HAVING spent the better part of an hour talking all things Alloa Athletic, Willie Irvine, and trips to Airdrie, suddenly Advertiser Sport's chat with Jonathan Markwell is broken by a quiet voice.

"Daddy," it whispers on the other end of the line. "Please can I put it on?"

"Hold on," Jonathan replies from his family home in Reading, turning his attention from the small team 500 miles away in Clackmannanshire to the struggles of his four-year-old daughter Sophie. "She wants to put on the wig of Elsa from Frozen."

After some toing and froing, Sophie reluctantly agrees to let her dad finish his interview before asking again; although not a second longer, which, for anyone who's currently trying to keep their kids entertained during lockdown, will be a familiar tale.

Jonathan and his love for the part-timers is anything but par for the course; however, and he's spent a rare day of telling Advertiser Sport all about it.


The 37-year-old grew up supporting the Clacks team despite being born in Ipswich and is instead better known as Mr Alloa Stats – the Wasps' unofficial – but much-loved, historian and statistician.

As we told last week, he dreamed of seeing Irvine and his cohorts in the flesh, even plastering their pictures all over his schoolbooks as his classmates fought over stickers of Eric Cantona.

A first trip to Clacks eventually came in 1998 and he's never looked back, following the club ever since from afar and making yearly pilgrimages – initially alongside mum Margaret, dad Colin, and brothers Simon and Colin – to see his beloved Wasps in the flesh.

And to plug the gap Ceefax tried its best to fill the rest of the time, he lovingly collected stats on each and every game, thanks to old copies of the Alloa Advertiser and Wee County News.

It was a passion first brought to other fans through an article in the match day programme in 2003 while features on BBC 5 Live and elsewhere down the years have taken his love for the Wasps beyond Clackmannanshire's boundary lines.

Then, with rampant changes to technology and the creation of new ways for fans to interact with each other beyond traditional means, came the birth of Alloa Stats on Twitter. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, barely a day goes by where Jonathan isn't dipping into years of research to share his passion for Alloa with anyone who will listen.

"My little bit in the program was my contribution from afar to make my little bit of effort to help keep people updated on what's going on," he told Advertiser Sport earlier in their conversation.

"All my little tweets are a good way of trying to spread the good name of Alloa to a wider audience. The players are certainly not billionaires or anything and are just doing what they can to better themselves.

"At the same time, I want to share the appreciation I have and the support I have for the club.

"Not being able to go to games, it was more a case of building up things like facts and figures. This is one of the things I always enjoyed doing.

"When I got that first Alloa top, I started to keep scrapbooks of all the Alloa games and the figures I could get my hands on.


"I have detailed records from 1996 of the games played and the goals scored. The more information you build up and as things move on, I wanted a platform to spread the good name of the club and somewhere to interact with the players and staff.

"Twitter was a good way of doing that and it is all good fun. I try and keep it as positive as I can do. It's also another way of recognising players who don't get as much credit as they normally do; like Scott Taggart making 90 plus consecutive appearances for the club. People like him are the bedrock of the successes the club has had in recent seasons."

It's not just Alloa fans who have lapped up the chance to find out the obscurities of their team with even the UK's national broadcaster benefitting from Jonathan's encyclopaedic knowledge.

He said: "There's been times where I have noticed on say the BBC Alba games where I can hear them say stuff which I have shared. There was one time during a play-off game where they were speaking in Gaelic about Iain Flannigan making his 100th appearance for the club, which I had put out the previous day.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Wasps star Iain Flannigan Wasps star Iain Flannigan

"Last season, when we won those four games in-a-row, Jim Goodwin in his post-match interview with the BBC mentioned it was the first time since 1973 that Alloa had done that in the second tier. I'm pretty sure someone must have whispered it in his ear before the interview.

"Football is awash with statistics, so why not have them about Alloa as well? The more obscure the better in my mind.

"I've got a really obscure fact saved up but I think it looks likely that I won't ever get to use it. Alloa and Partick Thistle have played three games this season and drawn them all 1-1. I've worked out if they drew 1-1 for a fourth time then it would only be the third time since league reorganisation in 1994 when all four games between two teams have finished in the exact same scoreline."

It's safe to say, then, Jonathan's love for Alloa will be forever enduring and the bad days – or, in some cases, years, where he went eight without seeing a single victory for the team – will never darken the good.

As attention turns back to Sophie and time ticks by on her demands for Elsa's wig, Advertiser Sport has one more question for Jonathan. Will we see Sophie and sister Faye, seven, follow in their father's footsteps and keep Alloa Stats going for generations of Wasps fans to come?

"Faye sometimes wears one of my scarves to school and her classmates think it is a Harry Potter scarf," Jonathan laughs in reply. "When she was little, she really liked Ben Gordon because Gordon was one of the names in Thomas the Tank Engine.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Jonathan frequently travels to see the Wasps take on Queen of the South in Dumfries Jonathan frequently travels to see the Wasps take on Queen of the South in Dumfries

"I've also been teaching them both the Neil Parry Song, which they quite like doing. They quite enjoy seeing it when Alloa win because they get high-fives.

"But, they also enjoy it when I go and see them because my wife Lucy always gets a takeaway."

Don't be surprised if when Advertiser Sport next chats to Jonathan, Sophie is overheard asking to put on an Iain Flannigan wig instead.