Rutherglen, Lanarkshire born winger John Borland began his football career with Rutherglen Glencairn in 1921 and joined Scottish League Raith Rovers in 1922, moving to Kilmarnock in 1923 and to Hamilton Academical in 1925 having played on loan at Cowdenbeath in 1924. He moved south of the border to join Third Division (South) Charlton Athletic in 1927, making his Football League debut against Coventry City in January 1928, scoring a debut goal in a 2-1 victory. But after only 6 further appearances he moved on to Merthyr Town in the 1928 close season, where he was a near ever present in 1928-29, missing only one game and scoring 3 times in 43 matches.
Nonetheless he again moved on, this time to Southend United in the summer of 1929, for whom he scored 3 goals in 21 appearances in 1929-30 before returning to Scottish football with Alloa Athletic in 1930. He returned to Rutherglen Glencairn in 1931 and finished his career with Stenhousemuir, whom he joined in 1932.