Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin keeping his focus on future goals as Glenavon bid to get back on track

Ballymena United's Jim Ervin (left) up against Rangers Colts' Adedapo Mebude. Pic by Pacemaker.
Ballymena United's Jim Ervin (left) up against Rangers Colts' Adedapo Mebude. Pic by Pacemaker.

Alongside the medals and memories accumulated across Jim Ervin’s Irish League career has come the knowledge that success is not a destination.

From the glory days with Linfield to his role at the heart of Ballymena United’s progress, Ervin has set and met numerous challenges.

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton. Pic by INPHO.

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton. Pic by INPHO.

Experience has confirmed to the 34-year-old United captain that external expectations increase with each passing internal goal.

Ballymena’s recent rise has led to League Cup glory, a Danske Bank Premiership runners-up spot and European adventure.

However, Ervin is aware that the challenges continue and to maintain momentum can prove as difficult as the original rise.

“It is fair to say we caught people by surprise last season on the way to finishing second,” said Ervin. “Once you set standards you then want to keep to that level and continue moving forward.

“But this season everyone considers it is going to be one of the most contested Premiership campaigns in a long time and a lot of clubs will look back on last season and feel they maybe fell short of their own high standards, so will be looking to bounce back.

“You cannot force anything and I think the best approach is to just focus on your week-to-week challenges.

“As memorable as last season was for everyone at the club, within that run we still had to show the ability to recover from setbacks.

“I think the experience within the squad helps when it comes to handling the pressure that can come with climbing then raising the bar again and always working to making sure standards do not slip.

“You cannot get frustrated with any disappointments and it is not about targets from outside the club but instead the small leaps that allow you to meet your own targets.

“Actually, we play Glenavon this weekend and they stand as an example of maintaining sensational levels over the past four or five years, plus you look at clubs like Crusaders and Cliftonville building over time.

“Other clubs can inspire us as we strive towards bigger and better things.”

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton can attest to the struggles within the search to sustain standards.

A string of impressive league placings has arrived alongside high-profile departures and Glenavon host Ballymena with a single success from the six Premiership outings to date.

However, Hamilton draws confidence from the impressive efforts in a 3-2 loss last week to league leaders Crusaders that left the Lurgan Blues boss frustrated by a number of decisions from the match officials.

“There are aspects we cannot control in any game but in terms of the performance it was one of the best by a Glenavon side of the past few years down at Seaview,” said Hamilton. “I was devastated for the boys to come away from that game with a defeat as they were excellent.

“In terms of the performance collectively and individually, I could not ask for anything more.

“You could see what the fans felt by how they reacted with so much appreciation for the effort put in by every player.

“And we want to carry both those positives into the match at Mourneview Park now with Ballymena United.

“It comes down to fine lines and we feel we need a break in our favour - but another performance last like weekend will be a massive boost towards the result we want and another show of support from the fans can also help swing everything for us.”