Lower Ince, Wigan, Lancashire born left back Jimmy Barrington began his football career with Wigan United in 1919 before joining First Division Bradford City in September 1920, making his Football League debut against Chelsea in March 1921, his only appearance of the season, playing once more in a heavy defeat at Aston Villa in November 1921 during their relegation season of 1921-22. In the summer of 1922 he joined Hamilton Academical, playing two seasons in the Scottish League before returning to Lancashire non league football with Atherton in 1924.
He returned to Football League action with Wigan Borough in August 1925, scoring once in 77 appearances over the next two seasons for his hometown club, before returning to non league with Winsford United in 1927. In September 1929 he signed for Second Division Nottingham Forest, and was an ever present for Forest in their 1930-31 campaign. He was a first team regular until 1936 but played only once for the first team in his final season at The City Ground, against Bradford City on Christmas Day 1936, before joining non league Ollerton Colliery in 1937 after a single goal (in a 4-2 defeat at Bury in March 1934) in 228 appearances for The Reds.