The 2003/04 season can be best summed up by two words... pretty dire. I cannot recall such an arduously difficult campaign for quite some time. On the field of play, each of our three teams struggled immensely from start to finish. Two finished bottom of their respective tables whilst the other was one from bottom. The saving grace was the Old Boys Team's runners-up position in Division 2 of the Masters League after being placed below even the hapless Clayhall side in the main division. The First and Second Teams, whilst doing well to avoid relegation the previous season, failed this time around and look certain to be demoted, which would be the first double relegation since 1991.

But off the field of play the season was pretty dire for numerous reasons too. In last year's report, I was singing the praises of the Club's impressive disciplinary record. Not a single sending off for a major offence for over 5 years, an achievement of which I was rightly proud. And then, soon into the 2003/04 season, as if to rub my nose in our long-running disciplinary excellence, all hell breaks loose. Nine First Team sending offs by December. A shameful abandonment for misconduct. Embarrassing adverse publicity in the Jewish press. The Club's excellent reputation, which had been built up over so many years, had been tarnished and I personally felt extremely low by that fact.

However, in putting on a brave face collectively and gritting our teeth, we dealt with the matter with admirable dignity expected of this Club. We promptly withdrew the First Team from the two cup competitions. We suspended one particular player for 4 weeks. We laid down the law in no uncertain terms via the newsletter. And fortunately as a result, disciplinary-wise, things settled down and improved in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, the pre-New Year problems had taken their toil, and we as a Club are facing a disciplinary hearing before the M(S)FL in a few weeks time. Arguably this is harsh considering that we took internal action and the situation definitely improved, but we have put ourselves in a position to be shot down next season in terms of conduct, and must make a concerted effort to maintain the improvement.

During the season, I had to deal with two Team Secretaries resigning for one reason or another. Fortunately, they carried on but the alarm bells were clearly ringing of the troubles being endured. Another lowlight of the season was the ugly Second Team altercation in a league match involving several players, leading to official complaints including alledged assault. This took time to sort out and was unpleasant to say the least. In keeping with the poor season we were obviously suffering, there were matchday deficiencies leading to reduced subs income and increased league fines. The General Secretary will cover these in her report, but all in all, they contributed to the Club finishing the season making a financial loss, one which the Treasurer is also bound to discuss.

Again, not being a Club to bury heads in the sand, we intend to increase fees next season to recover our damaged funds. We also intend to implement a better system of recording subs income, by use of a simple form which will be submitted together with payments. Another major disappointment was the cancellation of the intended small-sided tournament in memory of my late father originally arranged on Sunday 15th February of this year, which was exactly a year after his passing. All three teams were excluded from league commitments for this event, yet the general response from our members was apathetic, bordering on deplorable. Fortunately, we managed to belatedly arrange a game on 23rd May which at least achieved the aims of Peter and I of completing a memorial match by the end of the season.

I would like to thank Simon Allen and Andy Fridkin for their invaluable help in particular. Both are stepping down but overall did a fine job despite limited resources in terms of players throughout a very troublesome campaign. Well done to the other officers who kept things going soundly, no mean feat given the constant adversity we seemed to be attracting left, right and centre. The Management Committee pulled together as one when the chips were down and the Club managed to complete a dire season with all three teams intact. Realistically, we can draw much consolation from this, due to the concerted efforts of everyone yet we must look for an improvement in all aspects next season.

Proving that it wasn't all doom and gloom during the 2003/04 season, I ought to conclude by drawing attention to a few highlights. As mentioned previously, I enjoyed the Old Boys runners-up mantle, albeit in a five-team division, so well done to them. And they also won the 20th Ralph Epstein Memorial Trophy match, capturing the pot for the 10th time. Jonathan Davidoff and Peter Kyte reached 400 and 600 appearances respectively, which is an incredible achievement of utmost loyalty, whilst I collected a Lifetime Achievement in Sport Award from Maccabi Union on behalf of the Club which I prefer to dedicate to TFFC's longevity more than anything else.

Next season, we will be hoping for better things and a welcomed improvement. I trust that the Management Committee as a whole will work hard this summer to attract new players and get this proud, long-running football club smiling again come May 2005.

NIGEL KYTE, June 2004