Inglis was born in Sparkhill, Birmingham in 1955. He read History and the History of Architecture at University College London, later training as a teacher in Leeds and teaching history at a comprehensive in Walthalmstow, North London. Inglis is currently editor of the Played in Britain series on sporting heritage, published by Historic England. He describes himself as a now mainly 'arms length' Aston Villa fan.
In December 2005 he was described as an "iconoclastic historian" and "a national treasure who must be encouraged at all costs". His illustrated biography of the Scottish football ground designer Archibald Leitch, Engineering Archie, was runner up in the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2005.
Inglis summarised Leitch's career for FourFourTwo magazine in 2015.
Inglis' book Played in London, charting the heritage of a city at play, was published in September 2014 to great acclaim. It was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2014, selected as Book of the Year by both the Londonist website and London Historians and described by the Mail Online as a "remarkable book"  and a "cracking good read" by The Times. Signed copies are available from Played in Britain 
In 2015, inspired by the £1,000 free bet he received as a result of Played in London being shortlisted by William Hill, Inglis set out to discover whether he could earn more from betting cautiously with bookies than by putting the money into a building society. He ended up making 18.5 percent on his year's betting before donating the proceeds to charity.
In addition to his writing, Inglis is an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society (formerly the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) and has given lectures at a wide range of institutions (including De Montfort University, Birkbeck College and the London College of Communications); societies (Victorian Society and the Twentieth Century Society); local history societies, sporting bodies and at both literary and history festivals. He also conducts tours of London football sites for visiting US colleges.
Inglis is currently editing the sixth edition of the Government's Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (the Green Guide) and is also working on England's Sporting Heritage from the Air, based on the Aerofilms archive, due to be published by Historic England in 2019.
His photography has appeared in numerous books and publications.
Inglis is married to the former TV presenter Jackie Spreckley.
- Soccer in the Dock ISBN 0-00-218162-2
- League football and the men who made it : the official centenary history of the Football League, 1888–1988 ISBN 0-00-218242-4
- Football Grounds of England and Wales ISBN 0-00-218189-4
- Football Grounds of Britain ISBN 0-00-218426-5
- Villa Park, 100 years ISBN 0-946866-43-0
- The Football Grounds of Europe ISBN 0-00-218305-6
- Sightlines: A Stadium Odyssey ISBN 0-224-05968-8
- Played in Manchester : the architectural heritage of a city at play (Played in Britain series) ISBN 1-873592-78-7
- Engineering Archie: Archibald Leitch – Football Ground Designer (Played in Britain series) ISBN 1-85074-918-3
- A Load of Old Balls (Played in Britain series) ISBN 0-9547445-2-7
- Great Lengths, the historic indoor swimming pools of Britain (co-author with Dr Ian Gordon, Played in Britain series) ISBN 978-1-9056245-2-2
- Played in London, charting the heritage of a city at play (Played in Britain series) ISBN 978 1 84802 057 3
- "Played in Britain – Authors – Simon Inglis". Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- Baker, Andrew. "Winner's 'sensual' football so much better than it sounds". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
- Whitehead, Richard (18 April 2005). "Man who built his place in history". The Times. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
- Leith, Sam (18 March 2009) Come on in, the water's lovely!
- Played in Britain
- Etoe, Catherine (26 April 2012). "Feature: Old hands at the Games". Camden New Journal. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter