Harry Pearson 1934 – 2024

Fife Flyers are saddened to hear of the passing of former player Harry Pearson in the last few days at the age of 89.

Harry was born 18th May 1934 at the Maternity Home in Kirkcaldy and grew up just yards from the Auld Barn in Pottery Street. He first took an interest in hockey at the age of 13 when he joined the local junior Kirkcaldy Midgets as the sport resurfaced after World War II. He progressed through the age groups to play with the Kirkcaldy Flyers before he stepped up to the senior Flyers. He received his first international cap when he was chosen for Scotland in an under 18 match at Richmond on March 26th 1951 against their English counterparts, a game the Scots won 6-1. A little over a year later and he made his Fife Flyers debut on December 29th 1952 in a match at Falkirk against the Lions. It was proving to be a tough season for the Flyers but they returned to Kirkcaldy with a point in this National League game after the score ended three goals each. The Flyers roster was dominated by imported players during this time and Harry was amongst a crop of local youngsters who were trying to establish themselves in senior hockey. His contemporaries of the time were Bert Smith and Jimmy Mitchell who were the most successful of the local talent, each of whom went on to establish themselves over a number of seasons. Others such as goalkeeper Billy Thompson, Jock Harley, Bert Doig amongst others and Harry himself saw more limited action in the senior ranks. Playing on the wing he went on to make 20 appearances, picking up two points before the end of the 1952/53 season and scoring his only goal in a match at Kirkcaldy on January 8th against the Murrayfield Royals which the Flyers lost 6-3.  The following winter he established himself in the team playing in the majority of matches and ended the season with three goals and seven assists from his 55 games.

As with many sportsmen of his age at this time he then had an enforced absence from hockey as he served his National Service which included a posting in Berlin. Unfortunately for Harry when he returned to Scotland the British National League had imploded at the end of the 1954/55 season and only Paisley soldiered on amongst the Scottish teams along with four teams from south of the border, one of which was the Brighton Tigers which we will get to in a moment.

Charlie Huddleston was a renowned figure in the sport at this time in Scotland and Harry joined his Glasgow Flyers on a Continental Tour before a move to the Murrayfield Royals for two seasons commencing in the autumn of 1959. Murrayfield didn’t participate in the British National League but that winter they were the losing finalists in the Southampton tournament as hockey continued in a fragmented fashion, with a senior team playing out of Kirkcaldy still a few years from returning. A year later and Harry helped the Royals to the BIHA Cup at Southampton as he netted twice in an emphatic 9-4 win before they later beat the Durham Wasps 8-5 in the Northern Tournament play off final.

Hockey was generally in a precarious state where it existed and the Royals disbanded which resulted in their coaching supremo Johnny Carlyle heading to the south coast of England to take over the same role at the Brighton Tigers for the start of the 1961/62 season. Carlyle would bring with him a host of Scots including Harry and a certain Les Lovell. Kirkcaldy’s own Jack Dryburgh who was nicknamed by the locals as the “Wee McGregor” along with Tommy “Red” Imrie and George Baillie who was born in Hill of Beath before emigrating to Canada. Harry became involved in the building and decorating business and for the next four years it was the best of hockey times for him as he collected winners medals for the eleven trophies that the Tigers garnered. After finishing in the top ten scorers in consecutive seasons he was recognised with an All-star “A” team place in 1962 and a “B” team place the following year. He played 121 games over those seasons with 131 goals scored and a 113 assists.  Included in those games were 16 meetings against his home town team the Fife Flyers who were once again in senior action following their return in the 1962/63 season. Of those 16 matches the Tigers won 9 to Flyers 5 with a couple of draws.

He made his senior debut for Scotland in their 4-3 win at Southampton over England on 30th January 1960. Two years later at the same venue he scored the opening goal for the Scots as they triumphed 8-6 before losing the next day at Brighton by a score of 8-5.  He also made a total of 11 appearances for Great Britain scoring four goals and he last played for his country in the World Championships in Sweden in 1963.

Alas yet another turbulent episode in British hockey saw the Brighton Tigers lose their home rink and although they tried to limp on using Wembley as a base and playing numerous games on the road Harry was once again without a team.

He did play once more for the Flyers in 1965/66 – just the one game at the end of the season in a Challenge match against the Wembley Lions in London when he guested for them when they were short of players, a game Flyers lost 6-7.

Following this Harry stepped away from hockey and established his own interior decorating business in Brighton until his retirement in Hove.