Fife Flyers: Still going strong at 79

Fife Flyers programme from 60th anniversary season, 1998
Fife Flyers programme from 60th anniversary season, 1998

Since launching on October 1, 1938, Fife Flyers have played a pivotal role in the development of the sport.

Grand Slam champions in the 1940s under Al Rodgers – three times Coach of the Year – and again in the 1970s, under Law Lovell, and Mark Morrison circa 2000, it was a key player in the sport’s Heineken Era, bringing over the ‘Plumb Line’ - Ron Plumb, Dave Stoyanovich and Al Sims - to become 19885 British champions.

Fife Flyers programme from Heineken Era

Fife Flyers programme from Heineken Era

It was the first to introduce world class Czechs in the shape of Vincent Lukac, Jindrich Kokrment and the late Milan Figala, and also broke new ground signing Doug Smail direct from the NHL.

Flyers have also given local talent the opportunity to shine, and the roll call of those who have gone on to success is lengthy.

From Bert Smith, mascot on the opening night who became one of only six Fifers to become Olympians, to family dynasties - the Lovells, Haigs, Kings, Cottrells, Hornes, Lattos and Taylors to name but a few - Fife players have enjoyed success at home and on the GB stage as well as making their mark coaching and establishing a junior development programme that continues to nurture young talent.

And it all started, 79 years ago, today.

Fife Flyers programme from 60th anniversary season, 1998

Fife Flyers programme from 60th anniversary season, 1998

Season tickets for the inaugural season cost from 10/- for a ‘’tip-up seat’’ and that included free skating after the game; a tradition that held until it was stopped just a few years ago, to the dismay of many long-standing hockey fans.

Match day tickets cost from 1/- for standing to a top price of 3/6.

The first ever game against Dundee Rockets was the climax to a day of celebrations.

The afternoon opening ceremony attracted a capacity 4,265 crowd which caused a traffic jam in the Gallatown and a two-mile tailback of cars; no mean feat given the limited car ownership of the time.

Guests included shareholders, contractors, members of the RCCC and representatives from Scotland’s other ice rinks.

Lord Elgin declared the arena open by throwing the first curling stone and after displays from Glasgow Speed Racing Club and world figure skating champion Megan Taylor -- who received a set of golf clubs as a ‘thank you! -- it was time for the ‘’men with sticks’’ to hit the ice.

Norman McQaude had the honour of scoring Flyers’ first ever goal, taking a pass from Durling and going solo to shoot home from well out, but Dundee were better organised and won 4-1.

The following decades have witnessed every possible emotion as Flyers have held firm throughout the ever changing face of British ice hockey.

From tough times to glory days and dramatic hockey nights, the town’s love affair with the sport burns as bright as ever.

In 12 months time, Flyers turn 80 – a wonderful landmark that would surely thrill those early pioneers, and the people eho have given a lifetime of service on the ice and behind the scenes to a club very close to their hearts.