The Club's 27th season of involvement in Maccabi football started last summer in anticipation of two sets of new football shirts from Thailand via First Team goalkeeper Andy Constad. With generous sponsorship through Garry Simpson and Robert Botkai in place, plans were so advanced that even a prototype had been made and delivered. Sadly, however, the weeks flowed by and the 2002-03 season got underway with the eventual news that Andy could not deliver the kit due to a bust-up with his Thai manufacturers. So out came the old kit and perhaps this disappointment had something to do with the uninspiring start to the season by the First and Second Teams.

By December, both sides were bottom of their divisions. We were all prepared for a season of doom and gloom with double relegation looking the likeliest outcome. Shaking off the Thai disappointment, two new sets of shirts had been ordered through the trusted supplier Pendle Sportswear and their arrival towards the end of the year coincided with a remarkable revival as the new year started.

For the first time, both of our M(S)FL sides were wearing the same colours in every aspect apart from different sponsors logos. Who knows what sparked the change in fortunes but possibly looking good in the new yellow, red and navy shirts, sponsored by Turnhold Properties and Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, played an instrumental part. The First Team put together an impressive run and slowly climbed to safety and a midtable position. But they were outdone by an incredible sequence of results by the Second Team, who, after 7 league games had remained pointless. Andy Fridkin's team were unbeaten in 9 matches in the new year and came so close to matching the Second Team's all-time record of 11. The Houdini-like revival ensured that, not only did the Seconds climb clear of the relegation zone, they rocketed into an amazing 4th place by the end, and talks of incredible promotion replaced impending relegation! As bizarre a season as Temple Fortune have ever experienced. Put it down to the new kit maybe, but I would prefer to praise both Garry Simpson and Andy Fridkin – plus their assistants – for their never-say-die commitment, inspiration and belief in their players.

The Old Boys did not enjoy such dramatic improvement and plodded through a hard 18-match Masters League programme with little to show for a difficult season. Bettering the previous season's excellent 4th place was always going to be impossible once the squad had been decimated by Norstar's formation. But somehow, a squad was put together and getting through such a large fixture list intact was an achievement in itself. Again the dedication of the Old Boys management in keeping the whole thing going should not be underestimated and my thanks go to Nick Waitsman and David Goldberg in this respect.

Administratively, the season ran smoothly overall, helped by the introduction of emailing by the Club for the first time. The most pleasing aspect of this was the newsletter which was so much easier to produce via email than the time consuming printed format, which had been the case since 1976 under the banner of The Fortune News. This title will return next season to continue what has become a long running Club institution.

I am pleased to report that the disciplinary side of the Club has remained satisfactory once again. Ignoring the nullified dismissal of David Goldberg in a Masters game during the season, I cannot recall when we last had a player sent off for a major offence. However, the number of cautions increased and we had 18 during the 2002-03 season, which is the highest for years. Because discipline is my pet subject, I have taken the following statistics away from the General Secretary's report. 10 cautions were incurred by the First Team in 20 competitive games which is too high, of which 5 were down to Garry Simpson himself. The Old Boys collected 5 bookings in 18 Masters League games which I find disappointing, whilst the Second Team's 21 competitive fixtures brought only 3 cautions. Of these, Andy and Serge collected one apiece. So the winners of the TFFC Sportsmanship Trophy, if we had one, are the Second Team so well done to them.

The sad and sudden passing of Jack Kyte in February really hit my family hard and I was very grateful for the support from Club Members which has been tremendously appreciated. Whilst thanking Garry Simpson for donating a new Player of the Year Trophy following a mishap with the original one, this gave me the opportunity to include an inscription on the cup in my Father's memory. Peter and I would still like to arrange some sort of memorial event with a separate trophy and this is something we will consider over the course of next season. I would like to place on record the contribution of my wife in particular whose help during what has been a very difficult period for my family has been truly excellent.

Finally, as per usual, I would like to thank the officers and members without whom this Club would not continue to strive forward; next season, our 28th in Maccabi football, we will celebrate the 35th year of existance of the Temple Fortune Football Club, a fine achievement thanks to everybody's continued commitment.

NIGEL KYTE, June 2003