Cringan, a centre half, started his senior career when he joined Sunderland from Douglas Water FC in 1910. After five and a half seasons on Wearside he returned to Scotland with Ayr United on a temporary transfer in January 1916. A year later he left the Black Cats on a permanent basis, signing for Celtic in a £600 transfer deal.
Cringan was appointed Celtic captain soon after his arrival, a position he held until 1923. During this time the club won the 1917, 1919 and 1922 League titles. He eventually left the Parkhead club in October 1923 when he joined Motherwell. A year later he moved to Third Lanark, where he retired following the 1924–25 season.