|Season||Division||Cln||Win %||Draw %||Loss %|
|Apps = First Team Appearances (Sub Appearances) | Gls = Goals|
|Cln = Clean Sheets | W/D/L - Games won, drawn or lost as percentage of games played in|
|Yel = Yellow Cards/Cautions | Red = Red Cards/Dismissals|
|Recent First Team Starts|
|Apr 4th, 1931||04/04/31||City Cup||vs. Linfield (H)||2 - 4|
|Mar 28th, 1931||28/03/31||Irish Cup||Final||vs. Linfield (N)||0 - 3|
|Mar 21st, 1931||21/03/31||City Cup||vs. Ards (A)||3 - 3|
|Feb 14th, 1931||14/02/31||City Cup||vs. Derry City (A)||1 - 5|
|Feb 11th, 1931||11/02/31||City Cup||vs. Cliftonville (H)||4 - 2|
|Recent First Team Goals|
|List of Goals Scored|
|List of Games Played (click to expand)|
Goalkeeper James McKean was plucked from obscurity to eventually would feature in an Irish Cup during his short stint at the Showgrounds in the 1930’s.
Born and raised in the Shankill Road area of Belfast, James rose to prominence in football late, as his first noted club was Dundela in the 1929/1930 season. After biding his time for much of the season he was jettisoned into the starting eleven for the Intermediate League side after the turn of the year and never looked back.
The 23-year-old’s performances at Wilgar Park caught the attention of Ballymena selectors, who drafted McKeen in for the final two games of the season in May 1930, following the beginning of a contractual dispute with regular custodian John Gough. Despite City Cup defeats to Larne and Bangor, James particularly impressed in a post-season friendly victory over Bohemians in Dublin.
This merited a permanent move to the Showgrounds ahead of the 1930/1931 campaign, but he would have to fight it out with recruit William Black who also signed from Linfield. In a season in which Ballymena tried five different goalkeepers, Black was favoured for much of the first half of the season, but from January 1931 onwards, McKeen cemented his place between the sticks as Ballymena made it all the way to the final of the Irish Cup for the third consecutive time in their three year history.
McKean’s final was an anti-climax, as Ballymena lost 3-0 to Linfield at the Oval in front of over 20,000 fans. It would be the goalkeeper’s penultimate appearance for the club, as he would be released come the summer of 1931, with Scottish stopper James King earmarked as the club’s preferred goalkeeper for the coming season. James made a total of 21 appearances, keeping two clean sheets for Ballymena.
In July 1931, he joined Larne and played out what would be his final senior season with the Invermen as they finished eleventh in the Irish League. His younger brother would eventually follow in James’ footsteps a few years later playing in goal for Distillery in the Irish League, but James’ career was quickly over before it ever got going in his mid-twenties.
James McKeen passed away in May 1975 in Belfast, aged 68.
Dundela; (May 1930) Ballymena; (Jul 1931) Larne
Irish Cup: (finalist) 1930/1931
Last updated: 20 November 2023
May 3rd, 1930
Larne 2 - 1 Ballymena United