Crilly Willie Image 1 Alloa Athletic 1921

Crilly Willie Image 1 Alloa Athletic 1921


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Glasgow born centre forward “Wee Willie” Crilly had started at Cambuslang Rangers joining Alloa Athletic in 1920, and is still widely regarded as the greatest player in Alloa’s history. In the 1920-21 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 Crilly 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 Crilly scoring the first of the two goals in the Penman Cup Final. In 1921-22 crowds flocked to Recreation Park to see The Wasps in a record breaking season, Crilly scored most of the goals and became Alloa’s record goalscorer with 49 goals, a record that still stands.

Crilly 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”. He signed for Glasgow Celtic in May 1922 in exchange for three Celtic players including Tully Craig, who would go on to play for Scotland while at Glasgow Rangers, making his Hoops debut in August but only made 3 appearances for The Bhoys without scoring before returning to Alloa a month later, deemed not physically imposing enough. In the summer of 1923 he moved to the United States’ nascent soccer leagues and played for any number of clubs over a 12 year period and also became a US citizen, and he was actually deported back to The States in 1930 when returning intending to play for Alloa because he’d taken out dual citizenship which was then illegal!

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