Co-Founder MICHAEL ROOK was Temple Fortune's first Team Manager during the Club's inaugural league season in 1976. Attending the same primary school as Chairman Nigel Kyte, whom he has known for over 40 years, Michael has lived in Newton Abbot in South Devon for the past 20 years or so. In July 2006, a few weeks short of the 30th anniversary of Fortune's league debut, Michael reflected back upon the 1976/77 season.

Michael, as the Club's first Team Manager what do you recall of Temple Fortune entering the Maccabi (Southern) Football League in 1976?
It was a time of great excitement and anticipation and I had to convince the guys that we were worthy of playing league football.

Do you remember anything about the very first league fixture against Bushey United on Sunday 5th September 1976?
Yes, everybody was hyped up, and unfortunately that enthusiasm spilt over into aggression and it ended in an ill-tempered match which set the trend for what I can only describe as grudge matches between the two teams.

The Club's choice of green and white in 1976 is well documented. What do you remember of these colours as Fortune's inaugural league kit?
I can only remember that green and white was not our original choice and yellow shirts with red shorts were but due to lack of availability from our stockist a compromise was struck and we never looked back from there.

Were there any particular difficulties as manager that springs to mind?
There were many. The main ones being trying to fuse the personalities of the team. We had a few hotheads and one or two lithario’s, but in general it was very enjoyable.

What were your highlights of your spell running Temple Fortune's first league team?
That’s quite difficult. The fact that we went, I believe and don’t quote me on this, 5 or 6 games undefeated after our inaugural fixture, and moreover the fact that we finished a creditable 7th at the end of the season.

Any other endearing memories?
Collecting subs was always a nightmare and I’ve listened to God knows how many excuses but Lawrence Bellman takes the biscuit! He never paid so I had to chase him to Wembley Greyhounds on a Monday night, wait for him to back a winner, and then collar him for the subs before he could squander it! If that’s not dedication I don’t know what is! The positive side to that, was that because he was feeling flush he’d end up 5 or 6 weeks in credit until the cycle started again!

Are there any particular matches that stick out in your memory?
No I can’t remember anything in particular – it was a long time ago!

The records show that you refereed a friendly match in which Nigel (who would have normally refereed) actually played. You sent off Sam Benfreds, the burly French midfielder! Do you recall the incident?
Indeed I do. Sam was not really the kind of person that you wish to argue with! His main occupation was as a security officer for John Lewis. However, his enthusiasm on the football field sometimes got the better of him. On this occasion, he belly butted an opponent to the floor and stood over him in a very intimidating manner. When I blew for a free kick against him, he became exceedingly animated and his language and demeanour left me with no alternative other than to send him for an early bath. I did wonder whether I was going to end up in casualty!

Did you play in any games yourself?
Am I allowed to confess? If so, then, yes, I did play in some games, particularly as Sunday morning came after Saturday night and there were a few players, and they know who they are, that would have had too many sherbets on Saturday nights, so I had to step into the breech when needed!

Who were the best players in your side?
Best is a strange and difficult term. In terms of ability, Danny Espinoza, had balance, skill and an eye for goal. Midfield-wise, a guy called Andy Gold, was strong, fair and committed and in defence Peter Kyte was probably the most tenacious fullback in the league, if a little explosive at times and of course Paul Squires was an agile and courageous goalkeeper who went on to play for many seasons at the Club. Temperamental Sam was hugely strong in midfield, best remembered for his constant shouts for the ball – "Look at me!" – which could be heard a mile away I'm sure!

Temple Fortune went on to complete the first league season by finishing 7th out of 13 as you said. Was this a fair reflection of the team’s ability or did you expect more?
I would have hoped for more, but if someone had asked me at the beginning of the season to except a mid table finish I would have been more than happy to agree. Had we had a more consistent side I’m sure we could have finished further up the league but we will never know for sure will we?

Needless to say, the Club's continued existence some thirty years later is a marvellous achievement. What does it mean to you to see TFFC still going strong in 2006?
Gratifying! Moreover, I cherish a time in my life that I look back on with amusement, pleasure and warmth.

Michael wears a commemorative shirt presented by Nigel Kyte at his home in Newton Abbot in August 2006. Michael and Nigel have remained good friends since they used to play football at Princes Park in the mid-sixties.

>>> 30th Season Memories & Anecdotes
>>> Green and White – back to the Club's original league colours, 30 years on!
>>> The story behind Temple Fortune's choice of Green and White colours
>>> Playing Kit Gallery – A pictorial history of TFFC's playing kits
>>> Season 1976/77 – Temple Fortune's inaugural MSFL season