It was widely accepted that the First Team under-achieved during the 2009/10 season, faltering towards the end of the campaign to finish in a disappointing sixth place. So the general view as the 2010/11 season approached was that the Firsts would return stronger and better equipped to sustain a promotion challenge than in recent seasons.
The feelings of a good season ahead were vastly enhanced by the pre-season signings Scott Shindler, a commanding and experienced centreback who had won three successive MSFL Premier Division titles with North West Neasden, joined the Club, as did talented midfielder Michael Goldberg (son of the Old Boys Team manager David) from Camden Park. Matt Gilbery, a powerful defender with a massive long throw, and the skilful striker David Gance added to a promising squad to compete in what was considered to be a make-or-break season for this Fortune side.
The team did not diappoint from the outset, winning the opening ten matches of which five were competitive fixtures. Rob Benson, the previous season's overall MSFL leading goalscorer (and MSFL Division 2 Player of the Year) continued in the same scoring vein, banging home goals for fun. The encouraging start mirrored the 1985/86 season, when Temple Fortune last won a divisional championship. Then, the First XI won the first ten matches also after bringing in new players; the signs between the two teams were evidently comparable soon into the 2010/11 season.
The modern-day counterparts, wearing a brand new smart yellow and red kit sponsored by Daniel Stewart & Co, did very well to beat one of the pre-season favourites, Norstar, by 3-1 in the opening league fixture. The team seemed to be clicking into first gear early on and thumped home 29 goals in the next four matches, including 9-4 against L'Equipe and 8-1 against Hendon United 'B' in league fixtures, plus a comprehensive 8-0 stroll against FC Team 'B' in the CA Cup.
But the most impressive victory was a hard-fought 4-3 away sucess against Brixton Old Boys after trailing 3-1 which showed immense character and fight in the team. The home team lost two players to red cards not for the first time that season. During this free-scoring period for the Firsts, Rob Benson, with five goals and four goals against FC Team and Hendon respectively, showed the form which secured his Golden Boot prize.
In mid-October, Norstar burst the winning bubble by inflicting a 3-1 defeat in Fortune's eleventh match of the season (reflecting the 1985/86 side's first loss in game 11!) There followed a two-week break from league football as the First Team produced one of the shock results of the season by beating Premier Division runners-up Hendon United 'A' by 3-2 in the Peter Morrison Trophy. A week later, Scott Shindler's old team North West Neasden 'B' (also in the top flight) were very fortunate to snatch a 1-0 win in the CA Cup.
Back to the league, Fortune returned to winning ways and saw out 2010 with three successive victories. L'Equipe were beaten 4-1, Montana Boca 3-0 and FC Team 'B' 6-2. In between came a close 4-2 defeat in the Peter Morrison Trophy against another Premier team, North London Raiders, on the 3G at Brunel University in Uxbridge. Bad weather towards the end of November and early December put paid to any football but the Firsts ended the year trailing leaders Norstar by ten points with four games in hand.
The First Team's next match after two consecutive postponements due to snow in January saw them face Woodford Wanderers at home, opposition who along with Brixton were the most unsporting in Division 2 during the season. Like Brixton, their indiscipline cost them dearly as they lost a player and ultimately the match 3-2 which gave Fortune a vital three points. The Firsts had two wins chalked off as firstly Montana Boca 'B' (beaten 3-0) and then FC Marylebone (6-0) both withdrew, reducing the programme from 18 games to 14. The deduction of points in fact suited Woodford the most, showing what a crucial result Fortune's 3-2 win was.
The First Team made heavy work of their next two league encounters, scrambling to a 4-2 win at Hatch End against Hendon 'B' before despatching bottom-placed FC Team 'B' by 2-0 following a lack-lustre performance. But the win was all that mattered and it allowed the Firsts to finally overtake Norstar, who had suffered from the highest points deductions, at the helm of Division 2.
With Fortune grinding out results without playing as well as at the beginning of the season, the Yellows next faced Brixton at home in the return fixture. A win would put the opposition out of the equation but in another tough gruelling slog in the Harrow mud, Brixton rode their luck to steal a 3-2 win, aided immeasurably by their manager incorrectly flagging Jon Fisher's fair equaliser out which infuriated everyone in the TF camp for days to come. Rob Shooman, the Faithfold 'B' manager, saw the game and later revealed how he told the referee that he had made a huge mistake the 'goal' was easily onside and he and Fortune had been cheated.
Nevertheless, any sense of injustice had to be put to one side as everyone involved with the team knew deep down that this set-back would not deter the Club's approaching destiny! The following week, Shooman's team visited Hatch End and gave Andy Souber's Yellows a very close game. Fortune this time favoured the home side who just about managed to win 4-3. The victory left the First Team needing a point in the away match to Woodford to virtually tie up the title but in a tense but rather dour encounter, the home side narrowly edged it and grabbed a 2-1 win. After thrashing Faithfold 'B' 7-1 on the same morning, Brixton players must have been jumping up and down in realisation that they had a chance of stealing the title.
So it came to the last league match of the season, a nervous fixture against Faithfold again at The Hive. Just one point above Brixton, Fortune now required a victory and the team did not fail in their quest to settle the season. Three goals without reply finally gave Temple Fortune the MSFL Second Division championship. Miles away in Barkingside, Woodford beat Brixton 3-1 in an ill-tempered game, ensuring that Fortune won the title by four points. As if to confirm that destiny had been achieved 25 years after the Club's 1985/86 Division 2 title, this margin of superiority at the summit of the division exactly matched the feat of the '85/86 team!
With the Temple Fortune team jubiliantly celebrating the final whistle with champagne, there ended a memorable journey across the 2010/11 season, which had started with realistic optimism of emulating the success last enjoyed exactly a quarter of a century previously and which finished with a 25-year destiny being fulfilled by Andy's deserving team.
Rob Benson again finished as the leading goalscorer whilst influential captain Scott Shindler scored an impressive 9 league goals and his 11 in all matches made him the Club's highest scoring defender in one season. Twice First XI top scorer in past seasons, Ben Isaacs returned to the team after a long-term injury and scored a super individual goal against Faithfold in the final match, his second and the one which finally secured the championship beyond doubt.
The team finished with 11 wins from their 14 league matches; it would have been 13 wins but for the two matches taken away. There was good consistent performances all season by numerous players, including midfielder Paul Walker and striker Dave Gance. Adam Glekin, Roni Stone and Gideon Joffe shared the goalkeeping duties and all did well.
The First Team's Player of the Year for season 2010/11 was Scott Shindler, who went on to emulate Rob Benson by retaining the MSFL Division Two Player of the Year for Temple Fortune. Rob Benson was again the leading goalscorer with 31 goals whilst Jack Morris took the Clubman of the Year prize. Ever-present in competitive matches was Michael Goldberg who won the Club's Leading Appearances Trophy for his efforts. The Club celebrated the championship success by commissioning a special commemorative short video which was given to participating players free.
Altogether a really memorable season which brought major success back to the Club after a quarter of a century.
Champions! From left to right, back row: Gideon Wetrin, Ben Isaacs, Dan Natoff, Richard Cooper, Michael Goldberg, manager Andy Souber, Ollie Squires, Jack Morris and Scott Shindler. Front row: Admin Secretary Mike Shorvon, Lee Fegan, Dan Woolfe, Rob Benson, Dan Nissan and Dave Gance. Squad members missing: Jonathan Cohen, Jon Fisher, Matt Gilbery and Paul Walker.
Below: Goals from the 2010/11 season. With acknowledgements to thejc.com and totallyjewish.com.