|Temple Fortune's First Team
|M(S)FL Second Division
After finishing in seventh position in the Club's inaugural M(S)FL season, Temple Fortune encountered quite a successful second campaign during 1977/78 but conflict with the League's Management Committee marred an otherwise highly enjoyable season.
The arrival of Richard Batten towards the end of the Club's debutant season improved the team's results and he led Temple Fortune's attack very well throughout 1977/78, ably assisted by newcomer Blair Krempel. Between them, Batten and Krempel scored 45 goals. Yet they were superbly supported by good midfield players such as Howard Kent who, with his previous surname of Levy, had played in Temple Fortune's pre-league days Clive Berlin and Alan Zeirler. (Berlin, a very strong and skilful midfielder, went on to become managing director at QPR for a few years.)
Other players to fit in well at different times included Howard Posner, another very useful midfield player and Clive Cooper who contributed quite a few goals in his limited appearances. The defence of 1976/77 was improved by the arrival of Franklin Bennett, and altogether the team looked a very good bet for a quick promotion out of Division Two at only the second time of trying.
Apart from Temple Fortune, the best teams in the Second Division in 1977/78 were Gants Hill and Highgate Wanderers. Gants Hill were a new team, filled with a bunch of promising but cocky youngsters and they won most of their first ten fixtures fairly comfortably. Highgate, a more defensive side, were hard to beat and did not have a particularly good disciplinary record for all their strengths. Temple Fortune could not have had a better start. In the opening league fixture, the new team absolutely hammered poor Marylebone Dynamo by 16-0 at Hampstead Heath Extention. To this day that superb score remains the Club's highest league victory bettered only by the 22-0 cup win against Elstree Eagles in 1990. Danny Espinoza, the top scorer of 1976/77, hit four goals. Clive Cooper, making his debut, also netted four whilst another newcomer Clive Berlin banged in a hat-trick. Sadly, Danny Espinoza did not score in his next three appearances and, having been dropped to make way for the newly arrived Blair Krempel, decided to leave Temple Fortune soon afterwards.
Controversy was soon to rear its ugly head, bringing with it the Club's first clash with the M(S)FL Management Committee. Fortune beat Mill Hill 2-1 in the second match. During the game, Alan Zeirler who had been in the process of being registered during the week preceding the fixture was brought on as a late substitute due to an injury to another player. The story goes that there was a mix-up with names on the team sheet, the omission of Zeirler's name being spotted by someone in the Mill Hill team who knew him. The League fined the Club and awarded the points to Mill Hill. Temple Fortune appealed on the grounds that the player had been registered belatedly, according to the League and that an innocent error had been made on the team sheet. The explanation fell on deaf ears and the decision was upheld. The points were deducted at a time when Temple Fortune were top of the table with Gants Hill in second on goal difference. The Club's record of five straight wins was amended to include a defeat. Sadly, another loss soon followed when third-placed Highgate overtook Fortune by winning 3-1.
However, the team won five of the next six matches, losing to mid-placed Sutton Cedars 3-2 at Rose Hill south of the River Thames. The best win came against Gants Hill as Fortune attempted to recover the top spot again. The 2-1 win was one of the Club's best ever results; apart from inflicting a rare defeat on Gants Hill, it was a great performance against one of the League's most up-and-coming teams that went on to capture numerous major Maccabi honours within three or four years. More amazing was the fact that Gants Hill remained unbeaten in league football for over a year after losing 2-1 to Temple Fortune!
The defeat of Gants Hill led to a great three-match run during which the goals flowed in abundance. Athletico 'C' were thrashed in a CA Cup tie with Clive Berlin netting four goals at Kenton Rec. Even Club Chairman Nigel Kyte, making a rare appearance, scored a goal during Fortune's easy 7-0 win! Kingsclere were soundly beaten 7-1 whilst lowly Westway were smashed by 11-0. Disappointingly, the sequence ended a week later as strugglers Bar Kochba somehow grabbed a 1-1 at West Hendon Playing Fields.
Unfortunately, the carefree goalscoring seemed to ease up generally as the new year started, despite two high-scoring friendly wins. Although still high up in Division 2, Temple Fortune seemed to be struggling for players at a crucial time for one reason or another. The Club could not raise a team to play a league fixture against Kingsclere who were a mid-table side. The League would not let the Club postpone the match and it had to be conceded by default, a mighty blow to Fortune's title aspirations. Worst was to follow when a make-shift TF side had to play Stanmore Maccabi of the First Division in the last 16 of the CA Cup and were beaten 8-1.
A week later, they played leaders Gants Hill. Of all the teams Gants Hill wanted to beat for obvious reasons, it was Temple Fortune and this they did by 4-1. The damage had been done and for the first time during what had been a good season up 'til then, Fortune were in real danger of slipping out of contention for promotion altogether. An encouraging and hugely welcomed 5-1 win against Athletico Neasden ended the bad run but third-placed Sutton Cedars escaped with a draw to keep Fortune in fourth place.
Then with the Club still smarting over the defaulted Kingsclere match, the League hit TFFC with the thunder and lightening bolts from hell! Temple Fortune knew in advance that many players would not be available over the Easter period and asked for a valid cancellation of the vital fixture against Shirehall, who were a poor side positioned near the foot of the table. The League's Management Committee, obviously intent on causing as many problems for Temple Fortune as possible, ruled that the match must go ahead on Easter Sunday.
The Club, clearly upset by the ridiculous decision, could not raise more than eight players and lost 7-0 to a team which had been defeated 4-1 earlier in the season. To add to Fortune's predicament on the day, Peter Kyte was sent off and the team ended the farce with just seven players. Never before or since have Temple Fortune fielded just eight players in a competitive fixture. The result all but ended the Club's hopes for promotion and caused an incredible amount of ill-feeling towards the M(S)FL Committee which was to last several years.
The unfairness of it all affected the team's form and they followed the Shirehall shambles with a draw against Bushey before losing to runners-up Highgate in a hard-fought encounter. In the last match, Temple fortune completed an amazing 20-1 double over bottom side Marylebone Dynamo. So, a season which promised so much finished in a lot of disappointment. Nevertheless, 1977/78 had been a good season overall. Richard Batten, leading scorer with 24 goals, won the Player of the Year award and became the first Temple Fortune player to represent the League. The 1977/78 team sadly broke up at the end of the season which was a great shame. That particular TF side could have gone on to be very successful.