Nomadic forward William Kimlin who had two spells at the Showgrounds but enjoyed much of his success within Intermediate football in the 1930’s.
Born in Belfast and living on Windsor Avenue, Kimlin rose to prominence during his teenage years and his goalscoring exploits in the Boys Brigade caught the attention of his local club Linfield in 1926 as an 18-year-old. His quickly rose through the ranks at Windsor Park, starting with the Rangers’ side before progressing into an established member of the Swifts and even managed a few first team appearances.
A short spell with 40th Old Boys in the 1926/1927 season was followed by a move to top intermediate club Willowfield in September 1927. At inside forward, he was an integral part of one of the greatest seasons ever achieved by an Intermediate side in Northern Ireland – the East Belfast club won the Intermediate League, the Intermediate Cup and the Steel and Sons Cup during the 1927/1928 campaign. Assisted by future Ballymena team-mates James Kirkwood and Richard Shaw, they topped it off by becoming the first non-senior team win the Irish Cup as they defeated Larne following a replay at Windsor Park in front of 12,000 fans.
The 20-year-old’s stock was sky high after the remarkable four trophy season at Willowfield and a move to the senior ranks was the next step for Kimlin. He signed with Portadown in August 1928, but failed to recapture his form at Shamrock Park in the first half of the season – the opportunity quickly arose in January 1929 to join another senior club, the newly formed Ballymena club!
The Braidmen were flying high in their debut campaign and would go onto win the Irish Cup at the first attempt against Belfast Celtic. Despite making his debut in a defeat to Newry Town shortly after signing, William would only feature as a reserve player, making just two appearances in Light Blue during the 1928/1929 campaign and failing to score in either.
After the personal disappointment of the senior season past, he returned to Intermediate football with Belfast based side Broadway United in June 1929. A swift return to form followed for Kimlin, who claimed his second Steel and Sons Cup winners’ medal in three seasons, as Broadway United defeated Linfield Swifts in the final.
Selectors at the Showgrounds gave the 20-year-old a second chance in the summer of 1930, as he was re-signed by Ballymena for another shot at the Irish League. He rewarded the club’s faith by scoring his first goal for the club on his second debut but couldn’t prevent a shock 4-3 defeat to Cliftonville on the opening day of the 1930/1931 season.
Despite being unable to hold down a regular place in the starting eleven, William scored a respectable five goals in 14 appearances during the campaign, but once again missed out in a jersey for the Irish Cup Final showpiece, as Ballymena lost in their third consecutive cup final appearance, this time to Linfield. By this stage the forward had unknowingly made his final appearance for the club a few weeks before against Distillery (a game in which he had scored in!).
Another summer, and another move – back to give another shot at Portadown for the 1931/1932 season but failed to make a meaningful impact as the Ports finished ninth in the table. It continued to be a nomadic football career for William Kimlin as he dropped out for senior football that season for the final time, moving to Dunmurry (in 1932), then Crusaders (in 1933) before settling back at Broadway United for four seasons – the longest he had spent at one club during his football career.
Little is known about William Kimlin after his football career wound down, including when he passed away.
(1926) Linfield; 40th Old Boys; (Sep 1927) Willowfield; (Aug 1928) Portadown; (Jan 1929) Ballymena; (Jun 1929) Broadway United; (Jun 1930) Ballymena; (Jul 1931) Portadown; (1932) Dunmurry; (Dec 1933) Crusaders
(1934) Broadway United
Irish Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Intermediate League: (winner) 1927/1928
Intermediate Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Steel and Sons Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
McElroy Cup: (finalist) 1927/1928
(with Broadway United)
Steel and Sons Cup: (winner) 1929/1930
Intermediate Cup: (finalist) 1934/1935
McElroy Cup: (finalist) 1929/1930
Clements Lyttle Cup: (finalist) 1929/1930
Intermediate Cup: (finalist) 1932/1933
Steel and Sons Cup: (winner) 1933/1934
Intermediate Cup: (finalist) 1933/1934
Last updated: 27 May 2023