AMONG Alloa Athletic's most famous players was William Alphonsus Crilley, nicknamed the Electric Spark or Mighty Atom, a centre forward who played for the club in the 1920s.

Crilley was born on August 29, 1901, at Cowcaddens in Glasgow with his interest in football beginning at an early age.

He played for Pale Ale, a local amateur team made up by players from the Glasgow Meat Market, before starting with Cambuslang Rangers in South Lanarkshire in 1920.

Pale Ale used to play on Glasgow Green or at the Soda Waste by the St Rollox Chemical Works in Sighthill on Sundays in front of large crowds, where gambling was rife.

During the 1920-1921 season, he moved to Alloa Athletic, signing for the club in the spring of 1921, during which time he scored the winning goals against Falkirk and Clydebank, then the club faced Rangers at Ibrox which resulted in a 0-0 draw.

In the replay, also played at Ibrox as Recreation Park was too small, Crilley scored the club's only goal. However, Rangers won 4-1 in front of a crowd of more than 50,000.

Later that season Alloa beat Falkirk in the Stirlingshire Cup with Crilley scoring the only goal, and when they met Dundee Hibernian in the Penman Cup final, he scored the only two goals of the match.

The 1921-22 season was the club's best with Crilley scoring a record-breaking 49 goals. This led to Alloa being crowned champions of the Second Division, and Crilley gaining hero status from fans.

When the team was playing against King's Park, a journalist for the Alloa Circular noted he was 'in his element and wriggled like an eel'.

The Glasgow Citizen went on to call him 'the wonder goal getting boy' and the Stirling Observer stated he was a 'wonderful player.'

Due to his talent, he was scouted by various clubs and he spent time with Celtic in Glasgow who signed him for £800. However, he made just three appearances with the club.

Having gone there, with Celtic releasing John Connor and Tully Craig for him, he proved to be too small in stature, standing at just 5 feet 3 inches, and was easily sideswiped off the ball.

During his time at Parkhead, he scored just a single goal in his three matches. He returned to Alloa, playing his last game there on April 21, 1923.

A week later he left for America, settling in New York, having signed for the New York Field Club, before being transferred to the New York Giants, in the American Soccer League.

WILLIE CRILLEY returned to Alloa Athletic towards the end of the 1923-24 season then went back to America following a stint in England, playing in the 1924-25 season with Indiana Flooring.

He played for the Giants the following season and over the next few years, he played for several different clubs including J&P Coats, the club team for the company of the same name based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the Philadelphia Field Club, the New York Nationals, and Interborough Rapid Transit Rangers.

On August 7, 1929, he formally resigned from Alloa.

In 1930, he returned to Scotland with his wife Evelyn McElney whom he had married in February 1928.

During the visit, he was accused of assaulting her, and stealing money from his father-in-law to allegedly pay off gambling debts.

This resulted in a four-week jail term, before he was admonished at Glasgow Sheriff Court. He was then deported back to the US, as he was now a US citizen.

The following year Crilley played for three different clubs, Fall River, Brooklyn Wanderers, and Newark Americans, which he joined in the autumn that year.

During his stints at the latter two, his goal scoring ways returned, with him scoring 14 goals for the Wanderers in just seven games, and nine goals during ten games with the Americans. A year later he asked to play for Alloa again, but the directors decided against the move.

Crilley played his final games in 1935 with Brooklyn Hispano, a club he had previously played for in 1928.

Seven years later in November 1942, he joined the US military, and went on to serve with Fifteenth Air Force which was created on 1st November the following year. This brought him back to Europe as the force was based in Italy and fighting in the Mediterranean theatre of war.

Crilley returned to the US and died on 17th September 1955 at the Fort Hamilton Veteran Hospital in Brooklyn following a long illness and was buried in Long Island National Cemetery in New York.

There is a legend that Crilley once ran through the legs of an opponent centre half during a match, guided the ball past the goalkeeper, and asked the Alloa fans which part of the net they would like him to score into.

Plagued with injury while at Alloa, "Wee" Willie Crilley left his indelible mark on the club.

Cited as the "one of the best centre forwards in the country", he is known as Alloa Athletic's greatest ever player. He remains the club's goal scoring record holder for a single season.