Larne, County Antrim born inside left James “Hoody” McCambridge began his career with Larne in 1925 and was a member of the Larne side surprisingly defeated by Willowfield in the 1928 Irish Cup Final replay. That summer he left his hometown club to join the newly founded Ballymena. His first campaign at Warden Street brought a number of goals, including the winner against Belfast Celtic in the 1929 Irish Cup Final. The 1st February 1930 proved to be an historic day. McCambridge became the first Ballymena player to claim an Ireland cap as Wales were defeated 7-0 at Celtic Park, with Joe Bambrick claiming a double hat-trick. Three weeks later McCambridge was again in the side that lost 3-1 to Scotland at Parkhead. He also scored 3 goals in 2 Irish League appearances in 1929 and 1930.
Although most famed as a goalscorer, across his career McCambridge proved highly versatile. In the first game of the 1928 Irish Cup Final for Larne he was selected at right back and in the second at inside left. The following season he was at outside left in Ballymena’s Cup win. His inter-league appearances were at inside right and inside left and while his four appearances for Ireland were at inside left, through his Football League career he appeared in every outfield position.
Shortly after his second cap McCambridge was transferred to Second Division Everton after 39 goals in 56 appearances. He made a single Football League appearance for The Toffees as deputy for Dixie Dean in a 3-0 win over Bradford City in September 1930. After less than a year at Goodison, McCambridge moved to Cardiff City in January 1931. He was afforded an early opportunity for The Bluebirds, scoring twice on his debut in a 3-2 defeat by West Brom. McCambride claimed a total of eight goals in his first campaign, including a hat-trick in a 3-2 home win over Stoke. McCambridge won two further caps while with Cardiff in defeats by Wales and England in April and October 1931.
His second campaign at Ninian Park brought a club record 26 League goals, with another two hat-tricks against QPR and Clapton Orient. He continued his good form into the 1932-33 season, claiming eleven goals in the first twelve games. He again finished the season as the club’s top scorer, but his final tally of 16 illustrated a drop in form. Despite the drop-off in form, it was a surprise when McCambridge was allowed to leave Cardiff in 1933 after 53 goals in exactly 100 appearances.
On 12th May he had reported to have returned to Ballymena as player-manager, but ten days later he signed for Bristol Rovers. He regained his form at Eastville, finishing as the The Pirates’ topscorer in his first season with 18 goals. He then moved to Exeter City in September 1935 after 24 goals in 64 appearances for Rovers and again topped the scoring charts in his season with The Grecians in 1935-36 before moving to the top flight for the first time in his career with Sheffield Wednesday in the 1936 close season. His stay at Hillsbrough was brief and he played only two First Division matches before he joined Hartlepools United in January 1937, scoring 4 times in 17 appearances before he finished his career with non league Cheltenham Town, joining them that summer.