John Shaw, a vastly-experienced goalkeeper who had started at Leeds United and had made nearly 300 league appearances for Bristol City, was a mainstay of the Exeter City sides of the mid-1980s as he accumulated over a hundred league appearances before losing his place to Mel Gwinnett.He commenced his career as an apprentice with Leeds United, going to become a full professional in April 1971. However, he was unable to make a first team breakthrough and had to wait for his league debut until he moved to Bristol City in May 1974. He had made a couple of outings for Leeds in European matches though, against Belgian side Lierse SK and Hibernian. He became the regular keeper with the Ashton Gate club and eventually made 295 league outings for them.
He subsequently signed for Exeter City in July 1985 and, making his league debut for the Grecians in a 1-0 home win over Port Vale in August 1985, only missed two matches in his first season with the club. He was also the first choice keeper in 1986-87 before losing his place to Mel Gwinnett in January 1988.
Released at the end of the 1987-88 season, he joined Gloucester City before running a decorating business.