the possession but couldn't penetrate the Wolves defence. After 40 minutes a poor clearance went straight to Kenneth Hunt, the Wolves right-half. Jim Lawrence, the Newcastle goalkeeper, got a hand the Hunt's tremendous shot but could not keep it out of the net. Soon afterwards George Hedley scored a second. In the second-half, Newcastle's constant pressure resulted in a goal for Jimmy Howie. Just before the end, Wolves broke away and Billy Harrison added a third.
The team was in the Second Division at the time and despite Hedley scoring 65 goals in a 193 games he was unable to help them gain promotion to the First Division. Hedley retired from professional football in 1912.
George Hedley died in 1942.