Past Greats

Peter Smith

Peter Smith was one of the most versatile players ever to have worn the “Black and Gold”, signed as a centre half on 11th June, 1960 from Dundee United. Peter had started his playing career with Heart of Midlothian in 1957/58 but found breaking into first team football difficult at that time at Tynecastle and went on loan to Livingston United until being released by Hearts on 18th April, 1959, he then joined Dundee United on 20th July, 1959 at the start of season 1959/60 who were managed at that time by Jerry Kerr who had previously managed Alloa Athletic.

Peter made 18 league appearances for Dundee United, scoring twice, five league cup appearances, scoring once and played one Scottish Cup tie for United before moving to Recreation Park at the end of the season. Alloa Athletic manager Archie “Curly” McPherson signed Peter for “The Wasps”, which was to prove one of the best signings he would ever make. In Peter’s first season at Recreation Park he helped the team reach the Quarter Final stage of the Scottish Cup, only to lose 4-0 to Dunfermline Athletic who went on to beat Celtic 2-0 in the final. One of his most notable performances was in a league game against Queen’s Park at Recreation Park, losing 2 – 5 at half-time, Smith was moved from right-back to centre forward and scored a second half hat-trick as “The Wasps” came back to win 7 – 5.

The following season Peter was given the centre forward jersey after an injury to one of the other Alloa forwards and he grasped the opportunity with both hands scoring thirty league goals in his first season playing up front. Peter also has the distinction of having played in ever postion for the club after even taking over in goals during a game after an injury to the keeper. In Season 1965/66 “The Wasps” after winning their section of the League Cup, defeating Dumbarton, East Fife and East Stirling met Hibernian in a two leg quarter final tie, Alloa lost the first game 2-0 at Recreation Park before travelling to Easter Road for the second leg where they were to lose 11-2, which unfortunately is the club’s worst ever defeat in their history, losing the tie 13-2 on aggregate, another ex wasp Neil Martin was to score four goals for Hibernian that evening.

However many Alloa Athletic fans will remember Peter as being one of the best players to play for Alloa Athletic in a career which he spent nine seasons at Recreation Park, amassing just under 300 appearances for the club.

Signed on 11th June, 1960 from Dundee United  as a centre half
Date of Birth : 18th July, 1937
Height : 5 foot 9 inches
Weight : 11 stone

Appearances for Alloa Athletic

1960/61           League  20 (-) 1    League Cup 6 (-) 0     Scot Cup 4 (-) 0   
1961/62           League 34 (-) 30   League Cup 6 (-) 0               Scot Cup 1 (-) 0   
1962/63           League 29 (-)  9    League Cup 6 (-) 2               Scot Cup 1 (-) 1
1963/64           League 22 (-)  3    League Cup 4 (-) 1               Scot Cup 0 (-) 0
1964/65           League 24 (-)  2    League Cup 2 (-) 0               Scot Cup 1 (-) 0
1965/66           League 32 (-)  2    League Cup 5 (-) 1               Scot Cup 2 (-) 0
1966/67           League 34 (1) 5    League Cup 5 (-) 1               Scot Cup 2 (-) 0
1967/68           League 30 (-)  8    League Cup 5 (-) 2               Scot Cup 1 (1) 0
1968/69           League 14 (5) 1    League Cup 4 (-) 0               Scot Cup 2 (-)  0

Total Appearances     296 (7) 69      for Alloa Athletic

Freed by club on 30th April, 1969.

Willie Crilley

Willie was without doubt, Alloa Athletic’s greatest ever player, although wee in stature, he was wee alright, just over five foot in height and nothin’ o’ him. However what he could do with a ball at his twinkling feet was uncanny, his check was catching, and his confidence shattering to the opposition. The story goes that he once went between the legs of a tall centre half against Kings Park, and after rounding a bemused keeper he asked the delighted Alloa fans behind the goal where they would like him to place the ball!

Willie Crilley joined Alloa Athletic in Season 1920-21 but was only not until the following season in 1921-22 that he came to the fore.
In Season 1920-21 he had been Alloa’s saviour on several occasions :- In the Scottish Cup he scored the winners against Falkirk and Clydebank and in the Third Round Alloa played Rangers in front of 54,000 at Ibrox, the game ended 0-0. The replay was also played at Ibrox due to lack of accommodation to maintain the crowd at Recreation Park. The replay in front of 50,000 resulted in Rangers winning 4-1 with Willie Crilley scoring Alloa’s goal.. Later that Season, Willie was to pick up two cup winners medals with Alloa when they beat Falkirk 1-0 in the Stirlingshire Cup Final and they also beat Dundee Hibernians 2-0 in the Penman Trophy with Crilley scoring the first of the two goals in the Penman Cup Final.
In Season 1921-22 crowds flocked to Recreation Park to see “The Wasps” in a record breaking season, Willie scored most of the goals and became Alloa’s record goalscorer with 49 goals. Crilley was 5ft 3in and weighed 9st 4lbs and was attracting attention from the big club’s and was according to several national newspapers “One of the best centre forwards in the country”.

At the end of the season he was transferred to Glasgow Celtic which lasted only for a few months, Crilley returned to Alloa for a second spell, but injury was to cut short his career. His last game for Alloa Athletic was on 21st April, 1923, in the final game of the season, which ended 1-1. A week later Willie set out for a new life in America and settled in New York. Again he returned to Alloa at the end of Season 1923-24 only to be transferred down south for £ 1,250.

Two seasons later he was transferred to an American club and on the 27th February, 1928 he married Miss Evelyn McElney while playing for New York side, Hispano. Crilley resigned from Alloa on returning from America on 7th August, 1929. While in America he played for two teams, Hispano and later I.R.T. Rangers and scored atotal of 79 goals in one season.
In 1930 due to Crilley now being an American citizen, the police deported him back to New York, in 1932 he asked to return to play for Alloa but the directors said no, and there ended his connection and career with Alloa Athletic.

Willie Crilley passed away at the Fort Hamilton veteran’s hospital, Brooklyn, New Jersey after a two year illness.

John Ryden

John Ryden was with Alloa Athletic for over three seasons and was transferred to Accrington Stanley in February, 1954 for a sum of £ 1,000.
He then played for almost two seasons, never missing a game for them, and is still regarded as one of the best players ever to play for the club.

In November, 1955 he was bought by Tottenham Hotspur for £ 10,000, a huge sum of money for a defender at that time. He stayed for five years at White Heart Lane and was club captain in 1957/58, only to be replaced as captain by Dave MacKay another Scot signed from Hearts. Ryden went on to Watford before retiring.

He was recently listed in the top twelve best Scots ever to wear a Spurs shirt. The other eleven were:- Bill Brown, Colin Calderwood, Dave MacKay, John White (Also ex Alloa), Richard Gough, Alan Gilzean and Steve Archibald.

Signed on 13th May, 1950 from Duntocher Hibs as a wing half
Date of Birth : 18th February, 1931

Appearances for Alloa Athletic

1950/51           League  7 (-) 0    League Cup 0 (-) 0       Scot Cup 1 (-) 0    Other  0 (-) 0
1951/52           League 24 (-) 5   League Cup 3 (-) 0     Scot Cup 3 (-) 0    Other  4 (-) 0
1952/53           League 30 (-) 1   League Cup 6 (-) 0     Scot Cup 1 (-) 0
1953/54           League 22 (-) 1   League Cup 6 (-) 0     Scot Cup 1 (-)

Total Appearances    108 (-)    7

Moved to Accrington Stanley on 13th February, 1954.



  John White was one of Scotland’s footballing heroes who was tragically killed by lightening while playing golf in Enfield, London on 21st July 1964 while sheltering under an oak tree beside the first green during a violent storm. Nature took his life at the young age of 25 ended the career of one of Scotland’s best ever footballers. He had gained 22 caps between 1959 and 1964. The Musselburgh born inside forward was given his chance in senior football by Alloa Athletic when he made his league debut as a “trialist” junior against Montrose at Recreation Park back on 12th September 1956. 

He had been playing junior football at this time with Bonnyrigg Rose before making his senior debut for “The Wasps”. His impact was immediate as Alloa defeated Montrose by seven goals to nil with the local papers all raving about the new junior who had been so influential throughout the match. White was nicknamed “The Ghost” because of his ability to run through on the blind side of the opposition defence. He looked as if he would be easy to dispossess but he was a very positive player and was rarely beaten. He was a brilliant player considering his frail structure. 

In 1958 Alloa Athletic found it impossible to hold onto the player and he moved on to play for Falkirk. Although only a short while at Brockville he again progressed and the following year, in 1959 Spurs manager, Bill Nicholson, signed him from Falkirk for £20,000. To start with Nicholson played him wide right and he was not as influential. However at the start of Season 1060/61 Nicholson moved White to inside-right and he became chief sorcerer. Spurs won their opening eleven games and was undefeated for a further five. They won 31 of 42 league matches and scored 115 goals. The league and cup double had not been achieved since 1897 (Aston Villa) but with the help of White this was possible. Spurs won the FA Cup again in 1962/63 and, in the same season won the European Cup Winners Cup and finished second in the league, with Jimmy Greaves setting a club scoring record of 37 league goals in one season, which still stands today. It was White who fuelled Greaves’ predatory instincts and virtually, when he was missing, so were Spurs. 

In the fifteen games he missed for Spurs during his time at White Heart Lane they won only once without White in the team. At the time of white’s death Bill Nicholson described it as a “tremendous blow”. It was to be much worse than that, White was never properly replaced and the formation of the team around the inside forward was dropped. It would take fifteen years, at the introduction of Glenn Hoddle, before Spurs fans could immortalise such a player again. 

Alloa Appearances
1956/57          League 25 (-) 6         League Cup 0 (-) 0 Scottish Cup 3 (-) 0
1957/58          League 36 (-) 19       League Cup 4 (-) 2 Scottish Cup 1 (-) 0
1958/59          League 7 (-) 1         League Cup 5 (-) 0 Scottish Cup 0 (-) 0 

Total Appearances 81 (-) 28

Moved to Falkirk 11th October, 1958
Moved to Tottenham Hotspur 5th October, 1959