Margaret Stenhouse swapped the Burma for lifetime supporting Fife Flyers

Fife Flyers fan, Margaret Stenhouse on ice with the team, mid 1970s
Fife Flyers fan, Margaret Stenhouse on ice with the team, mid 1970s

You’ll find Margaret Stenhouse in the same place every match night - front row, down next to the railings and right at the mouth of the tunnel which led to Fife Flyers’ old dressing-room

It’s arguably one of the best seats in the house. It has been hers since she swapped dancing at the Burma for ice hockey.

Fife Flyers fan Margaret Stenhouse with her player sponsorship pass

Fife Flyers fan Margaret Stenhouse with her player sponsorship pass

The pictures, souvenirs and cuttings accumulated over decades supporting the team underline how much the sport means to the retired teacher from Methil.

The memorabilia includes many pictures with her favourite players taken at end of season presentations – snapshots from special nights of celebration when the team and fans come together.

And it all started with a walk into an empty dance hall in Kirkcaldy.

“Sunday nights at the Burma were always busy,” she said.

Fife Flyers fan Margaret Stenhouse with players Justin Fox and Brendan Brooks

Fife Flyers fan Margaret Stenhouse with players Justin Fox and Brendan Brooks

“When I got in there were two other couples on the floor. I asked what was going on, and was told the ice hockey had started.

“I lived in Methil and didn’t know about the rink or the sport, so the chap I was with told me to come the next week, get off the bus at the Gallatown, and he’d take me to a match.

“He sat beside me and explained what was going on, and that was me hooked. I was never back at the Burma!’’

READ MORE Ian has been rinkside watching Flyers since the post-war games

READ MORE Paul Crowder on the joy of playing ice hockey in Fife

Hockey favourites quickly emerged.

The Perth Line – Sammy McDonald, Eeny Forbes and Jimmy Spence – as well as Bert Smith and Les Lovell, and then, more recently Danny Brown, one third of the Plumb Line which led Flyers to the 1985 British championship title.

“When I started going the crowds weren’t always huge, but it still had a great atmosphere,’’ Margaret recalled.

The Perth Line were something else- they just clicked.

“They were also lovely guys.

“If it was raining after a game, Sam would drop me off in Methil on his way home. He knew my mother was an invalid so he’d always pop in and bring some biscuits with him.

“They’d come to watch East Fife playing, and would pop in as we stayed just at the end of the road, and they never came empty handed.”

The same friendships were forged with the fans who sat in the same section, and the creation of a supporters club led to many great social nights and memorable journeys to watch the team on the road.

“You got to know so many people. You’d enjoy a blether with folk you met at rinks around the league.

“When Flyers went down to Southampton for the British Championship finals, the fans were superb. They laid on a spread of food, and we did the same when they came up here.

“It was 12 hours in a bus to get there, but the trip flew past – I remember one fan looking for his sandwiches when we’d barely left the rink car park!

“Back then we always got the same Alexanders’ bus and the same driver - his son played, so he’d juggle his shifts to get to the hockey games.

“If there was space on the team bus, we’d get on that too, and often helped to carry the kit in to the rink in return for a free ticket!”

The 80s brought star imports and full houses, and Margaret followed the team as it made regular journeys to Wembley.

The ever popular Danny Brown remains one of her favourites from that era.

“He came to my school along with Ron Plumb and the kids just loved them,” she recalled.

“They left tickets for the next game - the kids went nuts when any player went to hit Dany! He’d become their hero.

“At least half a dozen of them begged their parents to take them to more Flyers’ games. They loved their hockey.”

In the 1990s, the arrival of Doug Smail, direct from the NHL, created a similar stir, and added another page to Margaret’s memories, and then came the EIHL era and a new generation of star imports. She has been a stalwart sponsor of many of them.

“It’d be lovely if some of the players came back this season, specially Smail.

“He was absolutely phenomenal - I liked him even more when he made an idiot out of Tony Hand.

“ I never liked him ...!”