Preston, Lancashire born left back Joe Leeming started his football career with junior club Turton in 1896 before joining First Division Bury, for whom he made his Football League debut against Blackburn Rovers in April 1898. From the following season he was an ever present, playing mainly centre half or inside left until he switched to left back from 1905, and he stayed a total of 11 seasons with The Shakers. During that time he won the FA Cup twice with Bury, playing in their 4-0 victory over Southampton in the 1900 Final and scoring twice (playing as a forward) in their record 6-0 thrashing of Derby County in the 1903 Final, both staged at The Crystal Palace. In November 1899 he was selected to play for The Football League against The Irish League in a 3-1 victory at Burnden Park, Bolton, but he never played for England.
He scored 20 goals in 280 appearances for Bury before joining Southern League Brighton & Hove Albion in 1908, where he became the club captain and played a further six years, most notably he helped Brighton win the 1909-10 Southern League Championship, and also was a member of the Albion team that won the 1910 FA Charity Shield when they beat League Champions Aston Villa 1-0 at Stamford Bridge that September. In the five years that the Charity Shield was contested by the winners of the Football League and Southern League between 1908 and 1912, this was the only occasion on which the Southern League Champions prevailed. The victory remains Brighton & Hove Albion’s only national honour to date.. In 1914 he returned to Lancashire to join non league Chorley before retirement, having played 193 matches for Brighton without ever scoring.
He was the father of the footballer Clifford Leeming, who went on to play for various clubs including Bolton Wanderers, Bury and Tranmere Rovers.