Blackpool, Lancashire born left half Josh Atkinson played all across the half back line during his career though perhaps most frequently at left half. Starting his football career with South Shore, he spent 1923-24 on the books of hometown Second Division club Blackpool, but didn’t make the breakthrough to their first eleven before joining First Division club Leeds United in May 1924, making his Football League debut at Huddersfield Town in January 1925. Understudy to Jim Baker and Willis Edwards, he made 53 appearances for Leeds over four seasons at Elland Road, nearly half of those coming in 1925-26 as Leeds toiled in the lower reaches of the division. He made only 11 appearances as they were relegated the next season and played only 5 matches as they were immediately promoted in 1928, before a move to Second Division club Barnsley in May of that year.
Atkinson enjoyed regular football at Oakwell, scoring twice in 63 appearances for The Tykes over the following two seasons, moving to Cheshire County League club Chester for £250 in June 1930. After The Seals finished divisional runners up in 1930-31, they were elected to the Third Division (North) in place of Nelson, and although he missed their inaugural League fixture, he played 7 matches in the late summer and autumn for Chester before a move to Lancashire Combination club Fleetwood in 1932, finishing his career with Cheshire County League club Macclesfield Town where he appeared regularly either at right half or centre half in 1933-34 before his retirement.