Bonhill, Dunbartonshire born inside forward Dan Bruce began his senior football career with Scottish League Vale of Leven in 1890, with whom he appeared in the 1890 Scottish Cup Final against Queen’s Park. The Final as scheduled finished as a 1-1 draw; in the replay, Bruce opened the scoring for Vale of Leven but Queen’s came back to win 2-1. Soon afterwards, and while still a teenager, Bruce was capped for Scotland. His first and what turned out to be his only international appearance came in a 5-0 win against Wales at Underwood Park, Paisley on 22nd March 1890. He moved to Glasgow Rangers in 1891 and played four games in the Scottish Football League at the start of the 1892-93 season, scoring five goals including scoring on his debut in a 4-0 win at Abercorn.
Bruce came to England in October that year to join Football League First Division club Notts County, making his Football League debut in a 2-2 draw against Bolton Wanderers on 6th October. Though relegated at the end of his first season despite 12 goals from Bruce, and failing to win promotion the next despite his 18 goal contribution, which included a hat-trick against Rotherham Town, they did become the first Second Division club to win the FA Cup. County beat four First Division sides to reach the 1894 FA Cup Final; Bruce scored once in the quarter-final, “scraping” a draw against local rivals Nottingham Forest, and twice more in the 4-1 replay win. Bruce had several chances to open the scoring in the Final at Goodison Park, but was foiled both by the Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper and by the woodwork; nevertheless, County went on to win 4-1.
County again went close to promotion in 1894-95, finishing Second Division runners up. Bruce scored 5 goals in a 10-0 demolition of Burslem Port Vale in February 1895, before joining Small Heath (now Birmingham City) in November 1895. In just over three years with The Magpies, Bruce scored 51 goals in exactly 100 appearances and scored at fractionally better than a goal every two games. The transfer fee of £100 made him the first player for whom Small Heath had paid a three figure fee but he failed to settle. He scored twice in the ten games he played for the club before he returned to Scotland, joining Perth in 1896 and Vale of Leven in 1897 before signing for St Mirren in November 1897, making only one appearance for The Buddies before being released in May 1898.