Season 2008/09 was always going to be a big challenge for the Club. We entered the campaign unsure of how things would develop, since we faced radical changes on both the MSFL and Masters fronts. Filling the shoes of Garry Simpson, our longest serving First Team Secretary, was always going to be a difficult task, but a new management team took over and brought in a new-look First Team. On top of that we voted in a second Old Boys team based on assurances that a sufficient number of new players would join which never came to fruition. So the season began with an enormous amount of trepidation.

That we came through a long and hard season with all three teams still intact was a tremendous achievement. Simon Allen must take the plaudits for his commitment in keeping the Old Boys 'A' team going to the end, aided by Garry Simpson and also David Goldberg's invaluable assistance as Masters Fixtures Secretary. There was speculation that the 'A' team could have folded as early as October, but to his credit Simon persisted and saw the season through, even though I knew he was not enjoying it from start to finish. So, all in all, the Club pulled together and faced an arduously unknown quantity of a season and managed well in terms of organisation and survival. In this respect I would like to thank everybody who helped the cause.

Looking at the fortunes of each team, I will start with our MSFL side. The First Team has not encountered such a substantial movement of players for many years. Out went the numerous 35 plus players who formed the basis of the new Old Boys 'A' team, and in came a set of players in their twenties. Fearful of the ageing First Team's immediate future, the arrival of so many youngsters was a breath of fresh air, as was the appointment of Andy Souber and Lee Fegan to run the new-look team. 

It would be harsh to show disappointment that what appeared to be a very good side did, infact, struggle for most of the season and had to be content with mere survival in the MSFL Second Division. As a group it was the team's first season and they finished a satisfactory 7th, breaking the Club's record of league draws along the way. Our First XI looks very promising and the management of the team appears to be in very good hands. 

Now onto the Old Boys scene which wasn't as encouraging. We managed to put off running two Masters teams a year previously but the introduction of a second Old Boys side was virtually inevitable, or we faced losing our 35 to 41 year olds who would have invariably moved to other Masters teams had we not been in a position to offer them Masters football. The decision was not taken lightly and as I said previously, promises by certain potential newcomers never materialised, leaving the 'A' XI short. We brought in several players who were not up to the challenge and they had to be released, and had to make do with a depleted squad plus the addition of 'B' teamers and Masters guests. 

Despite the adversity, the Old Boys 'A' team gave good accounts of themselves in many matches, although the struggle for players, including being unable to field substitutes (which are used to beneficial effect by most Masters teams), was the ultimate reason why the team finished bottom of the table, with one win all season. Thankfully the small First Division giving only a 14-match programme was a considerable blessing and the 'A's completed the season intact, an achievement in itself under the circumstances.

The Old Boys 'B' team, seemingly in decline after their tremendous runners-up feat 2 years ago, also faced availability problems and were greatly hindered by losing some players to long-term injuries such as Jonathan Davidoff and Bryan Silver. The team started better than it finished, but only won a quarter of the 16 league fixtures played, completing doubles against Ashlodge and Clayhall B. But the ‘B’s record of 10 defeats was reduced to 8 thanks to Pel City losing points for playing ineligible players. So what would have been a second-from-bottom finish was improved to sixth place, making a disappointingly poor season look better than it was.

Off the field, the Club did not do well financially as the Treasurer will report, making a loss for the second season running, which is breaking new ground in terms of hampering financial stability. The knock-on effect of the Old Boys ‘A’ team’s problems was a major contributory factor towards the deficit, two cancelled league matches leaving the Club with excessive additional pitch costs and subsequent fines.

Although on the playing and financial sides we haven’t enjoyed one of our better seasons, there were two events which were successful. The Club celebrated its fortieth anniversary by holding a four-a-side tournament to coincide with the exact birthday on 28 December 2008. The event was held at Princes Park where Temple Fortune FC originated during the sixties and was attended by 18 Club Members plus the Melzack brothers who had taken part in the kick-abouts at the time the Club was formed. It was an enjoyable morning which culminated in an exciting penalty shoot-out and the presentation of the Jack Kyte Challenge Cup to the victors, the Old Boys ‘A’.

On 31 May we held the Awards presentation lunch at the Round Bush in Aldenham which attracted 28 individuals and, mainly thanks to some beautiful weather, was also successful. The pleasing aspect of the lunch was that, unlike most of the Club Dinners of the past where the Club contributed complimentary wine, we actually made a profit of around £6! The lunch replaced the Gala Morning-type awards events which we held at Hillingdon Borough FC for the past three years and I believe we have found a winning recipe for how we should arrange our end-of-seasons awards for the foreseeable future.

Another event which took place was the twenty-fifth Ralph Epstein Memorial Trophy match which, as agreed a year ago at the AGM, was the last to be officially arranged by the Club. I understand from meeting Jeff and Murray Epstein that they wish to continue playing it, but whether they wish to include TFFC will now be up to them. I see no reason why we cannot participate in some sort of REMT event but now, for the first time, the ball is firmly in their court rather than ours.

I congratulate our long service award winners – Jonathan Davidoff, Phil Friend, Peter Kyte, Bryan Silver and Nick Waitsman – most of whom have received an engraved medal and special exclusive TFFC cuff links. Finally, I would like to conclude by thanking the Management Committee officers and our membership for their assistance, commitment and dedication throughout the 2008/09 season.

NIGEL KYTE, June 2009