Ballymena Football Club was founded on 7th April 1928 when four local business men and football enthusiasts decided that the town of Ballymena needed a senior football team in the Irish League. The history of the club on the Internet explains that rumours started circulating in the Belfast Press and then advertisements were placed in the Ballymena Newspapers announcing that a public meeting would be held in the town's Protestant Hall. Admission was by ticket only, and these were available from four men across the town. Three of those listed would eventually become shareholders in the club, and two would be directors. James McIlhagga was an engine driver and would eventually buy ten shares in the club. John Gordon was a garage proprietor in the town, while Albert McClelland was a Solicitor. They became directors. The newly formed club took the place of Barn United in the Irish League for the 1928/1929 season.
Interestingly there is a James (Jimmy) McIlhagga who plays football in Northern Ireland today who is often reported on in the press. I think he is a mid-fielder. I don't know whether he is related to James the Engine Driver. I think he was probably James Spence McIlhagga who in 1928 would have been 44 years old. He started work with the Railway as a Locomotive Fireman when he was 20. He died on 11th November 1959 in Ballymena, aged 75 years old.