Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:11:24 PM
Derek Riordan, speaking after making his debut for “The Wasps” against Livingston, paid tribute to Alloa Athletic and former boss Paul Hartley for helping to end his exile from football. The 31-year-old almost made an instant impact during his new side's 3-0 loss to Livingston when the Lions' skipper Simon Mensing was sent off for pulling him down as he raced through on goal within a minute of coming on. And now the former Hibernian star has vowed to repay the Clackmannanshire outfit by scoring the goals to help propel them up the SPFL Championship table. "It is great to finally get back playing and obviously I am hugely grateful to Alloa Athletic for giving me the chance, first and foremost to let me train and now to play with them has been great. I much prefer that to sitting in the house watching Soccer Saturday on TV. It feels great to be pulling the boots on again and I really enjoyed it. I had never really intended to sign here, it was just about training to keep fit at first but it is about getting minutes under my belt now, getting back to scoring some goals here and seeing what happens in the summer now.
"I am happy to be here, I feel like I have already been here for a while because I was training here under Paul Hartley and he actually asked me to come into training back in the summer but at that point I was at Dumbarton training with Ian Murray. I have really enjoyed my time here at Alloa so far, it is only ten minutes from my house so it is local for me and I get on brilliant with all the boys. "Obviously, I was down at Carlisle then I thought the Belgian deal was going to go through, the manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seemed keen on me, then their chairman came out and slated me in the paper so that was that. I understand that clubs are looking at me and being put off because I haven't played football in a year but that's just part and parcel of football. I will now just focus on doing my best for Alloa Athletic, try and score some goals and get myself back to where I should be."
Riordan found himself lining up one of his trademark free kicks only to have it blocked by the arm of Martin Scott who, as luck would have it, would go on to score the killer second goal with a 45-yard wonder strike. The former Scotland international believes that while that kind of luck comes from the poor form his new club are in at the minute, he believes the only way to break the bad run is to start providing the strikers with more chances to score.
He said, "I think as a team we just need to create more chances for the strikers and I am confident of sticking a few away. I think that is the main problem at the club at the minute. The strikers who have been playing haven't had the service and it is going to be hard now because we only have a point in the last five or six games so we need to get our fingers out and start winning games.
"I think it was a handball from my free kick and it is probably Martin Scott that gets his arm up to block it but then that happens all the time from free kicks. I am just eager to get playing again, it was just disappointing with the result.
"To be fair they went down to ten men almost immediately after I came on and after that it looked like we would get something out of the game but Scott's goal, which is an absolute beauty, that kind of knocks the stuffing out of us. He said to me afterwards that the strike was like something out of my book but it was a terrific strike from him and that is what happens when things are going against you. I think the heads dropped after their second goal and that was it, game over for us."
The Wasps fans thought they had their golden debut moment when their new hero fired a shot on goal from 12 yards but the Livingston keeper Darren Jamieson had other ideas and the experienced striker admits it was a top save to deny him.
Riordan added, "For my chance to be fair I thought it was going in. It is a striker's instinct just to hit the ball under the defender's leg, I did that but the goalie did well to get a hand to it and it just wasn't to be."
Friday, December 06, 2013 6:47:30 PM
It’s a relief that our manager is staying, there was a lot of speculation that he would go but all the lads are pleased he stayed. Hopefully we can now kick on from here and try and get a good finish to the season.
It was tough for me when I left Celtic, but now I have come to Alloa and I am now in my third season with them and getting a regular run of games, I feel as if I have got better as a player and just now all I want to do is my best for Alloa Athletic FC. When I was at Celtic I played in the reserve team and Paul remembered me from his time at Parkhead, which was good and I would what to thank him for that because I have really enjoyed my time at Alloa with him and playing under him.
You never know in football, players and managers get speculation but I just want to concentrate on doing my best for Alloa and try and score more goals and just help the team out. Although we never played together at Celtic, Paul always made time to talk to the younger players at the club.
At the start of this season we were not given much chance and people were putting us down before a ball was kicked and tipped for relegation right away but I think we have so far proved a lot of people wrong this season, we try to play football even against better teams and we have so far held our own against teams people didn’t give us a chance against, I don’t think there is as much difference in the standard of football played by some of the full time clubs and the better part time clubs, there are plenty good part time players around just now.
In fairness the players didn’t speak in the dressing room about the possibility of the manager moving and he never spoke about it either, we just got on with our training and looked forward to the games, I thought we were unlucky tonight against Dumbarton, we battled well and tried to play football when we could. My goal was one of my best, maybe when I was younger I scored a better goal but it is up there, I was glad to get the goal.
We have another tough game on Saturday against Hamilton Accies, but happy we still have our boss and I would love to keep my relationship going playing for him, wherever that might be.
Saturday, November 02, 2013 6:16:00 AM
Gormley rediscovering his love for the game among the lower reaches
Michael Lamont – The Herald
Saturday 2 November 2013
Junior football is often viewed as a playground for pitches in poor condition, low crowds and players past their best. It is a perspective which used to be shared by David Gormley, but the Auchinleck Talbot striker now holds the lower reaches of the game in higher esteem.
After suffering at Ayr United and Alloa Athletic, the 25-year-old fell out of love with the game and considered quitting. The juniors has reignited his passion, though, and he is now looking forward to a William Hill Scottish Cup third round tie at Stranraer today.
The striker is plying his trade in the Western Premier League with Auchinleck, scoring 12 goals in 16 games for the Beechwood Park side this season. "When I played with Ayr United I disregarded the juniors but I love playing at this level now and probably wouldn't go back to a senior club," he admitted.
"The juniors has given me the opportunity to play regularly, score goals and be involved with a group of down to earth, talented guys. We've got two or three players competing for each position at the club so you need to be on your game every week. It's unusual for a junior team to be as strong as we are but Talbot are like a senior team. We could match any League 2 side."
Gormley had experienced success with Ayr United after signing from Glenafton in 2008, helping to promote the club, but the player failed to settle in the first division. "I had a fall out with the manager at Ayr United and moved to Alloa Athletic where I got sick and bored of football," said the robust striker. "I had a successful first season at Ayr where we secured promotion but when we were in the first division I was told I wasn't in Brian Reid's plans. I then had spells with Albion Rovers and Alloa but decided to take a break as I was no longer enjoying football. The manager of Kirkintilloch Rob Roy at the time, Jimmy Lindsay, gave me a call and persuaded me to sign for the club in the summer of 2011. I'm glad I did as I haven't looked back since."
The striker has some interesting experience of the Scottish Cup. "I was only 21 when I played for Ayr against Kilmarnock," he reflected. "It was a great experience and we drew 2-2 at Somerset Park. The return leg was live on Sky Sports which added to the occasion.
"When I played with Alloa we were losing 1-0 to Hamilton in the Scottish Cup and our goalkeeper was sent off. We had used all our subs so I took the gloves from Stephen Robertson to save the resultant penalty, giving us a chance of grabbing an equaliser but they scored late on to kill the tie. That moment provided a good laugh for a lot of people and is my claim to fame in the Scottish Cup."
Article in Saturday 2nd November, 2013 edition of "The Herald"
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 1:09:19 PM
Alloa stopper Scott Bain insists they will bounce back from their League Cup exit to Aberdeen but only once the pain of their penalty shootout defeat has healed.
The Wasps number one made some superb saves as he kept his former employers at bay for 120 minutes of open play and he felt like it was a real team effort that showed just how good Alloa can be.
The young keeper believes there are many positives to take from the game as they attempt to immediately lift themselves ahead of a crunch clash with old rivals Queen of the South at Palmerston this weekend. "We are hurting now and probably will be for a few days but we will also take confidence from what we have achieved in this match. Right now we all feel terrible. The work we all put into in the game to take it to penalties - It just goes to show the work ethic we have at this club - our team spirit is amazing and everyone wants to fight for each other. There are a lot of positives to take from the game that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season. Aberdeen didn't create an awful lot in terms of chances but that was down to the boys in front of me who had an unbelievable amount of blocks of crosses and shots. There was some vital challenges in there from the boys and I was pleased to do my bit as well to get us to the penalties. Coming back to Pittodrie didn't bother me, I am happy that I was able to put in a good performance but it would have been better if we had got the result as well. We were desperate to get through the tie and we showed that throughout the match but it just wasn’t to be. We will have to lift ourselves ahead of a tough trip against QoS on Saturday but with the dressing room we have that won't be a problem once the initial pain of this result dies down. I can't even put into words how gutted we all are to go out."
Bain admits felt for his team mate Michael Doyle after watching his former team mate Jamie Langfield save his vital spot kick. But he says the squad will not allow him to dwell on it and they can be proud of pushing Aberdeen to the limit in the cup tie. "For a part-time club like Alloa to come to Pittodrie and match an SPFL Premiership team who are being tipped to be 2nd in the league is outstanding and we matched them all the way. We came more into the game in the second half as we grew in confidence and towards the end we were the ones who looked like we might get that vital goal. So to lose on penalties after all that was just devastating for us. After a shaky start we settled into the game and we grew in stature as the game went on and we really showed how well we can play. We pass the ball well and created some good chances but it just wouldn't fall for us. I felt for Doyley, it could have happened to anyone but we will all rally round him because he is a top player for us."
Thanks to Graeme Lafferty, Alloa Advertiser for article
Sunday, August 04, 2013 7:12:06 PM
I am delighted to be playing with Alloa Athletic, Derek McInnes had said during the week that Paul had been asking about me which pleased me and this would allow me to get a run of first team football. Basically, today’s game was my first ever start as a first team player and I really enjoyed it. In the first half it was really hard to set up any partnership with Andy Kirk due to the conditions but I always felt in my mind if we could get through the first half we would come back into the game in the second half. We certainly took the game to them in the second half with the wind behind us. It was good to be part of the winning side and to give Paul Hartley his first victory in a cup competition. My first year as a full time professional Paul Hartley was my captain at Aberdeen so I knew him well – and he used to drive me home to Glasgow. I was buzzing that he had asked for me because I knew how professional he was and I knew it would be a well run club at Alloa. When I went down and met with the players on Thursday I absolutely loved it and I am looking forward to the next six months with Alloa Athletic. All the players were very welcoming on Thursday which made it very easy to settle in and today it just showed how good the team spirit is. Today wasn’t about me scoring – it was about the team winning and getting through to the next round of the cup which was great for me as I was celebrating my 19th birthday today! I expect the standard in the SPFL Championship to be very high. I jumped at the chance to come to Alloa Athletic and hopefully I can reward them with a few goals.
Sunday, January 06, 2013 11:21:55 AM
Craig Valentine - Alloa Legend
It’s not too difficult to imagine the sharp intake of breath in the boardroom at the Recs on Thursday 15th August 1996. That was the day when an independent tribunal ordered Alloa to pay around £100,000 for Tom Hendrie’s pre-season signings; Mark Cowan, Willie Irvine and Craig Valentine from Berwick Rangers, and Peter Dwyer from East Stirlingshire. The club felt at the time that perhaps some of the fees were excessive but the £24,000 spent on Craig Valentine must surely go down as one of Alloa’s best investments.
Port Seton based Craig began his senior career in 1992 with Berwick at the age of 22. His rather late arrival in senior football can perhaps be explained by a number of serious injuries he sustained as a youngster, with Craig suffering a broken leg on 3 occasions between the ages of 17 and 19.
Craig remained with Berwick until 1996, amassing almost 150 league appearances. Berwick were actually a league above the Wasps when Craig switched to Alloa in the summer of 1996, but he was more than happy to sign up at the Recs under his old manager Tom Hendrie, who himself had made the same move a few months earlier.
“It wasn’t really a hard decision – Berwick was a very badly run club at the time. You didn’t know what was happening one week to the next to be honest. When Tom offered me the chance to come to Alloa I took it”.
Craig was a key part of Hendrie’s new look Wasps and they made a quick impact, knocking Motherwell out of the League Cup on penalties. The Wasps made history at Fir Park that night, the first Third Division team to defeat a team from the top tier. It was just two days after that match that the independent tribunal ordered the club to compensate Berwick, but Craig denies the size of the transfer fee put any extra pressure on him personally.
“Not really – it put more pressure on Tom than on me probably! I think I ended up being the dearest and he wasn’t too happy. I think everybody was very surprised by the fees, but maybe the SFA were trying to show a bit of authority and felt Tom shouldn’t have gone back to Berwick for all the players. We were very fortunate though because we were at the tribunal on the Thursday and we drew Celtic just after that and that covered the cost of all the players I think”.
Alloa lost 5-1 to Celtic but Wasps fans will remember the scenes of jubilation when Peter Dwyer equalised shortly after half-time, before Jorge Cadete proved just too hot to handle.
The team finished 4th in Division 3 that season but progress was being made and the following year, 1997/98, the club clinched the title with Valentine as important a figure at the back as Willie Irvine was in attack. The team consolidated the following season but suffered a blow with the departure of Tom Hendrie to St.Mirren. Craig claims however that the transition to new manager Terry Christie was an easy one.
“I wouldn’t say there was a much of a change. Tam and Terry were very similar managers, obviously Tam had learned from Terry and they were very similar.” Many Alloa fans felt that the style of play changed somewhat under Christie, with the man in the duffle putting more emphasis on defence than Hendrie had. Craig feels that’s perhaps overstated. “Terry was very organised and he certainly emphasised a bit more on defence than attack, but they were very similar I would say, just very slight differences between the two of them.”
Terry Christie certainly took the best of Hendrie’s attacking Alloa team and added a stronger defensive base, built around Valentine himself. Christie’s first full season proved to be a great success for the Wasps with the team ultimately winning promotion after a fine Scottish Cup run, and of course the epic Challenge Cup win on penalties against Inverness after a 4-4 draw.
“That was a great day out”, says Craig. “Although it’s the Challenge Cup it’s a great achievement, it’s everybody out with the Premier League. I missed out on lifting the Third Division as Keith McCulloch was club captain and we agreed he would lift the trophy, so for me to lift the Challenge Cup that day as captain was brilliant.”
Alloa were building a reputation as a fine cup side and Premier League Kilmarnock were knocked out of the Scottish Cup 1-0 at the Recs, following a 0-0 draw at Rugby Park. Next up were Dundee United with the Wasps going 2-0 up, only be to pegged back to 2-2 after playing much of the second half with midfielder Gary Clark in goal after an injury to Mark Cairns.
“I always remember big Martin had a chance to make it 3-0. After that Jim Hamilton changed the game but even up at Tannadice, it finished 4-0, but there was never that in the game. We gave a really good account of ourselves but they had a bit more energy”. The 4-0 scoreline that night certainly did flatter United, with the Arabs hitting 2 late goals in each half despite Alloa more than holding their own over the 90 minutes.
The team lifted themselves from the disappointment of the cup defeat however to embark on another fine run and clinch a place in Division 1, ultimately securing promotion with a 2-1 win over champions elect Clyde. “They couldn’t beat us all season yet they still won the league so it was bit disappointing not to win the league - but it was brilliant to go up”, says Craig. That summer of 2000 marked the middle of Craig’s 8 years with the Wasps and the second 4 seasons will be covered in the next edition of ‘The Wasp’.
1999/00 was perhaps the most successful season in the history of Alloa Athletic but the step up to Division 1 the following year proved to be just too much for the Wasps. The man who skippered the team at the time, Craig Valentine, points to a mixed start to the season. He also recalls the game against Raith in the run in with both sides battling to avoid the drop – a game in which Alloa ended with 9 men and ultimately lost 2-1. “It was a great experience being in the First Division and it was just a shame we couldn’t stay up and settle in that division for a year or two”, says Craig.
Manager Terry Christie made a few changes to his squad that summer with the addition of some classy players such as Gareth Hutchison, and the team bounced straight back up as Division 2 runners up in 2001/02. The 4-1 win over eventual champions QoS in the run in remains one of my own favourite Alloa games, a clinical performance in front of a big crowd at the Recs.
The second attempt at staying in Division 1 came agonisingly close to success, Alloa ending up being relegated on goal difference despite a very strong finish to the season.
The Wasps were one of or perhaps the best part-time team in Scotland for much of the period 1999-2003 and Craig was one of the star performers. Despite that however, and despite some rave reviews in the national press, he says that there was never any real chance of him going full-time, and indeed that he was happy to remain part-time. “Everybody wants to play in the top league but I enjoyed my football, whether it was at Alloa or Berwick, I just enjoyed playing football. It suited me well playing part-time. The money wasn’t great full-time and with me working myself and playing part-time football, it just suited me better”.
Relegation in 2002/03 marked the end of an era at the Recs with Christie’s team in decline, and the manager himself departing with the club struggling back in Division 2. Tom Hendrie returned but the quality of player in general had dropped and Hendrie couldn’t work his magic a second time. Alloa avoided a second successive relegation but Craig departed at the end of the campaign – something which came as quite a shock to the Wasps supporters.
“It was a bit of both of us really, myself and Tom. Tom didn’t see me as being central to his plans, he didn’t feel I would play every game and that was it. It was a disappointment but I felt I hadn’t done well that season anyway so I wasn’t sure myself – I had a few things going on and I wasn’t sure myself to be honest. It was a disappointment, there is no doubt about it, but that’s just football.”
Alloa fans were also disappointed – and sorry that they didn’t get a chance to thank Craig for his long service. “The last game I played, it was the second last game of the season, and the fans didn’t know I was going but I knew and I knew I wasn’t going to the last game, so I asked my daughter to be the mascot and it was good for me in that respect”.
Many Alloa supporters felt that it was a bad move to release Craig and the defensive displays the following season appeared to vindicate that opinion, particularly when Alloa had a very young backline who seemed to need support from an experienced head like Craig Valentine. That’s something that the player himself does not deny. “Tom lived and died by his mistakes, didn’t he, and he didn’t last much longer after that. I was disappointed, but that’s just football”.
Craig is adamant however that his departure did not sour his relationship with Alloa or his memories of the club. “It was great. I have nothing bad to say about Alloa. It was a great club and it was great to be there. We got promoted twice to the First Division, won the Challenge Cup, we got better and better through the years”.
“I played with some great players there. Willie Irvine was a great player, Martin Cameron, Ian Little, big Stevie Thomson”.
Craig wrapped up his career with a year in the juniors with Bonnyrigg Rose but he didn’t enjoy the experience of that level. “My heart was never in it, I hated it”, he says.
Craig did return to senior football last year, helping out his former Alloa team mate Ian Little in his first managerial job at Berwick. Time constraints meant Craig could not continue in the position.
Craig Valentine started his time with Alloa as right back but as time went on was more often deployed as a sweeper, a position he preferred. Captain fantastic Valentine diving in to make a last ditch block – and putting his head amongst the boots – is one of the enduring images I have of the great Alloa teams of the turn of the millennium. Another is of Craig out jumping centre forwards who seemed to be twice his size.
Craig Valentine never scored a goal for Alloa but his outstanding defensive performances in almost 300 appearances ensured his place as a genuine club legend. There surely can’t have been many better defenders in the black and gold before he signed, and arguably there hasn’t been anyone as good since he left.
Friday, November 02, 2012 7:02:12 PM
Looking forward to the game now. I have never played at the stadium before but I have been there as a fan so I know all about what the atmosphere is going to be like. We are looking to go there and enjoy it. We hope to have everyone on top of their game and then we will take it from there. I have some experience of big games before. I played for Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup fifth round at McDiarmid Park, we lost the game 2-0 but from a personal point of view I did very well. For Saturday we know we are the under dogs but we need to just give a 100% and be confident in our own ability. We have to hold on to possession when we get it and more importantly work hard when we lose possession. I agree that Rangers are not the force they were two or three years ago but at the end of the day they are still Rangers. They are still a big team in Europe with a great support. It could work both ways if they don't play well then the crowd will get on their backs but then at the same time most of our team including myself have never played in front of 40,000 plus so it will be a we bit nerve wracking. I saw my old club Stirling Albion beating them, but then that was away from home, at Ibrox they have still been pretty dominant. Obviously they have a young back four and I have played against Ross Perry before and did well against him so hopefully if I get the nod I can cause him some problems again. They are there to have a go at and we are good going forward so hopefully we can turn it on against them. Firstly I hope to get in the team and if I am then I will give it my all. If a chance comes my way then I'll hopefully put it away. My old man is a Celtic fan so he is hoping that I do well and looking forward to the game so its going to be a great occasion and hopefully I can do him proud.
Friday, November 02, 2012 6:56:15 PM
I have been to Ibrox before but I was on the bench and never got on so I'm looking forward to the game now. This will be the biggest game of my career so far. The boys are all obviously buzzing about going to play at Ibrox. Its a big stadium and a lot of the boys haven't sampled the atmosphere before but we are going there with confidence. Training has been competitive this week. Everyone is raring to go and fighting for places in the team - the gaffer has put together a strong squad here now so we are desperate to play now. We go there thinking we have a chance. They are obviously massive favourites and rightly so for a big club like Rangers but we definitely got a chance. Everyone is talking about them saying they haven't really started great this season but they have some players of real quality who can hurt us all over the pitch. So we will need to go there and be solid and hopefully stay in the game as long as we can. The likes of Lee McCulloch, Dean Shiels and Ian Black have all played at the highest level but we will definitely go there and give it a go. The main thing for us is the league, we are going well at the moment and the win on Saturday has given us confidence going on because its always good to score five goals. We go into the game looking to get a result and we know if we do that it will give us a big lift for the league campaign. The gaffer has brought in a lot of youngsters and they are all just desperate to get a chance to showcase their talents and hopefully we can all do that on Saturday. Obviously we expect Scott Bain to be busy but hopefully he can pull off the saves that we will need because he has been excellent for us this year.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 6:56:19 PM
Scouting Report on Robert Thomson
Striker, Alloa Athletic
When a young player makes his competitive debut, it is usually packed with nerves, shaky touches and anxiety. Not for Robert Thomson, who on his debut for Alloa, scored two goals in 25 minutes after coming on as a sub against Albion Rovers. One goal – an overhead kick- was particularly impressive for a player only 19-years-old.
Paisley born Thomson joined the wasps in the summer, on loan from Dundee Utd until January, and is grateful of his opportunity to shine. He said: “I’m really enjoying it; it's good to get some first team experience at a team that play good football like Alloa”.
He is a unique player- standing at Six foot two; he has a subtle touch, close ball control and a good amount of pace - unusual for a player of his stature.
As you would expect, he is also strong in the air, making him well equipped for the challenge of playing in the lower divisions of Scottish football.
Being a good passer of the ball himself, Paul Hartley will be pleased to have signed a player who likes to play the ball on the deck. The signing of Thomson seems to tie in with the attacking style of play, former Scotland international, Hartley is bringing to Alloa.
The Athletic frontman describes Hartley as “a great manager” and says: “hopefully I can learn a lot from working with him”.
Alloa have begun the season well and now have their sights firmly set on promotion. Thomson says: “We are sitting joint second in the league just now having played everyone once, so if we continue to play well and pick up results we will hopefully be up there challenging come the end of the season”.
Thomson has an impressive 3 goals in 3 starts for the wasps after his debut goals and a strike against Brechin in a 3-1 win. The youngster is now becoming a regular at Recreation Park and looks set to have a bright future in the game.
Fraser Wright, journalist
Article appeared in Cardonald Courier
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 6:51:37 PM
“Look at you son, you’re all arms and legs, you’re like a spider” – little could Mick Stanton, one of the coaches of Edina Hibs Boys Club in the late 1970’s know what was he starting – but his words were to give a lasting nickname to a young footballer who went on to become a legend with Alloa.
Steve ‘Spider’ Ramsay was born in Germiston in South Africa in 1967 and Steve spent the first 10 years of his life in that country. On his return to Scotland he was quickly identified as a promising footballer and his fine form as a teenager with Easthouses attracted the attention of senior clubs. In the summer of 1988 it was obvious that Spider was going to make the step up – and it was the persuasive powers of manager Gregor Abel that ensured his senior career would begin at Alloa.
“I had signing talks with Cowdenbeath”, says Spider. “My best mate, Davie Watt, who ended up going to Cowdenbeath, he only had the chance to sign with them, and I had the chance to sign for two, Alloa or Cowdenbeath.
“When I spoke to Gregor, I just liked what he had to say and I decided to go for Alloa, much to my wee pal’s annoyance at the time. He was convinced the two of us were going to Cowdenbeath, but there was just something”.
Cowden’s loss was very much Alloa’s gain. The young Ramsay rapidly established himself as a key member of one of the finest Alloa teams of all time, his drive in midfield bringing a perfect balance alongside Iain Lee and John Gibson. The new team took a little time to gel – but when it did Alloa stormed up the league table and eventually clinched promotion to the First Division.
The team also progressed through the Scottish Cup to that memorable quarter final against Hibs at Easter Road. Speaking to ‘The Wasp’ earlier this season, fellow Alloa legend Keith McCulloch pinned the blame for Paul Kane’s winning goal that day on his friend Spider. This is something Steve now disputes!
“I always believed that I sold the goal, but I’ve actually seen it recently on youtube, and Ronnie Lowrie could have done better with the cross. Paul Kane scored, and he was my man, and all these years I’ve been convinced it was my fault, but maybe it wasn’t”. Perhaps best that we leave this one to Alloa fans to check out the youtube footage to decide.
The following season in Division 1 Alloa competed well and Steve feels that with a bit more strength in depth that relegation could have been avoided.
It wasn’t to be and Alloa returned to Division 2, now under the management of Hugh McCann. “Hugh was another good manager, really good at bringing on the young players”, says Steve. The new Wasps team flourished and season 1991/92 ended with a winner takes all clash with Cowdenbeath and a Division 1 place at stake. More than 5000 fans packed the Recs but this time Alloa fell just short. “Unfortunately we didn’t quite do enough – my wee mate Watty was the happier of the two that day”.
Hugh McCann moved on to Hearts and was replaced at Alloa by Billy Lamont. For Spider, perhaps the most memorable game of Lamont’s reign was the Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox in 1994. Fans will remember this as the occasion that Lamont hired the services of psychologist Jack Black to convince the Alloa players that they could win the match.
“He actually had us believing we were going to beat Rangers”, says Steve. “It did make a difference – until the game started! It doesn’t work, the headshrink stuff”. Indeed, it seemed like the psychology worked against the Wasps as their form deteriorated following the 6-0 defeat at Ibrox. The team tumbled down the table and ended up 7th in Division 2, meaning they were founder members of the newly formed Division 3.
That relegation also marked the end of Spider’s first spell at Alloa. “The club were in decline”, he says. “The team was going downhill and Queen of the South came in for me. I really enjoyed Queen of the South, I liked Billy McLaren’s style of play”.
A spell at East Stirlingshire followed before Ramsay returned to the Recs for a second time in 1997, a spell which will be covered in the next edition of ‘The Wasp’.
Steve ‘Spider’ Ramsay signed for Alloa for a second time in 1997, following spells with QoS and East Stirlingshire. Spider admits, however, that he didn’t expect the offer from Wasps manager Tom Hendrie.
“I actually had a big argument with Tam when I was at East Stirling. We ended up nose to nose arguing and John Coughlin came flying in. I was really surprised when he came in for me”.
Echoing what had happened almost a decade earlier before Spider’s first spell at the Recs, Alloa actually almost missed out on their man. “I left the Shire because I couldn’t get on with John Brownlie. He didn’t like me and I didn’t like him. I got asked then to do pre-season with Albion Rovers where Vinnie Moore was the manager. I probably would have signed for them, but Tom Hendrie came on the phone and said we want you back, and I felt I would rather go back to Alloa than Albion Rovers”.
Going back for a second spell doesn’t always work out but Steve fitted as perfectly into Tom Hendrie’s team as he had in Gregor Abel’s 9 years before. The Wasps were a class above the competition in Division 3 in 1997/98 and were deserving champions – collecting Alloa’s first title since 1921/22.
“They were both good teams, the teams that Gregor Abel and Tom Hendrie had”, says Steve. “I actually think that first team was better, I think we had better players, but it would be a tight game”.
Back in Division 2 Alloa started well. A certain 7-0 win over Stirling stands out, as does a 3-0 success over Clyde which marked Steve’s 200th start for the Wasps, an occasion he marked with a superb goal from a diving header.
Alloa’s success didn’t go unnoticed and Hendrie was tempted away by St.Mirren. This move was, indirectly, to bring to an end Steve Ramsay’s time with the Wasps.
“There was a contract on the table – but there was only one thing that could stop that and that was if Terry Christie got the job. There had been history with me and Terry and his laddie and as soon as he got the job, I knew it was curtains for me. But, I have nothing against Terry because he was a good manager all his career. He won a lot of things and it was just one of these things in football, somebody comes in and your face doesn’t fit, so it was time to leave again. I actually got sent off in his first game in charge, and I knew his son Max would come in, and I just accepted it”.
Steve’s time with Alloa was over but he did go on to serve East Fife, Cowdenbeath and Berwick, before wrapping up his career in the juniors.
Spider’s service and commitment to Alloa over two spells means he retains a special place in the affections of Wasps supporters, to the extent that he was voted Alloa’s Cult Hero by the fans in a BBC poll.
“One of my neighbours gave me the book, Cult Heroes, and it’s nice to have that and for my son to see. I must admit, I was surprised but I think it was because I was a trier and a kicker, there were obviously better players than me, I think Willie Irvine will be a bit peeved! I pipped Keith McCulloch too, which I don’t think he was too happy about.”
It seems that Keith wasn’t the only one. One of Steve’s neighbours is Neil Martin, who started out with Alloa and went on to play for Hibs and Sunderland, as well as gaining international recognition. “He always says to me, how can you be the Cult Hero – I played for Scotland!”, says Steve.
Steve was a very good footballer, a good passer of the ball and capable of popping up with important goals, and he is doing himself a disservice by saying he was just a trier and kicker, but there is no denying that he was no stranger to the ref’s wee black book.
“It got a bit ridiculous in the end. I think my reputation went ahead of me with the refs. I remember Kevin Kane laughing and saying to the ref, you can’t book him for that, he didn’t do anything.
“I played for a lot of clubs though so I must have been half decent! I was also nominated for Division 2 player of the year in the Hugh McCann era and that was nice, to be nominated by opposition players, who supposedly don’t like you”.
These days Spider’s involvement in football is through his 8 year old son, and he often helps out with training sessions and on match day. They also attend Hibs and Tranent Juniors matches together, and were at the Recs last season for the match against Elgin City when the Wasps clinched the Third Division.
Steve’s football career might be over - but there remains one thing that he just can’t quite shake off.
“Spider - they’re still calling me that. I’ve tried to get rid of it - it was ok 20 or 30 years ago but I’ve tried to get rid of it - but everybody still knows me by it”.
I think I speak for all at Alloa in saying that ‘Spider’ will always be very welcome back at Recreation Park.