Jack Dryburgh took to the ice almost as soon as he could walk, first skating at the age of three and playing hockey by the time he was nine. Such an early start for a British youngster was plain to see in his later years as he was widely regarded as one of the smoothest skaters and stickhandlers of his generation.
But other than sporadic guest appearances, Jack never iced for his home town team as it folded in 1955 just as he was due to make the step up from the junior Kirkcaldy Flyers. A gifted athlete who had already gained honours in tennis and football, Jackie (as he was known in his youth) found the confidence to go south to Nottingham and join the Panthers, the closest professional club at the time. However, the 17‑year‑old aircraft fitter was unable to find suitable employment in the Midlands and he was forced to return over the Border.
The Edinburgh Royals snapped him up and in his first season, 1957-58, he was the top points scorer in the North British League, which the Royals won undefeated. After a second year in Edinburgh he tried his luck south of the border again, this time with another amateur side, Southampton Vikings. He enjoyed a memorable debut, netting four goals, and kept up this blistering pace to finish the season as the Vikings’ leading scorer.
After splitting the 1960-61 campaign between the Vikings and Edinburgh, Dryburgh signed for Brighton Tigers, to begin arguably the best four years of his career. The fans quickly took to the lithe, swift skating playmaker, and his less than six-foot stature led to them dubbing him affectionately ‘the Wee McGregor’ (his middle name). He topped the team’s scoring charts in each of his four seasons, his total points tally of 474 ranking him the third highest scorer in the Tigers’ history.
The demolition of Brighton’s Sports Stadium left the country with so few rinks that Jack decided, like some of his teammates, that there were better prospects on the continent. In the late 1960s he played for Liège in the Belgian League as well as Kitzbühel in the Austrian Tyrol, and he also made sporadic appearances for Fife Flyers, Perth Panthers and the now homeless Tigers.
Dryburgh was capped for his country in 1961 with five games in Switzerland when GB finished tenth in the world. After retiring from playing he went into management, firstly at the new Aviemore rink in the Scottish Highlands where he also turned out occasionally for their Blackhawks team. He was appointed manager of the Solihull rink in 1977 when he took over as boss of their team, the Barons, and guided them to the top of the Southern League.
He eventually returned to his native Scotland and managed various rinks, especially in Kirkcaldy where he often acted as bench coach of the Fife Flyers. He was for a time a member of the BIHA Council, representing the Scottish Rink Managers Association. Whatever Jack did, he did with a passion for the sport he loved.
Jack McGregor Dryburgh was born on 14 January 1939 in Kirkcaldy, Scotland and died there on 21 August 2020 . He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.