Peterhead, Aberdeenshire born wing half Jimmy McDonald began his football career, initially as a forward, with Inverness Citadel in 1901, joining Inverness Thistle in 1902. He played for Aberdeen Favourites in 1903 before joining Scottish League St Bernard’s in 1904, from where 3 years later he signed for Second Division Bradford City. He made his Football League debut against Burton United in April 1907, scoring on his debut in a 2-3 home defeat.The following season he scored 13 goals in 36 League appearances as Bradford City won the Second Division Championship. It was on this promotion that he converted to wing half and McDonald would go on to play both sides of World War One for The Bantams, scoring 26 goals in 228 appearances and captaining the team before World War One. Most of his appearances were over 9 seasons prior to the War, he only made 3 further first team appearances, all of which came in December 1919.
Of course the most notable moment of his career was playing for Bradford City as they won the 1911 FA Cup Final, beating Newcastle United 1-0 in a replay at Old Trafford after the first game at The Crystal Palace had been drawn 0-0, courtesy of a header scored by captain Jimmy Speirs..
During the War, he served with the Royal Field Artillery. Upon his return from the War, he signed for Raith Rovers, playing a single season for Raith before returning to Yorkshire, joining non league Wakefield City in 1921 and Keighley Parkwood in 1922.