Dysart, Fife born inside forward Jimmy McClelland played for Rosslyn Juniors in 1921 before joining Scottish League Raith Rovers a year later. In August 1923 he joined Third Division Southend United and made his Football League debut at Bristol Rovers the following month. Although mainly a reserve in his debut season, he broke through in 1924 top scoring for the club with 21 goals including hat-tricks against London Caledonians and Exeter City, and before the season was out he had been signed by Second Division Middlesbrough in March 1924 after 22 goals in 29 games for The Shrimpers.
In 1925-26 he had the most prolific season of his career with successive hat-tricks inside 3 days in September 1925 against Wolves and Blackpool, and a burst of 8 goals in successive games in January 1926, a hat-trick against Portsmouth and all 5 goals against Leeds United. His 38 goals would only be beaten by his new team mate that season, a certain George Camsell, and the following season McLelland scored only 5 goals as they won the Second Division Championship. As Middlesbrough struggled the following season, McClelland was sold to Bolton Wanderers in March 1928 after 49 goals in 85 appearances.
He was part of the Bolton side that triumphed in the 1929 FA Cup Final when they beat Portsmouth 2-0 at Wembley and hardly missed a match until his transfer to Second Division Preston North End in October 1929 after 19 goals in 65 appearances. He was less than a year and a half at Deepdale, scoring 22 goals in 55 appearances, before a First Division club came in to sign him again in February 1931, and he made his debut for Harry Evans’ Blackpool almost immediately, in a 3-3 draw against his former club, Bolton Wanderers, at Bloomfield Road on 21st February, scoring The Seasiders’ second goal. He went on to make a further 12 League appearances that season, scoring three more goals including two in a 5-1 victory at home to his future club, Manchester United, on 21 March.
In June 1933 McClelland left Blackpool for Second Division Bradford Park Avenue after 26 goals in 70 appearances, and played 3 seasons for The Avenue, by now in the half back line, scoring 10 goals in 108 appearances before he joined Manchester United in June 1936, returning again to the First Division. He made his debut in a 3-1 defeat at Huddersfield Town on 2nd September, however he was unable to gain a regular place in the United first team, and McClelland only made five appearances in his one season at the club, and only scored once in a 2-1 win over Stoke City in March, in only his second match, as United slid towards relegation.
After his playing career with Manchester United ended, he was given a coaching role with the club, looking after the MUJAC (Manchester United Junior Athletic Club) players from the beginning of the 1938-39 season. He remained in a coaching role with Manchester United until the outbreak of the Second World War.