Oldbury, Shropshire born centre forward George James began his football career with junior clubs Smethwick Highfield and Bilston United whom he joined in September 1917 before signing for First Division West Bromwich Albion in January 1920, for whom he made his Football League debut at Bolton Wanderers in November 1921. After 2 initial appearances, the second in April 1922, he had to wait until February 1924 for another first team opportunity, whereafter he became a first team regular.
In 1924-25 he scored 30 goals in 41 appearances as Albion finished First Division runners up, top scoring for The Baggies, a total which included hat-tricks against Luton Town and Aston Villa, and 4 goals against Nottingham Forest in a 5-1 victory in December 1924. But he couldn’t repeat his prolific form in following seasons, and by the time he joined Reading for £650 in May 1929 after 57 goals in 116 appearances for Albion, he had long since lost his automatic first team berth.
At Elm Park he scored 7 goals in 20 appearances during 1929-30 before being used, in February 1930, as a makeweight in the transfer of winger Frank McPherson from Watford to Reading, who cost James plus £1,500 in exchange. He became, and remains, the most prolific of all Watford’s major goalscorers in terms of games‐per‐goal ratio, and the club did well out of the deal! An initial 13 goals in 13 games with hat-tricks scored in wins over Gillingham and Southend United started the ball rolling during the remainder of the 1929-30 season, with only McPherson’s earlier 22 goals preventing him from being the club’s top scorer.
Then, with 31 goals in 1930-31 and 27 goals in 1931-32, he was comfortably so, and his 77 goals in only 93 games for Watford included a 4 goal burst against Torquay United in September 1932 and 5 other hat-tricks. He retired in May 1933 with an impressive goals ratio of 141 career goals from 229 games, all the more so in that only one of his goals came from a penalty.
His brother Roly James played with him at West Bromwich Albion, and also played for Brentford and Stockport County.