Frederick Hargreaves was born in Blackburn on 16th August, 1858. On 5th November 1875, two friends, John Lewis and Arthur Constantine, organized a meeting at the St Leger Hotel in Blackburn to discuss the possibility of establishing a football club in the town. Seventeen men attended the meeting and it was decided to establish the Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
Fred Hargreaves and Jack Hargreaves, who both worked in the legal profession, became important figures at the club. They had both played football for Malvern College and advocated that Blackburn Rovers adopted the quartered shirt design of their school shirts. However, they suggested that the traditional green should be changed to the light blue worn by the Cambridge University football team.
Other players in the team included, Doctor Greenwood and Jimmy Brown. In 1880 the club signed Hugh McIntyre, Fergie Suter and Jimmy Douglas from Scotland. This made them one of the best teams in England.
Hargreaves, who played at wing-half, won his first international cap for England against Wales on 15th March, 1880. England won the game 3-2. He also played against Wales the following year, this time England lost 1-0. He won his third cap against Ireland on 18th February 1882. Also playing in that game were fellow Blackburn players, Jimmy Brown and Doctor Greenwood. England won the game 13-0.
In 1882, Blackburn Rovers became the first provincial team to reach the final of the FA Cup. Their opponents was Old Etonians who had reached the final on five previous occasions. However, Blackburn had gone through the season unbeaten and was expected to become the first northern team to win win the game. Doctor Greenwood was injured the team included five players who had won international caps, Fred Hargreaves, Jimmy Douglas, John Hargreaves, Hugh McIntyre and Jimmy Brown.
Fred Hargreaves was captain that day. The Old Etonians scored after eight minutes and despite creating a great number of chances, Blackburn was unable to obtain an equalizer in the first-half. Early in the second-half George Avery was seriously injured and Blackburn Rovers was reduced to ten men. Despite good efforts by Jimmy Brown, Jack Hargreaves and John Duckworth, Rovers were unable to score.
Fred Hargreaves was an amateur player and stopped playing for Blackburn Rovers when it began to rely more and more on professional players.