IRISH LEAGUE: Proud Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin revels in Shield win with ‘underdogs’

Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin (right) and Allan Jenkins lift the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday night
Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin (right) and Allan Jenkins lift the County Antrim Shield on Tuesday night

Jim Ervin admits captaining Ballymena United to County Antrim Shield glory will stand tall in his stellar list of football achievements.

Ervin is no stranger to silverware, lifting 14 domestic honours including six Premiership titles and four Irish Cups during a nine-year career with Linfield.

The tables were turned on Tuesday night as Ballymena put one over the Blues in the Shield final, courtesy of a thrilling 3-2 victory at Windsor Park.

Ervin – who joined United in January 2014 – admits the Braid club’s success was a special moment in his illustrious Irish League career.

“This means everything,” the defender said.

“When you leave Linfield and go to other clubs, winning trophies can be seen as a bonus.

“At Linfield it is demanded that you lift silverware every season.

“It is very special to win my first trophy with Ballymena, and it is even better because I am captain, and it came against Linfield at Windsor Park.

“It is a great moment.”

Ervin heaped praise on boss Glenn Ferguson who joined an elite group of Ballymena managers to win multiple trophies on Tuesday night.

Only Alan Campbell and Arthur Stewart have claimed two or more cups with the Showgrounds club.

Ferguson guided Ballymena to the Shield in November 2012 – the first senior trophy in 23 years for the Braidmen.

The 46-year-old former striker has come in for criticism this season following a poor start to their Premiership campaign.

But captain Ervin believes two trophies in four years – and four cup finals in total – is an impressive return.

“Glenn deserves immense credit. The budget he has, and you look at the teams above us – Portadown, Glentoran, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Coleraine etc. It is tough to compete,” Ervin added.

“Glenn came in for a lot of flak at the start of the season, and it was uncalled for.

“It was the players who weren’t performing, and we need to cut out the silly mistakes.

“We have goals in the team, but we need to stop conceding silly goals. We are working on it, and Glenn and the backroom team deserve a lot of credit.

“I always knew I would have the chance to win trophies under Glenn and that’s proven to be the case. I think the manager and his backroom staff – Lee Doherty, Norman Kelly, Sammy McFadden, Wes Lamont, Gordon McCartney and Bertnel Thompson – deserve a lot of credit.

“They don’t always get the recognition they deserve and while this trophy is for the fans, it’s also for the backroom staff and all the hard work they put in.”

“Tuesday night’s performance and the result is for the fans. And also for the backroom staff who don’t get the praise they deserve.

“It was a fantastic experience following what was a great game. It was certainly pretty tense near the end, but we managed to hold on for the win.”