TOMORROW marks two decades since Alloa's greatest day – when they claimed a first national trophy win in their history by winning the Bell's Challenge Cup.

It was the final days of the Millennium; Tony Blair and New Labour were in vogue and Scotland were still qualifying for major tournaments with such regularity it must have felt like things were always going to be this way.

For those who have spent their lives following the wee team from Alloa across the country, November 21, 1999, will always be spoken about as the pinnacle in these parts.

As always in football, the best stories come from the stands.

With the 20th anniversary approaching, Advertiser Sport spoke to fans who were there as they recall their memories from that famous day in Airdrie.

"When Mark Cairns stepped up to take his penalty, I was just thinking 'ah f***, this can't be happening'," recalls Scott Fawcett, who, two decades on from the greatest day in 141 years of Alloa Athletic, still can't quite believe the final seconds of the Bell's Challenge Cup final.

He remembers the moment 2,000 Alloa fans – who had braved the trip to deepest, darkest Lanarkshire – realised the goalkeeper was stepping up to take the first sudden death spot kick at the end of 120 minutes of enthralling football.

"It was at that stage where players were hiding and you can see the ones who didn't want to take them as they were stepping further and further back," he adds.

"Cairns just took the ball and walked up and he rattled it. Then he saved the next one and bedlam just ensued.

"This was a bit of reward for guys who stood by the club and recognition for the club."

Cairns thrashed his penalty beyond Lee Fridge and then saved a tame effort from Mike Teasdale before tearing off his shirt and racing towards the Wasps fans as they all realised what the part-timers had achieved.

In the first national final of the club's history, they had emerged from a thrilling 4-4 draw at Airdrieonians' Excelsior Stadium with First Division Inverness Caley Thistle to claim their first-ever national trophy.

Skeptics often look down their nose at the Challenge Cup. and all its modern-day guises. as they decree it as little more than the "diddy cup". But, make no mistake, this mattered to every single Wasp.

"It was a national cup final and it was just a great game of football and I remember being completely drained after it and still in disbelief," says Owen Munro, a fan of nearly half a century, as he thinks back to the moment the Wasps lifted the cup.

"I ken it was only the Challenge Cup, but for guys like us it was as good as the Scottish Cup.

"My grandfather was there and for him it was a big thing as he had supported Alloa since the 1930s but never seen anything like it."

It's often forgotten just how tough a cup run the Wasps overcame to reach their first national final.

Clocking enough miles on the road to last a lifetime, they saw off Cowdenbeath, a great Airdrieonians side, made the long trip to Dingwall, and finally – in difficult circumstances – Willie Irvine's goal was enough to pip bitter rivals Stirling Albion for a place in the showpiece.

All of the effort was to earn the chance to take on an Inverness side boasting two internationalists and a host of players who would later make their mark at the top level of the Scottish game.

In fact, less than three months later, they were making Celtic go ballistic as they knocked the Glasgow giants out of the Scottish Cup at Parkhead.

"That Inverness team in the final was a right good team and it was the start of them pushing on," Owen continues.

"Alloa kicked on from that and while we have been up and down there's been a consistency of us being a good team."

People who hadn't stepped inside the Recs for years couldn't help but be caught by the cup final bug and suddenly it felt like the whole county had turned out to capture the team's crowning glory.

Buses left in their droves for Lanarkshire while the heroes were greeted with a civic reception the day after the party finally died down.

Owen says: "The pubs were open at 9am as they got a special licence from the council.

"It was the first time there was that feeling and I remember just thinking about how much of an occasion this was.

"There was a newness to it and we had never done anything like this before and it was all in the papers."

Brian Roach, who can still recall being "absolutely raging" when Cairns stepped up to spot, has barely missed an Alloa game in nearly forty years of devotion to the Wasps.

As he ponders Alloa's status as the underdogs in Airdrie, he says: "I remember at the time thinking that because we were on a good run in the league that we could beat anyone.

"Tom Hendrie had created that core where you had folk like Willie Irvine and Craig Valentine and then Christie came in and brought in a lot of experienced guys.

"That big crowd thing was very much a novelty and it wasn't something that happened a lot at the time.

"Now people are used to it with Rangers, Hearts, and Hibs coming to the Recs in recent years but that was special.

"It's funny. I always say it when we get scrubbed that it's the bad times which make the good times better."

Younger Wasps fans may not believe it – given how easy it is now to see a game from anywhere in the world on your phone – but unless you were at the stadium you wouldn't have been able to watch it live as it wasn't on the television.

But, thanks to the foresight of someone at the club, the game was filmed and later released on VHS...which you could only buy at Safeway.

The grainy footage can now be seen at the click of a button on YouTube and, to this day, Richard Gordon's after-the-event commentary still carries a punch when Cairns' penalty hits the back of the net.

Logan MacFarlane will forever be indebted to the club for giving him a chance to own a part of the club's history.

"They rushed it out and it didn't even have a cover or anything it was just a gold tape on the side of a blank tape," he says.

"You had to buy it from the dry cleaning department and it was cash only under the counter like you were buying something you shouldn't have been.

"Nobody had any idea that it was going to happen and that you would be able to keep a bit of history.

"But, Richard Gordon deserves some sort of Oscar as he didn't do it live and when you listen to the footage he clearly did his best.

"I had never seen my team linking arms and running towards the fans in celebration and diving on the grass. It was incredible.

"Jim McCluskey [the referee] told the truth when he said it was the finest game of football he ever saw."

The club's crowning day will be remembered this coming Friday when the likes of Mark Cairns, Davie Beaton, and Craig Valentine take to the Recs for a Legends' Charity match arranged by the supporters club from 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £5 and children go free.