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Tuesday 3rd October v. Lisburn Distillery (home) - BetMcLean League Cup rd1 - k.o: 7:45pm

Dungannon Swifts MATCH REPORT

Page 1 (1928-1946) | Page 2 (1946-1969) | Page 3 (1970-1978) | Page 4 (1979-1989) | Page 5 (1989-2008)

Ballymena United 1974 Gold Cup Winners
The Sky Blues reached an Irish Cup Final in 1970 as a mere 12,000, just over half the average Irish Cup final attendance in those days, watched United fall 2-1 to Linfield at Solitude. Fleming grabbed an early goal which proved United's un-doing as they then mistakenly tried to sit back and defend out the remainder of the game. Incidentally this was Linfield's last game at Solitude for over a quarter of a century, due to civil unrest. The other interesting point is that it was the first Irish Cup Final with substitutes - Nicholl filled that role for United.
Next came a colourful time in United's history as one of the most 'colourful' and arguably one of the most talented of United's players - Sammy Frickelton was appearing at the Showgrounds to the delight of many fans. Scottish born Frickelton was followed by controversy but was still an exciting part of the clubs history.
Teenage goalkeeper Jim Platt was transferred to Middlesbrough (where he won 21 caps for Northern Ireland) for £7,000 and Ballymena Council purchased the Showgrounds in two major off the field happenings.
United was now under the charge of Arthur Stewart (as McCrae mysteriously resigned after a board member complained about his wages) as player/manager. United were involved in the incident which led to Derry City's expulsion from the Irish League as their bus was burnt on a visit to the Brandywell during the height of the troubles in the province.
On the field Jimmy Martin was the major sensation as his goals brought United's best performance in the ill-fated Texaco Cup – where the Sky Blues lost to Scottish side Airdieonians at the semi-final stage 1972, who went on to lose to Derby County in the final. United picked up the City Cup in 1971 for the only time in their history; Bobby Averill scored the goal as the Sky Blues picked up a long overdue trophy against Ards at the Oval.
In 1974 that same club beat United in the Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park. John Sloan scored but Ards ran out 2-1 winners. However, United won the Gold Cup - beating Glentoran 3-2 with Quentin McFall, Dessie Orr and Jimmy Brown scoring for the Sky Blues for the first and only time in the competition's prestigious history.
United then lost the final of the Gold Cup to Coleraine the subsequent year and Arthur Stewart was dismissed after a good service to the club, particularly in the early seasons of his five years in the notoriously unstable Ballymena hotseat.
Former favourite from the 1958 side Eddie Russell became player-manger and scored as United won the County Antrim Shield for the first time in 25 years - beating Distillery 4-0 at Inver Park. After the burning of the stand and by social club members of the travelling community, the Showgrounds underwent major work and the side was unable to play at the main pitch until the next season. On the pitch too United experienced more problems - going 13 matches without victory at one stage. Russell was sacked as a result of the team’s poor performances and in came Billy Johnston.
United lost the 1978 Irish Cup Final 3-1 to Linfield at the Oval to complete a league and cup double. This meant though that Ballymena experienced a historic first in qualifying for the European Cup Winners Cup. United entertained top Belgian side SK Beveren, losing 3-0 and the score was repeated two weeks later in Antwerp, as the Braidmen fell 6-0 on aggregate.
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