James Trainer was born in Wrexham on 7th January, 1863. He worked as a coachbuilder while playing in goal for Wrexham football club. In a game against Oswestry, Trainer was reported to the Football Association of Wales for making insulting comments to the referee.
Trainer moved to Bolton Wanderers in 1884. His form was so good that he was chosen to play for Wales against Scotland in 1887.
The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. That season Preston North End won the championship without losing a single match. Trainer did not play in every match and had to share the goalkeeping with fellow Welsh international, Robert Mills-Roberts.
James Trainer moved to London to establish an indoor exhibition soccer scheme at London Olympia. The business failed and in died in poverty in 1915.