REPORT FOR SEASON 2000/01
I should imagine that everyone will agree that the Club's 25th season in Maccabi football was extremely frustrating. The adverse weather conditions, which amounted to the most rainfall I can remember since we joined the M(S)FL in 1976, produced a stop-go season full of postponements almost on a weekly basis at one period. Indeed the Club endured 32 postponements in total, the highest ever in one season. There was no continuity and players of all clubs shared the feeling of anti-climax and growing disinterest. The fixture backlog has been so dire that the Cyril Anekstein Cup was abandoned, some divisions were still incomplete on 3rd June and the Peter Morrison Trophy Final has only recently been completed.
As for Temple Fortune's three teams, I would suggest that the 2000-01 season has been one of mediocrity overall, bordering on disappointment particularly on the M(S)FL side. After coming so close to promotion a year previously, denied by goal difference, the First Team's season of inconsistency resulted in a mediocre fifth position in Division 3, incidently the Club's first 5th place finish ever. Goalscoring became a problem after Steve Feiger's decision to retire from M(S)FL participation and the fact that midfielder Mark Herman was second highest scorer with 6 proves the point.
In the Peter Morrison Trophy, the First Team gave Camden Park, who were top of the Premier Division at the time, a very close game in the Second Round, drawing 1-1 after extra time and losing only on penalties. But for an extremely late Camden equaliser, the Firsts would have pulled off the shock of the season.
One major plus was the arrival of Stephen Brower who, at centreback, helped to steady a defence which conceded only 29 goals in 18 games which at this level, for a midtable team, is quite good. His quality was widely recognised by his team-mates who voted him their Player of the Year, a fully deserved accolade.
The First Team enjoyed a few memorable victories such as beating the early pace-setters UJIA when they were previously unbeaten, third placed EBOR and eventual champions Golders Green, which was only their third league defeat in 3 years. However, these successes were countered by a few surprise defeats to the likes of Waldaf, Blueline and Shadwell. As if to highlight the goalscoring problem, on four occasions the First Team lost league games by just one goal to nil.
The Second Team had a very poor season, winning just two out of 14 matches in Division 4. Despite the number of experienced players in the side, sadly all too many of the newcomers were simply not good enough and offered no improvement to the team.
Like the First XI, the Seconds struggled to score goals. Only another excellent contribution by Robert Botkai gave the team any chance of avoiding a relegation spot from the off-set. A damning indicament of the Second Team's shortcomings was the fact that the three joint second highest scorers finished with a miserly 3 goals each. Of these, only one goal was scored in the league in each case.
The league highlight of the season for the Seconds was beating Boca Barbarians, probably their best performance of the season. In other games, amazingly the Second Team defeated the First XI on three occasions, two of which counted for the Founders' Shield. Apart from these victories, the rest of the season was very disappointing. Unfortunately, we were forced to concede the Club’s first league fixture for years due to mass unavailability, the only consolation being that it was the away game against Division 4 champions-to-be Barkingside at Hackney Marshes!
About the only lucky break of the season for the Second Team came on 10th June when I found out from the League’s Registration Secretary that PANYC ‘B’ will be deducted one point for fielding ineligible players in their important double-header against Brixton. This means that PANYC will finish bottom of Division Four with our Second XI in a safe position of 7th.
A good start was vital for the Old Boys Team after the previous season's Masters League struggle. Fortunately, the kind sequence of early season fixtures provided it and the Old Boys reached the turn of the year in pole position after half of the Masters programme. Incidently, this was the third time in consecutive seasons that a Temple Fortune team were top of the table on New Year's Day; the Second XI started the new century leading Division 5 whilst the First Team were top of Division 3 last season. Sadly, like the other two teams before them, the Old Boys XI's stay in first place was all too brief.
Reastically, with EDRS, Neasden and London Lions to play, we all knew that it would be extremely hard to remain at the top. Despite beating 4th placed Faithfold twice which were two performances to be proud of the Old Boys slipped to a final position of 5th mainly due to losing twice to a niggly Brady side. 5th place out of 8 teams may have been rather predictable but nevertheless creditable.
In the end of season Memorial Trophy match, which had to be rearranged because of the fixture pile-up which affected player availability, Temple Fortune retained the trophy for the third year running, beating Bushey in an entertaining encounter at Woodhouse College. Steve Feiger's excellent finishing was the primary difference between the teams but full credit must go to the Old Boys for a good performance against opponents fielding several Bushey United players from their M(S)FL Division One team, in addition to quality players like Les Broude and Malcolm Newman.
The victory was the first REMT hat-trick and has now increased Temple Fortune's series lead to 9-5, much to my disappointment! With respect to the Old Boys team, as the REMT organiser, I consider it vital that the event remains equal and competitive. I am concerned that Bushey have not won the Trophy outright since 1994 which no doubt pleases everyone associated with Temple Fortune with one notable exception!
Last summer the Club's first venture onto the World Wide Web provided a comprehensive and informative website which subsequently grew into more than 40 pages. The site took weeks to create and was updated regularly until Easter, when relocation of vital equipment made updating impractical. In this respect I would like to apologise to the regular browsers of tffc.co.uk. I hope that everyone who used this service enjoyed the site and found it interesting. I am hoping to update the site to include this season's statistics and retain it as a permanent Club record rather than a current affairs newsletter which will continue in email form.
Talking about emails, Peter's group emailing to Club members proved to be a massive success this season, especially as a brilliant way of distributing The Fortune News. Although reluctant to produce the newsletter in PC-friendly Microsoft Word, considering my experience as an Apple MacIntosh operator, I adapted The Fortune News into the former inferior DTP application so that the majority of Club Members could receive it. Only 12 players of approximately 40 did not have email facilities. Still, the overall saving on paper, collating and distribution made the group email concept a great success and I would like to thank Peter for his invaluable assistance.
Although Steve Feiger stepped down as First Team Assistant Secretary during the season, the First XI captain Simon Allen unofficially took over and filled the gap admirably. He was thrown into the deep end somewhat and I would like to thank him for generally doing a grand job. My brother was another assistant who had more than his fair share of work to do and, in stepping down as Old Boys Team Assistant Secretary, he deserves full praise and again my thanks for doing so well.
Congratulations to Robert Botkai who has become the first player to win three Player of the Year awards in succession, a fine achievement which sees him join the exclusive list of Temple Fortune individuals to be named on the Club's prestigious Merit Plaque of Distinction.
I will conclude by sincerely thanking the Management Committee officers for their hard work and commitment over the course of this trouble-some, rain-affected season. Despite 32 postponements we somehow fulfilled over 60 fixtures collectively and, all things considered, that was some achievement.
NIGEL KYTE, June 2001