Askham-in-Furness, Cumbria born goalkeeper Norman Wharton began his football career with Askham in 1921 and joined local professional club Barrow, then in the Third Division (North) in May 1922, making his Football League debut against Ashington in January 1923. After 44 appearances for the club he was signed by Second Division Preston North End in August 1925, where he was understudy to Jimmy Branston and Tony Carr, making 13 appearances over two seasons at Deepdale.
He returned to Barrow in the summer of 1927 playing 28 games in his second spell in 1927-28 before he was transferred to First Division club Sheffield United for £250 in the May 1928. He was a regular at Bramall Lane for two seasons but lost his place in 1930 and transferred to Norwich City in July 1931 after 73 appearances for The Blades. He was an ever present in his first and third seasons at Norwich (in his third season they won the Third Division (South) Championship) but he played only occasionally in his second and fourth seasons, making 109 appearances for The Canaries before joining Doncaster Rovers in May 1935, where he spent a single season making only 5 appearances.
Moving to York City in May 1936 he once again got regular football, and was ever present in his first season, missing only one game in 1937-38 and 8 games in 1938-39. He arrived at First Division Leeds United in August 1939, when he was already 36 years old. The veteran goalkeeper ended a distinguished career with a couple of appearances for Leeds in the truncated 1939-40 season as peacetime football was abandoned due to the outbreak of the Second World War, and he retired from football during the War.