Joiner by day, hockey by night: Chris Wands racks up 15 years with Fife Flyers

Chris Wands is the longest serving player at Fife Flyers.  Pic: Steve Gunn
Chris Wands is the longest serving player at Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers players have been leisurely going through their warm-up routines for over half an hour when Chris Wands rushes into the dressing room in his joiner outfit.

Already exhausted from a day of work, the 30-year-old heads straight for the coffee machine before preparing for his next shift, putting on his equipment and lacing up his skates for a training session on the ice.

It’s a commitment to the cause that has seen Wands become a mainstay of the Flyers team for the past 15 years, and a hugely popular figure among the fans.

“It’s like having two full-time jobs,” Wands tells the Press. “I’m working all day, then I come to the rink at night to practice, then I’ll sometimes nip back to jobs afterwards if I’ve not managed to get stuff done. Then you’ve got games all weekend so you’re constantly on the go.

“It’s demanding, but also rewarding. It’s something you enjoy, which makes all the time and commitment worthwhile.”

Following the departures of Thomas Muir and Josh Scoon in the summer, Wands is now the last surviving player from the SNL era to still be plying his trade in the Elite League with Fife.

That the defenceman has outlasted all others speaks volumes for his contribution over the years, both before and after making the step up from amateur level.

Wands has played his part in a process that has taken Flyers from EIHL whipping boys to conference champions, three play-off finals weekends, and a team capable of challenging near the top of the table.

Now in his 15th year as a Flyer, having made his debut as a raw teenager under Mark Morrison in the BNL back in season 2004-05, Wands continues to play a vital role.

“That’s been eight years in this league now,” he said. “It was a big jump when we first came up from the SNL but I’m much more comfortable and used to the pace now.

“It’s different this season because the guys I’ve grown up with are all gone.

“I played with Tommy for 15 years, and Scoony for a good seven or eight years too. Gunny and Jamie were there for around 10 or 12 years as well, so we’d all been together for a long time.

“For them not to be here, it’s a strange feeling this year.

“We have young guys coming up, which is a bit different than what I’m used to.

“It doesn’t seem so long since I was the young guy, but now I’m one of the old guys.

“I said to Todd at the start of the season that it’s been a fast 15 years. People say that the years just get away from you when you’re playing. And they do. It’s unreal how quickly it’s flown by, but I’ve come on leaps and bounds in that time.

“Every year you pick up different bits from guys you’ve played with. Some of them have played at a really high level so getting advice from them helps a lot.”

Like his friends before him, there will come a time when Wands is no longer able to commit to both work and hockey, but for the time being, he is happy to take things one season at a time.

“It’s getting harder the older you get,” he said. “The travelling takes its toll more now, so I take every year as it comes then see how things are at the end of the season.

“It depends on work as well. There’s a lot more midweek games now then when we first came into the EIHL, and I had to miss last Wednesday in Cardiff because I had no more holidays left at work.”

Wands was speaking after a disappointing weekend that saw Fife lose back-to-back games against bottom of the table Dundee Stars.

“It’s four points we let slip away,” he said. “We totally got away from game plan and just went to pot really. There’s no excuses for that.”