Exeter-born John Impey had been at Cardiff, Bournmouth and Torquay before briefly playing for his hometown club in his early thirties. After leaving St James' Park he returned to Plainmoor and, in a management career of no more than six months, steered the Plainmoor club to promotion.
An England Schools, and later youth international, John joined Cardiff City after being spotted playing for Exeter Schools. He gained a full professional contract in August 1972 and went on to make 21 league appearances for the Bluebirds. Moving to AFC Bournemouth in July 1975, John established himself in the professional game making a total of 284 league appearances and scoring seven goals. During his time with the Cherries he spent a summer season, as was fleetingly quite common, with Seattle Sounders in the United States before resuming his career at Dean Court.
John signed for Torquay United in August 1983 and, in two seasons at Plainmoor, featured in 72 league matches before finally joining his home town club in August 1985. Making his debut for the Grecians against Southend United at St James’ Park a month later, John held his place in the side until the following February before returning for the final three games of 1985/86.
Having made a total of 26 league appearances for Exeter, John was back at Torquay United in July 1986 where he became captain and played two more eventful seasons before moving to Weymouth ahead of the 1988/89 season. Arriving as player-assistant manager, John had a brief tenure as caretaker manager of the Dorset club before playing Western League football ahead of a return to Plainmoor as youth team manager. Then dramatically in April 1991, with the club’s hopes of promotion steadily fading, John took over from Dave Smith and successfully guided the Gulls to a play-off final victory over Blackpool. However, after a poor start in 1991/92, John was soon relieved of his duties. Thereafter he briefly played again at Weymouth and Bideford followed by a short stint as manager of Totnes Town whilst developing property interests in the South Devon area.