John McBean was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1868. A left-back, McBean played for Kirkcaldy Wanderers before moving to London to work at at Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, one of the government's main munition factories.
Barbour made his debut for Woolwich Arsenal in the 1888-89 season. He joined a team that included J. M. Charteris, Peter Connolly, David Danskin, Richard Horsington, Fred Beardsley, Joseph Bates, Humphrey Babour and W. Scott.
Woolwich Arsenal continued to make good progress and won the London Charity Cup in 1890 and the London Senior Cup in 1891. The club entered the FA Cup in 1892 but was knocked out by First Division side Derby County. During his time at the club he scored one goal in 117 games.
John McBean died in January 1954.