Bardon Mill, Northumberland born right back John Ridley began his football career with local junior club Mickley in 1919 before being signed by Second Division South Shields, for whom he made his Football League debut at Bristol City in March 1921, his only appearance of the campaign. He broke into their first team on a regular basis from August 1922, and was an ever present during 1924-25 and 1925-26. In the summer of 1927 he was sold to Manchester City after 4 goals, all penalties, in 190 appearances for Shields, and in his first season at Maine Road he played 30 matches as they won the Second Division Championship in 1928.
He was City’s regular right back, ever present in 1929-30, until December 1931 when he lost his place, playing only a handful more times until he joined Reading in the 1933 close season having made 184 appearances for The Citizens. He stayed a single season at Elm Park making 31 appearances, before joining Queen’s Park Rangers in the summer of 1934, making a further 21 appearances for the Loftus Road club before returning to the north east to join non league North Shields in 1935.