Trowbridge born goalkeeper Jesse Whatley started playing competitive football in the British Army and represented an Egyptian Army XI in games against Belgium and France. While in the Army he served in the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the Wiltshire Regiment during The First World War. Following the War he joined Trowbridge Town in August 1919, and after just two months playing in the Wiltshire League he was snapped up by Southern League side Bristol Rovers, where he spent his entire professional career.
Despite conceding five goals to Norwich City on his Rovers debut he went on to become a first team regular for The Pirates, making his Football League debut at Newport County in September 1920, and played in 246 consecutive League games between August 1922 and April 1928, in total 5 ever present seasons, a Football League record for most consecutive games that stood until 1953.
Known as “Gentleman Jess” through his footballing career, by the time Whatley retired from professional football in 1930 he had played 385 League games for Rovers; 14 in the Southern League and 371 in the Football League, and featured in (at least) 27 FA Cup ties. He continued playing non league football in Bristol for a further two years for Stapleton Institute and later moved into coaching, becoming coach of Fry’s Cocoa Tree Boys in 1937. In 1939 he was appointed as manager of Downend Football Club, and two years later he took charge of Soundwell.