After going back and forth between amateur and professional clubs with modest success James Collins made seven First Division appearances in Liverpool's forward-line during the middle of the 1930's, making his debut at West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of February 1936.
He was picked for the next four matches and also once more before the end of that 1935-36 season. Collins was only to play for the first-team on one more occasion, that being as replacement for centre-forward Fred Howe in the home draw with Preston North End on March 13, 1937.
Cardiff in Third Division South was Collins' next destination. Collins scored a hat-trick on his home debut and was a popular figure at the club scoring 40 goals in 75 league games before World War I cut his League career short. Described as while playing for Cardiff: "Short, fair-haired and fast (though built like a barrel), Jimmy Collins along with Bert Turner really began to make things hum after so long in the doldrums. Strong and fearless he was also mustard with both feet."