John Kay was born in County Durham on 29 January 1964 and joined Arsenal as an apprentice in April 1980. He turned professional in July 1981 and was part of the Football Combination winning team in 1983/84.
During this season he also made his league debut against West Bromwich Albion (26 February 1983). He played seven league games and one FA Cup game that season.
In the summer of 1984 he was given a transfer to Wimbledon for £25,000, and during his time there he had a loan spell with Middlesbrough.
Then came he success in football as he joined Sunderland and played over 200 games for them. Because of a comment about his hard tackling he was known as “The Tractor”.
He was part of the Sunderland 1985/86 promotion campaign which took them back to the top division, and part of the Sunderland team that went to the FA Cup Final 1992.
He joined Preston in August 1996, then played for Scarborough between 1996 and 1999 and played 98 games for them. He has since worked as a youth coach in the north east.