Outside left John Whibley was born in Sittingbourne, Kent and began his youth career with local club Sittingbourne F.C.. He signed for Crystal Palace, then playing in The Southern League, in 1911, and over the following seasons, up until the suspension of peacetime football in 1915 due to the onset of the First World War, he was a primarily reserve team player making only 21 first team appearances, scoring three times, his first three first team appearances coming in 1912-13.
Whibley’s career was then interrupted by service in the Armed Forces during the First World War (where it’s possible that he sustained a serious arm injury which immobilised it), but after the end of the conflict he returned to play for Crystal Palace in the 1919-1920 season making 35 appearances, and scoring 9 goals. He made a total of 57 appearances in their Southern League era scoring 12 goals.
In 1920, Crystal Palace became a founder member of the Third Division and Whibley made his Football League debut at Merthyr Town in Palace’s inaugural League fixture. He became a regular in the side that won the very first Third Division Championship in 1920-21, making 32 appearances, scoring five times.
The Croydon Advertiser said of Whibley in 1921: “Of slight physique, he does not appear cut out for the hurly-burly of strenuous football, but ability and pace enabled him to hold his own with most opponents.Can cut in and score goals, while his accurate centres provide openings for his colleagues.Quiet and unassuming, he is the best type of professional.”
Over the next two seasons Whibley made a further 60 appearances scoring 11 goals but towards the end of the 1922-23 season was no longer first choice outside left, and returned to Sittingbourne in May 1923. He had made a total of 150 appearances for Crystal Palace, scoring 27 goals.appearances and scoring five times.