Born in Newcastle, John's playing career began with Bishop Auckland in their distinguished amateur days, when he was spotted by Arsenal and brought to Highbury in November 1956. In seven years with The Gunners he played 138 leagues games, scoring 23 goals and winning honours at England youth and Under-21 levels.
In March 1963 he was transferred to Nottingham Forest, where he played 178 matches (plus eight as a substitute) over six years, scoring a further 22 goals.
John played briefly for Sheffield United in 1970, scoring twice in nine games, but persistent ankle problems, which had begun at Forest , combined with a knee injury, forced him into playing retirement.
John joined Noel Cantwell as a coach at Peterborough United, taking over as manager in 1974-75 and during his stay, The Posh were promoted to the Third Division, missing a further promotion to Division Two only on goal average. John terminated his contract with the club over their transfer policy in 1978 but within a very short space of time he was snapped up by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
He enjoyed a successful spell at Molineux, which included victory over his old club Forest in the 1980 League Cup.
Unfortunately, a serious motor accident kept John hospitalised for a lengthy period but he made a full recovery and in the 1981-82 season he moved to Greece to take up a management post with AEK Athens, where he spent two years coaching.
After a break, John returned to management in England and had spells with Notts County , who he immediately took to the play-offs, and then with Walsall and Northampton before retiring from football management.
John was appointed to the post of Chief Executive in August 1996 and has raised the profile of the LMA to an unprecedented level since taking up the position. His ideas and enthusiasm continue to drive the organization forward and the combination of his considerable playing and managerial experience has helped John to be widely recognized and accepted as "the voice" of professional football managers.
John has worked tirelessly and it is largely as a result of his energy and ambition that the organisation now holds a seat on almost every one of football's decision-making bodies and is respected for the level of professionalism and expertise that is able to bring to the table.
He worked diligently to introduce a Code of Conduct for managers which has proved highly valuable and successful and he has instituted agreements to ensure that no manager need worry about his rights under his contract.