James (Jimmy) Turnbull was born in Bannockburn, Scotland, on 23rd May 1884. A talented centre-forward he played for several clubs in the Scottish League including Falkirk, Dundee and Glasgow Rangers. He once scored five goals in a game playing for Falkirk.
United started off the 1907-08 season with three straight wins. They were then beaten 2-1 by Middlesbrough. However, this was followed by another ten wins and United quickly built up a good advantage over the rest of the First Division. Although Liverpool beat them 7-4 on 25th March, 1908, Manchester United went on to win the title by nine points. Jimmy Turnbull scored 10 goals in 26 games. Sandy Turnbull (no relation) was top scorer with 25 goals.
The manager, Ernest Mangnall, had created an impressive team that was solid in defence and exciting in attack. The former Southampton player, Harry Moger, was a reliable goalkeeper who played in 38 league games that season. Dick Holden (26) or George Stacey (18) competed for the right-back position whereas Herbert Burgess (27) was the left-back. It has been argued that the half-back line of Dick Duckworth (35), Charlie Roberts (32) and Alec Bell (35) was the heart-beat of the side. Billy Meredith (37) and George Wall (36) were probably the best wingers playing in the Football League at the time and provided plenty of service for the inside trio of Sandy Turnbull (30), Jimmy Turnbull (26) and Jimmy Bannister (36).
The following season Manchester United enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup. They beat Brighton & Hove Albion (1-0), Everton (1-0), Blackburn Rovers (6-1), Burnley (3-2) and Newcastle United (1-0) to reach the final. Newcastle, who went onto win the league that season, was obviously disappointed by being prevented from winning the double. However, the whole of the Newcastle team waited for 15 minutes in torrential rain aboard an open coach so they could applaud their conquerors after the game.
Jimmy Turnbull (5), Harold Halse (4) and Sandy Turnbull (3) got the goals during the successful cup run that got them to the final at Crystal Palace against Bristol City. The game was disappointing and Sandy Turnbull scored the only goal in the 22nd minute.
Manchester United only finished in 13th place but Turnbull had a great season scoring 17 goals in 22 games. Turnbull was less successful in the 1909-10 season and only got 9 goals. He was transferred to Bradford Park Avenue in 1910 and during the next two years he scored 18 goals in 42 games.
Jimmy Turnbull played for Chelsea in the 1912-13 season. Now aged 30 he only managed 8 goals in 20 games. He left the club in 1914 and played non-league football for a couple of years.