Leamington Flyers Celebrate 60th Anniversary with Replica Sweaters

As the Leamington Jr. B Flyers continue to celebrate their 60th anniversary during the 2014/15 campaign, they have come up with a different way to honour the original junior team. Special replica sweaters have been made of the ones the team wore in 1954/55. These sweaters were unveiled at the Flyers’ home game on Thursday, January 15 when the Flyers hosted the LaSalle Vipers.

The Leamington Flyers’ history actually extends beyond those 60 years. The first Leamington area teams were composed of young played who congregated casually on the frozen Hillman Marsh and played pick-up hockey. Four teams including the Blytheswood Flyers played for a couple of seasons in the late 1940s while Leamington council debated about whether to build an arena.

A young man by the name of Bill Burgess decided to take members of the Blytheswood team and any others from the area who wished to play. He coached them and entered them in the Rural Ontario Hockey League for the 1951/52 season with sponsorship from a local car dealer, Murray Myles. They were christened the Myles Meteors. But the following season without Myles’ sponsorship, Burgess’ team played in the Windsor City Hockey League which included teams from Detroit and hence they were known as the Leamington Flyers.

By 1954/55, the team which carried many of its original players became part of the Southwestern Ontario Intermediate B loop which included teams from Wallaceburg, Glencoe, Morpeth and Dresden.

Of that original team, several are still living: Bill Sanford, Eric MacKenzie and Jim MacKenzie.

Prior to the 1960’s, the Flyers had became a member of the Border Cities Jr. B Hockey League until 1964/65 when they became a Jeuvenile team for three seasons and competed for provincial titles during all three years.

In 1967/68, they made a debut  in the Western Jr. B league, but folded after just one season. By then, the precursor of the Great Lakes Jr. C league was formed and called the Border Cities Hockey League. The Flyers were a founding member and played successfully in the league until the 1991/92 campaign. In 1992/93, they returned to  the Jr. B loop and have remained at that level ever since .

The team has won many regular season and playoff titles throughout the years. Provincial championships were garnered in 19966/67 (Juvenile), 1971/72 and 1979/80 (Jr. C) as well as vying for the top prize in other seasons.

Dropping the puck at the sweater unveiling was original member Jim MacKenzie, who was given a replica sweater with his name on the back. The unique sweaters which do not bear any names on the back – or any ads  – will be worn by the Flyers during their final home games, with them being auctioned off on Thursday Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 when the Flyers host the Chatham Maroons and Strathroy Rockets.

 

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