Longevity is one of the great traits of Scottish football and Alloa Athletic have it in spades. Not seen in Scotland’s top flight since the war, The Wasps date back to 1878, last winning major silverware in 1922.
That Division Two trophy granted Alloa their first access to the top tier. Runners-up spot in 1939 should have seen the club re-enter the elite but war broke out and in the first league season afterwards, Alloa found themselves back in the familiar surroundings of the Second Division.
Alloa’s most recent season in what is now the Championship came in 2015-16 and form in 2016-17 points towards a pretty rapid return.
Wearing some form of yellow/orange and black in hooped or plain form pretty much since the start, Alloa Athletic started out as Clackmannan County, then Alloa before settling on the current name back in 1883.
Soon joining the Central League, along with Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath and St Johnstone, Alloa won the title in 1913. Much like the Southern League in England around the same time, the Central League was absorbed into the lowest flight of the Scottish League in 1921.
With a record 49 goals from diminutive forward Willie Crilley, Alloa won the Second Division in 1922 but were immediately relegated. That solitary season of six wins would prove to be Athletic’s only stint so far in Scotland’s top tier.
Twice winning the Stirlingshire Cup under Jerry Kerr in the 1950s, Alloa nurtured slight, savvy inside-forward John White, later sold to Falkirk before becoming part of the Spurs double-winning side of 1960-61.
The Wasps missed out on a second-tier place when the Scottish League gained an extra division in 1975 but won promotion second time around. Since then, a pattern of flitting between second and third flights has been pretty much the norm. Goals from Willie Irvine, who started his career at local rivals Stirling Albion, lit up the later part of the 1990s at Recreation Park, Athletic’s home ground since 1895.
With later Bristol Rovers striker Martin Cameron also prolific, Alloa won promotion to the second-tier First Division in 2000, a season after a famous 7-0 win over Stirling Albion.
First with goal-a-game Stevie May, then vital strikes from midfielder Kevin Moon, Alloa gained promotion out of the Third Division in 2012 and, via the play-offs, Second in 2013. A crowd of nearly 2,800 was gathered at Recreation Park for the first leg of the play-off final against Dunfermline, an emphatic 3-0 win sealing a second straight promotion.
Alloa hung on for three seasons in the Championship before the inevitable relegation in 2016. Former Hartlepool and Falkirk defender was Jack Ross was retained as manager – just as well, as he led his Alloa side to a winning run early in the 2016-17 campaign, a heroic stand at Celtic holding off the Scottish champions in the League Cup for 83 minutes in Glasgow. Inspired Alloa keeper Neil Parry was eventually beaten with two late goals.
The feat did not go unnoticed, and Ross was poached by St Mirren in October. Irish international defender Jim Goodwin came the other way, starting his first full coaching role by keeping The Wasps in the hunt for a Championship play-off place.
Recreation Park, now known by its sponsor’s name of the Indodrill Stadium, has changed little over the years. Its most recent development came in 2008, when visiting supporters were treated to a new stand on the Hilton Road Side, covered and all-seated but still fairly basic.
Opposite, its roof featuring suitably old-school font promoting the Alloa Advertiser, the equally all-seated main stand straddles the halfway line, just about reaching the edge of each penalty area.
Behind the home Clackmannan Road End, a modest standing terrace, covered, brings capacity up to just over 3,000. If demand requires, away fans can also stand in the narrow, open Railway End, backdropped by the Ochil Hills.
The playing surface is artificial.
The ground is a 10-15min walk from the train station, the same from town. In each case, head for the Shillinghill Roundabout – from the station, head for Asda then keep it to your left – then take the Clackmannan Road turning and walk for 300 metres. The ground is on your left.
Whether you’re standing or sitting, Alloa operate a simple pay-on-the-day policy of £16, over-65s and under-16s charged £8, cash-only.
A basic range of yellow-and-black souvenirs is sold at the match-day club shop at the ground, merchandise including baseball caps, woolly hats, coffee mugs and pennants.
Surprisingly, considering how long Recreation Park has been serving Alloa fans – over 120 years and counting – there’s no pre-match pub anywhere near the place. There’s not even a bar at the ground, only a kiosk offering home-made soup and stovies, bridies and burgers, plus Bovril and hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks.
Of the bars in the nearby town centre, the most suitable and convenient for pre- or post-match drinking would be the Old Brewery – see the Alloa section.