Govan, Glasgow born outside right John Murphy began his football career with junior club St Anthony’s, from where he was signed by Scottish League club Heart of Midlothian in September 1919, making his Scottish League debut against Clydebank the same month, scoring twice in a 4-2 victory. He soon became a Hearts regular and scored 11 goals in his first season and 13 goals in his second. He was briefly loaned to St Mirren in March 1922 but didn’t play for their first eleven, and had another brief loan to Hamilton Academical in February 1925 while still a Hearts player.
After seven seasons at Tynecastle, during which time he scored 41 goals in 148 appearances for The Jambos, he moved to Motherwell in December 1925, but he wasn’t a regular at Fir Park, scoring 3 goals in 18 appearances before a move to Kilmarnock in December 1926. At Rugby Park he scored 10 goals in 45 appearances and after a loan to Irish League club Coleraine in October 1928 he signed for Ballymena United in October 1929, spending a season with The Sky Blues and then the 1930-31 season with Shelbourne before retiring from the game.