10 Things You Didn’t Know About Stirling Albion

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Stirling Albion

I may have mentioned before that I am a Stirling Albion supporter.  Stirling Albion is a team currently playing in League 2, the lowest tier of the professional game in Scotland.  You might not think it’s terribly rewarding following a small football team that has never really won anything of note, not even the Challenge Cup, but it does have its moments.  As the Club was only formed in 1945 I have lived through many of them.   So here are ten things you probably don’t know about the Beanos.

1. Beanos or Binos

The support is riven by controversy over the spelling of its nickname.  The Beanos were originally nicknamed the ‘yo-yos’ due to their propensity for following a promotion with an immediate relegation but that was back in the days when people wore bunnets and lacked wit.

In the mid eighties though, bunnets were made redundant by enormous hair and that trichological freedom spawned the age of the fanzine, small samizdat booklets produced by Thatcher’s disenfranchised football generation.  It was during that rebellious period that the Beanos nickname arrived.   Parvenu supporters – or perhaps those wary of DC Thomson’s litigious bent, warped the spelling to Binos but real supporters know the truth.

2. We were the first fan-owned club in Scotland

For a good number of years the team was bankrolled by local businessman and Beanos legend Peter McKenzie.  The great man sunk a good deal of his own personal money into the team and for that we Stirling supporters are eternally grateful.  But towards the end of the noughties, Mr McKenzie, who was getting on in years, had decided that it was time for him to hand on the baton to someone else and spend more time doing something a bit less stressful and financially draining.  Unfortunately, someone else didn’t really come forward so a group of enthusiasts started up the Buy Stirling Albion campaign which, at the time, enjoyed a small amount of media attention.  The upshot was that the newly formed Supporters’ Trust eventually took over the club in 2010 with Mr McKenzie graciously writing off a lot of the money that was due to him.

Since then, some canny stewardship has seen the club rid itself of its debt but unfortunately a succession of people who canny manage have seen the club plummet to the nether regions of the Scottish leagues.  Better days may lie ahead, however, as the present incumbent – ex-St Johnstone player Dave Mackay – appears to have turned things around.

3.  Stirling was the first British club to play in Japan…

The year that England won the World Cup (I think it might have been 1966 but I’m not sure because the English hardly ever mention it),  Stirling Albion embarked upon a summer tour of Japan.  They were invited by the Japanese FA and in true West Auckland style there is some suggestion that it was a different side that was supposed to go but Stirling ended up taking up the spot.

4.  …and the first senior Scottish club to play on astroturf

In 1987 Stirling Albion’s Annfield Stadium became the first senior ground in Scotland to lay an artificial surface.  The inaugural game saw the visit of Ayr United, a larger than normal crowd and a pulsating 1-1 draw.  The AstroTurf was not popular with the players but it did prove relatively successful with the local community who were able to book the pitch for leisure interests.  Indeed, the Midnight Plumbers were frequent visitors.  And interestingly enough, it was a Midnight Plumber who scored the very last goal on that pitch and in that stadium before the bulldozers moved in.  Can you guess who that might have been?

5. We have the Luftwaffe to thank for our very existence

Stirling Albion was formed in 1945 following the demise of the town’s previous club, King’s Park.  The old club was in financial difficulties barely struggling to make ends meet.  When a German bomber, reportedly on its way back from a mission to bomb Clydebank (missing the Eadie household) decided to rid itself of its remaining cargo over Stirling on its journey back home, the luckless club found its ground the recipient.   There were no fatalities except for a goldfish and a budgie but the damage was done and the club eventually folded.

In 1945 local coal merchant Tam Fergusson, whose business exists to this day, cajoled another couple of local businessman into forming a new professional football team in the town.  Stirling Albion, or ‘Perfidious Albion’ as they were known to some on the Town Council who resisted the venture, was born.

6. We hold the record for the most number of consecutive games without scoring a goal

Part of that magical time when Alex Smith was our manager and games seemed to last forever.  Smith used two main tactical masterstrokes during his 14 and a half year tenure:

  • nullifying the first half threat (ie being dull and boring and preventing the opposition from scoring)
  • making a substitution with exactly ten minutes left (ie being dull and boring and preventing the opposition from scoring)

So in season 1980-1981 we set a British record of going 8 (EIGHT) months or 14 (FOURTEEN) consecutive matches without scoring a league goal.

And I saw every one of them.

7. We also hold the 20th century record for the biggest score in a senior match

commemorative mug, Stirling Albion 20, Selkirk 08th December 1984.  Annfield (note the two ns).  I remember it well.  Stirling Albion recorded their biggest ever win in the Scottish Cup when they overcame a sorely depleted Selkirk team by 20 (TWENTY) goals to 0 (NIL), a twentieth century record.  And I wasn’t there.

Instead I was at Aberdeen Football Club’s Pittodrie stadium watching the Dons hand out a footballing lesson to Glasgow Celtic.  It was one of the best football matches I have ever seen with the Dons running out 4-2 winners.  However, it will be forever tainted in my memory by the fact that 120 miles away the Beanos were trouncing a team from the South of Scotland league and I wasn’t there to see it.

8. We have a direct connection with Liverpool

Bob Shankly. Bill Shankly.  Annfield.  Anfield.

Indeed.  Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly – he of the growly one-liner – was one of five brothers who were all involved in football.  One of those brothers, Bob, enjoyed considerable success in Scotland as a manager, winning the league with Dundee in 1962 before going  on to eclipse that by becoming Stirling Albion manager in 1971 and leading the club to, well not very much actually.

9.  We beat the Rangers while we were bottom of the third division and our manager was away on honeymoon

Yes, it’s true.  When the old Rangers Football Club died in 2012 a new one rose in its place.  The new club was placed in the lowest tier of the professional leagues and that meant playing in the same division as the mighty Beanos.  The new club still had a lot of money – which it spent on players who were somewhat overqualified for such a lowly division – and swept to the league title with relative ease.  Perhaps a more perspicacious side might have noticed the performances of Queen’s Park’s left back Andy Robertson, now a Scotland international and recent Liverpool signing against whom they must have played several times.  But they are in the Premier League and we’re still in the grubber so what do I know?

One of the new team’s lowest points would undoubtedly have been the 1-0 defeat at Forthbank when Stirling Albion legend Brian Allison poked home the winner for the club then sitting bottom of the pile.  Newly appointed rookie manager Greig McDonald was missing that day as he was getting married.   Sadly he declined the world of polygamy and was duly sacked 12 months later.

10. Dundee United and Motherwell nicked our songs

So we arrive at number 10 and you’re probably thinking “I knew all that stuff already.  This was all just clickbait”.  Well, one thing you probably do not know is that Stirling Albion fans were responsible for writing the hit songs ‘Beautiful Sunday’, made famous in 1972 by Daniel Boone and ‘Twist and Shout’ released by the Beatles in 1962.  Writing songs is not the sole preserve of Stirling fans obviously.  Edinburgh City penned the 1979 Madness hit ‘One Step Beyond’, for example, and further afield Belgian side Club Brugge were responsible for the anthemic ‘Seven Nation Army’ later made famous by the White Stripes.

Sadly, there is little honour amongst football fans.  Dundee United shamelessly lifted ‘Beautiful Sunday’ following a trip to Forthbank in 1996 in the Scottish Cup and Motherwell, well I’ve no idea how they came about Twist and Shout.  I can only assume they stumbled across it in a ‘My Sweet Lord’ kind of way.  What I do know is that Stirling fans have been singing it since the early 1990s.

4 Replies to “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Stirling Albion”

  1. Interesting theory regarding the Beanos nickname.When I was a very young child the fans always shouted come on the Albion.In those days they played in white jerseys with two red hoops.The season 1965 – 1966 they returned to the old First Division and for the three seasons they spent there they played in an all white strip for some reason.The first time that strip was worn at Annfield,v Motherwell I think -and we won 1-0!! -some one shouted come on you Albinos and this was used throughout those seasons alongside the usual come on the Albion.Maybe then Albinos became Albion when the white strip was ditched in favour of red in season 1968 -1969 for they were never referred to as Albinos again obviously as no all white strip.Just a thought from a long standing and long suffering supporter!!

    1. Hi John – you may well be right as I have memories of that too. Not of that particular time but of the word ‘Albinos’ being used. That must have been in the early to mid seventies I guess. I wondered about it at the time – thought it was probably just someone up to a bit of word play – but your memories of it give it some proper context.

  2. Great read, followed the Albion from the seventies, I still miss Annfield. My dad took me to every match home and away. Happy memories. Many memories of Wee Matty Mcphee running doon the wing. Billy Steele in the middle of the goalmouth. Winning the league and Stirlingshire cup. My favourite Albion strip was the all White away strip.

    1. Glad you liked it Marion. My favourite players of that time were Mickey Lawson and Gus McMillan although I always liked Rab Duffin in the midfield. I had the pleasure of meeting him and having a wee chat recently.

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