Fife Flyers at 80: Indoor fireworks and thrilling comebacks

Fife Flyers 1985, John Haig, team manager holding the British championship trophy in the dressing-room with players Gordon Goodsir, Jimmy Pennycook, Brian Peat, Gordon Latto, Neil Abel and Gary McEwan.
Fife Flyers 1985, John Haig, team manager holding the British championship trophy in the dressing-room with players Gordon Goodsir, Jimmy Pennycook, Brian Peat, Gordon Latto, Neil Abel and Gary McEwan.

For Fife Flyers’ 75th anniversary, we asked fans to nominate their greatest players of all time.

For the club’s 80th anniversary, something different – and something personal to every fan, past and present.

Fife Flyers - Richard Laplante scores against Ayr Raiders in the winner-takes all promotion play-off at the Summit Centre, Glasgow, 1991 (Pic: Bill Dickman/FFP)

Fife Flyers - Richard Laplante scores against Ayr Raiders in the winner-takes all promotion play-off at the Summit Centre, Glasgow, 1991 (Pic: Bill Dickman/FFP)

What is your greatest Flyers’ memory?

Throughout this season, the Fife Free Press will be featuring the stories and anecdotes submitted by fans across the decades.

The simplicity about inviting fans to give their own memories is that we all have at least one ‘go to’ story we can tell over and over – one where the joy is never diminished no matter how often we revisit it.

That could be Flyers’ Gardiner Conference championship win last season or their British championship triumph with the Plumb Line in ‘85… or any point in between.

And memories are not confined to big wins.

There are special moments within games, road trips which stand out for the fun and camaraderie almost as much as the hockey, friendships that have spanned generations, and the joy of sharing match nights with grandchildren or friends.

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I look back over 33-ish years rinkside and the images change.

My very first game circa 1987, a Flyers-Racers Autumn Cup tie in which Fife needed to wipe out a deficit, fell further behind before staging one of those epic comebacks before all hell let loose. Fred Perelini got chucked out in some mid-ice rammy and the building erupted in a way I’d never witnessed before.

Or maybe, the first game in the NPL, 1996. The arena teams had gone off to play with their expensive toy, and Flyers found themselves in a very different minor league.

As part of Flyers’ management team back then – I still have the blazer – we worked our socks off and a crowd of 3000 turned up; so many folk that face-off was delayed.

Or maybe, the very last game of 1999 when we ushered in the millennium with indoor fireworks every time Flyers scored. We didn’t bank of them firing three of four into the Peterborough net in such quick succession the smoke didn’t get a chance to clear.

Randy Smith lost it and departed the ice threatening one and all – I found myself at the players’ tunnel thinking ‘’flipping ‘eck he’s a big fella” as he stormed past looking for someone to drop the gloves and, momentarily, glowering in my direction!

Or maybe it was Gordon Latto’s showreel goal in that crazy, nerve-shredding promotion decider against Ayr at the Summit Centre in Glasgow.

Fans were locked out, I watched the match half perched on the edge of the team bench – and I have never seen a game where the stakes were so high. The winner, Fife, got promoted, the loser folded. Genuinely life changing stuff.

Or the Ne’-er day game at Murrayfield where big George Marshall marched round to the other side of the rink – a place no Fifer dared venture – and gave Tony Hand’s mum a kiss and hug. The divide between the teams was greater than any rivalry today.

Or that epic fight between Chris Kelland and Mike Rowe which led to the sight of a dummy clad in Fife colours being dangled in a noose from the rafters of the Edinburgh rink.

Or Karry Biette’s peerless performance as Fife Flyers stormed to the Findus Cup final – his finest hour and one that feels so poignant given how badly his life has panned out recently.

Or Mark Morrison’s team winning the British championship crown on home ice, sweeping Basingstoke in a glorious play-off seriesPost-game we were in Kitty’s. Standing on the steps looking down on a dance floor packed with hundreds of Fife fans – and one Bison fan who took two days to get home – with the trophy in hand, a beer in the other, he said: “British champions? I kinda like that.”

I’ve been lucky to spend many hours shooting the breeze with coaches and players, and they too have given me many great memories –from the great storytelling of Jack Dryburgh to glorious one liners reeled off by Mike Fedorko, and soaking up the life stories of Frank Morris, Mark Morrison and Gordon Latto to write their testimonial programmes; this truly is a pretty cool job to do at times.

So, what are your memories? They are an important part of this landmark anniversary – and we want to tell them. They bring the club’s history to life and recall the many great friends no longer rinkside. They too deserve to be remembered.

Send your memories, and any photos to us at ffpsport@fifetoday.co.uk