Spennymoor, County Durham born centre forward Johnny Dent began his football career with Spennymoor Rangers in 1921 and played for Tudhoe United in 1922 and Thornley Albion in 1923 before, still an amateur, signing for local Third Division (North) club Durham City in December 1923, making his Football League debut the same month against Doncaster Rovers, scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory. He had three seasons with Durham City, during which time he also played for Tow Law Town in 1924, and was their top goalscorer in 1925-26 with 19 goals in the campaign.
Having scored 29 goals in 50 appearances for them before signing as a professional for First Division Huddersfield Town in June 1926. Although he played in 20 games the following season, as The Terriers finished runners up in the League Championship, he didn’t make the team for their 1928 FA Cup Final defeat to Blackburn Rovers, and was sold to Second Division Nottingham Forest at the start of October 1929 after 22 goals in 53 games for Huddersfield Town.
He had a fine seven year spell at The City Ground and in his best season, 1933-34, scored 27 League goals in 35 games, and when he left Forest in 1937 he had a century of goals, totalling 122 in 206 appearances. He scored 5 hat-tricks for the club including successive hat-tricks in victories over Oldham Athletic and Burnley in March 1935. Having played his last game for Forest in December 1937, he joined non league Kidderminster Harriers, where he finished his playing career.