Alan Hardaker's education began at Constable Street Elementary School in Hull, and from there he was awarded a scholarship to Riley High School, leaving in 1928 with qualifications in typing and shorthand. He initially went into the family removals and haulage business, until 1929, when he was sacked by his own father for playing dominoes instead of working. He was able to use his qualifications to find immediate employment as an office junior in the Town Clerk's department at the Guildhall, Kingston upon Hull.
He met Irene Mundy when he was seventeen and she a year younger. They married eight years later in North Ferriby Church. They would go on to have four daughters and many grandchildren.
He had first taken up playing football at the High School, and so joined Municipal Sports F.C., the Guildhall team. He was sent off on one occasion during his time with them, for retaliation. Playing in the centre forward position, he scored one hundred goals in three seasons, although he claimed that most of these were only possible due to the quality of those playing alongside him.
After moving on to East Riding County League champions Beverley White Star F.C. (now defunct), he was invited by Hull City to play for their reserve side against Bradford Park Avenue's second string. He had been converted to full back by this time, and that was the position he took up for Hull City Reserves. From then on, he played for one or other of the teams on a regular basis for the next three seasons.