Inside left Jim Macauley was born at Portarlington, a town historically called Cooletoodera, on the border of County Laois and County Offaly, Ireland, Macauley his football career with local Belfast teams Woodland and Cloughfern, then playing for Cliftonville Olympic before joining Irish League amateur club Cliftonville in September 1907 as a teenager. His impact was such that he was just eighteen when selected for The Irish League for his first Inter-League match, a 5-0 defeat by the Football League at The Solitude, Belfast in October 1908, and he made four more appearances over the next two years without ever tasting victory. He did manage two goals for The Irish League, most notably in a close-fought 2-1 defeat by the Scottish League at Grosvenor Park in February 1909. In that time he also aided Cliftonville to two Irish Cup Finals, scoring in the 1909 replayed Final 2-1 win over Bohemians at Dalymount Park, Dublin, and he helped Cliftonville to an Irish League title success in 1910, although they lost the 1910 Final when beaten 1-0 by Distillery in March 1910.
In the summer of 1910 McAuley joined Glasgow Rangers but played only a small role in Rangers’ Scottish League title success, he played a single game forThe Gers in a 1-1 draw at Third Lanark in October. From there he moved into the Football League with Second Division newcomers Huddersfield Town, making his Football League debut at Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of October while still an unregistered player as the inexperienced club administrators, in their first season in League football, had failed to confirm that his registration with Rangers had elapsed.
The initial difficulties surmounted, and fine paid, McAuley went on to give Huddersfield good service during their first four seasons of League football. He scored his first hat-trick in a win over Birmingham in April 1911 and scored another in a win over Blackpool in April 1912, reaching double figures in both 1911-12 and 1912-13 for The Terriers, leading their goalscoring list with 12 goals in the former and being only behind Frank Mann with 14 goals in the latter season.
In January 1911 he became the joint first Town player to win international recognition when he faced a Wales side that featured club-mate, Charlie Morris, Ireland losing 2-1 to the Welsh at Windsor Park, Belfast. A month later he scored his first international goal in a 2-1 defeat by England at The Baseball Ground, Derby. A regular in the Ireland side for two years, he won all of his six caps while with Huddersfield, all but one at inside left. He finished on the victorious side just once, England dispatched 2-1 at Windsor Park in February 1913. He was also capped by Ireland Amateurs winning a single cap in 1911.
After 34 goals in 97 matches for Huddersfield Town McAuley transferred to First Division club Preston North End for £950 in November 1913. His move brought Huddersfield another fine from the Football League – he had incorrectly been listed as a free agent, and therefore not subject to a fee. After making his Preston debut in a 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool, McAuley settled quickly into the forward line, scoring seven goals in 25 appearances, but not enough to help The Lambs pull clear of relegation. He had a fantastic season in the Second Division in 1914-15, scoring sixteen times in 37 matches, as Preston bounced back at the first time of asking finishing as Second Division runners up, however the onset of the First World War then forced the suspension of peacetime football in May 1915.
In good form, McAuley’s career was put on hiatus for the duration of the Great War. During the War years he returned to Ireland, guesting with Belfast Celtic. On the resumption of League football in 1919 McAuley signed for Second Division club Leicester City that July, and he played in their first match, the old Leicester Fosse club having ceased trading due to financial difficulties, a 2-1 defeat by Wolves at Filbert Street in August 1919, scoring twice in 23 appearances for The Foxes. He then played in the first ever League season of Division Three, joining Grimsby Town in June 1920, scoring 3 goals in 19 appearances before returning to the north west where he finished his playing career with Lancashire Combination clubs Lancaster Town in 1921 and finally Morecambe from 1923.