After unsuccessful trials with Bolton, Ernie Machin was playing for Nelson FC when Coventry City scout Alf Walton recommended him to Jimmy Hill, then the Coventry manager, and he became one of Hill’s first signings in 1962.
He made his debut against Millwall on 8 April 1963 and went on to make 289 appearances for Coventry, a figure which would have been considerably higher had it not been for long-term knee injuries. He was a key player in Coventry’s promotions from Division Three in 1964 and Division Two in 1967, scoring 11 goals in the latter season including several late winning goals and the first goal in the classic 3–1 victory over Wolves in April 1967.
After leaving Coventry in 1972 he spent two years with Plymouth Argyle and made such an impression that he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004, and was also included in their Team of the Century.
Ernie finished his playing career with Brighton & Hove Albion from 1974 to 1976 making 72 appearances before returning to Coventry City as a coach in 1976.