Birmingham born goalkeeper Jimmy Whitehouse began his football career with Albion Swifts in 1888 and played for Football Alliance side Birmingham St George’s, but when the club was dissolved due to financial difficulties at the end of the 1891-92 season, he joined Grimsby Town, who had just become one of the founder members of the Football League Second Division, making his Football League debut in their inaugural League match against Northwich Victoria that September. Hee became a regular in the first team, missing only two matches in 1893-94 and being an ever present for the following two seasons, making 131 appearances before a move to First Division Aston Villa in July 1896 for a fee of £200.
Whitehouse began his first season with Aston Villa as understudy to Tom Wilkes, but soon took over the goalkeeping gloves and ended up playing in 17 of the first 19 matches of the League season. Wilkes regained his place in the team following a 4-2 defeat away to Sunderland on 9th January 1897 for a 10-game run that included the first five matches of Villa’s FA Cup campaign. However, Whitehouse returned to the team for the last five games of the League season, as well as the FA Cup semi-final and Final; they won the last six games, with Whitehouse conceding just three goals in the seven matches, two of which came in their 3-2 FA Cup Final victory over Everton at The Crystal Palace. Aston Villa were confirmed as League Champions, the first team to win The Double since Preston North End went undefeated throughout the 1888-89 season.
Whitehouse played in the first three matches of the following season, but a prolonged absence meant he missed the next two and a half months, losing his place in the side first to Wilkes and then to Billy George. He returned at the start of December 1897 and played through to the end of the season, but he was unable to prevent Villa from finishing in sixth place in the League, nor from exiting the FA Cup in the first round, following a 1-0 away defeat to Derby County.
At the end of the season, he left Aston Villa for Southern League First Division side Bedminster, where he played for a season before returning to Grimsby Town. He played in 27 of the club’s 34 League matches in the 1899-1900 season, also making 4 FA Cup appearances, before joining fellow Second Division side Newton Heath in September 1900. He remained with The Heathens for almost three seasons, through their change of name to Manchester United in 1902. During his time there, he made 64 appearances, including one as an emergency inside left in a 1-1 draw against Walsall on 25th February 1901; his selection in the forward line came as a result of the unavailability of William Jackson and his usual deputy Joe Heathcote, while James Garvey took over in goal.
Having lost his place in the side to Herbert Birchenough for much of the first half of the 1902-03 season, Whitehouse left to join Manchester City in February 1903. However, his time there lasted only seven months, never making a first team appearance, and he moved to Scotland to join Third Lanark in September 1903. He returned to England with newly founded Hull City a year later, but he didn’t stay for their election to the Football League, moving to Southern League Southend United in 1905, where he saw out the remaining two seasons of his career.