As Paul Joannou pointed out in his book, The Black and White Alphabet (1996): "In the style of the day, Jimmy rarely caught the ball but fisted away clearances and was always liable to make a stunning save, yet also a costly error - two of which occurred in FA Cup finals."
Lawrence played in the Football League winning teams in 1905, 1907 and 1909. He also appeared in five FA Cup finals, but won only one winners medal in 1910, when Newcastle United beat Bradford City 1-0.
Lawrence was active in politics and along with his friends, Colin Veitch and Billy Meredith, he played an important role in the growth of the Professional Footballers Association. In 1921-22 he served as chairman of the PFA.
Lawrence was Newcastle's first choice goalkeeper for 14 seasons. During this period he appeared in a record 496 games for his club.
In 1924 Lawrence became manager of South Shields. After only a few months he was persuaded to move to Preston North End. The club was undergoing a financial crisis at the time and his first action was to sell the club's leading scorer, Tommy Roberts to Burnley. In the previous five seasons he had scored 118 goals in 199 games.
Lawrence signed veteran strike, Horace Barnes, from Manchester City in November, 1924. Barnes scored on his debut against Nottingham Forest. He went on to score six in his first 10 games and finished as the club's joint top scorer. Despite the goals of Barnes, Preston finished in 21st place in the league and were relegated to the Second Division.
In 1925 Lawrence resigned as manager of Preston North End and moved to Germany where he managed Karlsruhe.
James Lawrence died in November, 1934.