Let’s Talk Ancient Hockey Memories: Part 1 I’m The Ancient Philadelphia Flyers Fan

One of the cool things on Twitter (and Facebook) are the sports connections that I’ve found.

During the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, it was a ball reading the tweets and tweeting myself during the games , and even getting some trash talking in with the Chicago media. As the MLB playoffs approach, I get to do it all over again.

I’ve got my group that I read, my group that I interact with, and my group that I cannot believe that they are so full of themselves. Note to Tweeters/Bloggers: You cannot fake it with “sources” and other “exclusive” items. Most readers can spot the real writers who bring the stories and don’t try to one up each other.

However, the one thing that becomes obvious is that, at 54, I go farther back than most of these young pups. That means that I have memories that may have become hazy in particulars, but vivid in how they impacted me. This allows me a certain satisfaction in both knowing that I can share them anew with many people, and also that I can think “oh, yeah, I’ve seen better” from a deeper well when bragging rights come up.

I was a Flyers fan from Day One, which was tough because Hockey coverage was sparse in the city.

Before the Flyers, the last team Philly saw was the PHILADELPHIA QUAKERS, and that was a long time ago (1930) and lasted only one year.

In 1972, due to financial problems, the WHL moved the MIAMI SCREAMING EAGLES to Philadelphia, along with a net minder named Bernie Parent, who had left the Flyers only to return to much greater glory. This also lasted one year.

From 1974-79, We also had the NAHL Philadelphia Firebirds in town.

When the Flyers started, TV coverage was scarce. Many times, WCAU RADIO only covered the 3rd period. Cable was a baby, so you read about it and listened to the radio.

Also starting at that time was THE FLYERS FAN CLUB. They used to meet at KOSTICKS at the top of the hill in Upper Darby. This was back during the time when official fan clubs were actually run by fans, not as an extension of the team marketing department. I and another crazy hockey fan, Mike Lang, used to go all the time, and got to as many games as we could.

The first game I can remember vividly was the final game of the 1968-69 playoffs against the St, Louis Blues. We were swept. I was wearing this god-awful hat that I had fashioned, and that got so sweat soaked that it fell apart. It was also the first time that I had witnessed that magic tradition, the handshake line at the end of a playoff series. Still one of the most magnificent traditions in all of sports.

My favorite player was ANDRE LACROIX, partially because he was great but also because his name was close to mine.

I was also a fan of THE MINNESOTA NORTH STARS, partially because their green and gold colors were the same as my high school, ST, TOMMY MORE.

As the seasons progressed, the Flyers kept trying, and then in the early 70’s became the BROAD STREET BULLIES and that excited this city to no end. I won’t go in to their history, as well at the Stanley Cup years, because that has been told much better all over the place, and recently on HBO.

However, a few personal remembrances: I could not get a ticket for the final game in 1973-74, Game 6, so I sat on the Pattison Avenue steps with hundreds of others and listened to Gene Hart on the radio. We thrilled when we heard Kate Smith, and rejoiced as the celebration spilled out. We drove up Broad Street which took almost 2 hours to Oregon Ave, and yes, streakers galore. The parade went nuts, as you know, and culminated near Independence Mall.

The following year, the Flyers won again, and this time, to accommodate the crowds, the parade was reversed and sent to JFK stadium. A friend of ours who worked at WMMR knew that we had a band called the JIM RASCAL BAND. He asked if we would play a 15 minute set along with other local groups to keep the crowd in the stadium occupied.

We didn’t realize what the crowd would be, almost 100,000 people at a historic stadium. We played 4 songs, all uptempo. We started the fourth song with a well received F-L-Y-E-R-S chant over the base line for STEVIE WINWOOD/ CHICAGOS “I’m a Man”.

At this point, the KYW TV film crew started to circle the crowd for reaction shots, and out music made the evening news. We were followed by PIECES OF A DREAM, a great Philly jazz group.

As the parade approached, we were told to leave the field for the stands. Right. We straggled long enough that we got “stuck” on the field when they came in. We got up close with the entire team, and yes, snuck a touch of the Stanley Cup.

I am still amazed that in my normal life, I played music to rally almost 100,000 Flyers fans.

In 1976, PRISM cable came along and started carrying the Flyers games exclusively on pay cable. The problem was that only South Philly was wired for cable, and the rest of the city would not be until the mid 80’s. That created even more demand for tickets, the hottest ticket in town, because it was the only way to see most of the home game.

Well, memories tend to run on, don’t they. I post some more for you young whippersnappers later. Remember, these are from my memories, and the dates and names may have faded, but the impact never will.

…more to come when I get my addled brain to remember.

One comment on “Let’s Talk Ancient Hockey Memories: Part 1 I’m The Ancient Philadelphia Flyers Fan

  1. Awesome stuff, Adrian! I am also an older fan, but unfortunately didn’t start at the very beginning like yourself. The first game I ever watched was the 1976 game against the Soviet Union, and became a complete diehard in the 79-80 season when the team went 35 games without a loss. In the early 80s I was able to FINALLY get Prism and was able to watch the home games. Many incredible memories through the years, and as I relive them in my mind, many are narrated by Gene Hart and Bobby Taylor (yes, Don Earle was gone by the time I started watching!)

    It’s funny to watch some of the young bucks on Twitter recount some of these events that we were lucky enough to have actually seen when they happened. As you say, some like to be counted as “insiders” who have all kinds of “connections and sources” and sometimes it’s laughable, but there is a really good group of people to share the new…and the ones, like yourself, that I can share the past with are cherished, indeed.

    Thanks, Adrian, and as always, GREAT stuff!

    ~David (AKA @PhilaDAVEia)

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