Burgess was born in Church Lawton and played amateur football with Butt Lane Swifts before joining Stoke in 1901, he apparently signed the contract with Stoke whilst sitting on a haystack at his father's farm. He soon became a regular member of Horace Austerberry's squad at a time when Stoke were struggling financially it came as a welcome relief to find a very capable local player. He was a solid defender who produce some had but fair challenges on opponents. He remained with Stoke until they went bankrupt in 1908 and Burgess joined Manchester City after making 195 appearances for Stoke. His time at Hyde Road was hampered by a knee injury which eventually caused him to retire.