Comment: Gold, white and blue strips on Rosslyn Street is sign of return to normality

“We’re learning to be an audience again. We’re learning to be a band again.”

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 8:13 pm

So spoke Nick Cave as he returned to the stage of the Playhouse Theatre last Monday night.

Three standing ovations, two encores and a night of mesmerising music were reminders of how much we have missed live music since lockdown began.

The facemasks we had to wear to comply with regulations were neither here nor there - a piece of cloth over my coupon is a small price to pay for a night as engrossing as this.

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Action from Fife Flyers game against Dundee Stars - the first to be staged in Kirkcaldy since the pandemic (Pic: Steve Gunn)

It was another big step back to normality.So too was last Saturday at Fife Ice Arena.

Being part of a big crowd is something we all need to adjust to once more.

For every one who dives back in, there are probably several who remain hesitant, and will err on the side of caution - whether that’s masking up from start to finish or even opting to watch online.

Our health is more precious than ever - we all have to do what is right for us as we live with COVID and its impact for many years to come.

Action from Fife Flyers' game against Belfast Giants (Pic: Steve Gunn)

For me, the biggest thrill wasn’t the game - enjoyable though it was for a pre-season friendly - but the sight of folk heading up Rosslyn Street in their hockey tops.

Gold, white and blue returned to the street for the first time in 18 months, and it was a joy to see.

Opening night always draws a big crowd, but it was still good to see the queue snake its way round the potholes in the car park up towards the chippie.

Inside, it felt very normal, despite wearing a mask.

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We do need to tone down the “aye, but him over there didnae wear a mask” nonsense that pours out of social media - an accusation that sparks the same response and the debate spins in yet another pointless circle.

Forget the debate over their efficacy, the reality is no-one knows the medical reasons why someone may not have a face mask.

Those who go around with the mask hanging from their chins may as well put it round their foot for all the good that does, but life is too short to fret about what others do these days.

I didn’t feel remotely uncomfortable at any stage during the evening, and the general view was it went well.

But we need to keep adhering to the protocols to ensure we all play our part keeping safe.

I didn’t see many people using the sanitising stations - get in the habit of giving your hands a wee skoosh, y’know it makes sense.

It was grand to be back rinkside.

By my watch, it took just four seconds on the first Flyers’ powerplay for someone to yell “Shoot!” while the ping of puck on metalwork was a wonderfully re-assuring sound to hear ringing round the venue.

The opening minute’s applause was sustained and moving, and it was the right way to mark the sport’s return.

Reading the comments posted on social media gave a glimpse into just some of the personal losses among fans.

That moment would have meant as much to them as the sight of James Anderson celebrating the first goal on home ice since early 2020.

It simply reaffirmed my belief that sport without fans is nothing.

The people in the stands whose lives are intertwined with ice hockey, whose passion brings this rink to life every game night, and whose willingness to travel far and wide to support the team, are its heartbeat.

Their return is what made Saturday so special - the first of, hopefully, many great nights rinkside.

I suspect playing Nick Cave’s music would kill the match atmosphere stone dead - you won’t hear him covering Sweet Caroline any time soon - but the sentiment he expressed on stage is valid.

We’re learning to be an audience again. We’re learning to be a band again.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.

This article first appeared in Fife Flyers match night programme.