Centre-forward John Abthorpe was born in Mansfield Town on 19 January 1933. He played for the clubs Juniors and Reserves teams. His Juniors debut came at Wellington Town in the Birmingham & District League on the opening day of the 1952/43 season, Wolves won 6-1 and Abthorpe netted a brace. He made his Reserves debut at home to Blackburn Rovers in the Central League, Wolves won 4-0 and he netted just the one. He went on to made seven appearances for the Reserves netting six before transferring to Notts County in September 1955. He netted on his Football League debut at West Ham United on 3 September 1955, a match the Magpies lost 6-1 and netted three goals in just five outings at Meadow Lane but then dropped out of senior football.