Sheffield born inside right Archie Needham began his senior football career with hometown First Division club Sheffield United. Having joined them in May 1901, his Football League debut came at West Bromwich Albion in February 1903 when he scored in a 3-3 draw. However he was very much a fringe player at Bramall Lane and after 3 goals in 9 appearances that season, he was restricted to only 7 more appearances in 1903-04, when he scored a further 3 times, and didn’t play at all during 1904-05.
He then joined Southern League club Crystal Palace in 1905, where he developed a reputation for playing in a variety of positions, scoring 26 goals in 122 appearances for Palace over the next four years. Perhaps his most notable moment for Palace was in an FA Cup 1st round replay against FA Cup holders Wolverhampton Wanderers on 21st January 1909. Palace had secured a 2-2 draw at Molineux in what was by itself deemed a remarkable achievement. Palace feared the worst when they fell behind in the opening seconds of the replay at The Crystal Palace. But Billy Lawrence notched an equaliser and George Garratt put Palace ahead before Wolves levelled matters. In extra time Jimmy Bachop put Palace back in front and Archie Needham made the tie safe after scoring with a mazy run from the halfway line to knock Wolves out. Fred Fountain wrote of the goal in the Croydon Advertiser in 1946: “…he simply weaved his way through all the players and dribbled it right up to the Wolves’ goal, putting in an unstoppable shot.”
In May 1909 he moved back to Football League action with Second Division Glossop, where he scored 12 goals in 31 appearances as The Hillmen finished a creditable sixth in the division, and perhaps with the memory of that goal still fresh in their minds, Wolverhampton Wanderers then signed Needham in June 1910. He scored 7 goals in 35 appearances during 1910-11 for Wolves, but it proved his only season for them and he returned to the Southern League to join Brighton & Hove Albion in 1911, where, by now playing half back, he played four seasons subsequently finishing his career when the First World War brought an end to peacetime football in May 1915, Needham making 19 appearances for Brighton in that final peacetime season.
Needham subsequently served in the First World War and was one of the first recruits to the 17th Middlesex Battalion, the so called “Footballers’ Battalion”, indeed he is credited as being the second to volunteer behind Clapton Orient captain Fred “Spider” Parker.