1980's Summary - Heineken Refreshes the Past
The 1980s witnessed another hockey boom, and, under the Heineken sponsorship banner, the Premier League was born and the ''modern era'' gained momentum.
The decade started with some new faces on board -- Jim Lynch made his debut as a player in what was to be a two-decade association with the sport, while Ake Alm and Chris Reynolds both served as player-coaches. American Gordon McDougall fired five goals on his September 1982 debut for a Flyers team, which included local skaters Allan 'Bean' Anderson -- a future junior coach at GB level -- Neil Abel and Kenny Horne.
Flyers failed to land any silverware between 1980 and 1982 -- the early years belonged to the mighty Dundee Rockets -- and in 1983/84 the stetson wearing Reynolds arrived in town with McDougall and newcomer Chris Orban. New on D was John Markowich.
October 15, 1983 marked the very first Heineken Premier League game staged at Kirkcaldy Ice Rink. It was against Durham Wasps and Flyers triumphed 13-5. There was another first that night in the shape of an inaugural match sponsor -- Welding Industrial (N.E.) Services Ltd of Glenrothes.
A bumper crowd of 1,243 caught many by surprise, but that figure was soon to be surpassed as hockey took off big-time just 12 months later.
The summer of 1984 saw Fife send a scouting team to Canada to find players capable of leading the team to silverware. Led by the late John Haig and rink manager Jack Dryburgh, they struck gold with former Hartford Whaler Ron Plumb as player-coach, with prolific forwards Danny Brown and Dave Stoyanovich. Overnight the ''Plumb Line'' was born.
Expectations were high, but the squad delivered instantly, scoring a first win in 17 attempts on Edinburgh's ice, to the joy of a 600-strong travelling support.
By March 1985 Flyers had qualified for the championship play-offs with a 100 per recent on home ice, and were playing in front of bumper crowds, despite the financial hardships endured by the community during a year-long miners' strike.
Hockey thrived thanks to some sterling work in the community, led by the irrepressible Plumb, one of the most engaging characters in the game and somehow who instantly understood how much the sport meant to the town. Match nights also featured the introduction of ''The Burd'' -- a madcap mascot brought in to add more fun to the show.
One game against Murrayfield was a capacity all-ticket affair shown live on BBC Grandstand, while Section G became famous across the country for its vocal support and intense treatment of all visiting teams.
The Spring of '85 heralded a British championship victory at Wembley -- the Plumb Line's finest hour. The momentum continued into 1986 as the newly retired Chic Cottrell steered Flyers to the Norwich Union (Autumn) Cup final only to be beaten in sudden death OT by Nottingham Panthers in an epic final at the NEC in Birmingham.
There were return visits to Wembley as well, but '85 remained the high spot of the decade.
In 1988, as Fife celebrated their Golden Jubilee, the team changed direction once more and broke new ground by introducing three world class Czech players to the British game. The skills of defenceman Milan Figala, and forwards Jindrich Kokrment and the mercurial Vincent Lukac thrilled crowds up and down the country -- they often played to capacity crowds -- but Fife finished the season empty handed.
Flyers ended the decade by setting a new British record transfer fee in signing Paul Hand from Peterborough for a reported £13,000, and once again returned to Wembley where they were unable to overcome new kids on the block, Cardiff Devils.