Johnstone, Renfrewshire born inside forward James Lindsay started his career with Strathclyde in 1910 before moving to Scottish League Clyde in 1911. He moved to Ireland to play for Glentoran the following year, before signing for FA Cup holders Burnley in 1914, making his Football League debut against Everton in September 1914 and playing both sides of the First World War for The Clarets.
During the War he had spells guesting for St Mirren in Scotland and Linfield in Ireland. On the resumption of peacetime football he played 32 matches scoring 6 times in 1919-20 as Burnley finished runners up in the First Division, however when Burnley went one better the following season he only played 8 games over the season.
He joined Welsh League Llanelli in 1923 after 21 goals in 80 games for Burnley, and the same year returned to Ireland to play for Larne. He finally returned to Lancashire in the summer of 1925 signing for Accrington Stanley and played in the first 5 matches of the 1925-26 season before retiring already aged 35.