Ballymoney, County Antrim born inside left Jimmy Hopkins left Ireland to join Arsenal in 1919 when Belfast United were not included in the Irish League after the First World War. He made limited impact on the first eleven, not making his Football League debut until March 1921 at West Bromwich Albion, Hopkins scored in a 4-3 victory but he remained a fringe player during his time at Highbury, albeit he did attain an admirable goalscoring rate of a goal every three games with 7 goals in 22 appearances over 3 campaigns.
Hopkins left Arsenal in February 1923 to join Third Division (South) club Brighton & Hove Albion, where he was to become established at inside left for six seasons. An ever present in their 1923-24 campaign, he scored 20 goals including hat-tricks against Portsmouth and Norwich City, second top scoring in Brighton’s goalscoring charts behind Tommy Cook. He scored a further treble in a 7-0 win over Bristol Rovers in January 1927.
Hopkins scored 75 goals in 233 matches for The Seagulls to continue with a goalscoring ratio almost identical to that which he’d had at Arsenal. It was also while at Brighton that Hopkins won his only international cap for Ireland, standing in for Billy Gillespie in a 0-0 draw with England at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1925. In the summer of 1929 he left Brighton to join Southern League club Aldershot, but had already finished his football career by the time they joined The Football League in 1932.