Ex-Racer the inspiration for Happy Gilmore

Kyle McDonough’s name may not be familiar to most British Ice Hockey fans, but the former Murrayfield Racers player has a very unique claim to fame.

Since retiring from playing professionally McDonough has progressed into coaching and now works as a History teacher, but he also has an intriguing story to tell about a childhood friend.

McDonough met Adam Sandler in his first year at school and he’s stayed friends with the Hollywood actor ever since.

The 1996 film ‘Happy Gilmore’ is hugely popular with hockey fans across the world and McDonough admits he was the inspiration for Sandler’s character.

“Happy Gilmore is very loosely based on me,” he said. “His father would take us golfing and I could hit the ball further than they could so they figured it was because of hockey.

“It was his dad’s idea that there was something funny in there and Adam ran with it.

“I did film a scene in the movie ‘Grown Ups 2’ but they left that part on the editing room floor – not pretty enough for the big screen I guess!

“Keep watching Sandler movies and you might see me yet. He’s a fantastic person and always treats his old friends very well.

“I’ve been to many movie shoots and a couple of Super Bowls with him and he always takes care of everything and treats his old buds like kings.”

McDonough was a free-scoring forward during a four-year spell at the University of Vermont, before making his way to Europe in Denmark and Norway.

After enjoying a prolific season with the Racers in 1991/92, he returned to Norway where he continued to be the scourge of goalies across the country.

Despite only staying for one season in Edinburgh, McDonough says it was one of the most enjoyable years of his career.

“Thar team was really close as a group – they seemed like true friends to each other as well as great teammates,” he said.

“I also remember how welcoming they were to me when I arrived – it was fun to go to the rink as well as go to the kebab stand or the fish and chips truck with those guys.

“People around here find it funny when I tell them I was in a locker room where everyone spoke English but when Moray (Hanson) got going telling a story, he’d finish, everyone would laugh, then I’d have to lean over to one of the guys and have them translate what he said from his English to my English!”

McDonough recalls being hugely impressed with Tony and Paul Hand during that season, while Scott Neil’s leadership influenced his own playing style later in his career.

After leaving Britain, McDonough made his way back to Norway where he spent another nine years. He says his final season with Frisk Asker was his most memorable.

“I’ve had so many good memories from hockey, but I’d say winning the Norwegian Elite series championship in my last year would be right up there at the top,” said McDonough.

“Thirteen years and hundreds of games and I can always say I won my last one – leave on a high note as they say and that’s what I did.

“I’ve fond memories of that Capital Foods Challenge win with the Racers as well, because I do believe we were down in the series that year and came back to win.”

McDonough, who still plays recreationally every week with his friends, says his time in Edinburgh continues to brings back great memories for him.

“The fans were a big part of my wonderful experience as a Racer,” he said.

“I speak often about my time in Scotland and my stories are always filled with laughs and smiles.

“Whether at the rink with the team or out at night after a big game, the memories are always clear and fond and can be summed up in two words – good times.”

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