Eric Lancelotte was born in 1917 in Jhansi, India, where his father was a regimental sergeant major, and raised in the Woolwich area of London. He began his football career with Romford, signed for Charlton Athletic on amateur forms in 1933, and turned professional in 1935. He made his debut in 1937, but his career was interrupted by the Second World War.
He served in the RAF, made guest appearances for clubs including Millwall, Stockport County and Watford, and was a member of tour parties that played football matches to entertain the troops. He returned to Charlton after the war, and contributed to their 1946-47 FA Cup run, but lost his place before the semi-final and took no part in the final.
After 60 First Division appearances by February 1948, Lancelotte moved on to Brighton & Hove Albion for a club record fee of £3,250. A clever, creative player rather than a goalscorer, he was an Albion regular for 18 months, but lost that role to Johnny McNichol, requested a transfer, and moved into non-league football. He played for clubs including Chippenham, Hastings United, Ashford Town and Folkestone Town before acting as assistant manager of Bexleyheath & Welling.