Fife Free Press 150: Back pages are a record of sporting success

For those who prefer to read their newspaper back-to-front, The Fife Free Press has dedicated the past 150 years to providing comprehensive coverage of sport in the Kirkcaldy and surrounding areas.

By Matthew Elder
Thursday, 4th February 2021, 12:24 pm
The final nail, a controversial coffin shaped back page to mark Raith Rovers relegation in 1977; front page to celebrate the club's remarkable Coca Cola Cup victory
The final nail, a controversial coffin shaped back page to mark Raith Rovers relegation in 1977; front page to celebrate the club's remarkable Coca Cola Cup victory

When the first edition published in 1871, there was no mention of Raith Rovers and Fife Flyers – it would be another 12 years before the town's main football team would be formed while the first puck dropped at Fife Ice Arena in 1938.

Indeed, the FFP can claim to be older than many of the major sporting teams in the town with one of the longest-surviving sides, Kirkcaldy Rugby Club, not celebrating its 150th birthday for another two years, having been established in 1873.

There won't be many clubs in the area that can claim to have outlasted the FFP, but almost all of them can claim to have featured in its pages from the local bowls and golf returns, to swimming galas, tennis tournaments, boxing shows... the list goes on.

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Fife Free Press back page report on Jocky Wilson's second world championship victory in 1989

The newspaper has shone the spotlight on local champions across a variety of sports, as well as featuring the national and occasional international success of its townsfolk, the late great Jocky Wilson among the most legendary.

Cuttings from Raith Rovers' greatest triumphs – the Coca-Cola Cup win in 1994, playing Bayern Munich the following year, the Ramsdens Cup win in 2014 – will be kept in scrapbooks for time eternity, likewise those reports from Fife Flyers glorious Grandslam sides in 1976-77 and 1999-2000.

It is an honour to have served as sports editor for 16 years, an era that started with Claude Anelka waltzing into Stark's Park in 2004, and ended with a coronavirus shutdown of all sporting fixtures in February last year.

Fife Free Press - 1985 back page celebrating Fife Flyers' British championship crown at Wembley.

But in terms of length of service, few can match that of contributor John Methven, who has provided the FFP with Kirkcaldy Rugby reports across several decades, including the club's most memorable moment – winning promotion to the First Division in 2000.

Sports reporting has changed beyond recognition over the years, the notepad and pen has been replaced by the laptop and live blog – and here's hoping the people of Kirkcaldy can continue to enjoy the paper's sports coverage, in whatever format, for the next 150 years.

» The 1950s saw the launch of the Mirror of Merit trophy to honour Fife Flyers’ top player, and it continues to this day. It is presented on ice before the last game of each season.

All the winners are engraved on a quaich which is in the Press office, while Flyers’ dressing room has a roll of honour prominent for all to see.

It features many of the club’s greatest players, and is regarded as the traditional ‘player of the year’ award.

At Raith Rovers, the Star Check trophy operated along similar lines each season.

The Press also led the successful campaign to save Raith Rovers and return it to community ownership after then owner Colin McGowan announced he wanted out back in 2005.

The Press has also played a key role in Kirkcaldy & Central Sports Council’s annual awards and presentation night which celebrates the successes of local people across a huge range of sports.