Fife Flyers at 80: Memories of great Wembley weekends

Fife Flyers fans at Wembley circa 1987 (Pic: Bill Dickman/FFP)
Fife Flyers fans at Wembley circa 1987 (Pic: Bill Dickman/FFP)

Wembley was the closest ice hockey in Britain ever got to a spiritual home – a place that still sparks memories and incredible anecdotes.

It’s 30 years since we all hit the road to London for the championship finals weekends, but the friendships forged then endure to this day.

The sport’s Heineken era was in full swing, Durham Wasps’ Big Blue Machine, and Murrayfield Racers dominated the silverware, and the familiar voice of Norman De Mesquita boomed across the PA as the teams hit the ice.

For many, it was the best of times – when teams were dominated by local skaters, and the imports, limited to three, were the stars.

It was the era of Rick Brebnant, Chris Kelland and his 60-minute shifts, the Coopers and the Hands, Rocky Saganuik and Danny Shea – outstanding players, coaches and characters.

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For Fife fans, Wembley 1985 remains one of the greatest weekends ever.

The club had once again broken the mould by going to north America to scout for the very best imports.

They came back with the Plumb Line - Ron Plumb, Dave Stoyanovich and Danny Brown.

Plumb was the man who sold hockey like it had never been sold before, and his enthusiasm was infectious.

Despite the backdrop of the miners strike, Kirkcaldy’s rink was packed to capacity on match nights – you had to queue to buy a ticket 24 hours earlier simply to ensure you got in.

His team was the benchmark against which every other was judged for the next 15 years.

It took until 2000 and Mark Morrison’s Grand Slam heroes to create a new legacy and pass the baton on to Todd Dutiaume’s conference champions of 2018.

But, for many fans, the Plumb Line was where it all started – and Wembley was their finest hour.

The venue always had a unique atmosphere on and off the ice pad.

It was a truly special weekend, one which started months earlier as you put down your deposit for a seat on one of the convoy of buses which rolled into the car park at Fife Ice Arena.

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Flyers qualifying for the weekend was always a bonus – this was as social a weekend as any sporting finals could ever get!

Back then, Fife didn’t just fill a bus – they filled a dozen or more; a massive travelling support which began the party the moment the bus left the rink entrance.

Trains pulling out of Kirkcaldy station were just as packed, and the fans would then disperse to hotels across the city – all converging in the shadows of the giant Wembley Stadium to make the short walk into the arena.

Flyers were Wembley regulars back in the day, along with Racers, Wasps and Whitley Warriors.

Winners in ‘85, they endured the pain of defeat in 1987 and ‘88 – and it’s from these years that we believe these crowd scenes were taken.

We found them among a box of negatives stored as we cleared out cupboards in Kirk Wynd.

They capture moments rinkside which have never been seen before.

The kids in the picture will now be in their 40s, and many fans will no longer be rinkside ... but we’re willing to bet these images will spark many, many great memories.

We’d love to hear them.

As part of Fife Flyers’ 80th anniversary celebrations we want to hear YOUR Wembley stories and share your pictures of those wonderful weekends.

They are part of the club’s history which we plan to bring to life throughout the 2018-19 season.

>> We want to hear from fans who watched the teamacross the decades. We also want to hear from players who have pulled on the gold, white and blue jerseys, and those who have coached. If the team, and the sport, have been a huge part of your life, then please get in touch. Email matthew.elder@jpress.co.uk or allan.crow@jpress.co.uk