REPORT FOR SEASON 2013/14
The primary objective for the 2013/14 season was to get the Club back on track following the appalling disciplinary problems endured during the previous season. I dealt with a record high 60 cases of misconduct of which the majority was incurred by the First XI. In getting rid of numerous undesirables, we were left with a depleted squad which resulted in us having to fold one of our MSFL teams last summer.
With the First XI virtually decimated by many departures, leaving mainly Second XI players as backbone of the remaining squad, the Club opted to compete in Division 3, which effectively meant losing the 'A' side from Division 1. We had worked hard to get our top team into the League's second tier, winning a championship on the way in 2011, so it was always going to be hugely disappointing to forfeit our Division 1 status just one good team away from a long-awaited third spell in the Premier Division.
But the decision to drop to the League's bottom division was the knock-on effect of the indiscipline which plagued the Club throughout 2012/13 so the sacrifice had to be made, even though the League itself prompted us to play in Division 2. This I strongly contested, aware that the remaining team was basically a Second XI with a few remnants from the 'A's. Having said that, in view of the Seconds holding their own in Division 3 over the previous two seasons, mid-table stability was the least I anticipated from a mixed squad of former 'A' and 'B' team players. So, although the disciplinary side was radically improved, results were surprisingly far from being what we anticipated. Jonathan Cohen, taking over the reigns from Lee Fegan, did a good job overall in his first season as team manager, overseeing a team which lost ten games in a row prior to the New Year.
As much as I always admire perseverance through adversity, the improvement from January onwards, although much welcomed, was sadly not sufficient to prevent our MSFL team from disappointingly finishing bottom of Division 3. Notably this was the First XI's lowest ever league position in 38 previous MSFL seasons.
Despite the team's lowly ranking, squad harmony, discipline and overall enjoyment returned which was the primary objective so in that sense the season was a vast improvement. It is important to take everything into context and those who endured the 2012/13 campaign will take a lot of satisfaction from the 2013/14 season rather than merely looking at the team's final league position. Everything is relative and I am happy that the decisions taken by TFFC management once again proved to be most prudent.
On the Masters side, the Old Boys team also went through a bad run of defeats which threatened to leave them in bottom place in Division 2, but they collected enough points to finish in a creditable sixth place despite winning only four games all season. The highlight was a fantastic 2-1 victory against Glenthorne United 'A' in the final league fixture, the eventual champions’s only league defeat of the season. The Old Boys were extremely inconsistent, beating St John's Wood Tigers as well but losing twice to lowly Marshside as an example of their up and down season. David Goldberg had to use guest players for most of the first half of the season but signing four players from Marshside midway through the campaign helped to strengthen the squad and reduce the need for guests. All the same, just four wins from 16 games was disappointing.
David completed his seventh season as Old Boys team manager having been assistant to Nick Waitsman for six years previously. He finally decided to stand down at the end of the 2013/14 season and I would like to place on record our sincerest thanks and gratitude for the excellent job he did in running our Masters team for so long.
I can understand David’s frustrations with running the team. One concern of mine has been pre-match preparation. I refereed at The Hive a few times last season where the Old Boys were playing on the adjacent pitch. I noted that there were three teams warming up early yet always the last team to arrive on the pitch, often just a few minutes before kick-off, were Temple Fortune Old Boys strolling slowly onto the 3G, kicking a few balls around, doing a few brief stretches… not good enough by far compared to every other Masters team I have refereed.
Lateness, one of David’s frequent gripes, had a lot to do with such poor preparation and I am sure this was reflected in some of the results. I am not surprised he has reached the end of his tether. Generally speaking (and I am aware that this does not affect all players), the Old Boys Team mentality must change for the better next season right across the board responding to emails, commitment, general cooperation, punctuality and certainly adequate preparation. These MUST be improved and I hope that next season’s manager will take stock of the problems David faced all too often and ‘clean up’ the Old Boys Team’s act.
At the time of writing this report, I do not know if Hilton Teper will continue as assistant but I would like to sincerely thank him too for his sterling efforts.
On the admin front, everything has run quite smoothly overall although for me personally a hard drive failure on my computer in March certainly caused me a few complications. I lost a lot of files, contacts and emails but managed to recover a substantial amount which enabled me to get most TFFC admin back to how it was, although quite a bit had to be recreated such as the TFFC contact/email directory. The adverse weather in the early part of this year affected the MSFL team more than the Masters side but we managed to fulfill all fixtures by the end of April without any double-headers. Even though the Firsts endured several postponements at the Roger Bannister Sports Centre, we were able to complete the home league games at various other venues without too much trouble.
The 28th of December 2013 marked the Club's 45th anniversary since being formed in 1968. the following day, we held a commemorative small-sided tournament at Princes Park where the Club originated all those years ago. As a Founder, it is of paramount importance to me to never forget TFFC's roots and to indoctrinate Club Members about our history and where it all started. So returning to Princes Park for this fourth 'pilgrimage' was once again a most fitting way to celebrate this notable milestone. It was a privilege to have MSFL chairman David Wolff in attendance at our birthplace to present the commemorative medals to all participants and the Jack Kyte Challenge Cup to the winners.
The countdown has started towards the Club's 50th anniversary in 2018. In fact, I have placed a countdown timer on the main history page on the TFFC website. At some point we will need to decide how to commemorate and celebrate what will be a momentous milestone and achievement in our long history.
Mentioning David brings me onto the MSFL dinner on 31st March 2014 to celebrate his 50 years of service on the League's management committee. Temple Fortune was one of a few long-serving clubs to be invited to the Redbridge Jewish Care Centre, where we joined dignitaries from the London FA, Maccabi GB, MSFL, Masters League and Wingate & Finchley FC, plus referees, former players, officials and the Jewish media. The prestigious occasion was attended by around 100 people and David received several awards from a variety of sources, fully merited for his incredible longevity of dedicated service to the League. Steve Feiger, David Goldberg and Mike Shorvon were also present at this enjoyable event.
Many thanks to all TFFC officers for their hard work throughout the 2013/14 season, especially Jonathan Cohen and David Goldberg. Not a successful campaign by any stretch of the imagination but in terms of getting this Club back on track, extremely successful so well done to all concerned.
NIGEL KYTE, June 2014