|Part 2 THE PRE-LEAGUE DAYS
Nineteen Sixty-Eight the year Manchester United beat Benfica to become the first English club to win the European Cup, just two years after England had won the World Cup saw the birth of the Temple Fortune Football Club. Eight years passed from the Club's embryonic beginnings to entering Sunday league football for the first time in 1976. These eight years were TFFC's memorable PRE-LEAGUE DAYS.
JANUARY 1966-DECEMBER 1968
PRINCES PARK: Football games take place every Sunday morning at Princes Park which is located in Oakfields Road, Temple Fortune NW11, and sometimes during the week after school. The players mainly use a sloping pitch behind one of the two tennis courts with conveniently placed trees as goalposts, known as the 'bottom pitch', as opposed to the 'top pitch' elsewhere in the Park. On one side of the 'bottom pitch' is a footpath which acts as the touchline. On the other side the pitch continues wider amongst quite a few trees, halting at the shelter and playground area lower down. Behind each goal is the footpath which bends perpendicular to the touchline. A regular bunch of friends turn up to play weekly, including schoolboys Michael Rook, Robert Silverstone, Nigel Kyte and his younger brother Peter. All live within short walking distance of Princes Park.
THE 28TH DAY OF DECEMBER 1968
TFT IS BORN: After finishing a short game in the Park, as the light begins to fade on a cold and damp midweek afternoon, Rook, Silverstone and the Kyte brothers meet outside the Kyte family home at One Oakfields Road which is right next to the Park. The foursome sit on the low brick wall and decide to form the Temple Fortune Town Football Club; the name is immediately referred to as 'TFT' for short.
FIRST GAME: The first game of any kind to be played under the banner of TFT is held at Lyttleton Playing Fields just five days after formation. The game is only four-a-side and the TFT players walk from Oakfields Road to Lyttleton through Hampstead Garden Suburb. Pullovers are placed on the grass as 'goalposts' and TFT win easily against a Lyttleton IV by 248, Nigel Kyte scoring nine times! The Sunday morning games continue at Princes Park for most of 1969 and 1970, with the occasional 6, 7 or 8-a-side game being played on the larger "top" pitch.
FIRST 11-A SIDE: TFT's first 11-a-side match takes place at Hampstead Heath against Princes Park Juniors (later to become Princes Park, the successful Borehamwood Youth League club and junior feeder club to Hendon FC). Against eleven players, TFT field only nine but win comfortably by 124 after Ieading 81 at the interval. Without a proper kit, Town's players wear standard white school T-shirts with a mixture of navy or white shorts. Below is pictured the very area of the Heath alongside Wildwood Road, Hampstead Garden Suburb, where that first fixture was held.
LEAGUE OPPONENTS: TFT plays the first 11-a-side match against a league team, namely Northway Wanderers of the Hendon & District Sunday League green-shirted Northway lead 20 but are pegged back by their younger opponents to 22 by half-time. Black 'whiz-kid' Sherman and Nigel Kyte are the scorers. But Northway grab two further goals in the second half to win 42. Northway later become Oakwood who eventually move from the H&DSL to the Maccabi (Southern) League.
TOWN DELETED: The Club's name is shortened to just Temple Fortune as numerous games 11-a-side and small-sided continue to be played.
FIRST SHIRTS: The first set of shirts are purchased from Pullens in Temple Fortune Parade (on the Finchley Road, NW11). Nigel Kyte takes advantage of a sale of obsolete school kit to buy a dozen yellow jerseys with white collars and cuffs, as mentioned in the Club's very first newsletter of any kind Fortune Review which was produced in this month. The set costs £14 out of the Club's "Development Association Fund". The team wears the new shirts for the first time against Alyth Gardens Youth Club at Edgwarebury Park, although players still provide their own white shorts. The purchaser of the new shirts celebrates the acquisition by scoring a hat-trick as Temple Fortune win 81!
M(S)FL OPPOSITION: Temple Fortune plays its first friendly against a Maccabi (Southern) Football League team. Fortune shock Mill Hill by leading 3-0 at Hampstead Heath Extention, co-Founders Michael Rook and Nigel Kyte scoring plus an opponent's own goal. However, Mill Hill storm back to grab a 33 draw by the end.
SPLIT VOTE: At a meeting between brothers David and Jeremy Lobl - who helped run the Club at the time - and the Kyte brothers, a vote is taken to determine whether or not Temple Fortune should join the Maccabi (Southern) Football League for the 1973/74 season. The decision must be made just a few hours before the Club is due to be represented at the League's AGM. Such is the uncertainty of Fortune's immediate future, the foursome could not decide one way or the other prior to the day of the annual meeting. Finally, with time running out, a crucial vote is split and the proposal to enter the League has to be defeated. The reason given, in a handbook produced for season 1973/74, is "due to the lack of enthusiasm and co-operation from several players', much to the disappointment of the Lobl and Kyte brothers.
TF STAGNATES: Following the last-minute failure to join the M(S)FL, Temple Fortune virtually stagnates for two seasons. Peter Kyte joins Athletico Neasden, an existing MSFL team, whilst older brother Nigel turns to refereeing and qualifies with the London Football Association in January 1975. Robert Silverstone goes to Portsmouth University and does not play another game for the Club he helped to form in 1968. However, Nigel keeps Fortune running on his own, although little happens apart from the occasional small-sided game at Princes Park and a couple of full 11-a-side friendlies. Meanwhile, Peter goes on to collect a M(S)FL Second Division runners-up medal with Athletico Neasden's 'B' team at the end of the 1974/75 season, his first with the club.
FORTUNE REVIVES: Halfway through the 1975/76 season, the Kyte brothers decide to revive Temple Fortune with a view to joining the M(S)FL for the 1976/77 season. Peter leaves Athletico Neasden and rejoins the Club. A meeting is planned for 18 February.
NEW COMMITTEE: At the vital meeting held at One Oakfields Road, a new enthusiastic committee is formed. Nigel Kyte is elected General Manager and his brother becomes General Secretary, a position he is to hold for the next 15 years! Co-Founder Michael Rook takes on the role of Team Manager whilst Brian Melzack, another original player from 1968, acts as Treasurer. Two other newcomers complete the six-man committee.
FIVE FRIENDLIES: The first of five important friendlies is held towards the end of the 1975/76 season. Mill Hill, originally Fortune's very first M(S)FL opponents three years earlier, again send a team to face Temple Fortune at Wormwood Scrubs. Still wearing their original yellow shirts, Fortune win 50. Marc Lewis nets two with Nigel Kyte, Andy Gold and a Peter Christie penalty completing the scoring. Paul Squires, who later records over a hundred appearances for the Club, makes his debut in goal.
UNBEATEN: The fifth friendly is completed with Temple Fortune remaining unbeaten. Of the three M(S)FL teams faced, only Marylebone Dynamo escape with a 33 draw, Nigel Kyte scoring twice. Danny Espinoza's hat-trick on his debut sees off Westway Dynamo, beaten 5-2 at Hackney Marshes. Hampstead Eagles of the AJY League are thrashed 60 with burly Frenchman Sam Benfreds scoring a couple. Then Kingsclere, also like Fortune hoping to join the Maccabi League, are hammered 90 at Hackney Marshes in the last match. David Wolff, M(S)FL Chairman, sees Fortune play for the first time during this easy victory. Danny Espinoza nets five goals and Nigel Kyte two. •
LFA AFFILIATION: Thanks to the encouraging results, Temple Fortune are affiliated to the London Football Association and an application is submitted to enter the Maccabi (Southern) Football League for season 1976/77. No need to take a vote this time! The Club hires a hall at the Alyth Gardens Youth Centre, Finchley Road, NW11, where the first AGM is held. Nigel Kyte is elected Chairman the office he still holds to this day instead of General Manager. Peter Kyte continues as General Secretary and Michael Rook as Team Manager. Danny Espinoza becomes the new Treasurer.
SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION: The Kyte brothers attend a special meeting before the M(S)FL Management Committee, chaired by David Wolff, to discuss Temple Fortune's application. Everything meets with their approval although the Committee feel that the Club's proposed membership fee of £3 per player for the 1976/77 season is too low. The fee is subsequently increased to £5! Weekly subs are set at 50p per player per match.
FIRST HOME VENUE: Temple Fortune are allocated Parliament Hill Playing Fields as the first home venue. Also this month, the Club purchases its first full kit, from Soccertogs by mail order. The colours chosen are emerald and white vertical stripes, emerald shorts and socks. The proposed colours of sky blue shirts and black shorts, agreed by the Club's Committee (although opposed by the Chairman), has to be dropped because of unavailability. Nigel also has to shelve his idea of adopting yellow shirts and red shorts as the official Club colours, a concept going back to 1973. This is because too many teams in the M(S)FL intend to play in yellow during the 1976/77, so, in trying to find a not-so-popular colour combination, emerald and white it has to be!
LEAGUE DEBUT: The Temple Fortune Football Club makes its debut in league football eight years after being formed, playing against fellow-newcomers Bushey United at Horseshoe Lane, Watford. The match is played on a Sunday afternoon and David Wolff turns up to watch the two new sides. Unfortunately, he sees an ill-tempered and fiercely competitive match refereed by Robert Hanison. Danny Espinoza scores Fortune's first ever league goal, from a penalty, and adds a second spot-kick later on. Peter Kyte, who scored in the Club's first ever proper match in 1970, nets the other goal as Fortune lose narrowly by 4-3. Both teams have two players booked. Of the original players from TFT's early days, Peter, his brother and Brian Melzack play in this first historic fixture. Temple Fortune go on to finish in seventh place out of 13 teams in Division Two. The Club's first Player of the Year is Colin Keye whilst Danny Espinoza is leading scorer with 21 goals.
THE KYTE BROTHERS photographed at the Victoria Falls in 1971. From left to right, Peter, Steven and Nigel. Steven, the oldest son of Ruth and Jack Kyte, played one solitary match for Temple Fortune in 1973. He left the pitch at Parliament Hill against Alyth JYC due to a back injury and was never involved with the Club thereafter. However, Nigel and Peter went on to lead Temple Fortune into the Maccabi (Southern) Football League just three years later.
Below: Peter (left) in 1968 (the year of the Club's formation) in his JFS blazer and Nigel in 1967 at his Barmitzvah.