Born in Bootle, left back Jimmy “Punch” McEwen started his playing career with junior club Lansdowne in 1891 before joining his hometown professional club making his Football League debut against Small Heath in November 1892 and playing 14 Second Division games for Bootle in the club’s only League season. Then followed spells at Liverpool South End in 1893, Everton, where he didn’t make their first eleven, Luton Town, whom he joined as a Southern League club in June 1894 and for whom he was an ever present in their first League season, 1897-98, scoring once in 33 appearances, and Glossop whom he joined in May 1898, and for whom played 2 seasons, scoring once in 57 appearances, helping them to promotion as Second Division runners up in his first season at the club.
When they were relegated he joined First Division Bury in July 1900 and was a near ever present over the next 3 seasons, which culminated with him being part of the Bury side that thrashed Derby County 6-0 in the 1903 FA Cup Final, still the record score in a Cup Final, at The Crystal Palace.
He returned to Southern League Luton Town in 1903 and having joined Norwich City as a player and club captain in 1905, McEwen became player manager of Norwich City in 1907, when he was also described as “one of the finest backs in the South”. McEwen was City’s second manager, and was in charge for 43 matches between 1907 and 1908, winning 13, losing 20 and drawing 10 games. He became manager of Glossop in the close season of 1910 and continued in that role until April 1914 He also came out of playing retirement and played two more League games for Glossop in April 1912.
McEwen joined Woolwich Arsenal in 1914 with the task of developing the young players in the reserves. He took charge of the first team for the last two League games of 1914-15 against Preston North End (a 0-3 defeat) and Nottingham Forest (a thumping 7-0 win).
During the First World War he managed the playing affairs of the club, with John Peters acting as secretary. McEwen handed over the first team reins to Leslie Knighton in April 1919 as the League prepared to resume its activities and reverted back to his duties of looking after the affairs of the younger players.
In 1929 Arsenal formed an ‘A’ team that was used to trial young players and gave the opportunity for the senior players to have a relatively easy game of football when returning from injury. McEwen managed the ‘A’ team in the London Professional Midweek League until it was disbanded in 1935. He remained at Arsenal in the capacity of dressing room attendant finally leaving the club just before the start of the Second World War.