IN THE YEAR nineteen-sixty-eight, the sport of Association Football was enjoying good times in this country. Only two years earlier, England had won the World Cup. The national team also finished third in the European Nations Cup, as it was then called, having lost narrowly to Yugoslavia in the semi-final. A couple of months previously, Manchester United had defeated Benfica at Wembley to capture English football’s first European Cup prize.

In 1968, we drooled over the talents of George Best, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves and a whole host of great stars. Grounds attracted large attendances nationwide with 50,000 plus regularly flocking to Anfield, Old Trafford and White Hart Lane, amongst others. Yes, 1968 was a good year for our National Game. Which probably explains why the young kids of that era could not get enough of their favourite sport.

As a typical eager 14-year-old, I lived for my football. In 1968 I was watching the emergence of Arsenal’s great double-winning side and tried to emulate my heroes in my local park. Together with my brother Peter and various friends, we looked forward with unwavering relish to our weekly kick-abouts at Princes Park, a smallish area of parkland in Oakfields Road, Temple Fortune, London NW11. If homework and day light permitted, we would meet midweek after school to slog it out amongst the trees on our sloping pitch by the tennis courts. Oh, those were the days!

For quite some time we enjoyed our National Game in that Park before deciding to form a team. The day of reckoning was the 28th of December, nineteen-sixty-eight; after yet another bruising Princes Park encounter, with the light drastically fading, we walked wearily up Oakfields Road to the first house past the Park where the Kyte family resided, namely ‘Woodside’ at house No.1. On the low brick wall (pictured below), four of us discussed the important issue at hand: what shall we call our New Team? Princes Park? Golders Green? Oakfields? Temple Fortune? Do we add United, Albion, Rovers, Wanderers, Hotspur (God forbid!) or Town?

Well, the obvious name of Princes Park was taken by another group of players who formed their own separate team at around the same time. Golders Green was too large an area to be represented by our small rabble. As for Oakfields, “why should they have their road name and not mine… or his?” (Well, that’s what the others probably thought at the time!) So it just had to be Temple Fortune. Yes, our area. Small enough for us to use the name, we felt. As for a second name, the only one which sounded reasonable was “Town”. Temple Fortune Town Football Club. Or “TFT” as we fondly called our newly formed club during bursts of enthusiastic footy talk!

Three days before the end of a great footballing year, the TFT was born to further unite our thriving, fanatical interest in Association Football. Who in their wildest dreams would have thought that, 46 years later, that same little Club would still be in existance? Not its founders, that’s for sure! Since squabbling over the Club's name in 1968, Temple Fortune F.C. has come a long way. Out of the embryonic stage of friendlies came a new league team, adding the attraction of regular competition to a keen desire to gain rapid success. That was in 1976 when we joined the Maccabi (Southern) Football League which had been running for some seventeen years or so.

And now, as we look back over the Club's many seasons, we ourselves have been competing in the M(S)FL for over 40 years, climbing from the lowest division to the top, and moving up and down the league with a fair degree of regularity. Different seasons have brought different eras of team composition: for instance, there was the ‘Andy Batten team’ in the early league days, the ‘Stephen Bourne team’ which successfully kept together for a good five or so years, and the ‘Tony Stock team’ which won two divisional medals during another five-year spell. Then came the Simon Allen/Garry Simpson era which ran for quite a few seasons from the mid-90s onwards. All were influential captains who gave excellent service to the Club, together with their own regular group of team-mates. Temple Fortune has not been the most successful of clubs but for organisation, atmosphere, friendliness and overall enjoyment we have been second to none. Which says much for the level of loyalty shown by so many players.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed my many years of involvement with Temple Fortune. Even after all these years, I still get a kick out of running the Club and seeing players enjoy the game as it should be enjoyed, in the name of the Temple Fortune FC. How long it all will continue I cannot say. Probably for as long as Peter and I stay dedicated to the Club’s cause, who knows? All I can say is that my love for our National Game, and this little Maccabi (Southern) Football League club continues. Maybe not as fervently as a starry-eyed, soccer-mad fourteen-year-old about to share in a team's founding in 1968, but nevertheless, my Temple Fortune Football Club love affair relentlessly drags on!

By pulling on a Temple Fortune shirt in whichever era you were able to participate, you automatically became part of the original nineteen-sixty-eight dream. You are one of approaching 800 players to have represented this Club during Temple Fortune's lengthy history and you should find your name listed as a permanent record of your involvement in the A to Z of Players.

The Temple Fortune Football Club. One of Maccabi football’s longest established and best run Clubs. Unbelievably, we’ve survived approaching five decades; that, to me, is a really excellent achievement indeed.

Article originated in 1998 and adapted for season 2017/18

Image of Nigel Kyte courtesy of Marc Morris of the Jewish Chronicle, March 2014