LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Alloa Athletic

Wasps buzz about the second tier but fail to sting

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

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.

More recent campaigns in the second tier have seen Alloa rise above their station, mixing it with the big clubs from Edinburgh and Dundee, but the Championship has always been a stretch for this little club from Clackmannanshire.

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.

Indodrill Stadium/Natália Jánossy

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, the Second in 2013. A crowd of nearly 2,800 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 Jack Ross was retained as manager, leading his Alloa side to a winning run early in the 2016-17 campaign. A heroic stand at Celtic also held off the Scottish champions in the League Cup for 83 minutes in Glasgow. before 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. 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. Parry was again the key when Alloa pipped Airdrieonians in the semi-final decider, saving two penalties in the shoot-out. 

The Wasps were the favourites going into the play-off final with Brechin, Greig Spence capping a fine hat-trick with an overhead kick to put Alloa ahead in the second leg. The visitors then hit back, and Goodwin’s men were denied by the width of the post when Iain Flanagan hit the woodwork as penalties went to sudden death.

Bitter experience served Alloa well the following year. Trailing Dumbarton 1-0 in the Championship play-off final, the Wasps twice stung the hosts with goals in stoppage time of the second leg, the fatal blow coming from Jordan Kirkpatrick in the 95th minute.

Back in the Championship, first under Jim Goodwin then ex-Celtic midfielder Peter Grant, Alloa floated above the relegation zone but the inevitable drop came in 2021. A stalwart defender and team captain under Jack Ross, Andy Graham stepped up as manager in 2023, following the disappointment of a Championship play-off defeat to Hamilton.

ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the story behind it

Recreation Park, long 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.

getting here

Going to the stadium – tips and timings

The ground is a 10-15min walk from Alloa train station, and the same from the town centre. From either, you need the Shillinghill Roundabout. From the station, first pass Asda, then keep it to your left. Taking the Clackmannan Road, turn and walk for 300 metres. The ground is on your left.

The sat nav code for Recreation Park is FK10 1RY. There is no car park at the club. There are several close to the ground, including one at Station Square (FK10 1JJ) outside the station and a larger one the other side of the ring road (FK10 1JX), alongside the Speirs Centre. Both are free of charge.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Whether you’re standing or sitting, Alloa operate a simple pay-on-the-day policy of admission for £18, over-65s charged £10, under-16s £4, cash-only. 

There are no advance or online sales. For enquiries, contact 01259 219 956, fcadmin@alloaathletic.co.uk.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

A basic range of yellow-and-black souvenirs is sold at the match-day club shop at the ground, merchandise including badges, bobble hats and back copies of match-day programme, The Wasp.

The current home shirt is a suitably wasp-like number of amber-and-black hoops, away white with black ring cuffs and a navy diagonal band at the shoulder.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Surprisingly, considering how long Recreation Park has been serving Alloa fans – nearly 130 years and counting – in a town known for its brewing, 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 Alloa.