Jim Ervin highlights his family's sacrifices as Ballymena achieve season objective

A picture of Jim Ervin sharing an embrace with his players following the win over Institute
Jim Ervin shares an embrace with his players following the win over Institute -Credit:INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

As the dust settled on Ballymena United's dramatic two-legged victory over Institute to ensure their Premiership survival boss Jim Ervin was able to take a breath and reflect on what has been a challenging first season in management.

Ervin was never one to shirk a challenge during his playing days and he was first to admit he knew what he was walking into when he offered the Showgrounds job. Nearly a year on from his appointment Ervin has achieved his first objective - keeping the Sky Blues in the top flight.

The 38-year-old said he didn't want to be the manager who took Ballymena down and with a lot of hard work he has made sure that didn't happen. But all that work and effort comes with having to make sacrifices and Ervin was quick to praise his family for the role they played over the past 12 months.

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"I have to thank my family because they have sacrificed a lot," he said. "They have sacrificed a lot of me because you're constantly on the phone, or at the football club or doing this, that or the other.

"My fiancée takes the bad moods, the mood swings, the not talking or not being there. That's difficult for her and the kids as well because even when they're with you you're still spending hours on the phone...it's mad it's 24/7.

"They don't get the real me to a degree, so as much as Friday night was for Ballymena United a lot of it has to go to my family as well because they have sacrificed so much.

"I'm looking forward to a bit of a break now, but you know what it's like as a manager you don't get too long and I look forward to spending time with the family and recharging the batteries to get ready for a long, hard second season."

Ervin has ambition and has a dream of where he wants to take the club, but he's a realist too as he fully admits his budget is less than some Championship clubs. But he wants to push the club forward so that they hopefully don't find themselves in a similar situation again.

"My job when I came in was to keep Ballymena in the league," Ervin explained. "That's what the board and club's expectations were.

"We haven't done it the easy way, we've made it difficult for ourselves but we've done it. I certainly didn't want to be the manager that got Ballymena United relegated regardless of where we are financially.

"The fans have been top drawer. I think they understand the problems the club had at the start of the season.

"It's been madness but it's been everything I expected and more and I've loved every minute of it.

"Even if we had gone down, I have still loved it. My staff have been incredible. They have picked me up when I've been down, so have the players and we've picked them up, so we've all tried to do our bit.

"I'm not one for excuses but we've ended up where we have because financially we're miles off it at this moment in time to where the league's at. There are clubs in the Championship who have bigger budgets than us.

"We've had to recruit a lot of young, inexperienced players as well as some young players from the academy. I mean this with the greatest respect we haven't maybe wanted to play them but we've been forced to because of resources.

"This season will stand them in good stead for the next. We need to rebuild again, we need a better squad, a more experienced squad. We've done what we were asked to do, we now need to build on it."

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