Looking back at 36 previous seasons of league participation, the Club’s worst and most difficult seasons have always related to relegation struggles. Yet this season has been dire for different reasons. Although the First XI have held their own in the MSFL Division One, the level of indiscipline has been unprecedented.

In all my years with the Club I cannot recall a worse season in this respect, with 50 cautions and 9 red card offences certainly denting the Club’s previously excellent reputation. Kane Gilbery amassed the worst individual disciplinary record in the Club’s history, with 9 bookings and 2 sending offs. His brother Josh had 2 red card offences recorded against him. Altogether I dealt with 59 disciplinary cases involving players, exactly twice as many as the previous season. Another case imposed by the London FA against the Club for ‘failure to ensure players’ conduct was orderly and refrained from violent, threatening or provocative behaviour’ during the abandoned match against UJIA in March made the number of disciplinary cases coming through the post an appalling SIXTY.

Added to this has been the almost rebellious attitude of certain individuals in the First Team which has made collecting fines very difficult. With so many hotheads playing it has proved problematical to impose our disciplinary procedures to any successful degree. To try and stem the tide regarding dissent, the Management Committee agreed to adopt the one-match ban policy for cautions for dissent, but even this almost caused revolt in the First Team as we tried to suspend offenders. Facing the likelihood of a mass walk-out, we had to relent and drop the scheme.

Then we had players questioning the surcharge deterrent on the fines, refusing to pay above the £10 London FA admin charge. Altogether administering discipline has been a real nightmare this season, so much so that we need to review our disciplinary policies for the 2013/14 season. At the time of writing this report, the Club is owed a total exceeding £200 in unpaid fines, again an unprecedented situation during our long league history.

I think that Lee Fegan and Jonathan Cohen have done a very good job considering the difficult nature of this First Team. We knew as early as the pre-season friendlies, where we witnessed some indiscipline particularly by Kane Gilbery, that a long arduous season lay ahead but we needed these players at a time when Lee was fearing that we would not have enough to field a First XI. With the indiscipline came a talented team which held its own in a very competitive Division One. Undoubtedly there were some very good players but the problems mounted from game to game almost on a weekly basis.

The Shirley Park match in which we had three players sent off brought a lot of shame via the press and this set the stall for a string of cautions in the weeks to follow. The First Team were publicly labeled as an indisciplined team and I am sure this was reflected in the approach of some referees since we had a spate of harsh cautions in subsequent games. The handbags confrontation during the match against Camden Park, where there were just two yellow cards on our side, brought an unjustified anti-Fortune reaction in the press as a result.

Everything came to an ugly head on Sunday 3rd March when during the first game of a double-header against UJIA, a shameful mass brawl led to our first abandonment for 15 years. I believe that although the opposition instigated much of what transpired, the lack of control of some of our players was disgraceful. Two players, Josh Gilbery and Dan Orgel, did not play again as a result. Orgel has ignored all communications to pay his fine and will face a large bill in settlement if he is to play in the MSFL again.

I would like to place on record that the poor behaviour of Josh and Kane Gilbery, Scott Kay and Dan Orgel in relation to discipline, sportsmanship, accepting responsibilities and having generally disagreeable attitudes was extremely disappointing. They are not the kind of players I would welcome into the Temple Fortune fold and are certainly not what we have become used to within the Club.

Moving onto the playing side, the First Team, Second Team and Old Boys Team finished eighth, seventh and seventh in their divisions respectively. The Second Team added to the problems endured by having to forfeit three fixtures, two in the league and one cup tie, because of a shortage of players in each case. On top of this, a fourth fixture was forfeited v Tottenham Chutspah (a double-header) although this time in our favour when they couldn’t raise a team. The four defaulted games, numerous double-headers, unpaid fines and a training deficit, on top of uncollected match subs and some memberships fees owed, left the Club short of much needed income, as will be covered in other reports.

In the cups, the First Team enjoyed a good run in the Peter Morrison Trophy which culminated in a trip to Manchester in Round Four. In complete contrast to the memorable 1990 journey to Cardiff in the same competition, when we hired a mini-bus and had a grand day out, the First Team players decided to travel by car themselves having spurned the intended coach-hire by the Club. A major disappointment at the time and a wasted opportunity to build a better understanding between players and management, given the events up to that time.

During a season where positives have been hard to find, there are limited highlights to dwell on briefly. Jeremy Fess became only the first player after co-founder Peter Kyte to reach an amazing 500 appearances and he received a large statuette from MSFL Chairman David Wolff at the Three Hammers in November. Simon Allen passed 300 games and Yali Mamouri reached 200 games as well during the season. David Goldberg became the Club’s leading appearances record-holder for a single team, having totaled 266 games for the Old Boys team by the end of the season. He has overtaken Jeremy Fess (264 for the Old Boys) and Peter Kyte who passed 250 appearances for both the two MSFL teams some time ago.

On the field, some excellent results included the First Team beating high-flying Glenthorne United ‘A’ 4-0 in a cup tie and thumping North West Neasden ‘A’ 7-0 in the league to avenge an earlier 5-0 defeat. The Second Team beat Boca Jewniors 7-1 and Jewventus 8-1 whilst the Old Boys Team beat title-chasing EDRS Stonegrove 1-0 in the Masters League and won two cup ties before under-performing in the Division 2 Cup semi-final – sadly, their third consecutive defeat in the last four.

One week before the UJIA abandonment, the First Team reached 1,000 matches in total. I planned a special article in the newsletter to commemorate this milestone but events the following week put paid to those plans. So the achievement more or less passed by without recognition.

Summing up the 2012/13 season, on the admin front it has been the Club’s worst season for many years, and for me personally the most unenjoyable since both of our MSFL teams were relegated in 1991. It has been the kind of season which makes you question whether all the hard work is worth this amount of aggravation but you take the good with the bad and visa versa. Recalling the fantastic championship success a couple of years ago, we simply must dust ourselves off and carry on regardless! This approach will hopefully see us all bounce back as we head into our 38th league season come September. I like to think that we will work hard to get the Club back on track again.

All Officers were faced with their own set of problems during the season, whether it was indiscipline or shortage of players. Somehow we completed the campaign with both MSFL teams intact when this seemed unlikely at certain times. Above all, Lee and JC worked their socks off to keep the First Team going through much adversity, whilst David Goldberg struggled for most of the season to raise teams yet did a miraculous job in seeing out the season without any defaults. Without Officers of this quality, this Club would not be heading towards a 38th consecutive season of Maccabi football.

Finally, I would like to thank all Officers for their dedicated work this season throughout an extremely difficult season for all concerned.

NIGEL KYTE, June 2013