Flyers’ fan hits back after flashpoint with player

The incident involving Manchester Storm player Eric Neilson and a Fife Flyers fan. Pic: Steve Gunn
The incident involving Manchester Storm player Eric Neilson and a Fife Flyers fan. Pic: Steve Gunn

A Fife Flyers fan who become tangled up in a fight with an ice hockey player says he has been unfairly cast as the guilty party.

Graham Ritchie (26) from Kirkcaldy said the incident involving Manchester Storm’s Eric Neilson on Saturday night was started by the player – and he was merely defending himself.

Graham Ritchie

Graham Ritchie

And he says he wants to put his side of the story across after being cast as “the bad guy” in a flashpoint that made national headlines and sparked hube debate online.

Graham, a season ticket holder at Fife Ice Arena, said: “I never miss a game. I always sit in the same seat behind the bench and have never been in any trouble before.

“One of the Manchester players, not Neilson, came off the ice and said something to me. I just answered back saying ‘sit down, you’re rubbish’, or words to that effect.

“It was just verbals, nothing threatening. The next thing I knew was that I and all the people around me were soaked with water.

“I was shocked. My reaction was ‘who do you think you are?’. I saw it was Neilson, who, I later found out, also threw his water bottle into the crowd, so I poured my pint of beer over him.

“I poured it behind his helmet and down the back of his neck, not in his face as has been reported in many papers. The guy is just back from an eye injury so I wasn’t going to do that to him, I play ice hockey myself.

“He turned around, stood on the bench and started punching me. I knew that punching him back would make me look terrible, so I just grabbed the cage on his helmet and shook his head from side to side.

“It was then split up and that was it. For getting assaulted I was thrown out.”

“I’m really annoyed because the papers are making out that I’m the thug here, and I’m getting abuse on Facebook too, but I was just defending myself.”

Graham has been back to the rink and has phoned and emailed the club to see if he is to receive a ban, but no decision has yet been reached.

In a twist, he also found out he’d won the club;’s 50/50 mprizew draw that night ... and returned to the rink after being ejected to collect his winnings of £500!