Glasgow born inside left Johnny Ballantyne began his football career with Glasgow Ashfield in 1920 and was signed by Scottish League Partick Thistle in 1921, making his Scottish League debut that August in a 1-0 win against Clydebank. In the summer of 1924, he joined the trail of professionals making their living in the nascent game the other side of the pond when he moved to the United States, where he signed with the Boston Wonder Workers of the American Soccer League having scored 16 goals in 86 appearances for Thistle. His spell with Boston lasted four years and he returned to Thistle in August 1928 having scored 50 goals in 146 appearances for the Massachusetts club. Ballantyne played for Thistle until 1935 scoring 65 goals in 248 appearances, and in a description written at the time it was said of him that he “has that bit extra that divides the master from the useful player”…. “Ballantyne possesses a powerful shot and scores many spectacular goals; when in the mood he can make rings round the best…. He is indeed a bonny player.”
During his time with Thistle he reached the Scottish Cup Final in 1930, where they were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Rangers at Hampden Park in front of nearly 104,000 spectators. He was then selected to represent The Scottish League, playing in a 5-0 win over The Irish League at Firhill in October 1931. He also scored a hat-trick for Thistle in a 5-3 win over Cowdenbeath in March 1934.
After a brief spell at Falkirk, joining them in March 1935, he signed for Third Division (South) Queen’s Park Rangers in May 1935 and made his debut in a Third Division Cup match at Brighton and Hove Albion that October, scoring on his Football League debut in a 4-1 win at Northampton Town the next month. He was somewhat on the fringes during his two seasons at Loftus Road, scoring 3 goals in 27 appearances before retiring from professional football in 1937.