National Siblings Day 2021 (10.04.2021)
National Siblings Day 2021 (10.04.2021)
EIHL LEAGUE STANDINGS
The 2020/21 league has been cancelled due to the corona virus pandemic.
Brothers on Ice - Hugh, George, John & Jim Taylor
by John Ross - Fife Flyers Historian
The Taylor brothers are likely to forever hold a unique place in Flyers history and possibly even UK hockey history as the only set of four brothers to play at the same time for the same team. As far as my research has taken me, there have been instances of three brothers playing on teams.
Hugh is the eldest having been born in 1942 and he would play forward alongside younger brother John who was born three years later in 1945. George was born in between in 1944 and played defence. The ‘baby’ of the family is Jim who was born in 1949 and went on to play in goal.
With hockey having collapsed in Kirkcaldy and many other places following the 1954/55 season, Hugh was already age 19 when the first signs of the sports re-emergence in the town occurred. As Jim recalled recently, “Hockey returned after its failure in the mid 50's with a challenge match between two teams of Kirkcaldy players in 1961 led by ‘Pep’ Young and this marked the first game for Hugh. Challenge games followed over this and the next season and growth really started in 1962/63 season where experienced players returned (Forbes, Spence, Macdonald and Smith from Altringham Aces).” Indeed, that was the case with the first recorded organised match on 17th February 1963 when the Flyers Juniors met the Murrayfield Royals Juniors in Edinburgh. The team was J Bayne, M Crombie, George Taylor, B Greenhorn, T Hutchison, K Horne, I Shields, D Pithie, P Grieve, Hugh Taylor, D Brown, J Hepburn, G Stevenson, D Cowie.
With more experienced players being attracted to return to Fife however, Jim made the following point. “It also meant that some of the locals were moved aside but this allowed the formation of a second team. This being a "new" sport meant there were no true Juniors and was played by adults only.”
Season 1963/64 saw the Flyers Juniors compete more regularly and in their first public match of the season against the Murrayfield Royals on Dec 27th at Kirkcaldy, 18-year-old John would score one along with a couple from Hugh in a 6-4 win. The team was Dave Medd (Goalie), Hugh Taylor, George Taylor, Ken Horne, Tom Stewart, Robert Steele, John Crombie, John Taylor, Bill Brown, Pete Grieve, Annan Bissett, Brian Greenhorne.
The senior Flyers had a remarkable season sweeping the board across all competitions and so it was tough for the younger lads to make a breakthrough into the established ranks. In season 1964/65 George, Hugh and John continued to play for the Junior Flyers. John was showing signs of being a consistent scorer and, in the game against Dundee Rockets Juniors, bagged himself four goals in a 5-1 win. In the senior game at that time however, there was still some fragility in the set up and certain teams were never far away from folding and at best were able to fulfil fixtures by the grace of borrowing players from other teams (usually their opposition).
One such team, the Ayr Rangers, had need for assistance against the Flyers in season 1965/66 in a match on 23rd January at Kirkcaldy. They requested additional bodies and were loaned. Dave Medd, along with John and Hugh, were loaned in what would be their senior hockey debuts. The Flyers won the game 10-3 with goals from Napier 3, Forbes 3, Lovell 3 and Williams. Around this same time, Jim was making his first appearances with the Juniors and in season 1966/67 at the age of 17 he was introduced to the senior game in somewhat familiar circumstances to John and Hugh.
On 5th March, the Paisley Vikings visited Kirkcaldy with a record of played 20, lost 20 (although as the Vikings had no home ice – the same as Perth Blackhawks and Dundee Rockets who were above them in the table – they played all their games away and they counted as double points. They had only played ten games but had a goal record of 4 scored and 144 conceded). They turned up short of two players of which the netminder was one. Jim was drafted in from the Junior Flyers to play goal along with another junior, Drew Motion. It was a tough night for the young goalie as the Flyers won 21-1 with goals from D Brown 5, Lovell 4, Young 3, Boreham 3, Watson 2, Shields, McIntosh and a double from a certain John Taylor. John and Hugh were now becoming established players for the Flyers and John who had scored his first senior goal on 23rd October in a 6-3 him win against the Ayr Bruins was establishing himself as a fine sniper. Along with Danny Brown and Ian Shields, also former Flyers Juniors, John made up what was known as the kid line and testimony to the work that was undertaken by ‘Pep’ Young in helping develop the local talent.
In season 1967/68, Jim was faced with displacing former GB Internationalist, Roy Reid – who had signed again from Falkirk, if he wanted to get time playing in the Flyers net. Once more he was thrust into opposition of the Flyers and his three brothers when the Durham Wasps visited on 22nd October in the Autumn Cup. Flyers won 15-6 and John put one past him again. Jim – still a teenager – continued to play for the Flyers Juniors as did from time-to-time John and Hugh – John still in his early 20’s and even Hugh who was 26 years old. Season 1968/69 saw the brothers all appear at the same time for the Flyers. On 18th January, in a 6-5 home win over the Glasgow Dynamos, John scored two and Hugh one. Hugh played his last season with the Flyers in 1969/70 before retiring in the summer with his family and working in mining leaving him little time to commit to the sport.
The brothers were featured in an article in the Coal News in March 1970 which read as follows:
“Four brothers who form the backbone of ice hockey survivors Fife Fliers [Sic], are pinning their hopes on a settled side to inject new life into Britain’s fast-slipping sport and bring back the missing thousands to the rink sides. Mining’s lightning movers, the Taylor brothers, have started to recapture their old touch which could make them – and their ‘hot ice’ opponents – a drawcard in Britain once a crop of junior players have fitted into their pattern of play. “We have taken time to hit it off as a team because we have brought in so many youngsters” said power-loader John Taylor, 25, long serving Fliers [Sic] forward. “But now we’re starting to pick up speed and points” He and his three brothers, forward Hugh, 28 an electrician; defender George 26 and goalkeeper Jim, 20, a draughtsman; play in the restyled Northern League made up of players who were left out when top stars pulled out of the old established league. And they have rubbed it in that they are a formidable quartet. For during one of the three 20-minute “halves” against Dundee, two team-mates were ordered to the sin bin for infringements, leaving just the four of them on the ice. They withstood one attack after another and kept the goal-sheet clean as they hung on for the longest three minutes of their lives. “In a game as fast as ours, even 60 seconds can produce a blaze of action” said Hugh, who works at Frances Colliery along with two brothers. A sure sign of revival in the speedy sport that has been slow to catch on in the late Sixties is seen with the reformed team at Dundee – the first for years. It has touched off such interest that a 3,000 crowd jam the town’s ice rink every Saturday night. Fife Fliers [Sic] manager Tommy Horne told me: I am a great believer in encouraging the young lads who will keep the game alive. In the old professional days of ice hockey the game practically killed itself”.
The article concluded with a photograph of the brothers in action from a training session.
Goalkeeper Jim steps out to check the crossfire from brothers Hugh, George and John in a Flyers training session.
Jim left to play for Dundee Rockets in season 1970/71 and still only 21. He was selected for the GB team, to play in the World Championships Pool C in Amsterdam, as back up to Willie Clark, 39 – the oldest member of the GB team. In preparation, he played in a trial game at Kirkcaldy on 6th February when GB played The Rest. GB won 12-4 with Jim playing for The Rest. A fortnight later, GB won 17-1 at Ayr when he faced 47 shots for The Rest and he was selected ahead of the injured Roy Reid as back up. Willie and Jim were unique in the competition as the only netminders who did not wear face masks, the wearing of them became mandatory under IIHF regulations in 1972.
The dearth of financial backing for the sport in the UK was highlighted in the Ice Hockey Herald issue of October 1970 in an editorial by Bernard Stocks:
“Unless something is done in the next three months, this British team which is receiving such care and attention will have to take to the ice in a shabby and tattered set of jerseys and pants more than 10 years old. It costs the best part of £200 to outfit a team with a new strip. The Northern Ice Hockey Association has no funds of its own. The BIHA with no hockey in the south and no TV games to raise revenues, cannot help. Our league clubs and their players (all strictly amateur, remember) already have heavy outlays in travelling, gear and sticks, and cannot be expected to carry any additional expense. This is something in which you, the fans, can help. If a collection was taken at each match between now and December, and you each donate a few coppers, I’m sure enough money could be raised to donate this vitally needed new strip. The Clubs and Supporters’ Associations’ MUST take the lead here…There is no disgrace in gathering funds in this manner. Every amateur sport has to rely on public support and generosity…The Herald is proud to set the example. A cheque for £5 has already been sent to the Northern Ice Hockey Association on our behalf to open the fund to provide the British team with a new strip.”
Sufficient donations were received that allowed a set of new white jerseys to be purchased, with an appropriate red lion crest on the chest, blue numbering on the back with red numbering and a Union Jack badge on the sleeve. All the sewing work was done by Ally Brenann’s mum and auntie!
Jim backed up in all seven of GB’s games where they beat Belgium 18-2, lost narrowly 7-6 to Hungary before beating the host Netherlands 7-4. A 5-4 win over Denmark was followed by a 6-4 defeat to France before finishing the tournament with a 5-5 tie with Bulgaria and being thumped 11-2 by eventual group winners Romania.
John and George continued to play for the Flyers that season and the three brothers were reunited once more in Flyers colours for season 1971/72. Jim who replaced the departing Roy Reid, who went west to Ayr, was described at the time as reputed to be one of the tallest goalies in the Northern League standing over 6ft and had an excellent catching hand. He was a right-handed catcher. John continued to find the back of the net on a regular basis and George even managed to chip in the odd goal from defence.
The Flyers were becoming much more competitive, they made a good fist of the Autumn Cup defeating the long unbeaten Racers to effectively deny them the only piece of silverware that escaped them that season as they lost out to the Whitley Warriors by a point. They finished a creditable fourth in the league and won their first ever Icy Smith ties before being dumped out by Murrayfield. Season 1972/73 saw Lawrie Lovell join his brother in Kirkcaldy, the seminal moment in the rebirth of the Flyers as a top team – not just in Scotland – but in the UK.
Jim (pictured) was appointed Captain of the side for that season. The IIHF later changed their rules to prevent goalies form wearing the ‘C’ which brought them in line with the NHL who had implemented that restriction in 1948 after teams had complained that the Montreal Canadians’ Bill Durnan would leave his net at strategic points in the game to discuss decisions with the refs and thus delaying the game. Jim denies that he was the reason that the IIHF followed suit! The Autumn Cup campaign got off to a positive start with three wins. There followed an Icy Cup success against Dundee Rockets which saw the debut of Ally Brennan, who had suffered a serious injury months before in a car crash. Fife were happy to give him a chance to rebuild his hockey career, what a move this was. The Flyers remained unbeaten in the Autumn Cup to win the trophy. On 9th December, the three brothers were part of history as Les Lovell scored after only SIX seconds against the Murrayfield Racers, the fastest ever Flyers goal. The Racers were defeated 7-5 on 30th December as the Flyers retained the Skol Trophy.
On 16th February, the Flyers were in continental action as they played a challenge game against The Hague. It should have been a mainly amateur side called Veronica 538 but the Flyers reputation of recent trophy wins saw the hosts bring in some assistance and they created an “All-Star” team of seven Canadians and an American goaltender – the match was played in a recently completed £2M rink used solely for hockey and the Flyers were gubbed 11-0 and only John travelled for that match. The team returned home and were blighted with injuries the rest of the season as they literally limped over the line finishing fourth again in the league.
1973/74 season and the Flyers finished third in the league, there was no Autumn Cup and they finished without any silverware. John continued to be a regular scorer behind the leading Lovell brothers. Jim remained in goal and George on defence before he retired from the sport in the summer.
For season 1974/75, Jim would not be available due to work commitments, he was an associate partner in an architectural practice as well as busy building his own house, and so the Flyers signed John Pullar as their goalie. John continued to be an effective and regular forward but once again the Flyers trophy cabinet was empty at the end of the season as they finished third in the league and were unable to break the dominance of their great rivals, the Murrayfield Racers.
In season 1975/76, John was vice captain and he had his most productive scoring season to date when he scored 34 goals across all competitions. The following season was of course the celebrated Grand Slam season and John went on to improve his scoring tally and write his name into the Flyers record books. He scored 40 goals over all competitions and in the away game against Paisley on 16th Jan, in a 28-3 Flyers win, he notched six goals and five assists for 11 points to hold the record for most points in a game for Flyers by a British born player jointly with Gordon Latto. The game also rewrote the league record books, highest away win ever in NIHA, highest number of goals for, most in a single period (13 in 3rd), highest aggregate number of goal and most scored over a weekend on consecutive nights. John finished in the top ten in Northern League scoring along with the Lovells and Gordon Latto.
The following season, John (pictured) was reunited with Jim, who had been rink side most nights during his absence and had now moved job, when coach Lovell resigned him to play with Willie Cottrell.
Season 1978/79 would be John’s last in the game and on 16th Dec, he scored his final ever goal in a 10-8 away win against Crowtree in the Icy Smith Cup. The Flyers programme confirmed that John, who because of his laid back attitude was nicknamed ‘slack’, had retired at end of 1978, one appearance short of 300 and that he had given 13 years of service. Jim retired shortly afterwards at the start of the 1979/80 season with Willie Cottrell establishing himself and youngsters Andy Donald and Craig Dickson also on the cusp of stepping up into senior hockey.
Following their retirements from the game; John coached the Kirkcaldy U18’s for a short time and Jim has been involved with KIHC from its formation in 1984. Jim stepped down from KIHC last year and was awarded Edith Page Vase for Outstanding Contribution in recognition for his and John Paterson’s combined service of over 50 years last May. Jim is also still involved in the administration of the SIHA.
George lived in Perthshire and sadly passed away in September 2020. Hugh, John and Jim still call Kirkcaldy their home.
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The Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) is a professional ice hockey league in the United Kingdom formed in 2003. The league currently consists of 10 teams; Belfast (NIR), Cardiff (WAL), Coventry (ENG), Dundee (SCO), Fife (SCO), Glasgow (SCO), Guildford (ENG), Manchester (ENG), Nottingham (ENG) and Sheffield (ENG).
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