John Ritchie was born in Ashington on 10 April 1944. He started his career with Whitley Bay where he became and England amateur international.
In December 1965 Ritchie joined Port Vale and made his debut in a 0-0 draw at home to Torquay on New Year’s Day 1966 and then became for the regular left back for Port Vale .
On 26 November 1966 Ritchie scored a 40 yard goal in the 2-1 FA Cup victory over Bradford City at Valley Parade.
He made 50 league appearances for Port Vale and scored 3 goals before joining Preston in April 1967.
He played in the final two matches of the 1966/67 season with his debut being a 2-2 draw at Deepdale against Bristol City on 29 April.
He started the 1967/68 season in the number three shirt and scored his first goal via the penalty spot in a 5-3 defeat at home to Blackburn on 18 Novemberr. In the penultimate match of the season Ritchie scored a brace in a 3-1 home victory over Portsmouth with one of the goals being a penalty.
He made 32 league appearances during the season and netted 4 goals. The following season in 1968/69 he only played in 16 matches as injuries prevented an appearance after mid-November.
He returned to the number three shirt for the start of the 1969/70 season and scored his final league goal for the club in a 3-0 home win over Watford on 25 August. Ritchie made 32 appearances for the Lilywhites but couldn’t halt relegation to the Third Division for the first time.
Ritchie missed the whole of the 1971/72 season as Alan Ball’s side gained promotion at the first attempt. He made 12 appearances during the 1971/72 season with his final game being the 2-0 defeat at Oxford on 18 December 1971. After 5 goals from 94 league appearances Ritchie joined Bradford City in March 1972.
For the remainder of the 1971/72 and the 1972/73 season Ritchie made 20 league appearances for Bradford City.