Brentford, Middlesex born wing half Jimmy “Loftie” Collins played for East Ham Boys, with whom he made his first appearance at Upton Park as captain in 1917. He was called up to represent England Schools, but missed out on a cap after the game, against Scotland, was cancelled. Playing as a forward, Collins featured for Chelmsford in 1920, Clapton in 1921 and Leyton in 1922 before signing amateur forms with West Ham United in 1922. He made his Football League debut against Tottenham Hotspur on 9th February 1924. Finding opportunities upfront limited, he switched to left half to gain regular football. having broken into the team on a regular basis from December 1925 he was an ever present in their 1926-27 and 1927-28 campaigns, the first season at left half, the second at right half.
He managed to play 160 consecutive games for West Ham, before a cartilage injury ended his run. Following West Ham’s relegation from the First Division in 1932, Collins was one of the few professional players to be retained, appearing in the FA Cup semi final defeat to eventual winners Everton at Molineux the following season.
He made bis final appearance for The Hammers in September 1935, having made 336 appearances for West Ham United, including 311 in the League, scoring three goals, Collins proved instrumental in the club’s pursuit of the London Combination title with the Reserves as they pipped Arsenal to the title. After retiring from football in 1936, Collins made a return with newly formed Southern League club Colchester United in 1937. He made his debut in Colchester’s first ever match on 28th August 1937, when they were defeated 3-0 by Yeovil & Petters United at The Huish.
However, he became the first player to be dropped by manager Ted Davis. His next appearance proved to be coincidental, as he travelled to Bath to cheer his teammates on, only to be called upon when Syd Fieldus missed his train. He made his third and final appearance on 23rd April 1938, in a lineup that had nine changes made to it in Colchester’s sixth game in only nine days. The match ended in a 3-0 defeat to Tunbridge Wells Rangers, and he was released by the club at the end of the 1937-38 season.