Paramount Ballymena United Supporters’ Club enjoyed a red letter day at the week as it celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Guests including Ballymena United chairman John Taggart and new manager David Jeffrey joined Paramount members at a function in the Bowling CLub.
A group of interested people met in Leighinmohr House Hotel on 25th May 1976 to explore the idea of forming a new Supporters Club for Ballymena United F.C. A steering committee was elected to oversee the formation of this new Club.
On 29th June 1976 the Paramount B.U. Members Supporters Club held their 1st official Club meeting when Alan O’Loan was elected Chairman with the late John D O’Kane and late Brian Livingstone were elected Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer respectively.
The Club’s constitution stated then only Members of Ballymena United could join the new Supporters Club, this was later changed and also opened to non-members of the parent Club.
The first outing of the Paramount Club was on Saturday 7 August 1976 to attend the Stranraer v Ballymena United pre-season friendly at Stair Park. The Club hired a room at the then Borough Council’s Community House on Galgorm Road. This was to become the club room for the first few years.
The Paramount grew rapidly in the early days and at one time had 34 members on the books.
At this time Ballymena United was going through a difficult time both on and off the field. A poor start to season 1976/77 on the field was followed by a devastating fire at the Showgrounds in which the grandstand, club rooms and adjoining social club were destroyed.
The Paramount Club agreed to step in and replace practice match balls which was lost in the fire, and donated all the profits of their first Cabaret Evening held in the Toll Bar to the Football Club.
The Paramount’s first Player of the Month award was Sammy McAuley and he was presented with a cheque after the home game with Ards on 25 November. Incidentally this was United’s first victory of 1976/77 season the only goal coming from a deflected shot by Terry Kingon. Over the years the Paramount held very successful Annual Dinner Dances the first of these on 12 March 1977 in the Adair Arms Hotel when Derek Murray of U.T.V. was Guest Speaker.
In 1978 the Paramount opened a Souvenirs Shop at the Showgrounds selling Scarves, plastic caps, flags, pens, car stickers and pennants with Ballymena United’s forthcoming entry into the European Cup Winners Cup. The Club qualified for the Cup Winners Cup as beaten Irish Cup finalist drawing Belgian cup winners SK Bevern.
Throughout the 1980s the Club continued to Support the Football Club making regular donations which was a remarkable achievement for a small Club. Their main source of income was from the Souvenir Shop at home games which now incorporated soup and confectionary.
During the mid-1990’s the Paramount hosted a new fund raising event, a monthly table quiz at Ballymena Bowling Club. This apart from members’ dues is the Clubs main income and continues to the present day. Since the early days the Club has been indebted to Local Business and induvial sponsors of their Player of the Month Awards and currently the monthly table quiz.
Alan O’Loan has been the main driving force behind the Paramount Club since its formation in 1976 serving as chairman from 1976 – 1998 and 2001 – present day. Peter Handford was the Clubs only other chairman from 1998 – 2001.
Three of the Clubs members Billy Bell and Jim Bolon have served Ballymena United Football Club as Club Secretary and Company Secretary respectively over the years. John Murray continues to be a long serving member of committee of Ballymena United.
Over the life of the Paramount (1976 – 2016) Ballymena United have had 25 Managers including care taker Mangers. Eddie Russell was the man in charge in 1976 through to the recentlty appointed David Jeffrey.
The Club would wish David and his staff all the best as start their management of the Club. Success on the field is what every supporter wants and the desire among the Paramount members is as strong today as it was way back in 1976.