He was born in the little Lancashire town of Nelson, and became an inside-right of modest abilities; though Ireland nearly chose him once for an international match, in the mistaken belief that he was an Irishman. In later years he would say that he really learned about the game when he was playing for Fulham, and that the people whom he learned from were the Scottish professionals who were playing for Fulham at the time.
He did some coaching in Holland. Then, in 1912, the equally remarkable Hugo Meisl brought him to Vienna to coach the Austrians. Meisl was really the father of Austrian football. Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, it was perhaps his admiration for all things English which first caused him to play football for the Cricketers club. He was a fragile but apparently quite gifted inside-forward. So passionate was his interest in the game that his father, who felt that it was interfering with his business career, packed him off to the Italian port of Trieste, which was then in the Austrian empire. But Hugo was not a whit put out; he simply kept in regular correspondence with Johann Leute, one of the best Austrian footballers of the period. So when he returned to Vienna to become a leading figure in the Austrian Football Federation , he was well-informed on all that had gone on.
When Hogan got to Vienna, his first day's coaching was a disaster. As he told Hugo Meisl afterwards, in despair, he had shown the Viennese players what he always showed his pupils; but somehow, he had not put it across to them. Meisl thought he knew what was wrong, had a long talk with Hogan - and from that moment, as they say, the penny dropped. Hogan understood his Austrian pupils, his pupils understood him, and the basis for a long and famous association had been built.
Hogan taught the Austrians Scottish football; and they loved it. They were mostly well-educated young men from the University , and 'scientific' football appealed to them. They liked the idea of making steady, rhythmic progress by passing the ball along the ground, with such inevitability that a goal, at last, just had to be scored. Hogan told the story of how, strolling through the streets of Vienna one evening, he came across a group of young Austrians playing football, watched by a man who kept shouting at them, "Don't kick it, push it; don't kick it, push it!" This led to the attractive, flowing Vienna School of Football, the trouble with which was that, though it pleased the eye, it did not always bring results. To score goals, you sometimes have to forsake attractive football for direct methods.
However, Viennese football made very rapid progress under Hogan and Meisl, and soon they were capable of beating a strong Tottenham Hotspur side. One of the most popular early visits was made by Southampton , who were very adventurous tourists. They had a famous England international goalkeeper called Jack Robinson, and before one of the matches in Austria the Austrians insisted that he gave a goalkeeping exhibition. The rest of the Southampton players obligingly shot straight at him, but the Viennese crowd loved it, and for years after referred to a particularly fine save as a 'Robinsonade'.
In 1930, Austria's so-called wunderteam, under the tutelage of Hogan and playing what was once traditional Scottish football, held England to a 0-0 draw in Vienna. The following year, again in Vienna, it thrashed a Scottish team which unwisely went abroad without Rangers or Celtic players, 5-0.
In 1932, Hogan brought Austria to London for a famous match against England. In an exciting, see-sawing match, Austria lost 4-3, but deserved to win. Four days before the international, Hogan took his players to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea play Everton. Two of the game's finest centre-forwards, in their different ways, were playing: the burly Dixie Dean for Everton, the tiny, explosive Hughie Gallacher, for Chelsea. Each side, Hogan complained, simply banged the ball high and hopefully down the middle for the centre-forward: in almost every case the centre-half rose and headed it away again.
England's victory that day enabled the English game to ignore the writing on the wall, provided by defeats abroad which took place in the close season. "Wait till we get them on our English mud!" became the cry. But a time would come when foreign footballers lost their fear of London, learned how to shoot, and overcame even the English mud.
When the Great War broke out, Hogan was interned by the Austrians, but they soon released him, and he was able to coach not only there but in Hungary, where his methods were just as eagerly accepted. The Hungarians had already come a long way from the legendary day when an English goalkeeper had so little to do that he allegedly sat on the crossbar, smoking his pipe. They, like the Austrians, were naturally gifted ball players, and if the sturdy Danes so far led the field in European football, it would not be long before the Hungarians overtook them.
Curiously enough, Steve Bloomer, like Hogan, was also trapped in Europe when the war broke out - in Germany itself - and he too was allowed to stay and coach throughout the war. So British coaches took the game to the corners of the earth; but they found they were prophets without honour in their own country. Even Hogan would learn, to his painful surprise, that the British did not believe in coaching. They were far too thoroughly convinced that they were born footballers, while foreign players had to be made.