Rochdale, Lancashire born inside right James Mills began his football career with Balderstone Parish before the outbreak of the First World War, and after the War he played for Rochdale All Saints before joining hometown Lancashire Combination club Rochdale. In April 1920 he was signed by Bolton Wanderers, spending two seasons on The Trotters’ books without making the first eleven.
Released by Bolton, he signed for Third Division (South) club Norwich City in June 1922, making his Football League debut at Brighton & Hove Albion in the first match of the new season that August, but he didn’t retain his place and had to wait until March 1923 for his next first team opportunity. When it came he played 5 further matches, scoring 3 times including a brace in a 2-0 win over Watford at The Nest in April.
But he wasn’t retained and moved to Southern League club Torquat United in the 1923 close season. After two seasons in Devon Mills returned north to Cheshire County League club Chester, and after three seasons at Sealand Road he joined Rochdale Tradesmen in 1928, playing for Bury Co-op in 1931 before his eventual retirement.