James' football development started early and he represented no fewer than 4 clubs as a boy: Old Town Boys, Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace and Eastbourne Town. He won the English Schools FA Trophy and represented England Schools in 2009. James progressed from youth to senior level at Eastbourne Town in 2008 and, after a successful trial, completed a move to Football League side Exeter City in 2009. Loan moves to Sutton United, Forest Green Rovers and Eastbourne Borough between 2009 and 2011 supplemented just 4 appearances for the Exeter City first team, a major factor in a permanent transfer back to Forest Green Rovers in 2011.
Norwood's return was such a success that in 2013 he signed a new 2-year deal, won the Players' Player of the Year award from his Forest Green colleagues and was called up to the England 'C' squad in the summer of 2013. He ended the 2013-14 season as the Club's top scorer with 19 goals and on 7th February 2015 scored a goal against Grimsby Town that meant he became Forest Green Rovers' record scorer in the Conference National, then the highest level at which they had played. James' goals helped Forest Green reach the Conference Play-off Semi-finals for the first time in their history.
With his reputation bolstered by such successes, James became the very first player signed by Tranmere Rovers outside of the Football League, the first recruit under manager Gary Brabin. The prefix to Rovers may have changed over the summer but Norwood kept the knack of scoring goals, ending the season as the Club's top scorer with 21 goals in all competitions. James won an incredible 3 awards at the end of his first season — the Player of the Season, Supporters' Club Player of the Season and Goal of the Season awards for the 2015-16 campaign. In 2016-17, new manager Micky Mellon rewarded his form with a new two-and-a-half-year contract in December 2016 that kept him at Prenton Park until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
He ended the 2016-17 season with 15 goals in 43 appearances, including scoring in both legs of the National League Play-off Semi-final against Aldershot Town to help the Club reach Wembley.
Norwood would be a pivotal part of the 2017-18 promotion machine, playing 46 matches and scoring 23 goals, finishing the campaign as the National League's third-top scorer behind former teammate Andy Cook (27) and AFC Fylde's Danny Rowe (24).
He also secured his place in Tranmere history on 12th May 2018 when his 80th-minute header earned Tranmere's first promotion in 27 years, bringing their 3-year stay in non-League football to an end. He joined teammate Connor Jennings and former Tranmere striker Andy Cook as one of three Rovers players to score at the current incarnation of Wembley.
Furthermore, he became the first player since Chris Malkin in 1991 to score a promotion-winning goal in a Tranmere shirt and will always be remembered as the man who scored the goal that brought Football League football back to Prenton Park. It is also important to remember James' assist for Rovers' other goal in that match.
After scoring five goals in five league games, James' fine start to 2018-19 saw him voted League Two Player of the Month for August 2018. He maintained his form for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign, securing a place in the League Two Team of the Season 2018-19, the PFA League Two Team of the Season and the EFL Team of the Season 2018-19. He was also awarded the League Two Player of the Season 2018-19 accolade as a reward for his exceptional performances during Rovers' EFL return.
In total, James scored thirty-two goals in all competitions, making him the top scorer in the EFL and securing the 2018-19 League Two Golden Boot trophy. His goals played a large part in helping Tranmere secure a second successive promotion, beating Newport County 0-1 in the 2019 League Two Play-off Final to secure promotion to League One. For his contribution to the cause, he was given the Club's Player of the Season, Players' Player of the Season, Supporters' Club Player of the Season and Junior Superwhites Player of the Season awards for the 2018-19 campaign.
A true Tranmere legend.
On 10th June 2019, Norwood completed a transfer to Ipswich Town, bringing a four-year stay at Prenton Park to a close. He left the Club as the eighth-highest scorer in Tranmere's history with a total of 93 goals in 189 appearances.
Interesting Fact: James' winning goal in the 2018 National League Play-off Final is the last non-League goal ever scored by Tranmere Rovers.