Overall, the 2009/10 season was certainly smooth-running compared to the previous campaign. The Club decided to fold one of the Old Boys teams during the summer of 2009 and after much deliberation the team remaining was the Masters Division 2 side. I believe that we took a gamble to run three teams during the 2008/09 season which had to be the case to give our 35+ group a chance to play Masters football for Temple Fortune. The team lasted one troublesome season but at least we gave it a chance and there can be no regrets for that decision. So reverting back to just two teams enabled the Club to bring back stability in terms of organisation and finance.

The First Team, managed by Andy Souber and Lee Fegan for a second consecutive season, enjoyed a better season that the previous one, but slipped into a rather disappointing final position of sixth in the MSFL Second Division. At one point, Fortune were hovering between the second to fourth places amidst speculation of a possible promotion, but a slump towards the end of the season – and some extraordinary results elsewhere in the division – resulted in a position only one place higher than 2008/09.

However, the performance of one player in particular must be highlighted. Rob Benson personally enjoyed an absolutely brilliant season, winning the Player of the Year and Leading Goalscorer’s awards for both his Club and the Maccabi (Southern) Football League. He became the first Temple Fortune player to win a Player of the Year award since Henry Charles in 1988, which also was in the Second Division. But to capture the overall League’s Top Scorer prize was a wonderful first for the Club. Rob has been an absolute credit to the Club and fully deserved the numerous accolades which came his way a few weeks ago.

The Old Boys had a difficult season in terms of player availability, hindered by injuries to reliable regulars, and to use a record number of guests as permitted in the Masters League. Yet despite the hard slog, the team managed to finish in a creditable fourth place with only EDRS, NOBS and London Maccabi Lions above them.

Sadly, long-serving Old Boys manager Nick Waitsman had to stop attending due to an ongoing eye-sight problem and I am certain his contribution from the touchline has been sorely missed. I would like to record my thanks on behalf of the Club for the many years that Nick dedicated to the Old Boys team, rain and shine. He was team manager for ten years and did a brilliant job with limited resources in terms of playing strength. The highlights of the Old Boys achievement under Nick’s leadership were finishing as Masters Division 2 runners-up on two occasions. I am hoping that Nick will continue as our Vice-Chairman and we all wish him well.

An attempt to continue the Ralph Epstein Memorial Trophy series for the 26th time proved to be unsuccessful. Clearly the fixture had lost its way and the intended match played in May turned out to be farcical to the point that it was agreed not to count it as a REMT fixture. I had been in favour of continuing the series but now realise that it has finally run its course. The REMT’s Silver Anniversary in 2009 was an appropriate milestone to call time on the annual event.

I do not feel that the Epsteins as a family contributed enough to the occasion over the years, seemingly taking it for granted that TFFC would simply arrange it again and again. A perfect final example of this came a week after the proposed match in May. Ralph’s daughter, Laura, sent me an email saying how sorry she was to have missed the intended match this year. The reason? She didn’t know about it! Which means that Jeff and Murray Epstein did not think of telling her. Never mind, but it adds weight to the decision made that enough is enough.

I am content to have Ralph Epstein’s memory continue on the TFFC website where three pages are dedicated to the long-running series.

Although the Treasurer will feature the Club’s accounts for 2009/10 in more detail, I am pleased that the trend of the last two seasons of making a loss has been turned at last, albeit by a paltry sum of around a tenner! But had the Club not subsidised a training deficit right at the end of the season, the figures would have looked better.

The problems regarding training finances left a sour taste in the mouth and we must ensure this will not happen again. The Club has been caught cold before with training losses – albeit not for many years – and it is main reason why we do not officially arrange it anymore. Training venues can cost more than a home pitch over the course of a season and unless you are guaranteed maximum participation by players, which is nigh impossible, it can be a financial millstone. We will talk about the problems faced during the season under AOB.

The Awards Presentation Lunch was held for the second time at the Round Bush in Aldenham earlier this month and was attended by around 20 people, not as many as the previous year. But an enjoyable event all the same.

Next season is the Club’s 35th in the Maccabi (Southern) Football League and I am hoping that we will have a new sponsored playing kit for the First Team for the first time for several years. If not, then we do have two excellent red and yellow kits sponsored by Ellis & Co. Talking of this well-known estates agents firm, they sponsored two new Old Boys perpetual trophies so many thanks go to James Ryan for generously financing them. I think that just about covers everything and I will conclude by thanking everyone who played a part in yet another season of Maccabi football for Temple Fortune Football Club.

NIGEL KYTE, June 2010