Born in Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire, West started his career for Sheffield United. He was not a success at Bramall Lane, and in 1905 a fee of £5 was enough to convince the Blades to sell him to Nottingham Forest. In 1910, he transferred to Manchester United. He helped the club win the 1911 league medal. He scored 80 goals in his Manchester United career, his most successful season being the 1911-12 season when he scored a total of 23 goals; 17 in the league and six in the FA Cup, although United failed to win either of these competitions.
In 1915, he was banned for life by the Football Association, along with three other United players and four Liverpool players after being found guilty of match fixing. West protested his innocence, but his ban was not lifted until 1945. His suspension, which lasted 30 years, was the longest in Football League history. As he was 59 by the time his ban was lifted, he was never involved in football again.
West died in 1965, at the age of 79.