Dundee’s oldest ice hockey fanatic, who supported city clubs for more than 80 years, has died at the age of 94.
Syd Taylor was left spellbound after watching his first puck drop at the old Dundee and Angus Ice Rink in 1938.
In the decades that followed, he travelled the length and breadth of the country following Dundee’s finest, whether it was the legendary Tigers and Rockets teams or up-and- coming amateurs.
Syd, who lived in the Provost Road, Menzieshill and The Glens areas, died on Tuesday after a short spell in Ninewells Hospital.
“After that first game he was absolutely hooked,” his son Steve said.
“Then Hitler decided to ruin everyone’s fun and there wasn’t any hockey for about 10 years. When my dad came out of the Army, he followed the powerful Tigers team in the 50s and then it was the Rockets in the 60s.”
Steve added: “He was part of the disciplinary committee as well and he used to love travelling to all the different clubs and meeting all the coaches.
“Where he lived on Provost Road the old ice rink was only a five minute walk away. He used to love skating and after a few Canadians settled here they started up some hockey games.
“He went to see what it was all about and that was it, he loved it. He went to watch everything after that.”
Born in 1924, Syd left Rockwell High School at 14 and became a wood turner to trade.
Despite holding a green card exempting him from service, Syd joined the Army where he spent several years on the frontline before returning to Dundee in 1947.
Not long after he met Frances, his future wife, and the pair married in 1952.
Syd juggled his dedication to ice hockey alongside multiple jobs with canning firm Smedley’s, Marshall and Brush and a stint as a kitchen porter in Liff Hospital.
Ice hockey wasn’t Syd’s only passion, however, as he would happily swap pucks for pedals, cycling miles on end with brothers Willie and Freddie.
Mainly due to his dad’s influence, Steve took up ice hockey at a young age.
And he revealed Syd would go to incredible lengths to support not only his son but teams across the city.
Steve said: “I remember as a junior hockey player, my dad would think nothing of loading up the campervan and travelling to north Wales and places like that just to visit rinks and see me play hockey.
“We couldn’t go anywhere on holiday without my parents taking me to a rink!
“My dad took it upon himself to help the Rockets in the 1970s and the 1980s and he and my mum would get all the strips of the players and they would wash them. It was unreal, our flat in Menzieshill looked like a laundry!”
He added: “In 1989, the rink shut down and we didn’t have any hockey in Dundee for nearly 12 years which is what we call the dark ages.
“When the new rink opened in 2000 he was up there every weekend whether it was for the Tigers or, latterly, for the Stars, he never missed a game.
“Even towards the end when he was having a bit of hardship with his mobility once he was sat in his seat that was him for the next three hours.
“The support he had from the ice hockey family in Dundee was brilliant.”
Syd was honoured for his 90th birthday in 2014 by Dundee Stars with co-owner Mike Ward and player Sam McCluskey presenting him with a shirt and season ticket.
In a previous Tele interview, Syd reflected on his first experience of the sport, saying: “The first game was marvellous. What was ice hockey?
“Nobody knew what it was all about. It was well advertised all over the town and I said to my mum, ‘I want to go and see this ice hockey’.
“It was Dundee Tigers versus Perth Panthers and the score was 2-2. It was out of this world and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Paying tribute on Twitter, Dundee Stars wrote: “Everyone at the club was saddened to hear of the passing of Syd Taylor.
“Syd was a great follower of hockey and the teams that have represented the city over the years. Our thoughts are with Syd’s family and friends.”
But for all Syd will be synonymous with ice hockey, he’ll also be remembered as a loving family man with a “big heart”.
Steve added: “He was a really personal guy, he was happy in his own company but he was equally happy surrounded by all his family.
“As far as I’m aware he must have been the oldest ice hockey fan in Scotland.
“He was an amazing fella, he wasn’t the tallest of guys but he had a big heart and a big personality.”
As well as Frances and Steve, Syd is survived by daughter-in-law Dawn, grand-children Rory and Kirstin and great-granddaughter Georgie.