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Temple Fortune celebrate 40 years in the MGBSFL

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Temple Fortune FC chairman Nigel Kyte reveals the secret behind the club's success story in the Maccabi GB Southern Football League.

How proud are you to be leading Temple Fortune into its 40th season?
When we reached 30 years of playing in the MGBSFL I did a feature for the club website listing all the clubs we had outlived between 1976 and 2006 and it was well over 100. Obviously now the figure is much greater and sadly includes three teams which joined the League at the same time as us in 1976, namely Bushey United, Glenthorne United and Highgate Wanderers. I’m always saddened to see clubs fade and die off but each demise merely emphasises TFFC’s incredible longevity within Maccabi football. So I am extremely proud of this milestone.

How much of an achievement would you describe 40 years in this day and age?
It’s a huge achievement. We have already heard at the MGBSFL AGM that the national trend of 11-a-side football is in decline. Just look at the numbers left in the League for the 2015/16 season. So TFFC’s continued existence is something to be appreciated by anyone who is concerned with the League’s future. Our 40th season cannot be understated considering the overall picture of Maccabi football.

We’ve seen many clubs come and go over the years. What makes TFFC different?
With so many clubs folding, it does take something special to have survived this long. I take my hat off to the likes of Robert Silverman who has run Brixton Old Boys for many years and Lester Jacobs at Catford & Bromley Maccabi. Here at Fortune, perhaps having one person remaining at the helm, to ensure that everything gets done as it needs to be, has maintained high standards from season to season. This Club has had continuity and years of experience of what it takes to keep it all going. And, most importantly, we have been blessed with some excellent Management Committee officers over the years. I could list 50 or so individuals who have kept TFFC ticking over since 1976, people like, of the current officers, Jonathan Cohen, David Goldberg and Hilton Teper. I could not have brought TFFC this far without their invaluable contributions each season.

It has not always been plain sailing, but you’ve worked tirelessly to keep the club running in its current healthy state. What drives you?
Seeing newcomers pulling on the yellow and red of Temple Fortune FC, to add to the 721 players — to the end of last season — who have represented the Club, gives me a big boost. Nobody joins TFFC without being blasted with loads of info because I want to instil a sense of history and pride in the Club. I am driven by others’ enthusiasm so as long as we have the likes of Jonathan Cohen eagerly working hard in the Club’s name, then I will continue. Temple Fortune had a poor 2014/15 season but the turn-out at our awards event in June was excellent. Players returning each season drives me on too – we might not be successful all the time but we must be doing something right because people enjoy playing for us. It is said that to enjoy the good times one needs to endure the bad times. Well, I certainly have seen many dreadful seasons at Temple Fortune, but numerous great ones too. But most poignantly to me, I am driven on by the memory of my late parents, the club’s biggest supporters for years. Up to the week she passed away in January, my mother would always ask how Temple Fortune were doing. And I am driven on by the desire to see my brother, Peter, make an 750 appearances. He is some 20 short but that is another reason to keep going.

What do you remember of Temple Fortune’s first season in the league?
I recall that we played in green and white stripes, green shorts, which was the best kit we could get to avoid colour clashes in our first season – the yellow and red came seven years later. Our first pitch was at Parliament Hill Fields where we had to carry and erect our own goal-posts at each home fixture — in those days nets were not compulsory. David Wolff watched our very first league match, played on September 5, 1976 in Watford against Bushey United. We lost 4-3 in a rather heated fixture which started many years of rivalry between the two clubs. We had a pretty mediocre team which went on to finish seventh out of 13 teams — the largest division we have competed in since joining the league.

Are there any special plans are in place to celebrate the 40th anniversary?
We tend to keep those for notable anniversary milestones, such as our 45th birthday two years ago when we held a commemorative four-a-side tournament at our very birthplace. But we marked the occasion visually more than anything. The TFFC website and Twitter page feature the First XI ‘40’ shirt with the appropriate caption of ‘Celebrating the Club’s 40th season in Maccabi football’, as will many graphics used throughout the season. And we will be purchasing 30 TFFC rain jackets, sponsored by Ellis & Co, carrying the same information. I want everyone associated with the Club to share the sense of pride that I have in reaching this amazing milestone.

How do you feel about the falling numbers in the Maccabi League?
I share the same concerns that many have regarding the future of Maccabi football. When Temple Fortune first joined the M(S)FL in 1976, there were three divisions and we started off in Division Two. The irony has not been lost on me that the same applies now for 2015/16, which means we have come full circle 40 seasons later. Too many teams are folding each season with too few new ones joining. It’s very worrying and makes me appreciate our continued longevity in Maccabi football, but deep down I am as concerned as anyone.

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