This year, 2018, will see the Fife Flyers celebrate its 80th anniversary. From the club’s inception and first game all the way to present day. We take a brief look at the storied history of the oldest professional ice hockey club in the UK.
In 1938 with the completion of the Fife Ice Arena, then known as the Kirkcaldy Ice Rink came the formation of the Fife Flyers. The bond between the Kirkcaldy club and its arena is perhaps more special than some may know as the majority of the men who worked on construction of the auld barn would go on to become members of the first team to lay their tracks on the ice pad.
The Flyers would play their first game against the first incarnation of the Dundee Tigers with Norman McQuade scoring the first goal and Les Lovell SR being the first to wear the C. The Flyers would lose this game 4 – 1 but would record their first victory against the Perth Panthers in their third game 4 – 2.
During the 40’s, Ice Hockey was on the edge of becoming a top sport in Scotland however the war would put a dramatic halt to the advances of the sport. Kirkcaldy Ice Rink would continue to host challenge games throughout this period to keep the sport in the public eye but hockey would not return fully until 1946.
The first game to take place post-war was in October of 1946 where the Flyers would go on to win against the Dundee Tigers 6 – 4. In the same year Fife would ice one of their first home grown players in the form of Jimmy Mitchell, the other being Bert Smith. Smith would go on to be the first Brit to play in Europe. The 1948 season would see a very successful year for the Flyers as they would go on to take the league title winning the Autumn Cup and Jubilee Trophy along the way.
The 1950’s would be a time of struggles for the Flyers as the start of the decade would see the club almost go out of existence. Dark times would not just face the Kirkcaldy club but would affect the sport as a whole in Scotland. With costs and imports rising and attendances falling, rinks across the country were giving ice time to more profitable attractions. Teams were losing money and a decision was made to decrease the number imports however this wouldn’t ease the pressure and professional hockey was abandoned and would see Ice Hockey in the town lay dormant until the 60’s.
On October 28, 1962 the Fife Flyers would return after a seven year hiatus to compete in the amateur winter league that would include teams such as the Perth Blackhawks, Glasgow Flyers, Paisley Mohawks, Ayr Rangers and Murrayfield Royals. Pep Young, a staple in the Flyers squad during the 50’s would return to the newly formed line up and would be pivotal in setting up the structure that would stabilise the club moving forward. The 1963/64 season would be the Flyers most successful season in the decade winning the Scottish League title and lifting the Skol Cup, STV Trophy, Coca -Cola Trophy and the Grandstand Trophy along the way.
The end of the decade would see the Flyers compete in the NIHA’s Northern League that compromised of the Ayr Bruins, Durham Wasps, Murrayfield Racers, Whitley Warriors and the Paisley Mohawks. A youth development program was also put in place in the form of the Kirkcaldy Kestrels to assist in the growth of young talent to feed the Flyers.