LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Alloa

No more Skol brewed on the Forth but Wasps still buzz

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

Representing Clackmannanshire, the smallest mainland county in Scotland, the former port of Alloa has managed to keep a football club going since 1878.

Alloa Athletic, the Wasps, have spent most of that time at Recreation Park, long operating under its sponsored name of the Indodrill Stadium. With a capacity of just over 3,000 – the population of the next biggest settlement and former county town of Clackmannan – the Recs hosted the likes of Rangers, Hibernian and Falkirk in the memorable Championship of 2015-16.

Originally having to compete in regional competitions such as the Stirlingshire Cup, Edinburgh Shield and Fife Cup, Alloa once had a local rival in Clackmannan FC.

Little is known of any games that might have taken place between them. Alloa had been formed as Clackmannan County in 1878, changed to the town name a year later then Alloa Athletic in 1883. Two years later, Clackmannan FC came into being, wearing blue-and-white hooped shirts as opposed to the gold and black of the Wasps.

Clackmannan’s short and sporadic stays in the Scottish League petered out in 1926 and the club folded five years later.

By then, Alloa had long become established as a league club and their rivals were Stirling Albion, one representing a waning brewing centre on the north bank of the Firth of Forth, the other a tourist destination of historic significance and twice the size. 

For all that, Alloa have long been the more prominent club both in the Scottish game and in infrequent local derbies. Athletic’s 3-2 win in the Scottish Cup in 2013 – featuring an early red card for visitors Albion and two goals in stoppage time – lives in the memory, though not as long as the 7-0 thrashing Alloa gave Stirling in 1998.

Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and tips

Edinburgh Airport is 48km (30 miles) from Alloa. From the terminal, a tram every 10mins from the airport takes 15mins to Edinburgh Park station (£7.50). From there, a regular train runs to Stirling, where you change for Alloa (£10.50, overall journey time 1hr 20mins).

The half-hourly Glasgow train is direct, taking 45mins from Queen Street (£10.50 single/off-peak day return).

Alloa train station is just north of the nearby town centre, a 10min stroll to the stadium. Everything is walkable – if you need one, local buses are run by Stagecoach. The main bus terminus is at Shillinghill, across from the Post Office and near the rail station in the town centre.

Based in Alloa, Buchan Town Cars (01259 213 215) offers airport transfers from Edinburgh Airport for about £70.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

The former home of Skol lager, Alloa once had a profitable brewing industry. Today’s only local producers are Williams, craft-beer pioneers.

With the ground so close, bars in town are also handy pre-match. Where Drysdale Street meets Shillinghill, a cluster of hostelries and restaurants includes the Thistle Bar, with its popular pub food and karaoke, and local Wetherspoon The Bobbing John, named after an 18th-century Jacobite leader.

For TV football, you can’t do better than the Old Brewery, set behind the Thistle Bar, with 1am closing at weekends. On the same side of town, much loved local landmark the Crams Bar screens match action.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the ground and around town

Discover Clackmannanshire has an accommodation database.

The main hotel in town, the Claremont, is currently operating as a restaurant only, having not survived the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether the guest rooms will be tidied up for visitors at some point in the future.

The only other local option, Garvally House, a comfortable guesthouse by West End Park, was not taking bookings in early 2024. When it does, it’s a 5-10min walk from town, 15-20min from the ground.

About 1km north-west of town, up the B9096/Tullibody Road, there’s a scattering of high-standard rural establishments popular for weddings. Still within Alloa, they’re a 10min ride into town by regular bus on the main road.

Just off the main road on Dunmar Drive, the Dunmar House Hotel comprises nine well appointed rooms, some with views across to the Forth Valley, a superior restaurant and traditional Scottish bar. Every spring, the hotel hosts Alloa’s annual sportsman’s dinner.

Across the main road, Inglewood House is a notch above, a Jacobean mansion containing six luxury suites, woodland lodges, a quality spa and upscale restaurant with private dining, all surrounded by 25 acres of countryside.