Ballymena United F.C.
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|Full name||Ballymena United Football Club|
(1928 as Ballymena F.C.)
Ballymena, County Antrim
Ballymena United is a semi-professional football club from Northern Ireland. Based in Ballymena, County Antrim, the team competes in the NIFL Premiership and plays home matches at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Ballymena United was renamed in 1934 as a replacement for the earlier Ballymena F.C. that had folded following a dispute regarding the illegal payment of amateur players.
Nicknamed the 'Braidmen' or 'Sky Blues', latterly because of the colour of the home shirts, Ballymena have a rich history in Irish Cup, having won the competition six times – the most for a provincial club outside of Belfast. The club has never won the league title in its history, but has finished runners-up on two occasions. The club has also won the County Antrim Shield on 5 occasions.
The current manager is Glenn Ferguson, who took over on 31 December 2011 following the departure of Roy Walker three weeks previously. The main club rivals of Ballymena United would be local club Coleraine. The traditional Boxing Day fixture between the two teams attracts large crowds and is one of the most high profile fixtures in the Northern Irish football calendar.
- 1 Club history
- 2 Honours
- 3 Club staff
- 4 Records
- 5 Players
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Ballymena F.C. (1928–1934)
Four men – Albert McClelland, DB Elliott, John Gordon and James McIlhagga – tapped into the popular mood of the period that the time had arrived for Ballymena to be represented in senior circles. The newly formed club took the place of Barn United in the Irish League for the 1928–29 season. The new club gathered together a number of players from the area and further afield and played their first competitive game on 20 August 1928 in front of a packed Ballymena Showgrounds, against reigning Irish League champions Belfast Celtic; the 'Light Blues' lost the game 3–0.
However, five days later they gained their first point in a 2–2 away to Larne and created another landmark when Jimmy McCambridge scored the club's first ever goal. The first win for the new club came in early September when the Braidmen defeated Ards 2–1 at Castlereagh Park; this sparked a remarkable 12-match unbeaten run which lasted until December, the Sky Blues finished a highly respectable 6th in the 14 team Irish League in their debut season, but it was the Irish Cup which saw the 'Ballymena Babes' shine. Ballymena defeated Glentoran, Broadway United and Coleraine en route to a final showdown with League Champions Belfast Celtic at Solitude. A remarkable 2–1 victory over Belfast Celtic followed with goals from Jamie Shiels and ‘Hoody’ McCambridge as Ballymena lifted the show-piece trophy in their first season as a senior club. A replica of the trophy was produced and awarded to the club for winning the Irish Cup in their first season.
To round the season off, and in a tribute to the impact the club caused on the local scene, Kilmarnock visited the Showgrounds in late April as Scottish Cup holders, and carved out a narrow 1–0 win over Ballymena, the Irish Cup holders; the first ever club programme was produced for this game. A few days later in what was billed as an All-Ireland Cup final, the Light Blues travelled to Dublin and defeated their Southern counterparts Shamrock Rovers 2–1, with goals from Joe Cassidy and Jamie Shiels.
The following year, the Braidmen defied all odds when they made it to the Irish Cup final for the second time, having defeated Derry City, Belfast Celtic, and Newry Town to reach the final against Linfield, who had already been crowned Irish League champions. Ballymena were unlucky at Solitude as they lost 4–3 to the Windsor Park Blues, with goals from Davy Reid and Jamie Shiels (2). Despite the optimism that now followed Ballymena following their successes last season they finished fifth in the table and produced a number of scintillating high-scoring performances throughout the season. That season Jimmy McCambridge became the first full international to play for the club when he was capped for Ireland in their 7–0 victory over Wales in February 1930, the free-scoring Larne man would move to Everton during the summer of 1930.
The 1930–31 campaign was much the same as the previous season from the men from the Braid (the river on which Ballymena stands) as they scored goals freely but could only manage another fifth-place finish for their efforts and remarkably a third consecutive Irish Cup final appearance. However, this was arguably the most forgettable of the three cup finals as a poor effort saw Ballymena lose to Linfield again by three goals without reply. The following season brought wholesale changes at the Showgrounds; despite a poor start to the 1931–32 season the team began to gel in September and went on a seven-game winning streak. Now renowned as 'cup specialists' the Light Blues reached the final of the Gold Cup, eventually losing 3–0 to nearby rivals, Coleraine. Despite an early exit from the Irish Cup for the first time, Ballymena continued to threaten a very competitive league, finishing sixth. Ballymena stalwart Jock McNinch became the second player to be capped for Ireland in February 1931 – he won two further caps to become Ballymena's most capped player, a record which still stands to this day.
Despite a bright start, the 1932–33 campaign proved to be the leanest so far during the club's very short history. Early exits in all the cup competitions and failure to challenge in the Irish League summarised a disappointing season for Ballymena. Little did anyone realise in August 1933 what the importance of the following nine months in the history of the club. This was to be the last season in which the club took part in senior football, indeed less than a year later the club didn't exist at all. Only three defeats in the opening twenty games pointed to the distinct possibility of silverware once again but after Christmas things turned sour with only five wins between then and the end of the season as another fifth-place finish was their reward.
Liquidation, formation of Ballymena United and the war (1934–1946)
In 1934, club chairman Albert McClelland was overheard making a remark that something had to be done to curb the payments to amateur players. When word of his comments reached the Irish League they immediately suspended the club and demanded that they hand over their accounts for inspection. Ballymena's directors refused claiming that they were being made scapegoats for a practice which was widespread among the other clubs in the Irish League. Failure to meet the deadline for the presentation of accounts stipulated by the League resulted in Ballymena's dismissal from senior football. Attempts were immediately made to reinstate the club, but when these were rejected it was suggested that the club be renamed Ballymena United and merge with a junior club, Ballymena Crusaders. Happily this was acceptable to the League authorities although in reality it was virtually the same club as before with the same ground, same players and same management.
Taking over the senior place vacated by the club the previous season, Ballymena United approached the new season with some confidence. The new club took an unprecedented step by appointing a manager which was a departure from the previous practice of team selection by committee. The man in charge was Joe Millar who arrived from Bournemouth and Boscombe and had previously been capped for Ireland, Millar used many of his contacts in Scotland to bring an influx of Scottish players to the Showgrounds. However, despite these new players and an Irish Cup semi-final appearance, United suffered in their first season finishing a disappointing tenth in the League, their lowest finish to date. The 1934–35 season also seen the introduction of the Reserve side.
The 1935–36 season was to be just as disheartening for United supporters as the club finished tenth again in the League table, and failed to progress in the majority of the cup competitions. If the previous season was one to forget, any hope that 1936–37 would bring any cheer where dashed during the close season with the departure of Jock McNinch to Sligo Rovers. McNinch was leaving the club after 315 games and with him the last remaining link to the 'old' Ballymena side. During the summer his contribution to the club was recognised when the club granted him a testimonial, the first such gesture by United.
United finished bottom of the Irish League for the first time, after managing only four league wins over the course of the season. An Irish Cup run to the semi-final stage, before elimination to the mighty Belfast Celtic was the only cheer for the Light Blues. They carried this disastrous form into the following season when they suffered a record 9–1 defeat to Derry City and losing the next six games before the board appointed Steve Mitchell as player-manager – he instantly turned things around as Ballymena won 14 of their next 17 games. Despite their Championship form, they rose from bottom to fifth in the table, only 8 points behind eventual winners Belfast Celtic. The club also made their first appearance in the final of the County Antrim Shield, though lost 3–2 to Linfield.
This run of confidence ran all the way through to the following season, as United nearly completed an historic double of the Irish League and Irish Cup – eventually finishing runners-up in both competitions. Finishing an agonising five points behind Belfast Celtic in the league race, and a fourth Irish Cup final saw a third defeat to Linfield in the show-piece event, this time a 2–0 defeat at Solitude. However, one year on the club went one better by lifting the Irish Cup after a 2–0 win over Glenavon in which Sclater and Moore scored the goals. This was the last 'proper' Irish Cup before province wide football was suspended due to World War Two. United were not to kick a ball in anger again until the 1946–47 season. The club withdrew from the Irish League shortly after the end of the season when the Showgrounds was taken over to assist the war effort.
United post-war (1946–1957)
United did not return to the League until 1946–47, when they returned to the Belfast & District League for one season, before the Irish League reformed the following year. United's squad was built up, only to be released by Bob McKay in 1947. The replacements beat Linfield 2–0 in the County Antrim Shield Final – bringing their first trophy other than the Irish Cup to the Showgrounds.
A third-place finish that season had many believing that United would pick up where they left off, becoming the biggest provincial side in the country; having been the first team outside of Belfast to win the County Antrim Shield. However, a series of poor seasons was stopped in 1951 with the club's second County Antrim Shield – beating Cliftonville 2–0.
Despite the fact that the Irish League had not left Celtic Park between 1936 and 1948; Belfast Celtic were forced to leave the Irish League and Ballymena benefited by grabbing some of their talented players, including a new player-manager Billy McMillan. McMillan was replaced by the experienced Walter Rickett after two seasons. United reached the Irish Cup final in 1951, only to be beaten by Glentoran 3–1 at Windsor Park, with their only goal coming from Currie.
The following season, United won the Festival of Britain Cup, beating Crusaders 3–0 at Solitude. The one-off competition was played in 1952 to coincide with the Festival celebrations throughout Great Britain, and the trophy still resides at the Showgrounds.
However, after this victory United went through another bleak period in the mid-1950s as United finished bottom of the league twice. In 1955 the club was forced to launch an appeal to clear its mounting debts – the Ballymena people responded – debts were paid, and a small amount was left over to go into the club's coffers.
New beginnings (1957–1969)
In 1957, Scottish born Alex McCrae took over as player-manager of the club. McCrae had been a successful inside-forward for Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough in his playing days. He brought instant success to the Braid, as Ballymena finished third and won the 1957–58 Irish Cup.
That Irish Cup-winning team was deemed one of the best United teams ever to grace the Showgrounds, and it deservedly beat Jackie Milburn’s Linfield in the show-piece final – with McGhee and Russell scoring the goals in a 2–0 win at the Oval in front of 24,000 spectators.
The next year, another impressive team marched on to another Irish Cup final (the club's eighth final). The Sky Blues were expected to beat Glenavon in a Windsor Park final, but United drew 1–1 and lost the replay 2–0.
Former Liverpool legend Geoff Twentyman then came along as manager, and brought the Ulster Cup to the Showgrounds in 1960 with a 3–1 win over Glenavon. Barr grabbed two final goals while McKinstry picked up the other. The following season, the Sky Blues were only two points away from winning the Irish League for the first time – finishing third in 1961–62.
Twentyman's success did not continue and he was replaced in time by George Smyth, Dave Hickson, Alex Parker, and Dave Hickson again. Despite this hunt for success, manager after manager failed, as the Braidmen constantly finished mid-table in the Irish League, with only one trophy in the 1960s. McCrae was then brought back to end another period of failure at the Warden Street Showgrounds.
Barren nineties (1990–1999)
The managerial merry-go-round continued when local man Gary Erwin was appointed in October 1994 in a vain attempt to secure a place in the Premier League, despite a famous win against Linfield, he failed miserably and was shown the door in March 1995. Alan Fraser was brought in at the end of the 1994–95 season, to prepare for the forthcoming First Division campaign. Despite throwing the money about, United finished the following season well behind runaway leaders Coleraine.
1996–97's crop of players finally brought a League Championship to the Ballymena Showgrounds for the first time, albeit the First Division, which Alan Fraser's side impressively won at a canter. This also ensured promotion to the top-flight after two seasons in the wilderness of the First Division as 21 wins from 28 games meant an astounding 15-point gap between United's nearest challengers, Omagh Town. Fraser's talented side also were close to a 'double' when they cruelly lost the final of the County Antrim Shield to Cliftonville on penalties after being on top for most of the game. The season ended with Dessie Loughery's testimonial against Coleraine at the Showgrounds, which produced a stunning 5–1 victory to give the United fans a taste of what to expect the following season.
United made a blistering start in their first season in the Premier League in 1997–98 and looked to be genuine title challengers by Christmas, as they topped the table after a stunning 4–3 victory over reigning Champions Crusaders – which also meant one of the biggest crowds in years at Warden Street for the Boxing Day derby against Coleraine; with an estimated 7,000 strong crowd packing into the Showgrounds. In typical fashion it all went off the rails for Alan Fraser's side, as he splashed out a club record fee of £20,000 for Crusaders striker Glenn Hunter but the goals never came and the in-form Barry Patton also saw his goals dry up as Ballymena finished sixth in the table – missing out on a top half finish on goal difference. The season almost ended in a trophy as they reached the final of the Irish News Cup, a cross-border cup competition for clubs in the North-West – but lost out to Omagh Town over two legs.
Fraser's ageing side failed to push on the following season and the money was beginning to dry up restricting suitable replacements being brought in. Failure again to break into the top half of the Premier League table in 1999 was offset by a disappointing non-performance in the Irish Cup semi-final against Portadown, which ironically turned out to be 'final' as Portadown lifted the Irish Cup by default following Cliftonville's dismissal for fielding an ineligible player. Alan Fraser was relieved of his duties for failing to meet the ambitions of the United board just hours after the final League game of the season, which also proved to be long-serving Dessie Loughery's last game as he made a controversial move to Coleraine after 11 years at the Braid. Shay Hamill took charge for the final of the Irish News Cup, but for the second consecutive season Ballymena lost the final this time to Johnny Speak's Finn Harps. The search began for a new manager at Warden Street and a new era awaited.
The wait goes on (2000–2009)
Fraser's replacement and the man set to lead Ballymena United into the new century was former Glenavon and Bangor manager Nigel Best, who was appointed in May 1999. However, with his predecessor's ageing side starting to break up and with little money to finance quality replacements; it was little surprise when Best's team struggled badly during the 1999–2000 campaign. Striker and talisman Glenn Hunter proved his worth by almost single-handedly keeping the Sky Blues in the division, as United avoided relegation on the final day of the season after defeating Portadown at Shamrock Park to maintain top-flight status amidst wild scenes of jubilation.
More departures followed the next summer, and despite an encouraging start to the 2000–01 season, United's frailties caught up with them and Nigel Best was sacked after an unacceptable run of results in December 2000, cumulating with a 5–2 defeat to Newry Town. Bizarrely, the club appointed unqualified club physiotherapist George Magill as caretaker-manager until a suitable successor to Best could be found. Glenn Hunter, who had taken time out of the game to pursue a fire-fighting career would act as Magill's assistant. In January 2001, former Coleraine manager Kenny Sheils took the reins of the side with the sole aim of keeping the Braidmen in the Premier League. Despite a late flurry in the final weeks of the campaign Ballymena just weren't good enough and suffered relegation to the First Division after failing to defeat Portadown at home, when a win would have at least guaranteed another shot at survival in the play-offs.
It proved a season of rebuilding in the second-tier of Irish League football as the erratic Shiels made a number of 'big-name' signings which all flopped before the eyes of the supporters; former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Tommy Wright, former Leeds United defender Paul Beesley and Liberian striker Leon Browne all failed miserably to make an impact at the Braid. This left Shiels with a number of totally inexperienced teenagers fighting his cause, however despite their best efforts, they slumped to a dismal fifth-place finish during the 2001–02 season – United's lowest ever placing in their history.
Despite the previous season's disappointment, Shiels’ side bounced back with style the following season. Buoyed by the completion of an impressive new 2,000 seated stand at the Showgrounds, the free-scoring Sky Blues were playing an exciting and unstoppable brand of football, however they finished the season with little to show for their season, finishing runners-up in the Ulster Cup, County Antrim Shield and First Division. The league campaign was particularly sickening for Ballymena fans despite promotion, as they were leading the table for many weeks, only to capitulate to Dungannon Swifts during the final run-in. Media attention also circled around starlet striker Shea Campbell who bagged 38 goals and a Northern Ireland Under-21 cap as he was being hawked to moves across the water and also in the Irish League before committing himself to the Sky Blues.
Promotion back to the restricted sixteen team Premier League proved difficult at first for Shiels and his untested side. However the influence from former Nottingham Forest forward Nigel Jemson proved key to Ballymena's success during the 2003–04 campaign as they equalled their best placed finish in the Premier League by finishing sixth and also gaining a return to European competition for the first time in 15 years through the Intertoto Cup. Ballymena travelled to Danish side Odense in June 2004 and produced a remarkable scoreless draw against the full-time side – only to lose the home second leg heavily with Spanish side Villarreal waiting in the next round. Shiels was given the finance to attempt to bring the Gibson Cup to Mid-Antrim for the first time and signed a number of quality local players in Rory Hamill, Gary Smyth, Gordon Simms and Tim McCann but his team didn’t not produce a return on his investment and eventually cost Shiels his job after four and half seasons at the helm. The final nail in the coffin was the Irish Cup semi-final defeat to minnows Larne at the Oval, as the Braidmen finished a disappointing eighth after a season that had promised so much.
Former Northern Ireland and United goalkeeper Tommy Wright took over as manager on a full-time basis – a first for the club. Despite a slow start, he stamped his authority on the side bringing a number of new players in including a young Scottish striker Kevin Kelbie, whose goals in the second half of the season almost fired United to their first trophy in 17 years when they agonisingly lost the County Antrim Shield final to Linfield at Seaview. A credible seventh place was reward for Wright's work over the course of the 2005–06 season.
The following year proved disappointing as the club failed to make any progression to becoming a side capable of winning trophies after finishing ninth, the highlight of the season was the visit of English Premier League side Manchester City to Warden Street as part of the transfer deal that took goalkeeper Richard McKinney to England eight years earlier. The next season though saw Wright's side finally come of age as after an incredible 4–2 victory at the Oval on New Year's Day 2008 they looked like potential title challengers. This was to be the pinnacle of the success as teenage sensation Johnny Flynn was sold to Blackburn Rovers, and Wright was linked with a move to Norwich City. Although the manager signed a new contract in January, his team collapsed in their pursuit of success and Wright resigned in April 2008 only to re-emerge at Norwich City a few months later.
Former Crusaders manager Roy Walker was coaxed into a return to management in May 2008, following Jim Grattan's inability to take up office through his employers at the Irish Football Association. Walker's tenure at the Showgrounds throughout the inaugural years of the revamped IFA Premiership were unspectacular with a string of bottom half finishes with glimpses of brilliance from Walker's young team which was rebuilt from scratch. The Sky Blues agonisingly lost in the semi-final of the 2009–10 Irish Cup to Portadown on penalties, in the closest attempt at silverware.
Success at last (2010–present)
Walker began his fourth year at Warden Street ahead of the 2011–12 season, with United continuing their slumber as the 'sleeping giant' of Irish League football. Walker resigned from his post on 13 December 2011 after a 1–0 defeat to Crusaders in the League Cup semi-final, and Joe McCall took over as caretaker manager.
Former Linfield and Glenavon striker Glenn Ferguson was appointed manager of the Sky Blues. Ferguson made a couple of signings, bringing in Glentoran defender Johnny Taylor on loan, and signing former Newry City and Glenavon striker Alan Davidson. In Ferguson's first full season, he signed Lisburn Distillery pair David Cushley and Gary Thompson. Ferguson also signed former team mate, goalkeeper Stuart Addis from Linfield and signed Johnny Taylor who was on loan at the club from Glentoran.
On 27 November 2012, the Sky Blues finally ended their 23-year wait for a trophy, defeating Linfield 4–3 on penalties in the County Antrim Shield final, after the match ended 1–1 after extra time. This was United's first piece of silverware since the 1988–89 Irish Cup.
- Irish Cup: 6
- City Cup: 1
- Gold Cup: 1
- Ulster Cup: 2
- 1960–61, 1980–81
- Festival of Britain Cup: 1
- Irish League First Division: 1
- County Antrim Shield: 5
- 1947–48, 1950–51, 1975–76, 1979–80, 2012–13
- IFA Reserve League: 1
- Steel & Sons Cup: 1
- Louis Moore Cup: 1
- George Wilson Cup: 2
- 1989–90†, 1990–91†
† Won by Ballymena United Reserves
Club officials and office bearers
- President: Norman McBurney
- Vice-presidents: Billy Anderson & David Blair
- Chairman: Robert Cupples
- Vice-chairman: John Taggart
- Treasurer: Noel Millar
- Company secretary: George Dillon
- Football secretary: Don Stirling
- Sales and marketing executive: Brian Thompson
- Matchday announcer: Davy "Kingo" King
- Chief steward: David Galbraith
- Community relations officer: Iain Black
- Supporter Liaison Officer: Phil Simpson
- First-Team Manager: Glenn Ferguson
- First Team Assistant Manager: Norman Kelly
- First Team Coach: Lee Doherty
- First Team Goalkeeping Coach: Wes Lamont
- Reserve Team Manager: David Dorrian
- Reserve Team Assistant Manager: John Heron
- Youth Team Manager: Melvyn Logan
- Youth Team Assistant Manager: Mark Carlisle
- Team Attendant: Bertnel Thompson
- Sports Therapist: Gordon McCartney
- Club Doctor: Dr. Stephen McCurdy
|1960–63||Geoff Twentyman||1983–84||Jim Platt|
|1965–66||George Smith||1984–85||Alan Campbell|
|1966–67||Norman Clarke (Caretaker)||1985–87||Jimmy Brown|
|1967||Selection by Committee||1987–91||Alex McKee|
|1967–68||Dave Hickson||1991–93||Jim Hagan|
|1968–69||Alex Parker||1993–94||Tommy Jackson|
|1969–71||Alex McCrae||1994–95||Gary Erwin|
|1971–76||Arthur Stewart||1995–99||Alan Fraser|
|1976–77||Eddie Russell||1999||Shay Hamill (Caretaker)|
|1977||Alex McKee (Caretaker)||1999-00||Nigel Best|
|1977–79||Billy Johnston||2000–01||George Magill (Caretaker)|
|1979||Ivan Murray & Alex McKee (Caretakers)||Jan 2, 2001–May 4, 2005||Kenny Shiels|
|1979–82||Alan Campbell||May 26, 2005 – April 27, 2008||Tommy Wright|
|1982–83||Ivan Murray||2008||Jim Grattan|
|1983||Alec Donald (Caretaker)||July 1, 2008–Dec 13, 2011||Roy Walker|
|1983||Ian Russell||2011||Joe McCall (Caretaker)|
|1983||Alec Donald (Caretaker)||Dec 31, 2011–||Glenn Ferguson|
- Record Home League Victory: 8–0 v Cliftonville, (18 September 1965); 8–0 v. Glenavon (8 March 1975); 8–0 v. Distillery (8 December 1979)
- Record Away League Victory: 8–0 v. Newry Town (17 December 1994)
- Record Irish Cup Victory: 7–0 v. Tobermore United (9 February 1984)
- Record League Cup Victory: 8–1 v. Milford Everton (14 March 1987)
- Record European Victory: 2–1 v. FC Vorwaerts (East Germany) (17 September 1980)
- Most League Wins in a Season: 15 in 26 matches (1938/39) & (1939/40)
- Fewest League Wins in a Season: 3 in 22 matches (1956/57)
- Record Home League Defeat: 0–8 Belfast Celtic, (5 November 1938); 0–8 Cliftonville, (17 November 2012)
- Record Away League Defeat: 1–9 Derry City, (23 August 1937); 0–8 Ards, (12 February 1949)
- Most Defeats in a Season: 20 in 26 matches (1936/37)
- Fewest Defeats in a Season: 4 in 22 matches (1961/62),(1962/63)& (1979/80)
- Most Draws in a Season: 16 in 36 matches (1999/2000)
- Most Goals Scored in a Season: 82 in 26 matches (1939/40)
- Fewest Goals Scored in a Season: 20 in 22 matches (1976/77)
- Most Goals Conceded in a Season: 87 in 26 matches (1936/37)
- Fewest Goals Conceded in a Season: 21 in 22 matches (1980/81)
- Most Clean Sheets in a Season: 9 in 22 matches (1980/81)
- Most Capped Player: 3 John 'Jock' McNinch – Northern Ireland
Leading goalscorers by season
|2010–11||Gary McCutcheon||15||1992–93||Neil Candlish||16||1974–75||Gary Erwin||18|
|2009–10||Kevin Kelbie||16||1991–92||Neil Candlish||18||1973–74||Paul Kirk||30|
|2008–09||Neil Teggart||12||1990–91||Des Loughery||15||1972–73||Sammy Frickelton||14|
|2007–08||Kevin Kelbie||16||1989–90||Lindsay Curry||14||1971–72||Jim Martin||44|
|2006–07||Kevin Kelbie||17||1988–89||Paul Hardy||21||1970–71||Jim Martin||16|
|2005–06||Kevin Kelbie||16||1987–88||Billy Pyper||13||1969–70||Unknown|
|2004–05||Rory Hamill Oran Kearney||8||1986–87||Jonathan Speak||17||1968–69||Unknown|
|2003–04||Shea Campbell||14||1985–86||Jonathan Speak||18||1967–68||Unknown|
|2002–03||Shea Campbell||38||1984–85||Alan Campbell Jnr||15||1966–67||Unknown|
|2001–02||Peter Withnell||16||1983–84||Jonathan Speak||11||1965–66||Mal McDonnell||34|
|2000–01||Scott Drummond||8||1982–83||Paul Malone||23||1964–65||Arthur Thomas||40|
|1999-00||Glenn Hunter||23||1981–82||Paul Malone||20||1963–64||Unknown|
|1998–99||Glenn Hunter||19||1980–81||Paul Malone||27||1962–63||K Halliday||26|
|1997–98||Barry Patton||26||1979–80||Paul Malone||28||1961–62||Jimmy Small||23|
|1996–97||Ciaran Feehan Des Loughery||16||1978–79||Sammy McQuiston||18||1960–61||Hubert Barr||31|
|1995–96||Mark McWalter||13||1977–78||Barry Brown||13||1959–60||Eddie Russell||14|
|1994–95||Barry Patton||13||1976–77||Jim Martin||6||1958–59||Unknown|
|1993–94||Jonathan Speak||13||1975–76||Barry Brown||28||1957–58||Unknown|
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
|Norman CLARKE||Legendary United winger who moved to Sunderland in 1961. Inducted into the club's Hall of Fame.|
|Sammy FRICKELTON||Maverick Scottish striker who was a cult hero at the Showgrounds in the early 1970s. Left the club after losing the 1974 Irish Cup Final.|
|Jackie FULLERTON||BBC Sports Television presenter and commentator and former Ballymena United forward.|
|Dave HICKSON||Former Everton forward who had a spell as manager of the Braidmen in the 1960s.|
|Glenn HUNTER||Club record signing from Crusaders in January 1998. Scored 54 goals in 129 appearances between 1998–01.|
|Nigel JEMSON||Former Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday striker spent one season at the Showgrounds in 2003–04.|
|Des LOUGHERY||Long serving winger spent 11 seasons at Warden Street after joining from Roe Valley in 1988. A United Hall of Fame inductee.|
|Alex PARKER||Former United player-manager (1968–69); starred for Everton and Falkirk and was part of the Scotland 1958 World Cup squad.|
|Jim PLATT||Former United manager (1983–84) and Northern Ireland goalkeeper with 23 caps. Won the Irish Cup in 1984 and also appeared in the 1982 World Cup finals.|
|Brendan RODGERS||Current Liverpool manager started his playing career at Ballymena before moving to Reading in 1990.|
|Arthur STEWART||Former United player and manager and Northern Ireland international with 7 caps.|
|Nigel WORTHINGTON||Former Northern Ireland manager and former Ballymena United defender (1978–81). Won the Irish Cup in 1981 before moving to Notts County for £125,000.|
|Tommy WRIGHT||Spells at United as player (2001) and manager (2005–08); former Northern Ireland goalkeeper with 31 caps eventually became manager of St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership.|
- Geoff Twentyman
- Jimmy Kelly
- Billy McMillan
- Hubert Barr
- Tony McCall
- Gerry Mullan
- Brendan Rodgers
- John Sloan
- Alex Donald
- Alex McCrae
- Official Ballymena United Website
- Ballymena United page on the IPL Website
- Ballymena United Statistics and Results at the Irish Football Club Project