Alfreton, Derbyshire born centre half Shirley Abbott began his football career with hometown club Alfreton Town in 1910 before spending 1910-11 on the books of Sheffield Wednesday, where he didn’t make a first team appearance. He joined Second Division Derby County in 1911, making his Football League debut at Huddersfield Town in January 1912 in what would be his only appearance for The Rams, in a season where they won the Second Division Championship.
He joined Southern League Portsmouth in the summer of 1913, and played for them both sides of the First World War, during which he served and rose to the rank of Sergeant in the Royal Sussex Regiment. After the War he was part of Portsmouth’s 1919-20 Southern League Championship winning team, making 15 appearances and scoring twice during the campaign. He then played in Portsmouth’s inaugural Football League match, a 3-0 home win over Swansea Town in August 1920, and established himself as a regular in the Pompey team during their first three League seasons. By the time he joined Queen’s Park Rangers in the summer of 1923, he had scored 3 times in 100 appearances in addition to 3 goals in 43 Southern League and FA Cup games before Pompey became a League club.
He stayed a single season at Loftus Road making only 12 appearances for The R’s before returning to Derbyshire to join Chesterfield in 1924, where he played regularly until losing his place in the summer of 1927, playing only 10 more games for The Spireites in 1927-28 before retiring after 5 goals in 125 appearances for them. After his retirement from playing in 1928 he also took over as first team trainer at Chesterfield.