The 2011/12 season was the Club’s 36th in Maccabi football and once again we ran three teams for the eighth time during our lengthy Sunday league history. I cannot think of one other club that has been around continuously under one identity in the MSFL for this length of time, something of which we remain immensely proud. And that includes the ‘big boys’ such as Faithfold, Glenthorne, Hendon, London Maccabi Lions and North West Neasden.

I do not expect any season to flow by without its fair share of problems. And season 2011/12 had quite a few which we had to deal with. Even before the season began we were dealt a big blow when, having been assured a grass pitch at The Hive for both of our MSFL teams, Barnet FC did a u-turn by allocating it to junior football. Instead, we were offered a 3G pitch there, plus the grass pitch at Gosling Sports Centre in Welwyn Garden City. Both were an improvement on the facilities at Hatch End Playing Fields, even though Gosling has deteriorated since first being hired by the Masters League over ten years ago. These two venues took the Club to a new level of expenditure and we had no option but to raise our fees accordingly. Yet, since our members wanted better facilities, we were happy to be able to oblige, albeit at a higher price.

Another problem hit us approximately halfway through the season when a First Team regular lost the Daniel Stewart & Co playing kit, which the First Team had worn when winning the MSFL Second Division championship the previous campaign. Although we had sufficient emergency kits to fill in during the kit crisis, we insisted that the player must pay for its replacement. The Club laid out funds for a new kit in the same style which the Firsts started using in late January, whilst the player finally reimbursed the sum of £400 in installments.

One unsavoury problem we could have done without was a repeat of a situation which occurred at the start of the previous season. On the opening day of the MSFL season, certain individuals of the Second Team ill-advisingly chose to play ineligible ‘ringers’ in the first fixture of the new season. We had to suffer the indignity of a fine and points deduction which was publicized in the Jewish press via the Division Four table. Terry Jeffries and Gavin Levy were fined £55 each which are the highest individual fines ever imposed by the Club. The message from me at the time was that TFFC will not tolerate mis-administration of this nature and anyone doing that again will have his membership and registration terminated. Cheating is simply not an option whatever the circumstances; I can think of no other way to describe the deliberate actions of people who should know better on the opening day of the league programme two seasons running.

A fourth problem arose in the autumn after we had committed ourselves to a block booking with London Maccabi, hiring their excellent relatively new floodlit 3G for midweek training. Again we did well to secure the best facilities yet did not get sufficient support from players in return. Whilst the First Team provided most of the attendees, participation by the Second Team was minimal. Eventually, after continued efforts by Lee Fegan and Jack Morris, we were forced to cut short our booking with London Maccabi but thankfully, unlike the previous season, the training deficit of £31 was not too bad.

But these problems did not detract from a sound season overall admin-wise; the Management Committee’s prudent decision-making allowed us to provide improved playing and training facilities whilst covering the considerably increased expenditure more than adequately. Looking at our three teams in terms of administration, the First Team and Old Boys Team had good seasons, both being run with efficiency.

However, although the Second Team’s overall admin was satisfactory for most of the season, the bad start due to the points deduction was compounded by picking up too many fines towards the end of the season, when admin efficiency went AWOL. Not wishing to go on too much about the Second Team’s admin deficiencies, I will add that the highest fines total for years speaks volumes about the failure to maintain the level of organisation which this Club has been blessed with for a long time. Clearly, this must be improved radically next season.

On the playing side, all three teams finished with negative won/lost records and positions in the lower half of their respective divisions.

The First Team were always going to struggle to match the previous season’s success and the main objective was stability in a very tough MSFL First Division. The Firsts were sitting pretty in a safe mid-table position when the news came through that Montana Boca, beaten twice by Fortune, had folded having played 13 games, just 0.5 of a game short of the 75% needed to keep their record intact! The six points deducted pushed the First Team towards the bottom end of the table and brought on relegation concerns. But some really good results, including remaining unbeaten in all six games against the Essex teams, enabled the Firsts to survive. Highlights included beating Redbridge ‘B’ and Woodford and two hard-fought draws with Chigwell. The Firsts gained sufficient points to ensure survival and I applaud Lee and Jack and the team for this meritable achievement, which came in Temple Fortune’s first season in Division One since 1988. The Firsts also enjoyed a good run in the Peter Morrison Trophy where, after three wins, they narrowly lost to Premier team Brady in the last 16. Defender/midfielder Brett Stead was a deserving Player of the Year in his first season with the Club.

As expected, the Second Team’s season was a big improvement on the previous campaign’s second-from-bottom finish. With a mixed team of experience and youth, they got off to a good start despite the points fiasco, and were chasing the promotion pack for most of the season until a string of defeats against the higher teams towards the end knocked them into sixth place. Another impressive qualifying group in the Barry Goldstein Trophy saw the Seconds qualify for the knock-out stage for the second season running but they unfortunately faltered in the quarter-final. Another newcomer, namely defender Adam Field, fully merited winning the Second Team Player of the Year award.

The Old Boys Team, having struggled with a depleted squad the previous season which necessitated the use of too many guests, fared better on the playing front and enjoyed an improved second half of the season after a poor start. Indeed, the highlights were beating EDRS Stonegrove and Hendon Harriers after two heavy defeats against both teams earlier in the season. And another semi-final appearance in the Division Two Cup, for the second year in succession, was a reward for this improvement. Graham Meyer stood out head and shoulders above anyone else to take the Old Boys Player of the Year for the second time.

After the pleasure of watching MSFL Chairman David Wolff presenting my brother Peter with a large statuette to celebrate an incredible 700 games for Temple Fortune last December, I was tinged with sadness to learn that he has decided to step down as Treasurer. Peter held this position for 27 seasons, first taking over as Treasurer in season 1984/85. He has looked after the Club’s accounts very efficiently for many seasons and will be missed. Of course, Peter remains a co-Founder of the Club and will carry on as a player for the Old Boys Team next season. On my part, I will continue looking after the accounts which I have more or less been doing for the past couple of seasons. I wish to record my sincerest thanks to my brother for everything he has done for the Club.

To sum up the 2011/12 season, it is interesting to note that as a Club we took part in 75 matches collectively; over the course of the season we broke all records in terms of income and expenditure, topping the 10k barrier in both for the first time. Most importantly, we competently covered our considerably increased expenditure. Although overall we lost more matches than we won, and endured a few problems along the way, for the 36th time the Club provided competitive league football for its members which is what it is all about. That, in itself, makes this Club what it is – one of the best run in the Maccabi sport.

Finally, I will conclude my report by thanking Lee, Jack and David in particular, and anyone else – officers and players alike – who have contributed to a satisfactory season of football over the last 10 months or so.

NIGEL KYTE, June 2012