Ice Racing At Murrayfield
Murrayfield, Kirkcaldy and Ayr all hosted short track ice racing in the 1970's which was ACU Licensed by the Speedway Control Board and Auto Cycle Union. The inaugural meeting at Murrayfield took place on 9th January 1972 and featured teams representing Edinburgh and Ayr. The event captured the public’s imagination and was a sell out, with the queue stretching from the entrance out to the main road. Puch engined 175cc Greeves bikes were found to be the most suitable for ice racing throughout this period with Kennings producing the special studded tyres. It wasn't as fast as the traditional speedway but the physical nature of the racing ensured that there were few dull moments and received TV coverage. There was an ice racing double header on February 1987 at Murrayfield featuring an international four team challenge. In the 1980's the BSA 175 sport bikes were favoured being about half the weight and considered more spritely than the older Greeves model. With the closure of venues capable of hosting ice racing, the damage caused to the ice surface and the availability of ice time over the weekend conflicting with ice hockey it fizzled out. Ice Racing at Murrayfield was fun while it lasted but it was a novelty and not a viable long term sport in Scotland.
Murrayfield Curling Rink 1978
1978 saw the closure of Haymarket Ice Rink, which was predominately a curling rink and a demand suddenly existed from the curling fraternity for more curling ice than could be accommodated within the tight schedules at Murrayfield. The concept of a new rink in Edinburgh dedicated to curling began to emerge, an advisory committee was put together and with the Scottish Rugby Union agreeing to sell the necessary parcel of land the concept turned into reality with a separate seven lane curling rink being opened in September 1980. Later a new company called Murrayfield Curling Limited was formed to separately run the new Rink. The Tuesday and Thursday curling sessions in the main rink were incorporated into the new rink and the ice time released transferred to skating, ice hockey and speed skating. The curling rink is home to several clubs, including Edinburgh Curling Club, Merchiston Curling Club (founded in 1809), Penicuik Curling Club (founded 1815), Peebles Curling Club (1821), Haddington Curling Club (1846) and Aberlady Curling Club (1860).
Professional Ice Hockey 1980's
The 80’s saw the reintroduction of professional ice hockey with the Murrayfield Racers team being one of the most feared teams in Britain. The number of ‘imports’ was initially limited allowing many of the amateur players who had progressed through the junior development stages at Murrayfield, as well as at Dundee, Fife and other rinks, to move smoothly into the new era of ice hockey. Some of the Murrayfield ‘imports’ as well as some of the local home grown talent became nationally known in the Ice Hockey fraternity as well as further afield. Tony Hand MBE Hockey Hall of Fame, the first ever British player drafted by the NHL in North America, was a product of the Murrayfield Junior Development programme. Over his long career Tony played for several clubs and received national recognition for his services to ice hockey in 2003 when he was awarded an MBE.
Ice Skating Grows In Popularity
Also in the 80’s there was an increased public awareness of the existence of ice rinks and the sport of skating thanks to the successes on the national and international stage of John Curry (1976 Olympics, World and European Champion), Robin Cousins (1980 Olympics and European Champion) and Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean (1984 Olympics, World and European Champions Ice Dance). On Valentines day 1984 ice skating in Britain changed forever, the Winter Olympics were in Sarajevo and Jayne and Chris took to the ice to perform their now legendary Bolero routine to win Olympic gold. More than 24 million viewers watched the stunning performance which earned them perfect scores from all nine judges. It was the first time an ice dancing pair had ever received full marks in a skating competition and is a record that remains intact. All have performed at Murrayfield and Robin Cousins paid the Skating School a visit to pass on some of his knowledge to the next generation.
1989 Richard Stirling
Richard Stirling is part of the DNA of Murrayfield Ice Rink and his hard work, knowledge and dedication is the reason why the facility still continues to operate at the heart of the community of Edinburgh. Richard first walked through the doors to attend a Saturday morning skating session with friends at the age of 14 and never really left!. With the exception of a short period in the 1980's Richard has worked at the rink since the age of 15 performing in every position within the business. A known goal poacher Richard played hockey with the Raiders, Royals and Racers through the 1960's & 70's with a brief spell at Bournemouth Stags in the early 80's. Richard has been a father figure to many over the years and the door to his office is always open for those who have sought his guidance. In 1989 Richard was invited to join the board of MIR but still manged to find time to be involved with the governance of Ice Hockey with the BIHA and later the IHUK. Richard represented IHUK at the IIHF Annual Congress on three separate occasions held during the World Championships 2001 – Hanover / 2002 – Gothenburg / 2003 – Helsinki. Richard was appointed Managing Director in 2007.
A number of music and dance events were also held in the early 90's at Murrayfield as the rave scene grew in popularity around the UK which emerged from the Acid house movement.
Phantazia Dance Events 1990'S
The Harlem Globetrotters Oct 1993
In 1993 the World famous Harlem Globetrotters returned to Murrayfield for the third time having already played exhibition matches in 1958 and 1963. For a third time they attracted full capacity crowds