Season 1987/88
Temple Fortune's First Team
M(S)FL First Division

Temple Fortune's First Team completed the successful rise back into the Premier Division at the close of the 1987/88 season. Winning the Second Division championship in 1985/86 was the springboard for another three-year spell in the M(S)FL's top flight.

Following the '86 triumph, the First Xl spent two seasons in Division One before the return to the Premier. The 1986/87 season was one of survival filled by a mixed bag of results. At the beginning of the 1987/88 campaign, it looked like Fortune's inconsistency would continue and nobody would have envisaged any prospect greater than a midtable position. Four of the opening five matches were lost, including a cup tie against Cricklewood from a lower division. Two of the league defeats were resounding thrashings, 9-0 against West Coast, the eventual First Division champions, and Athletico Neasden 'B' by 4-0. In the Neasden game, two Temple Fortune players were sent off and moral was at its lowest ebb since the relegation of 1985. Positioned in the bottom two, things looked so gloomy that Dave Salamons, who managed Temple Fortune's title-winning '85/86 side, decided to step down as First Team Secretary.

In came David Shone as his replacement and soon the team's fortunes took a turn for the better. Almost immediately, the Club received another encouraging lift when the very first match of the season was awarded to Temple Fortune by default due to Bar Kochba playing an ineligible player. After a creditable draw against quite a strong North West Warriors 'B' outfit, the Firsts then beat Leytonstone Old Boys 6-5 (after leading 5-1) to record only their second proper victory.

Despite two narrow 4-3 defeats against North West Warriors and Athletico, Fortune managed to win quite a few games and slowly moved up the First Division table. On Valentine's Day, the First Team met leaders West Coast and pulled off one of the Club's most memorable results ever. Beaten 9-0 in the first fixture between the teams, Fortune avenged that disaster in tremendous style with an emphatic 3-0 victory. Jeremy Fess scored a hat-trick but Temple Fortune were still only half-way and, following the team's fourth league defeat one week later, that optimistic prediction of a midtable placing looked the likeliest eventuality.

However, the First Team managed to win the next four matches, two of them in a double-header against Stonegrove. Suddenly, thanks to favourable results elsewhere, Temple Fortune had jumped into the promotion positions and the only obstacle in the way was fourth-placed Bar Kochba. Indeed, they were the opposition in the final 'crunch' match, arguably the most important league fixture since the historic Brady encounter to decide the Division 2 title two years earlier.

Simply, Bar Kochba had to win to leapfrog both Fortune and third-placed North West Warriors, thereby grabbing the runners-up spot. The morning of 27th March 1988 was extremely tense as both teams fought for supremacy. Temple Fortune were keen to cap an astonishing recovery in a season which had by all intents and purposes been written off as a flop by mid-October. Bar Kochba were keen to avenge the forfeiture which was to prove so decisive; had they not cheated in the opening fixture, they – and not Temple Fortune – would have climbed into the Premier Division. The match was a mistake-littered affair with few opportunities. Temple Fortune survived to grab a goalless draw and with it the unlikely runners-up position in the First Division.

Just over a month later, the First Team played Bushey United for the Ralph Epstein Memorial Trophy at Wingate's Arkley ground. Bushey, the holders, had competed for the second year running in the AJY League. But despite Robbie Wilton and Malcolm Newman in the Bushey line-up, it was Temple Fortune that triumphed on the day by an exciting 4-3 – Jeremy Fess scoring two goals – which avenged the previous year's defeat on QPR's astroturf at Loftus Road.

David Shone was nominated the M(S)FL First Division Player of the Year – which was the Club's third divisional league award – whilst midfielder Evan Hay captured the First XI Player of the Year award. Jeremy Fess was leading goalscorer, nudging 3-times top scorer Steve Levy into second spot. Fess also won the Merit Award. David Klahr, a youngster breaking into the Firsts that season, played for the League's Under 19's Representative side.

So, out of the early adversity came unpredicted glory: runners-up medals, a cup and most importantly, the Club's second promotion to the Premier Division.