REPORT FOR SEASON 2007/08
After the relative success of the 2006/07 season, it was always going to be challenging both Temple Fortune teams to enjoy a similar campaign. 2006/07 saw the First Team gain promotion from the MSFL Third Division, missing out on the runners-up spot merely on goal difference, whilst the Old Boys finished as meritable runners-up in the Masters Second Division.
The season commenced with the First XI being allocated Hatch End Playing Fields instead of Whitchurch Playing Fields. I was told that Whitchurch would be out of action for a season and that we would be returning there but this remains to be seen. I believe that the pitch at Hatch End was inferior to Whitchuch but we had no other option than to accept it as our MSFL team's home venue.
However, we could have moved to Roxeth Rec, which had a better playing surface than Hatch End, after playing one match there. An intended league fixture versus Brixton was played as a friendly when both teams turned up to discover no goal nets had been erected. Since Harrow Council would not put up goal nets there, we opted to remain at Hatch End. I have contacted both Barnet Council and the City of London Corporation, who run Hampstead Heath, in the hope of acquiring a better pitch for next season, but I would imagine that we will stay with Harrow for a third consecutive season.
Having been promoted the previous season, the First Team did well to survive in the Second Division after an absence of 4 years in the MSFL's third tier. At one stage, with just a few matches remaining, the team actually held second place, having played more matches than the rest. But Temple Fortune's negative playing record of one win fewer than defeats pushed the Firsts down the table to finish 6th.
Highlights included beating the previous season's Division 3 champions Southgate Harmen twice and a marvellous 5-goal salvo by leading goalscorer Ben Isaacs against Rapid Banta. Forgettable lowlights were two disapppointing draws against bottom club Catford and having to concede the final fixture against Brixton because the Firsts couldn't raise a team, the Club's first forfeiture for 13 years.
Still, with a mixture of several new younger players plus the experience of the 35 plus group, the team did well to hold mid-table stability which was pleasing.
The Old Boys Team started the season with a striking adaptation of the Club's traditional colours of yellow and red, this time in reverse order for the first time. I would like to acknowledge the generous sponsorship of James Ryan of Ellis & Co, who has agreed to sponsor a second playing kit for the 2008/09 season.
Matching the previous season was always going to be a tall order but nevertheless the Old Boys had a chance of grabbing the runners-up spot for most of the season, falling short due to a poor spell in March and April. They did finish though with a positive win/loss record, albeit by one match. Highlights included an excellent 4-1 victory over Clayhall 'A' who were riding high at the time, and a thumping 8-0 win against Faithfold 'B' early in the season. Not so pleasing were a trio of unfortunate 2-1 defeats against Ashlodge, Norstar and Glenthorne 'B' which all but put paid to a top 3 finish.
The weather was not so kind as it had been during the previous season and at one stage, both teams went 4 weeks without a fixture in December and January. The knock-on effect of several more postponements pushed the Old Boys to the last Sunday in May, one of the Club's latest league finishes for years. Fortunately, as had been the case for several years, the First Team ploughed through their fixtures and ended relatively early. Infact, despite the adverse weather, we were disappointed not to have entered the Minor Cup again.
Financially, the Club did not have a good season, making a loss which the Treasurer will cover in his report. I am pleased that the deficit was not as large as originally envisaged when a draft was discussed with Peter recently. I have noted a bizarre 4-year sequence going back to 2000 when the Club lost over £500 which was repeated in 2004 and again this year, albeit not as much. In between, we have been in the black which has more than made up for this inexplicable deficit trend.
However, it is still extremely disappointing to have made a loss and one key reason was a 30% reduction in Full Members. 30 Full Members reducing to 20 equals £500 in lost revenue. Add this to the fact that Temple Fortune played a mere 46 matches collectively during the 2007/08 season, which kept match subs down, plus a few other notable expenses, and it is not really surprising that we failed to break even. As a result, we will take measures to safeguard our financial welfare next season which will be addressed under Item 6 on the Agenda.
Ten years after reforming the Second Team, the Club has taken a hugely ambitious and positive step forward by forming a second Old Boys team. The decision was not taken lightly and followed several weeks of discussion. Although we averted a possible move by the 35 plus group from the First Team to move to Masters football a year ago, holding off this inevitable decision again was never really in question and we are delighted to be having a team in Division One of the Masters League.
Just a year after commemorating 30 years in Maccabi football, the Club is now approaching its 40th birthday which is an incredible achievement in itself. We will be holding 2 commemorative matches at Hillingdon Borough FC on Sunday 28th December which is exactly the Club's birthdate. I am hoping that the Old Boys teams will play in a couple of Past v Present matches similar to those organised when we celebrated our Silver Anniversary in 1993.
Recently, my brother made a proposal to appoint a Vice-Chairman for the first time ever as a fitting accolade for 20 years of service on the Club's Management Committee by Nick Waitsman, who has been ever-present as an Officer since joining us from Highgate Wanderers in 1987.
Nick has also served as Old Boys manager for the past 10 years and I am hoping he will actively take on the new role by overseeing the Old Boys involvement in Masters football as a whole, and also helping with the 40th birthday commemorations. Nick's overall contribution to TFFC, starting with the Second XI, then the First XI followed by the Old Boys, has been immeasurable, and I sincerely hope he sees the proposed election as a true honour in the way it has been intended.
I will conclude my report by thanking all Officers for another season of commitment and dedication, which has taken this great Club towards its 40th year and no doubt well beyond it.
NIGEL KYTE, June 2008