“It was an absolute honour and a privilege to be a part of Fife this year. I didn’t realise it at the time but it’s a huge achievement. I’m certainly not still going to be playing for their 90th or 100th. I might be watching though.” Bari Mckenzie begins as we sit down to talk about his move to the team.
In his career, Bari has played for clubs all over the country from as far down the country as Coventry, to Cardiff and Belfast for a time but he’s always come back to his homeland. For the longest time he has played with close rivals, the Glasgow Clan where he iced for 154 games over three years. While with the Coventry Blaze he took to the ice with Wade Belak during the NHL lockout in 2004-2005.
A home grown talent, McKenzie talks about his home city with such passion and gusto it’s hard not to be swept up along with him, but this year saw his career move in a different direction. “I couldn’t be happier, it’s such a great club, not many clubs can say they’ve been going for 80 years and in the same rink too, it’s such a great achievement to still be going after all these years.
The character of the Fife Ice Arena, from the outside can so easily transport you back in time, taking you back to the 1940’s when the team played their first games of competitive hockey.
“Fife have been great to me. It’s such a close knit club and everyone is like family. They’re very passionate and very knowledgeable about their hockey. When we’re doing well and when we’re winning the passion and the noise in the building is just immense. They know the difference between good and bad hockey.”
With this year being so special for the Fife Flyers I wanted to focus on Scotland and the history of the Flyers with this article. So I began with something I like to ask everyone who is native to Scotland. Ask him what three places I absolutely have to visit on my next trip up North. “If Rangers are playing on a Saturday afternoon, I’d definitely say go and do that! An old firm game at Ibrox is amazing. Edinburgh Castle for definite but Edinburgh is my top as a whole, it’s such an amazing city and I’d probably say come and watch a Fife Flyers game but that’s a cheesy, cheesy answer.” Do you want a hamburger for all that cheese Bari? “But really, go and do a distillery tour. A whiskey tour would be a must. It’s a hard question though, I spent two year studying in America and you really don’t appreciate the things that are on your doorstep. The landscape in Scotland is amazing, it’s really a beautiful country but to me it’s just home. There is a beautiful place called Mallaig in the West, it’s a little fishing village and the water is so clear and the sand is so nice, you’d think it was the Caribbean.”
With the significance of history on the 80th anniversary of Fife, I wanted to look back on Bari’s history and his career. To talk about his love of ice hockey and where that stemmed from and also, if he had any early memories of watching the Flyers as a young boy.
“I have been to Flyers games as my dad was a big hockey fan. So we used to go up to Fife and watch the Flyers. I remember we used to do a big Scottish Cup thing, I can’t remember the year though, but we watched the Flyers. I remember watching Doug Steele and guys like that. It’s funny, because Colin and Martin Grubb were from Fife originally and Martin signed down in Dumfries and my mum and dad were close with his mum and dad and we were always in Kirkcaldy visiting them. They were like Auntie and Uncle to us. When Colin signed for Dumfries, he actually stayed at our house. I had an old tartan Flyers jersey, I can’t tell you how old it was but to this day I think I still have it in the attic somewhere. Colin and Martin were a lot older but I knew a lot of the guys who are now retired and if I see them I’ll still stop and say hi and see how they’re doing. I grew up playing juniors and so I knew a lot of people who had grown up in Fife. Fife has always just kind of been there.”
Fife had tried to sign McKenzie in the past, but it just hadn’t worked out for either party. However this summer, one phone call was all it took to see Bari pull on the yellow and blue of the Kirkcaldy side. “My mind was made up, I called my girlfriend and we decided we’d make it work. I have a flat in Fife,but live in Glasgow and Fife are definitely looking after me. As you get older you appreciate the little things and Fife are all about that.”
Special thanks to the Fife Flyers and Chris Taylor for allowing me to write for their match night program and for allowing me to publish this interview on Chasing The Puck now their magazine is out of print.