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"Jock" McNinch

Name: John McNinch*
Born: Harryville

Position: Right-Back

Representative Honours: Ireland: 3 Full Caps (1931); Irish League: 3 Caps (1931-1934).
Club Honours: (with Ballymena) Irish Cup Winner 1928/29, Runner-Up 1929/30, 1930/31; City Cup Runner-Up 1928/29; Gold Cup Runner-Up 1931/32.

Club Career:
134/ 9
Ballymena Utd
42/ 2
Sligo Rovers
/ 0

Harryville born, the tough tackling full-back Jock McNinch began his career in the local Intermediate league with Summerfield but was given his chance in the Irish League with the new Ballymena Football & Athletic club, becoming one of the light blues’ first signings in June 1928.

It was a dream first season in senior football for McNinch and the ‘Ballymena Babes’, as Jock became a virtual ever present in the team that flourished in local football winning the Irish Cup final in April 1929 against Belfast Celtic at the Oval. McNinch was the only locally born player in the Braidmen’s line-up as the club won the prestigious trophy in their first season and also finished as City Cup runners-up the following month.

Success continued at the Ballymena Showgrounds, with two further consecutive Irish Cup final appearances in which Jock started in both defeats to Linfield in 1930 & 1931. His form in the 1930/1931 season was boosted by the defensive influence former Rangers veteran Billy McCandless and this resulted in a call up from selectors to the full Ireland team in February 1931. McNinch’s impressive debut in the 0-0 draw with Scotland was enough to attract firm offers from both Liverpool and Preston North End, which were rejected out of hand by the Ballymena committee.

Two further international caps followed during the 1931/1932 season against Scotland and Wales but eventually he lost his place at full back to Glasgow Celtic’s Billy Cook; but set an unbeaten club record for international caps in the process. During the peak of his playing days, Jock found himself in flux as Ballymena were suspended by the Irish League in April 1934 for refusal to submit their financial records as part of an investigation to payments to amateur players and eventually were wound up after only six years of competitive action.

McNinch was one of the few players who stayed loyal to the new club, Ballymena United FC, who rose out of the ashes of the suspended club ahead of the 1934/1935 season and continued to play at the Showgrounds, with the same colours and same support base. His eight years’ service to senior football in Ballymena was rewarded with the club’s first ever benefit (testimonial) match against Linfield in April 1936.

This was to be his last appearance in Ballymena blue as following a record combined 316 appearances and 15 goals for both Ballymena FC and Ballymena United FC, Jock made the move west to League of Ireland club Sligo Rovers in the summer of 1936. His stay lasted only a few months before he returned to the Irish League to play out his final season in senior football with nearby Larne.

As the Second World War broke out, Jock became a seaman in the Royal Navy and then immigrated to Canada in the 1950s before returning to football as a referee and a linesman in the Irish League, he remained a regular supporter of Ballymena United up until his passing.

Ireland Cap Details:
21-02-1931 Scotland H D 0-0 BC
19-09-1931 Scotland A L 1-3 BC
05-12-1931 Wales... H W 4-0 BC

Summary: 3/0. Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 1.

Irish League Representative Appearance Details::
23-09-1931 Football League A L 0-4
03-10-1931 Scottish League H W 3-2
19-09-1934 Football League A L 1-6

Summary: 3/0. Won 1, Drew 0, Lost 2.

Biography and club stats reproduced by kind permission from 'Neil Coleman - The Official History of Ballymena United FC'

* listed incorrectly in many sources as Joe.


Anonymous said…
Jock McNinch was signed by Ballymena FC from local intermediate side Summerfield in June 1928.
Anonymous said…
Jonh "Jock" McNinch was my Grandfather and whilst he went to Canada for visits, he never emigrated to there and spent the rest of his life in Ballymena. Eric John McDowell, Surrey England 020520

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