Landmark anniversary game for Fife Flyers and Nottingham Panthers

Fife Free Press archive
Fife Free Press archive

Fife Flyers and Nottingham Panthers game in Kirkcaldy this Sunday is something of a landmark.

It marks the 65th anniversary of the first ever game between the clubs – almost to the day.

Fife Free Press archive report of 1954 match

Fife Free Press archive report of 1954 match

Panthers made their very first trip to Scotland in 1954 to take part in the Autumn Cup, and rolled into Kirkcaldy on Thursday, October 14.

They celebrated that debut on Fife ice with a solid 8-2 victory.

Seats costs 3/6, 3/ and 2/6 while you could stand at the back for the princely sum of 2/6 - juveniles got in for just 1/6.

Tickets for the games were sold via Mays Shopping & Travel Agents in the High Street, and the entry price included skating after the game – a tradition that ran for decades in Kirkcaldy.

The Fife Free Press reported the action with the healdine “Flyers take it on the Chin” – a reference to Panthers’ George Chin who masterminded the victory.

He netted four times, and his Chinese ancestry led him to the paper calling him “this Chinese cracker” who lead “who led this well balanced and skilful Nottingham team.”

This was their first victory since crossing the border to participate in the five-game schedule.

While Chin was the mastermind up front, ex-Perth netminder Jack Siemon was equally brilliant in defence.

In a hectic opening in which Flyers were right on top it was he and he alone who stood between the Kirkcaldy line-up and possible victory.

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What of Flyers? Well, this was their most disappointing home game of the season.

After a promising start they lost the place and although they continued to hold their own territorially, they lacked cohesion and punch.

Noted the Press: “Until reinforcements arrive, one can hardly visualise an improvement in form. We understand from coach Hayes that he hopes to have a full complement of players within a fortnight so we will reserve judgement until then.”

Only four Kirkcaldy players, in the reporter’s opinion, could claim any honours from this game.

“In a shaky defence, Jimmy Mitchell was undoubtedly Flyers most reliable player. In attack, Walter Davidson gets our vote.

“He was the only Kirkcaldy forward to back-check conscientiously and, with reasonable support, he might have emulated Chin’s personal triumph.

“The only other players to come into the picture were wingers Wayne Sutherland and Johnny Andrews.

“Newcomer George Bruce showed some clever touches but he will have to speed up considerably if he hopes to retain his position. Little would go right for the remainder of the players, and this is a game they will want to forget.”

Flyers hemmed the visitors in their own end for the first ten minutes and the forwards threw everything but their sticks at cageminder Siemon.

Somehow he survived this hectic series of onslaughts and, in Nottingham’s first raid,. They went ahead when Strongman picked his spot after Westman had drawn the defence.

Both cages had escapes but once again it was Malahoff who had to admit defeat, Chin beating him with a grand shot from a Cooney assist.

Before the interval, Chin added number two when the Kirkcaldy defence was caught out of position to allow him a clear run at the net.

Although Flyers once again had the better of the exchanges in the second period, Zamick, who had been fairly subdued during the first period, suddenly came to life to score a spectacular solo goal.

When Davidson, from a Sutherland assist, made it 4-1 in the opening minutes of the final period, it looked as if Flyers were going to start a revival.

However, although they monopolised play for a spell, they lacked the ability to finish and, as so often happens, in a breakaway Ringer put Panthers further ahead, and a matter of 30 seconds later Chin added a sixth.

Although they had no chance of saving the game, Flyers kept plodding on and three minutes from time they added a second. Sutherland was the marksman, and Mitchell and Davidson shared the assists.

Before the end Nottingham brought their total to eight with two well taken goals by Chin and Westland.