John Crumplin was born in Bath in 1967, and spent his early childhood in Singapore, where his soldier father was stationed, before the family settled in Walberton, West Sussex.
He was on the books of Southampton as a youngster, but his progress was interrupted by a broken leg, and he joined Bognor Regis Town. After playing for Bognor’s first team at 16, he spent time on the books of Portsmouth, and returned to Bognor before signing for Brighton & Hove Albion in March 1987.
He took a few years to establish himself in the side, and was released at the end of the 1992–93 season, before re-signing for one final campaign in which he took his totals to 245 appearances and 9 goals, of which 207 and 7 were in league competition.
After leaving Brighton, he played for Woking, contributing 3 goals from 48 Conference appearances as the team finished as runners-up in 1994-95 and 1995-96 and starting in the 1994-95 FA Trophy Final.