1940's Summary - In the Beginning
Ice hockey in Scotland was on the cusp of becoming a major sport when war broke out.
Rinks had been opened in a number of towns and half a dozen others were in the pipeline as the sport took off in a huge way.
The war effort effectively killed that momentum, but it failed to wipe out the sport entirely.
While Murrayfield's rink was requisitioned for the war effort by the Government, Kirkcaldy Ice Rink continued to host sporadic challenge matches between 1940 and 1945 to keep the sport in the public eye.
There was what was termed ''junior action'' with Kirkcaldy Flyers taking part in the league and cup action which was scheduled; the Scottish Knockout Cup and Scottish Points League soldiered on through the blackouts and war-time restrictions.
The teams still featured a number of imports, and the fans continued to flock in huge number to the rollicking Fife-Dunfermline derbies. But most of the matches featured ''all-star select'' teams from Scottish clubs taking on the latest military touring side -- on other nights Fife would fix up a game against Falkirk or. Oine occasion the imports split into teams from East Canada and West Canada.
In 1942 Les Lovell refereed a game between the Canadian Horse Artillery and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, but the rink was perhaps better known as a dance hall, hosting many of the finest big bands of the era. Hockey finally returned in 1946 once the dance floor had been changed to allow the full ice to laid.
Seventy Canadian players were sent across by boat to play for the teams -- Fife Flyers, Dunfermline Vikings, Falkirk Lions, Dundee Tigers, Ayr Bruins and Paisley Mohawks all started the first post-war league, although Kelvingrove dropped out and Edinburgh Eagles (the original name for the capital hockey team) had to kick their heels for another six years. The players were 'pooled'' and then assigned to teams -- it was a controversial system at the time -- and Fife welcomed a number of imports from Kingston, Ontario, including netminder Don Dougall, defenceman Bob Londry and Floyd Snider, and 21-year old Bud Scrutton, a forward who was to add his name to the club's record books.
The first post-war game took place in October 1946 and it saw Flyers beat Dundee 6-4. That same week Fife Flyers Supporters Club was reformed.
The following month the club iced its first home-grown player in the shape of Jimmy Mitchell, and he netted twice in an 8-1 hammering of Falkirk. He played on a line with imports Bob Lantz and John Drummond. Mitchell was one of the first two local lads to break into the import-dominated Fife team. The other was the late Bert Smith -- the mascot on the opening night in 1938 who went on to captain his club, play for his country and establish himself as one of the all-time greats. A butcher to trade, Smith was an accomplished all-round sportsman and was one of the first Brits to play in Europe.
The rink's tradition of hosting touring teams continued through the decade with Vastra Frolunda from Sweden playing an exhibition gam in December 1948, followed by a French side and even world champions Team Canada who raced into a 4-0 lead and were beaten 6-5 by Fife Flyers -- a result which stands as their greastest ever hour.
The 1940s also produced one of the classic Flyers' line-ups as the Class of '48 swept to a league title as well as the Autumn Cup and Jubilee Trophy. Al Rodgers was three-times named coach of the year while the scoring exploits of the likes of Bud Scrutton and Chick Mann secured their places in the club's record books.