Stirling Albion was founded in 1945 after the town’s previous football team King’s Park had failed to survive the Second World War. King’s Park’s ground (Forthbank) had been damaged during the war, having been hit by a German bomb on 20 July 1940. This was one of only two bombs to fall on the town during the Second World War.
The new club was the brainchild of local businessman Thomas Fergusson, a local coal magnate, and he purchased the Annfield estate to build a new stadium. Annfield was situated within a quarter of a mile from the town centre and would be the home of The Binos until 1992.
The name ‘Albion’ supposedly came from the make of Fergusson’s coal trucks. This unfortunately is an urban myth. Albion Coal lorries were used as grandstands but the Club was named at a meeting of fans long before a ball was kicked. (Reference, Stirling Journal Newspaper, 1945.) The name Albion was chosen because it was an old word for Great Britain and held meaning for the founder.
The yo-yo years
Between the 1940 and 1960, the club gained a reputation as a club that was too good for the lower league but never quite good enough to establish themselves in the top flight, hence the club’s nickname of The Yo-Yos. For a time it was a saying in Scotland that something or somebody was “going up and down like Stirling Albion”. In 1966 the club became the first British team to play in Japan.
Decline in the 1970s and 1980s
A period of decline set in during the late 1960s and early 1970s as the Albion were consigned to the bottom league. League reconstruction in the mid-1970s brought about a new 3 tier system and The Binos found themselves in the lowest division until 1977. A four-year spell in the 1st Division ended in humiliation in 1981 when the team failed to score a league goal for eight months. Surprisingly they still finished 2nd bottom of the league.
Relegation to Division 2 in 1981 almost killed the club as the team struggled under manager Alex Smith and dwindling gates led the club to the brink of bankruptcy. The club’s only way of escape was to sell Annfield to the local council and then rent it back from the people who had got a prime city centre location at a knock down price.
During this period, the team were responsible for the 20th century’s record Scottish Cup score, inflicting a 20–0 defeat on Selkirk in 1984.
As the 1980s progressed the club continued to struggle, surprisingly still under the management of Alex Smith, until 1986 when Smith moved to St Mirren. George Peebles took charge of the team and would be the first Scottish manager to manage a team who played on Astroturf. The council had decided to make as much money as possible from Annfield and the grass pitch was considered not to be cost effective. The main stand which was also demolished after being declared an unsafe building. An extra large crowd turned up in September 1987, to see Stirling play Ayr United on the first-ever game on artificial turf in Scotland.
One of the requirements of the turf was that clubs could decide not to play on the surface in cup matches and so for the next 5 years all of Stirling Albion’s home cup games were played away. With the supposed advantage of the artificial pitch not working with St Johnstone defeating the Binos by six goals on the artificial surface, Peebles was relieved of his duties and Jim Fleeting was appointed.
Fleeting would be manager for six months but would shake the club up and serve as a launch pad for the next 10 years. When Fleeting left to manage Kilmarnock days after declaring his “loyalty to Stirling Albion, a sincere loyalty I’m proud to say”, Bino’s star striker John Brogan was promoted to manager and would finally lead the Binos out of Division 2 in 1991. The club went unbeaten away from home for a whole Calendar year and easily saw off the challenge of Montrose to clinch the title at Links Park on 7 April 1991.
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