1948: Fife Flyers marked 10th anniversary with post-war league championship victory
Fife Flyers marked their tenth anniversary in 1948 by winning the Scottish League.
The campaign spanned some 52 matches, and yielded 37 wins, opening with a 9-6 victory over Dundee Tigers in which Chick Mann netted five goals - and concluded with a 7-1 drubbing of Perth Panthers to formally clinch the championship.
The Flyers of 1948/49 included a swathe of imports.
Highly rated 26-year old netminder Adrian ‘Pete’ Belanger hailed from Quebec City; defenceman Floyd Snider from Kingston, hard hitting Vern Greger from Orillia, and Bob Reid from Oshawa.
His brother, Scotty, was among the forwards next to Chick Mann from Catherine, and Doug Smith of Espanola.
Centremen included Ken Joy from Kirkland Lake - a noted Junior A player from across the pond - and Harold ‘Hick’ Moreland, also from Orillia,
They flew into Prestwick Airport and travelled east via Ayr, Paisley and Falkirk to meet up with coach, Al Rodgers.
Moreland had been stationed in the UK during the war, and Scotty, it was reported in the Fife Free Press, “had a girl in Greenock he hadn’t seen for some time.”
Ken Joy took one look at the fixture list and asked: “How are we supposed to complete these games in a season?”
Rodgers replied: “This is Scotland …”
Confidence was boosted with some early wins, including a 5-2 victory over Ayr Raiders and 5-3 result against Falkirk Lions.
Flyers stretched their unbeaten run into October with that latter result although it came at a cost as Greger took a ten-minute misconduct penalty after he was the victim of a nasty piece of retaliation from Pat Casey.
The Falkirk player took exception to a legitimate bodycheck, and broke his stick over the Fifer’s forearm. Referee Red Thomson stunned the crowd by binning both skaters.
An 8-3 win over Paisley Pirates towards the end of the month saw Flyers equal their own Scottish game goalscoring record which took them to within two victories of clinching the Autumn Trophy.
The match was also significant because it marked the emergence of Jimmy Mitchell, the first Kirkcaldy player to break through the junior ranks and skate for Flyers.
More records tumbled.
A 16-5 win in Ayr was the highest scoring hockey game in Scotland, Flyers’ best road score, and Raiders’ worst ever defeat on home ice.
It was also a night when Scotty Reid was in the thick of the action.
Twice he was sent clean over the boards and into the crowd, and twice he came back displaying some impressive gymnastic skills.
He was then the chief contestant in a free-for-all brawl, and handed a ten-minute misconduct.
Sin-bin stint over, he returned only to crack his head on the barriers and be stretchered off.
To the amazement of everyone in the rink, Reid then recovered in time to score his hat-trick goal, and Flyers’ 16th of the night.
The march to silverware stuttered slightly with a 5-4 loss at the hands of Dunfermline Vikings - the Autumn Trophy was already secured by this stage - but Flyers responded by thrashing Perth 7-3.
The new year started with a near tragedy as Dundee Tigers’ team bus skidded en route to the rink in Kirkcaldy, and careered into a heavy lorry.
Left-winger, Billy Frick, was propelled out of the door and on to the road where he got up and promptly collapsed. Fourteen other players suffered shock.
Incredibly, Tigers made it to the rink and played, losing the game 5-3.
Flyers went to the top of the table with a 10-3 hammering of Paisley - Mann netted four - and never looked back.
By February, capacity crowds were the norm, with 4000 turning out to watch a 3-2 win over Falkirk with Floyd Snider getting the game winner, and a 3-1 victory over Dunfermline.
Two weeks later it was all over as Perth succumbed 7-1 with Mann notching 3+2 to take his season’s tally to 145 points.
That night another landmark was recorded as Bert Smith made his debut for Flyers - the second Kirkcaldy skater to break into the team.