“Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter” – Celtic’s traditional Welcome to Alloa

We’ve heard from Celtic historian David Potter on Celtic’s unbeaten record against Alloa Athletic in the Scottish Cup, ahead of today’s visit to Clackmannanshire. Now while that record is certainly correct there are TWO games that those who know their Alloa history can point to to give them some encouragement for today.

READ THIS…Alloa v Celtic – David Potter on the story so far 

Firstly, the time when Celtic travelled to Alloa and LOST but still went on to win the Scottish Cup! Alloa Historian Donald Pollock explains…

Ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Cup tie we’ll probably hear that Alloa have never previously defeated Celtic. This isn’t altogether true. ThreadIn March 1911 Alloa were preparing for the Stirlingshire Cup final while Celtic were all set for the Scottish Cup semi-final with Aberdeen.

With both sides having a free Saturday ahead of their big games, a challenge was organised: “Celtic are going to Alloa to play the Athletic, a club with whom they have been on the most friendly terms”. Indeed, Alloa had 3 players on loan from Celtic at the time.

Celtic had 4 players in action for the Scottish League against the English League on the same day but otherwise sent a strong team. Future Wasp Tom McGregor was one of the men drafted in to cover.

Alloa at the Recs was a tricky game in this era, with a 1909 report suggesting the club erect a sign on Clackmannan Road saying “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter”. But Celtic were expected to win and after some “beautiful combination” play early on they went ahead through McAtee.

Alloa settled and with the backing of the big crowd began to cause Celtic a few problems. “The game was now very fast for a friendly and play ranged from end to end”, reported the Alloa Advertiser.

After a fine move John Young – one of the Celtic loanees – brought the Wasps level. Celtic came out for the second half down to 10 men with Joe Dodds having taken a knock. No risks here with the Aberdeen game looming.

An emboldened Alloa went on the attack and Young and Cairns combined to set up Harrower to score. Celtic finished strongly and Adamson produced a great save at the death to deny McAtee from “one his famous grounders”. It finished Alloa 2 Celtic 1.

Alas, Alloa had peaked too early and went on to lose the Stirlingshire Cup final the following week to rivals King’s Park. Celtic would defeat Aberdeen then Hamilton to win the Scottish Cup. Sadly, Alloa’s goal hero John Young was later killed in action at Flanders in 1915.

And then when Celtic were back at the Recs in similar circumstances in April 1930 with both sides idle towards the end of the season. The press reported that “Celtic have kindly agreed to send their full League team, so that the Alloa fans have something to look forward to”.

And it turned out to be a very good day for the Alloa fans. After a poor season, the Wasps shocked Celtic with an excellent performance to win 6-1, two of the goals from Willie Crilley. It was reported that “the display given by the visitors was most disappointing”.

Of course these were friendlies and Celtic have enjoyed several wins over Alloa in competitive fixtures, but who cares about that. With a misfiring Alloa underachieving badly this season there isn’t too much hope for the Wasps tomorrow. We can but remember these words from 1906.

Donald Pollock is the Alloa Athletic historian.

In memory of John Young, here’s his biog via The Celtic Wiki.

Signed from Strathclyde Juniors in October 1908, inside-right John Young spent his early Parkhead days on loan at Morton for experience. He eventually made his competitive Celtic debut on 27 November 1909 in a 0-0 league draw at Aberdeen, but his appearances were to be limited.

He would continue to be farmed out and only made a total of three appearances for the Celts before joining Dundee Hibs in 1911 (the precursor to Dundee Utd). Celtic had been out of sorts in season 1910/11, so changes were likely to be needed to be made. Things don’t seem to have worked out at Dundee Hibs either, as he appears to have only played four matches for their side, and they were in the second tier at that time.

Back at Celtic, apart from his debut, his other two matches, Celtic drew 0-0 with Dundee (April 2010) and St Mirren 1-1 (March 1911), so he got a small part in the league winning campaign of 1909-10, which was the last of the then record six league titles in a row. Celtic won the league by just 2 points over Falkirk, so John Young’s contribution will have been more valuable in retrospect than could have been known on the day of the matches.

He signed up for the war effort for the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in the Fifth Service Battalion in World War One. Sadly he died in battle in in Flanders, the first Celtic man to die in battle in this war, RIP. His name is on the Loos Memorial.

The family connection to Celtic didn’t end with John Young. Celtic were set to play a friendly on 28 April 1952 to raise funds to help James (Finnie) Young to fly to Germany for essential medical treatment. Finnie was the “son of the old Celtic John Young (1908)“.

It was very much in the spirit of the club to help others out in time of need. Unfortunately, the match had to be postponed due to bad weather, and Finnie sadly died in the meantime.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. Alloa won the first revamped Scottish League Division II after the Great War in 1922. The first League game next season had Celtic as visitors. Willie Maley, then President of the Scottish League, unveiled the flag for them before a 3-2 win.