Motherwell, Lanarkshire born centre half John McPherson began his football career with Cambuslang in 1883 played for Heart of Midlothian from 1884. While with Hearts he made his only appearance for Scotland in April 1891 when selected to play against England at Ewood Park, Blackburn, in a match that finished in a 2-1 defeat.
He moved south of the border to play for Nottingham Forest in July 1891, where he would become the definition of a club stalwart. Although he was briefly loaned back to Hearts from May to August 1892, he then returned to Nottingham Forest in September 1892 where he played for the best part of a decade, becoming Club Captain. He also won the FA Cup with Forest in 1898 scoring in the Final in a 3-1 win over Derby County at The Crystal Palace.
A model of consistency, he rarely missed a game until he eventually lost his place in the 1900-01 season, and after scoring 26 goals in 254 appearances he returned to Scotland with his hometown club, Motherwell in 1901, but only made 3 appearances before returning to complete his playing career with Cambuslang in 1902.
He later became a trainer at Newcastle United during their glory years of League Championships and FA Cup Final appearances during the first decade of the 20th century.