Ballymena 2
Portadown 3
League (Irish League)

2 - 3

League (Irish League)
Saturday, December 12th, 1931
Ballymena Showgrounds
2:30 PM Kick-off

Robert Stoddart (51)
William McCready (58)
Harry Johnston (60)
Thomas Dickson (66)
Samuel Curran (88)

Team Managers
Selection Committee
Selection Committee

Starting Eleven
James King
James Surgenor
John McNinch
Robert Stewart
Billy McCandless
William McCready
Andrew Haddow
William Hood
John Murphy
Robert Stoddart
William Cox
Denniston Ross
David McClure
Sam Kirkwood
Robert Hunter
Edward Anderson
Jimmy Kelly
Hugh Blair
George Cochrane
Samuel Curran
Harry Johnston
Thomas Dickson


None. None.

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

J. McClean (Belfast) (Referee)

Match Report

Hard on the heels of their unexpected defeat in the final of the Gold Cup came another shock to Ballymena last Saturday when Portadown snatched both points two minutes before the end.

It was senatorial finish to a game in which Ballymena had fully three-fourths of the play on an average, and a keen disappointment to both players and supporters.

Though they had about ninety per cent of the playing the first half Ballymena unable to find the net, thanks to the super-excellent display of Ross in the Portadown goal, who was the saviour of his side. On the run of play Ballymena should have been goals up, yet the interval arrived with the scores sheet blank.

Early in the second half Ballymena took the lead per Stoddart, and increased it per McCready. Even after this they continued to enjoy the balance of play, yet two runs by the 'Ports' ended in Johnston and Dickson making the score 2-2. Constant pressure by Ballymena failed to bring the much desired goal, Ross again being brilliant. Just before the end Curran scored Portadown's third goal as King advanced to meet him, thus providing a sensational finish to the match.

Ballymena were without Flannigan, who accidently broke a toe the previous day, and Barr, who was unfit. Hood reverted to his former position at right half in place of Nelson.

A short lived raid by Portadown was followed by a fast attack on the Ballymena left in which Murphy gave Ross a great shot which he had some difficulty in saving, and McCready banged in another which the 'keeper succeeded in stopping with one hand when it looked as if he would be beaten. A corner brought further pressure, but eventually it was relieved and Curran raced for the ome end, where McNinch had to concede a corner in stopping him.

From now on the game resolved itself largely into a fight between the home attack and the Portadown defence. Several frees fell to Ballymena, and corner after corner was forced, but a brilliant display by Ross nullified all efforts to score, though Murphy should have found the net once when exceptionally well placed, but shot right across goal. Still the corners came, and still no score resulted. Then a veritable shower of shots were fired from all angles and from every forward in turn, but Ross was as safe as houses.

Murphy had another try, and Stoddart, who was leading the line well, was on the mark with a clinking shot, but Ross pulled it down and cleared as McCready rushed in. Other shots from different forwards never got the length of goal, as they were charged down by a strengthened defence who worked like Trojans. Rose continued to hold the fort against all comers.

The pressure eased for a short period during which Blair worked his way through and essayed a shot which King saved. Meantime Stewart had fouled Blair inside the penalty area and a spot kick was awarded. McClure took the kick and scored, but a retake was ordered owing to an infringement, and this time King brought off a magnificent save at the expense of a corner and was cheered to the echo.

Ross was lucky at the opposite end to stop a header from Haddow, and again when the ball struck him on the legs. Haddow gave a beautiful pass to Cox, who raced in at full speed and struck the side net and later Stoddart headed narrowly over. A McCready-Murphy attack ended in a corner being forced, but despite this and further pressure the game was scoreless at the interval.

The teams turned around without leaving the field as the light was not too good. Ballymena settled down at once and made a series of attacks, but the 'Ports' broke away and forced a corner which proved fruitless. Ross was saving well again, but five minutes after the resumption he was beaten when Robert Stoddart netted from McCready's centre. In the next minute the same player just failed to add a second goal.

After Murphy had forced another corner, Stewart landed the ball on the top of the net with the goalie out of his charge. Then Portadown made ground and Dickson forced McNinch to concede a corner, which left the score unchanged. Again Ballymena came away and Stoddart put the ball across goal to Haddow, who missed, sending the ball straight across goal, but William McCready
, who was lying handy, ran in and beat Ross well for Ballymena's second.

Ballymena looked like romping home comfortably at this stage, but a swift change came over the game almost immediately, for about two minutes later Portadown attacked on the right, and after McCandless had unsuccessfully appealed for a foul, Blair crossed the ball and Harry Johnston reduced the lead.

This unexpected turn of events had an enlivening effect on Ballymena, who carried the offensive into the Portadown goal area again, where Hood forced a corner with a shot which deserved a better fate. This, and a corner to the visitors, a minute later, proved abortive. Then the 'Ports' made another onslaught on the home goal, and after King had stopped a stiff shot and was lying on the ground, Thomas Dickson collared the ball and made the score two all.

With something like twenty-five minutes still to go Ballymena went all out for the winning goal, but again found Ross in impassable barrier. He saved great shots from Surgenor, Stoddart, and Haddow in quick succession, and dealt ably with other minor efforts. Towards the close Portadown renewed the attack, and two minutes from the end Samuel Curran got clean through, and, putting King off his balance as the latter advanced to meet him, steered the ball into the net for the deciding goal. A free taken by McCandless in the last minute game Ballymena a chance of saving a point, but Ross saved the shot.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (18 December 1931)

Squad Statistics (as at December 12th, 1931)

1931-1932 All Time
James King (GK)24 19 - 19 -
James Surgenor21 2 - 2 -
Billy McCandless38 171642
Robert Stewart25 201632
John McNinch28 1841356
William McCready17 102216
John Murphy33 1358354
Andrew Haddow28 153153
William Hood - 10 - 10 -
Robert Stoddart30 9494
William Cox - 175175

League Table (as at December 12th, 1931)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 15 12 2 1 26
2. Belfast Celtic 15 9 4 2 22
3. Glentoran 15 10 1 4 21
4. Derry City 15 7 5 3 19
5. Coleraine 15 8 3 4 19
6. Portadown 15 6 3 6 15
7. Distillery 15 5 4 6 14
8. BALLYMENA 15 5 3 7 13
9. Cliftonville 15 5 3 7 13
10. Glenavon 15 5 3 7 13
11. Newry 15 4 2 9 10
12. Larne 15 3 4 8 10
13. Ards 15 3 3 9 9
14. Bangor 15 1 4 10 6