THE SKY Sports cameras are coming to Fife Ice Arena for the first time on Saturday for the match against Coventry Blaze - and presenter Dave Simms admits he cannot wait.
Dave, who co-hosts the Elite League Ice Hockey show alongside Anna Woolhouse, has been a key figure in UK ice hockey for 30 years and he fondly recalls his previous visits to Kirkcaldy.
“I’m really looking forward to our visit,” he told SportsPress. “It must be the first time in around 10 years that I’ve visited Fife.
“My first experience in ice hockey was with Solihull Barons, who were promoted to the Heineken Premier League - the big league of the day - and our first game was in Kirkcaldy against Fife Flyers.
“It was the day that Al Sims made his debut for the Flyers and I loved the passion of the fans, and the old school nature of it all.
“I’m involved with Sheffield Steelers now and we have a shiny new arena, but sawdust and spit is my history in the sport.
“You can’t beat the atmosphere created in places like Solihull, Nottingham, Fife and Durham.”
Dave recalls a hostile night in Fife with a Sheffield team coached by Alex Dampier in the 1990s, which co-incided with his time in charge of the Great Britain national team.
Dampier made the controversial decision to allow import players with British passports into the GB set-up - a move which did not go down well north of the border - and a partisan Flyers crowd had a special welcome planned.
“That decision really upset the Kirkcaldy public,” Dave said. “Back then, to get to the away dressing room, all the coaching staff had to walk across the ice, and as we made our way across, the Fife fans were spitting feathers at us.
“Alex kept his head down, but I told him to look up and there must have been 2500 fans waving British passports at us. It had all been pre-planned for weeks.
“That’s what you miss in the big arenas - it’s all a bit fluffy now. You can’t beat that hard-core support you get in Fife.”
Dave was at the Elite League meeting in June which saw Fife confirmed as an Elite League team, and he believes the move has been good for both parties, despite the club’s struggles this season.
“Fife is proper hockey town and community and I was delighted when they joined the league,” he said.
“It’s a name that the Elite League needs. Whatever the political reasons were why they didn’t join five years ago, it doesn’t matter. That’s in the past.
“It’s fantastic to finally have them as part of the league, and the league is now stronger because of them.
“They under-estimated the challenge in terms of the talent of home-grown British players, and imports, they would come up against.
“But they have got good hockey people running the club, and everyone expects Fife to come back bigger, stronger and more competitive next season.
“I, for one, am excited about the future for Fife, and predict a top six place for them next season.
“Fife is THE place to play ice hockey in Scotland. Braehaed have the arena, but proper hockey people know how special Fife is.”
n The Elite League Ice Hockey Show featuring Fife Flyers match against Coventry Blaze will be screened on Sky Sports 4 on Friday, January 27, at 8.00 p.m.