Monday, 18 September 2017

TLFG: 18-24 September 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

For me, today was primarily about completing the Harrow Half Marathon and that's partly why this going up a bit late again.

For the last two weeks I've been battling a calf injury and it seemed to be pretty good so I gave the race a try.

Sadly it flared up after about four kilometres and rather than give up, I dug in and ground out the remaining 17km finishing in a time of 2:05:12 which, although way off my best, I'm rather happy with all things considered. I can now hardly walk but that's sport!

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The momentum seems to be picking up ahead of Non-League Day with lots of clubs starting to announce their plans - reduced admission, charity events and even fancy dress are so far on offer.

Former West Ham manager Alan Pardew also lent his support, doing a nice short film for our charity partners Prostate Cancer UK.

Find out how you can help Prostate Cancer UK on Non-League Day

For individual fans, the charity and I are still trying to encourage people to walk, run or ride to whichever game they're going to. Apparently one team in the National League is getting a group of fans to walk around 20 miles to an away game which should be very doable and hopefully a lot of fun. I've done a number of cross London walks with QPR fans over the last few years and you get to meet some great people in the process.

If you fancy doing something like this get in touch with the charity or simply text BADGE to 70004 to donate £5 and you'll get one of their iconic 'Man of Men' badges sent to you.

There's now less than three weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day
We've also launched our new range of NLD t-shirts to go with some of the most popular ones from previous years. If you're a groundhopper then I hope you'll like the theme. With these, the manufacturer will also be donating a percentage of the proceeds to PCUK and grassroots football charity Street League. All the designs can be found towards the bottom of our homepage and several of them can be customised to your club's colours.

In other news, Tuesday night looks set to be an emotional one for Walton & Hersham fans as they bid farewell to their Stompond Lane ground ahead of the move to a new home elsewhere in the borough. Local rivals Chertsey Town provide the opposition for what should be a good game regardless.

Finally from me, our good friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have been on their travels again. In their latest piece, they pay a visit to National League side Dagenham & Redbridge so give it a read and check out the photos.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL take centre stage. It's also a big week of cup football with the next rounds of the EFL Cup and FA Vase and there are a few FA Cup replays too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


A must have for watching football in England in 2017-2018

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 18 September


Premier League 2
West Ham United v Liverpool @7pm - get your week off to a flyer by checking out some of the best U23 talent in the country at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

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Tuesday 19 September

EFL Cup Third Round

Crystal Palace v Huddersfield Town @745pm - arguably the pick of the night's ties is this all-Premier League affair at Selhurst Park. It's rare that non-members can get a ticket here so now's your chance and U12s get in for free with a paying adult
Tottenham Hotspur v Barnsley @745pm - this is hardly the most mouthwatering of match-ups but how often are you going to get to see a game at Wembley for a tenner?
West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers @745pm - not been to the London Stadium since the Hammers moved in? This is your opportunity as tickets are in plentiful supply and they're cheap

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round Replays
Wingate & Finchley v Hemel Hempstead Town @745pm - with the Tudors playing in the league above, the hosts did really well to get a draw on Saturday. Back on home soil, they should have a good chance of causing an upset
Enfield Town v Hanwell Town @745pm - the Towners would have been expected to win at Hanwell on Saturday, as the west London club are having a poor season, but they didn't. It would be a big upset if they came unstuck here
Phoenix Sports v Glebe @745pm - the visitors did well to hold the higher ranked Phoenix on Saturday but with home advantage gone this derby is going to be tough
Hayes & Yeading United v FC Romania @745pm - again this should see a home win but FC Romania are a canny side and there is potential for Hayes to lose here

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Walton & Hersham v Chertsey Town @745pm - it's a big night for the Swans who play their final ever game at Stompond Lane before moving to groundshare with local rivals Walton Casuals at the recently finished Elmbridge Sports Hub - it will be an emotional night for many

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Wednesday 20 September

EFL Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Doncaster Rovers @745pm - MATCH ON GENERAL SALE AT THE EMIRATES ALERT! As many of you know, opportunities to go and watch the Gunners at home without membership are rare but tickets are available for this one. Arsene Wenger never fields a full strength side for these games and Rovers are in terrible form so don't expect a classic
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest @745pm - over at Stamford Bridge you could get something a bit more competitive as the Blues will also no doubt rest a few players and Forest will want to make the most of the occasion

Kent Senior Cup Second Round
Welling United v Charlton Athletic @745pm - the Wings have landed an eye-catching tie against local League One rivals Charlton. Although three divisions separate the two, the Addicks will only field a development side and we could get a good game

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Friday 22 September

League One
AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons @745pm - one of the matches of the week comes at Kingsmeadow where these two bitter rivals go head-to-head for the first time this season. If you don't know the back story, in brief, AFC Wimbledon were formed after the original Wimbledon were moved against the fans' wishes to Milton Keynes and eventually turned into MK Dons in one of the biggest scandals in English football history. Neither are doing well in the league so the points and bragging rights are important to both. Sadly without membership, you won't officially be able to get a ticket

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
AC London v Horley Town @745pm - the next round of the FA Vase gets underway on Friday night with the now famous AC and their really young manager/chairman trying to cause an upset against Horley

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Saturday 16 September

Premier League
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @1230pm - there's only one Premier League game in London this weekend but it's a good one as these two big rivals meet at the London Stadium. Aside from their intense dislike of Millwall and Arsenal respectively, fans of these clubs tend to rank each other as number two on their lists with some pretty fiery derbies ensuing. Despite a poor record at their new home, West Ham did beat Spurs here last season

Championship
Fulham v Middlesbrough @3pm - the pick of the games in the Championship can be found at Craven Cottage. Fulham made it to the play-offs last season but have been inconsistent so far and are stuck in midtable. Boro, having come down from the Premier League, were expected to do well and are unbeaten in four. Fulham are also hosting a Fun Day in neighbouring Bishop's Park so this is a good one if you've got kids
Queens Park Rangers v Burton Albion @3pm - the R's gave a plucky performance at Middlesbrough on Saturday but ultimately lost 3-2. At home they are unbeaten in the league and should have too much for the Brewers

League One
Charlton Athletic v Bury @3pm - the Addicks got off to a great start and were right up with the leaders but back-to-back defeats have seen them slide down to seventh. The Shakers have only managed one win from eight so should be beaten

League Two
Barnet v Crawley Town @3pm - this time last week things were looking rosy for the Bees as two wins on the trot had fired them up the table. A week later and with only one point garnered from another two games, they're back in midtable. Harry Kewell's Crawley side are winless in three, down in 20th and desperate to turn things around so could be dangerous

National League
Sutton United v Barrow @3pm - the U's missed the chance to go top on Saturday with defeat at Woking. Next to visit Gander Green Lane are Barrow who make the long trip down from Cumbria seemingly a shadow of the side who finished seventh last season. Down in 18th, they are still proving tough to beat but are drawing too many games

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Leatherhead @3pm - two of the pre-season favourites go head-to-head at Champion Hill. Dulwich, despite their large fan base and good squad, have got off to another disappointing start and find themselves down in 10th and out of the FA Cup. The Tanners had a better opening to the season but the brakes have come on and they're only a point ahead of the Hamlet in what is a tight table. Also, if you're an employee of Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark or Wandsworth councils you'll get in for £5 on production of work ID as part of the club's 'Public Sector Day'

Bostik League South Division
Walton Casuals v Lewes @3pm - the game of the day in this division sees the third placed Casuals host the leaders - there's currently only one point between them. This match also provides another opportunity to visit Walton's new ground

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round - this national competition is exclusively for clubs at Levels 9-11 of the pyramid. The draw is still regionalised at this stage to reduce travel expenses and the winners of each tie receive £725 in prize money, the losers £250. There are lots of ties in the London area on Saturday - I've picked out a few which I think are most notable
West Essex v Great Wakering Rovers @3pm - two of the top four in the Essex Senior League meet for a bit of Vase football at Barking's ground
Enfield Borough v Woodbridge Town @3pm - the Panthers disappointingly came unstuck in their big game against Ampthill but they're still joint top of the SSML 1. Woodbridge lead the parallel Eastern Counties Division 1 so it will be interesting to see which league is stronger
London Lions v Malmesbury Victoria @3pm - go to this one if you've never been to the Lions' well appointed Rowley Lane ground and tick it off your list. Also go because you're being given a very random chance to see a Western League side from Wiltshire play in London, something which doesn't happen very often
Cricklewood Wanderers v Rayners Lane @3pm - one of the only 11th-tier teams left in from the London area, Cricklewood will be looking to cause an upset at Wembley's Vale Farm ground against a side from a couple of miles away
Tooting Bec v Fisher @3pm - the other minnows left in the draw are Bec who face a tough but winnable game against SCEFL opposition

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Croydon v Sevenoaks Town @3pm - the Trams have got off to a good start and could go top if they beat fellow title contenders Sevenoaks

Combined Counties League Division One
Worcester Park v Eversley & California @3pm  - the visitors have already opened up a six-point lead at the top so Worcester Park, in third, are going to need to win here to stay in the title race

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Sunday 24 September

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Barkingside v Whitton United @1pm - the action starts early at Cricklefields where the hosts, who play a level above their opponents, should begin as favourites
Erith Town v Mile Oak @3pm - the scenario is fairly similar here but Erith look arguably more vulnerable to an upset

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Bristol City @1230pm - the FAWSL returns after its summer break and for me this is the most notable game as it will be the Blues' first at their new home. Somewhat controversially, Chelsea have bought Kingsmeadow in Kingston off AFC Wimbledon and are moving their women's side in. The Dons will remain until their new ground is ready but it's non-league Kingstonian, the town's actual club, who have been made to make way and sent to Leatherhead. Whatever you think about that, it should be a great move for Chelsea who have heavily marketed the game in the local area which is described as a 'stronghold of Blues support'


GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Monday, 11 September 2017

TLFG: 11-17 September 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

Apologies for the slightly later than normal publication, it's been another busy week and hence the reason I'm writing this at gone 2am.

The main things keeping me busy this week have been - the battle to beat injury so that I can run the Harrow Half Marathon on Sunday (attempting to do this through rest and trips to the physio), my daughter's first day at primary school, an important Non-League Day (NLD) planning meeting with Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) which included a bit of filming, my first trip of the season to see QPR, some more general family engagements and a few days at work.

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It's the NLD planning and promotion that's taking up the most time though. At the moment, my biggest priority is to try and get as many clubs and fans to pledge to do something to raise funds for PCUK on the day. 

From a club point of view, I want to get as many as possible signed up to hold an event at their game on 7 October. It could be a simple bucket collection, a raffle or something far grander.

Find out how you can help Prostate Cancer UK on Non-League Day

For individual fans, the charity and I are trying to encourage people to walk, run or ride to whichever game they're going to. Apparently one team in the National League is getting a group of fans to walk around 20 miles to an away game which should be very doable and hopefully a lot of fun. I've done a number of cross London walks with QPR fans over the last few years and you get to meet some great people in the process.

If you fancy doing something like this get in touch with the charity or simply text BADGE to 70004 to donate £5 and you'll get one of their iconic 'Man of Men' badges sent to you.

There's now less than four weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day
We've also launched our new range of NLD t-shirts to go with some of the most popular ones from previous years. If you're a groundhopper then I hope you'll like the theme. With these, the manufacturer will also be donating a percentage of the proceeds to PCUK and grassroots football charity Street League. All the designs can be found towards the bottom of our homepage and several of them can be customised to your club's colours.

As mentioned above, I went to Loftus Road again this weekend to watch my first QPR match of the season. High flying Ipswich were the visitors and they were, thankfully, very disappointing.

Rangers came out on top in all the possession, shots and corners stats and duly won the match with goals from Jamie Mackie and Luke Freeman.

Ipswich prepare to defend a corner during their loss at QPR

The 2-1 scoreline was flattering to the Tractor Boys whose goal came from what seemed like their first shot in the 89th minute and they could and probably should of stolen a point in injury time when a glorious chance was sent over the bar by Tom Adeyemi from close range.

Aside from the somewhat frantic finish, most QPR fans left the ground in buoyant mood after seeing a spirited performance from a side who weren't expected to be doing as well as they are.

Also I'd like to give another nod to the Twickets re-sale website. I used them again to get my ticket for this and saved £££s. The season-ticket holder's seat I ended up with was pretty decent and would have cost me £38 if I'd bought it on the day but by using Twickets I paid £26 online including fees and then picked it up in person from QPR's ticket office. To stress, it's all legitimate and fully endorsed by the club with tickets never being sold for more than face value. Give it a go.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL take centre stage. The Champions League and Europa League get underway and there are also some FA Vase replays and the next round of the FA Cup too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


A must have for watching football in England in 2017-2018

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 11 September


Premier League
West Ham United v Huddersfield Town @8pm - with a host of seemingly good summer signings, many felt the Hammers could and probably would get off to a decent start. However, with a 100% defeat record and an average of over three goals being conceded per game they find themselves rooted to the bottom. New boys Huddersfield who came up via the play-offs weren't fancied to do much at all but with seven points from three games they're confounding everyone and up in the top six

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Sheffield Wednesday @1pm - the pick of the day's U23 action sees Palace's youngsters take on their counterparts from Wednesday at Selhurst Park

National League South
Wealdstone v Poole Town @745pm - both sides just missed out on the play-offs last season but both have really struggled so far this time round. The Stones recently took the tough decision to sack their manager of over 20 years and picked up a crucial win on Saturday to move out of the bottom three

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Tilbury @745pm - neither club has made a great start but this is an Essex derby between two near neighbours which will hopefully provide a lively contest
Haringey Borough v Romford @745pm - up on White Hart Lane, the hosts will go top if they beat struggling Romford

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Tuesday 12 September

Champions League

Chelsea v FK Qarabag @745pm - after a season away, the Blues return to Champions League duty with what should be a comfortable home game against the reigning champions of Azerbaijan. Little is expected of the side who originally hail from the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh so complacency is likely to be the biggest threat Chelsea will face

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Millwall @745pm - for those wanting to witness a far more meaningful contest then this London derby should get your adrenaline flowing. In recent years games between these two, particularly at Loftus Road, have had a real edge to them with crowd trouble usually breaking out at some point. The last match I went to between the sides way back in 2010 was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I have ever had at a game (Croatia v Turkey in Vienna at Euro 2008 was the worst). Again the match was on a Tuesday evening but despite this there were problems all over Shepherd's Bush during the afternoon which required riot police and a helicopter. Apart from a very tense atmosphere nothing happened during the game but immediately the final whistle went coins and other missiles came flying out of the away end and I remember seeing one female steward heroically trying to contain things on her own as the police presence was virtually non-existent. Since then the security operation on match days has been ramped up significantly but with Millwall selling out their allocation again, there should be quite an atmosphere

League One
Charlton Athletic v Wigan Athletic @745pm - these two former Premier League clubs currently find themselves languishing in the third tier but both have made a decent start and will hope for at least a play-off spot this year. Things are going so well for the Addicks that a win will put them top if Shrewsbury drop points against Southend
AFC Wimbledon v Gillingham @745pm - at the other end we've got what appears to be an early season relegation six-pointer between sides who've both made a bad start - the Dons have one win under their belts so far while the Gills have none

League Two
Barnet v Exeter City @8pm - the Bees have enjoyed back-to-back wins over Swindon Town and Cambridge United to move into the top seven. However, Rossi Eames' side will have to be at their best to extend the winning run as Exeter are three points clear at the top and unbeaten

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @745pm - the match of the night in the fifth tier is this derby at Victoria Road. We're nine games in and both these sides have held top spot at some point over the last few weeks. They're now second and fifth but with only three points separating the top nine, this league is incredibly close

National League South
Dartford v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - the Darts notched their fifth win of the season on Saturday to move up to third. With the gap between themselves and leaders Chelmsford cut to just two points, they could end the night in top spot. The visitors, however, are unbeaten in five and will be no pushovers

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Hendon @745pm - perennial title contenders Dulwich have got off to a slow start by their standards but with three wins in a row in all competitions they're starting to pick up. The Greens narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of last season but are right up in fourth after winning four of their first six games

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Wednesday 13 September

Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund @745pm - Spurs have ended up in the group of death alongside Dortmund and Real Madrid. To make progress they're going to have to go all out to break their Wembley hoodoo and beat the side which finished third in the Bundesliga last season and a currently top. Please note - the clubs' U19 sides face each other in the Uefa Youth League at Tottenham's training ground at 3pm. Entry is free but limited to people who reserve a place in advance - check with the club to see if any spaces remain before you travel

Championship
Fulham v Hull City @745pm - if you can't get a ticket for the match at Wembley then this second-tier game is your best option. The former Premier League clubs have been models of inconsistency so far and are locked together in midtable on seven points

FA Vase First Qualifying Round Replay
Erith Town v St Francis Rangers @745pm - the Dockers' road to Wembley began with a 1-1 draw in Sussex against Rangers on Saturday. The prize for beating them will be a home tie against Mile Oak who also play in the Southern Combination
Forest Hill Park v East Preston @745pm - FHP made their debut in the Vase on Saturday and would've made it through at the first attempt but an injury-time goal by East Preston saw the tie end 4-4, hopefully we'll get another thriller at the Ladywell Arena on Wednesday

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v Ampthill Town @745pm - with seven wins from eight in all competitions, the hosts look like a team to keep your eye on this season. Only formed last summer and with one promotion already under their belts, they are an impressive young club. This match against fellow title challengers Ampthill should see just how good they are

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Thursday 14 September

Europa League
Arsenal v FC Cologne @805pm - after 19 successive seasons of Champions League qualification, that proud run came to an end in May as the Gunners finished outside the top four. As a result they will start life in the Europa League as one of the favourites. In a group which also includes BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade, these two would appear to be the most likely to progress so Arsenal will definitely be expected to win

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Friday 15 September

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Leicester City @7pm - get your weekend underway with some U23 football at Boreham Wood's ground in north London. Admission to these games always used to be free but double check with the club before you travel
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion @7pm - if south-west London is more convenient, get yourself along to the Cottagers' training ground for this one. The public will be admitted and it's £3 to get in

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Balham @730pm - the hosts have made a solid start to the campaign and welcome new boys Balham for this groundshare derby

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Redbridge @745pm - there's a bit of history between these two clubs over on the east side of town. For many years they used to share at Barkingside's ground next to the station of the same name but in 2001-02 the 'Side opted to sell the lease of the ground to Redbridge (or Ford United as they were then known). In 2014 with the rent hiked up, Barkingside decided to move away to groundshare with Ilford leaving Redbridge to play in Barkingside without them. Both are currently in the top nine

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Saturday 16 September

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Southampton @1230pm - the Eagles continued their poor start to the season with a 1-0 defeat at Burnley on Sunday to heap further pressure on new boss Frank de Boer. The Saints aren't playing brilliantly at the moment and really must be beaten if the gloom is to be lifted over Selhurst Park
Watford v Manchester City @3pm - not many people would have predicted this to be a top-four clash when the season kicked off a month ago but that's exactly what it is. It's no surprise that City are up there but not many predicted the Hornets would be. To be fair, the Hertfordshire club have only played one of the big clubs (Liverpool) so far and were fortunate to scrape a draw - this will be a proper test
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City @530pm - without a Premier League win at Wembley, Spurs will expect to win this match against one of the division's weaker teams - anything less will be very disappointing and cause some fans to hit the panic button

Championship
Brentford v Reading @3pm - the Bees have impressed a lot of people over the last couple of seasons as they have comfortably consolidated their place in the second tier despite being one of the smallest clubs in it. Sadly this term has not begun well and they're still searching for a win after six games. The Royals got to the play-off final and were expected to do well this time but they've made a sluggish start and won't find this derby easy
Millwall v Leeds United @3pm - I wrote above about the febrile atmosphere at QPR v Millwall games, well it could be even more fiery here with the Lions and Leeds ranked at number two and three in the most recent English football arrests chart which came out last November. On the pitch the sides are much further apart with the hosts battling the drop and Leeds going for the title

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v FC Halifax Town @3pm - at the time of writing both sides are in the top six and given how tight the table is, they could be a lot closer and higher than that after the midweek round of games

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round - at this stage all clubs in the sixth tier (a.k.a. National League North and National League South) enter the draw alongside all the survivors from the previous three rounds - a total of 160 clubs. The draw is still regionalised at this stage to reduce travel expenses and the winners of each tie receive £4,500 in prize money. There are seven ties in the London area on Saturday - I've picked out three which I think are most notable
Hanwell Town v Enfield Town @3pm - Evo-Stik leaguers Hanwell have had a dreadful start this season and play a level below Enfield so will start as considerable underdogs. However, they've proven capable of a decent cup run in recent years and could cause a cupset here
Glebe v Phoenix Sports @3pm - I think I'm right in saying that ninth-tier Glebe are the lowest ranked club from the London area to still be left in the FA Cup and this is their best ever performance in the competition. In Phoenix they welcome a club from the level above them for a south-east London derby - a big occasion for both clubs
Metropolitan Police v Heybridge Swifts @3pm - although playing at a higher level and with home advantage, Met Police look vulnerable against Heybridge who are on fire in the Bostik North. Having won all five of their league games and made it through two rounds of the FA Cup they pose a real danger to the hosts who have struggled

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Sunday 17 September

Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal @130pm - the match of the week has been saved until right near the end when West plays North in one of the biggest derbies of the season. Arsenal have lost on their last five visits to Stamford Bridge scoring only twice and conceding 15 times. The Blues are also currently in better form and will definitely start as favourites

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Thamesmead Town v Billericay Town @3pm - because they groundshare with Dartford who also have an FA Cup game on Saturday, Thamesmead see their tie moved to Sunday where it will no doubt draw a number of interested neutrals and groundhoppers. If you don't know, Billericay are currently top of the Bostik League which is no surprise as they're reported to be paying their squad, which includes a number of former Premier League players, more than £30,000 a week - an absurd amount for a club in the seventh tier. As a result, they're many people's most hated team and such people will be very keen to see them lose

Charity match
Dulwich Hamlet v Sierra Leone XI @4pm - despite having an FA Cup game on Saturday, the Hamlet's players decided they wanted to put on a benefit match to raise funds for those affected by the mudslides in Sierra Leone which blighted parts of the country a few weeks ago. Tickets are only £5 so give it your support if you're in the area


GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

TLFG: 4-10 September 2017

Well that's it. September's here and summer's over!

Normally a depressing thing to contemplate but for the fact it heralds the football season proper as the games come thick and fast, a chill starts to tinge the air and midweek games start to be played in the dark.

Hmmm maybe that is still a bit depressing but anyway enough of that. How was your international break? Did you make the most of it or grumble on the sidelines with your hands over your eyes and earplugs in pretending there was 'no football on'?

After a bit of umming and ahhing I opted to attend the Game4Grenfell over Harrow Borough's FA Cup tie at Enfield Town.

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On reflection it looks like I made the right choice as Boro bowed out to a late goal meaning any chance of repeating last year's glorious run to the first round ended at the first attempt.

The charity match for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire had received increasing amounts of publicity all week with new participants revealed as kick-off approached.

We already knew a host of ex-pros, TV presenters, pop stars and Game of Thrones actors would take part but then we were told running leagend Mo Farah would take part and there would be a half-time show with Haringey Borough fan Emile Sande (I think she's a singer too) and Rita Ora. Arguably the biggest coup of all was revealed the night before when Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said he would play too.



Thankfully I'd bought my tickets in person in advance so could just walk in because the queue for collection at around 215pm on Saturday afternoon was the longest I have ever seen it in my 34 years of going to QPR. As a result many of the close to capacity crowd missed kick-off.

I've mentioned before on here that I'm not really into celebrity games like this as the quality of play is usually a bit iffy. The most notable thing from my point of view was how much slower than professional football the pace was and the power of the celebs' passes and shots was also clearly lacking.

Despite his spindly frame and lack of shot power, it was Farah who opened the scoring for the side managed by Les Ferdinand right at the start, sweeping home a loose ball after a mix up in the penalty area between former England keeper David James and some of his defence.

Captaining Alan Shearer's side was Trevor Sinclair who scored twice during the game to show he still has plenty about him. The other ex-pros to catch my eye included Stan Collymore who barely got out of second gear and could have had a hatful of goals if he hadn't continually tried to set up some of the firefighters or Grenfell survivors who were also given a run out. Paul Merson was also impressive despite the significant amount of excess baggage he'd stashed in the hold and played plenty of those trademark passes he used to make with the outside of his foot.

Jose Mourinho calmly converts his penalty during the shoot-out

However, the show was ultimately stolen by Mourinho who emerged from the bench with half an hour to go to replace David James in goal for Shearer's side.

Being a former Chelsea manager he was booed loudly by the QPR supporters in the crowd as he took his place between the sticks in front of the Loft.

Unperturbed, the Special One had to immediately deal with a corner which he punched clear with some aplomb.

For the remainder of the game he played the ultimate pantomime villain - remonstrating with the referee, getting booked for time wasting and generally winding up the crowd.

The Portuguese supremo did get beaten once but was generally pretty handy, making a couple of saves and kicking very competently too which when you consider he never really had a playing career was no mean feat.

With the game ending 2-2, a penalty shoot-out was announced but proceedings were held up by a pitch invasion which was the only blot on the afternoon.

Although it was almost made up entirely of children, the match was close to being abandoned which would've been a great shame.

The shoot-out did eventually proceed with the kicks largely taken by firefighters and survivors apart from one by Mourinho which he tucked away deftly and the winner from singer Olly Murs to give Team Ferdinand victory.


There's now less than five weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day


With a lengthy half-time, the whole match lasted nearly three hours but it still provided great entertainment for all.

With fans of all local clubs in evidence around the stadium and mascots from Arsenal, Spurs and Reading coming into the area too it was a great way for football to remember, celebrate and support all those involved in the tragedy.

The rest of my week has been spent preparing for Non-League Day which is now just over a month away.

The last few days has been all about sending out press releases, launching a special offer and starting a new relationship with one of the leagues in Scotland as we look to make meaningful progress there for the first time.

Over the next few days there'll be a lot more social media work and another meeting with our charity partner Prostate Cancer UK.

In other news, my daughter will also be starting school (some long time readers might remember her being born) and I've got to squeeze a load of half marathon training in, including a 10-mile run tonight.

Anyway, that's it from me - have a great week and keep me updated on which matches you get to.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL make their return. There are also a few FA Cup replays and the opening round of the FA Vase too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


A must have for watching football in England in 2017-2018

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 4 September


World Cup qualifier
England v Slovakia @745pm - with three games to go in Group F this match could end up playing a big role in deciding who wins it. Currently first and second respectively and only two points apart, this is an important match for the Three Lions. Although the visitors have won their last five group games to be in better form, they did lose the reciprocal fixture this time last year in Sam Allardyce's only game as England manager

Southern Counties East League First Division
Lewisham Borough v Forest Hill Park @745pm - if international football really isn't your thing then head down to the Ladywell Arena where the two sides who share it meet for this south-east London derby
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Tuesday 5 September

Friendly

Brentford B v Queens Park Rangers U23 @745pm - the Bees' youngsters and reserves host their counterparts from local rivals QPR in this interesting friendly at Griffin Park

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Chelmsford City @745pm - the Beavers made the play-offs last season but have made a disappointing start. Down in 15th they've managed to arrest a worrying losing streak and are now unbeaten in two. However, Chelmsford are the current league leaders and have lost only once this season

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replays
Wingate & Finchley v Hendon @745pm - the pick of the night's replays is this north London derby between clubs who are currently neck-and-neck in the Bostik Premier. The original tie on Saturday ended 1-1 and it could easily go all the way to penalties
Egham Town v Ramsgate @745pm - the Sarnies looked to be home and dry on Saturday but two goals in the dying minutes saw them blow a 3-1 lead and have to settle for this replay. The two sides play in parallel level eight competitions and on paper Egham should win as they have made a far better start to the season
Hayes & Yeading United v Maldon & Tiptree @745pm -  we've got another Bostik v Evo-Stik clash to look forward to at H&YU's new SkyEx Stadium. Neither have made a stunning start to this campaign but they also produced a thrilling 3-3 draw in the initial match on Saturday

Bostik League South Division
VCD Athletic v Walton Casuals @745pm - the visitors are moving to a brand new stadium in the coming weeks but have begun the season sharing at Cobham. Despite being without a ground of their own, they've flown out of the blocks, won all their games and are one point clear at the top. VCD have only won twice and are down in midtable

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Wednesday 6 September

Premier League International Cup
West Ham United v Villarreal @7pm
The Hammers' development squad have been drawn in a group alongside Spurs, Benfica and Villarreal from Spain. West Ham's youngsters won promotion to the top division of Premier League 2 last season so will hope to do well in this match at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay
Grays Athletic v Hertford Town @745pm - two divisions separated these sides last season but with a relegation and promotion between them they're now both in the Bostik North. After drawing 1-1 on Saturday, the two will do it all again at Aveley's fine new ground

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Cray Valley PM v Croydon @745pm - the hosts have won all three of their opening league games to sit fourth in the table. Already they have games in hand on all those above them. CVPM would also look a good bet to beat Croydon, who are sixth themselves, but they come into this on the back of a 6-0 humbling by Leatherhead in the FA Cup and it will be interesting to see how they respond
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Friday 8 September

Professional Development League
Millwall v Birmingham City @1pm - if you're at a loose end on Friday lunchtime then a trip to the New Den in South Bermondsey might take your fancy. The Lions' U23 side are looking for only their second win of the season as they look to push up the table

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Saturday 9 September

Premier League
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - the only top-flight game of the week takes place at the Emirates Stadium where a troubled Gunners side welcome Eddie Howe's Bournemouth. With only one win from three, Arsene Wenger and his charges are already under huge pressure to get positive results and if it all goes pear shaped against the struggling Cherries then all hell could break loose!

Championship
Fulham v Cardiff City @3pm - with only one win from their opening five games, things could be going better for the Cottagers. They'll do very well to win this one too as Neil Warnock's Bluebirds side have beaten everyone so far and are three points clear at the top. If bought in advance, adult tickets for this game are being sold at a flat rate of only £20 with kids for a quid which is very good value
Queens Park Rangers v Ipswich Town @3pm - just up the road, QPR also have a tough one as they take on the Tractor Boys who are second. Rangers have a pretty decent record against the Suffolk club having beaten them on six of the last eight occasions since 2010

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @3pm - as a former Premier League club, Pompey and their large army of supporters will give the Dons' one of their biggest attendances of the season. As a result you are advised to buy as soon as possible if you're hoping to go as Kingsmeadow is small. On the pitch, neither have been doing very well with only one win each so far
Charlton Athletic v Southend United @3pm - the Addicks were tipped to do well this year and they've not let anyone down so far with four wins from five lifting them to third in the table. The Shrimpers missed out on the play-offs by just one point last season but have yet to really get going

League Two
Barnet v Cambridge United @3pm - the Bees recorded an impressive 4-1 win at Swindon on Saturday to climb up to ninth. The visitors are just behind them on goal difference so this should be pretty close

National League
Boreham Wood v Leyton Orient @3pm - much was made last week of how London had all of its five clubs in the top eight of the division. That has been reduced to three after the latest round of games with The Wood among those to come unstuck. They could well extend their losing run to three matches as they welcome joint leaders Orient for this tough derby

National League South
Dartford v Chippenham Town @3pm - the Darts look like being the main challengers from our region in this division. Currently sixth, they are expected to push for a play-off place again. Chippenham are new to the division after winning promotion from the Evo-Stik League and have made a steady but unspectacular start

Bostik League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Merstham @3pm - unfancied Boro shocked everyone by winning their first four games to top the league. Since then results have started to look a bit more normal with a 6-0 loss to Hendon in the Bank Holiday derby and a disappointing FA Cup defeat at Enfield Town after conceding a late goal. They'll want to reverse that losing trend as soon as possible and this match against midtable Merstham should give them a decent chance

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Heybridge Swifts @3pm - the Millers welcome joint league leaders Heybridge to Parkside on Saturday. The visitors have won all four of their league games, scoring an average of over three goals per match. They also travelled to Arlesey Town in the FA Cup on Saturday and thrashed them 7-0 - it's going to be tough

Bostik League South Division
Walton Casuals v Horsham @3pm - what a time to be a Stags fan, top of the league and moving into a brand new state of the art stadium. Having started the season sharing at Cobham, Walton begin life at the new Elmbridge Sports Hub with this game against Horsham

Evo-Stik League East Division
Uxbridge v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @3pm - with four games played Uxbridge are leading the way in terms of clubs from the London area in this division. With three wins from four they are only narrowly ahead of local rivals Egham, Northwood and Ashford who they play here. These two play either side of Heathrow Airport with Uxbridge to the north and Ashford just below it

FA Vase First Qualifying Round - this national knockout competition for clubs primarily in the ninth and 10th tiers gets underway this weekend. At this stage the draw is regionalised to minimise travel expenses with the winners of each tie receiving £550 in prize money. In the London area, a few clubs from the 11th tier are also taking part and their fixtures have been included on the match map as well. Below are a selection of the many ties taking place around the capital

Bedfont Sports v Three Bridges @3pm - the hosts are starting this season on a new artificial pitch and it seems they really mean business as they've gone six without defeat to share the lead of the Combined Counties League. Three Bridges got relegated from the Ryman League last season and could well be beaten here
Tower Hamlets v Hackney Wick @3pm - in Mile End we have this tasty looking derby to look forward to between two sides from the Essex Senior League
Enfield Borough v Canning Town @3pm - having only been formed last year, the hosts are going from strength to strength. Winning promotion to the SSML Division 1 at the first attempt, they've got a 100% win record so far this season too. On Saturday they play their first ever FA Vase tie against 11th tier opposition from east London who they should beat
FC Elmstead v Whitstable Town @3pm - the Cocks will have their work cut out as they prepare to play SCEFL leaders Whitstable. The visitors have won all their games this season and should progress here
Tooting Bec v Littlehampton Town @3pm - the hosts are another side from the 11th tier who are making their bow in this prestigious FA competition. The south London club welcome a side from the Sussex coast who play two levels above them
Westside v Steyning Town @3pm - our final local debutants on Saturday are Westside who originally hail from Wandsworth. They play alongside Tooting Bec in the Surrey Elite Intermediate League and also face a side from the Southern Combination

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Sunday 10 September

Bostik League South Division
Thamesmead Town v Sittingbourne @3pm - as it stands this match to be played at Dartford's ground represents a top-eight clash. However, the round of games taking place the day before could well change that

FA Vase First Qualifying Round
FC Deportivo Galicia v Lewisham Borough @3pm - we've got a game between sides from the parallel first divisions of the CCL and SCEFL over near Heathrow. It should be pretty even and it's Lewisham's first Vase tie too
Stansfeld v Bedfont & Feltham @3pm - B&F are having a stinker of a season, losing all their league games up to this point. They'll hope for a change of fortunes in the Vase against another side who are making their first appearance


GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

TLFG: 29 August - 3 September 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome back to a TLFG that's firing on all cylinders again.

My apologies for not getting the time to write a full blog last week as I was just too busy. I was particularly disappointed as there were so many great games to tell you about and I doubt the match maps were enough to highlight what a great selection there were. I hope you had a good time anyway.

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On Bank Holiday Monday it was possible to take in three games - I know some of you made it to two but did anyone get the hat-trick?

The week ahead sees the first international break of the season which means there are no Premier League or Championship games. Unusually all our local League One and Two sides are playing away too and England haven't got their World Cup qualifier until next week.


The most high profile match of the week will be this charity game at QPR

Which means, that aside from an unappealing midweek EFL Trophy game, the biggest football event of the week in London will be the 'Game 4 Grenfell' at Loftus Road.

Most readers will remember the terrible events of the Grenfell Tower fire back in June and how it affected many people in west London including myself as it stands exactly a mile from where I live. My wife has become involved with things since then and gave a speech in the aftermath in the shadow of what's left of the building.

QPR are the local club and swung into action immediately co-ordinating collections and all other kinds of welfare activities in the days and weeks since the tragedy.

On Saturday, two teams of ex-pros and celebrities managed by Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer will do their bit to raise funds for the survivors and hopefully provide some good entertainment for the crowd too.

There's also set to be some other non-football entertainment with former Girls Aloud star 'Cheryl' making her big comeback after maternity leave - gasp!

Personally I'm not usually a fan of celebrity or even legends matches but given this is on my doorstep and for a cause I strongly support, I'll probably get down there.

If I don't then it will be all about the FA Cup as the competition reaches the first qualifying round stage on Saturday. It starts to get quite serious at this point with clubs from the seventh tier like my beloved Harrow Borough entering the fray. They made it all the way to the First Round proper and a glorious thrashing at the hands of League One side Northampton Town last year - somehow I doubt that will be repeated as they've landed a stinker of a trip to Enfield Town who will be incredibly tough to beat.

There's now less than six weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day


It's also worth noting that our local sides have all got off to a flyer in the National League, currently filling five of the top eight spots. The top three are all at home on Saturday so that might be something to investigate too.

Whatever you do, don't think for one moment that because the Premier League is having a few days off that there 'is no football on' which I hear all too often. Go out and explore the lower leagues, you might find a club on your doorstep you never knew existed and they're actually much better than you could possibly have imagined.

All of which leads me to my final point which is that Non-League Day is now just over a month away. One of the reasons I have been so busy of late is my preparations for it.

With meetings at organisations like Kick It Out, Prostate Cancer UK and the Premier League - it's been a hectic few weeks.

This year's event is on Saturday 7 October during the next international break so if you can't check out a non-league game this weekend, please try and get to one then.

Anyway, that's it from me - have a great week and keep me updated on which matches you get to.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 60 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL take a break.

The main action takes place in the National League and there are also a number of FA Cup ties, plus some matches in the ninth and 10th tiers.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found on the following match maps. If you've never used them before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.


The Non-League Club Directory is back for 2017-2018

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Tuesday 29 August

EFL Trophy
Barnet v AFC Wimbledon @8pm - the only match in London this week between two sides from 'the 92' is this one in the much maligned EFL Trophy. This competition used to be purely for clubs in League One and League Two but from last season it was decided to include a few U23 sides from the Premier League and Championship too. The move was rejected by fans of most clubs with absolutely abysmal attendances as a result. Some clubs, especially AFC Wimbledon, have been particularly clear about their distaste for the changes and actively discourage fans not to attend games, particularly ones against academy sides. Although this is a far more genuine tie and a derby, don't expect much of a crowd. Tickets are £10 if you do decide to go

Professional Development League
If you want to see a more traditional way of developing young players then there are three games across the city during the course of the day. Not only this but the home clubs are all using their main stadiums rather than training grounds. Crystal Palace (1pm), Millwall (2pm) and Watford (7pm) are all throwing their doors open so you could quite easily see a couple of matches on Tuesday. Please make sure you double check the venue and kick-off time before you travel as these can change at quite short notice for games at this level

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Hanworth Villa v Colliers Wood United @730pm - two of the top six meet at Rectory Meadow on Tuesday. Bar one season, Hanworth seem to have been permanently stationed in the CCL's top five ever since I started this blog. A solid side who enjoy the odd good cup run, they finished third under former Fulham and QPR player Rufus Brevett last term. The visitors haven't been as impressive in recent years but have started well this time and should be capable of at least a draw

Essex Senior League
West Essex v Basildon United @745pm - the hosts only made their debut at this level last season and have begun this campaign with three wins and a draw to sit fourth in the table. Basildon have won all four of their games and arrive knowing a win could bring them level on points with leaders Takeley
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Wednesday 30 August

Essex Senior League

Sporting Bengal United v Sawbridgeworth Town @745pm - there's not a huge amount on Wednesday but conceivably, at the time of writing, the hosts could make it into the top five with a win here

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Saturday 2 September

Game 4 Grenfell @3pm
The most high profile game of the week will take place at QPR's Loftus Road Stadium where two teams of ex-pros and celebrities will do their bit to entertain the crowd and raise money for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire which which took place back in June less than a mile from the ground. Tickets are £15 for adults and £5 concessions

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Gateshead @3pm - the Daggers have got off to a good start and lie second after seven games. The Tynesiders have begun well too and are just two points behind in sixth
Leyton Orient v Guiseley @3pm - the O's have responded pretty well to relegation from the EFL and are locked on level points with east London rivals Dagenham in third. Guiseley miraculously escaped relegation last season and are struggling again
Sutton United v Maidenhead United @3pm - all of London's National League sides have made a great start and currently fill five of the top eight spots. However, it's Sutton who currently lead the way after going unbeaten in their first seven matches. Maidenhead have just come up from the NLS and in Dave Tarpey they have one of the hottest striking talents in non-league football spearheading their attack (Update: Dave Tarpey signed for Barnet on transfer deadline day)

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Dartford @3pm - after reaching the play-offs last season, both sides will probably be a little disappointed with how they've begun this time around. Although the Darts are in the top six again, they're already six points behind the leaders who they would've expected to challenge. It's worse for the hosts though who have only won twice so far and a bad set of results on Saturday could see them drop into the relegation zone or be left just above it

FA Cup First Qualifying Round - at this stage the surviving clubs from the eighth, ninth and 10th tiers are joined in the draw by all the clubs from the seventh tier. The winners of each tie receive £3,000 in prize money.

Enfield Town v Harrow Borough @3pm - the cup draw has thrown up some great derbies and other interesting ties with this one of great personal interest to me. After being reprieved from relegation over the summer, Harrow have come flying out of the blocks and were top of the Bostik League with maximum points after four games. Sadly that run came to a spectacular end on Monday when they lost at local rivals Hendon 6-0. The Towners are a bigger club than Harrow and are usually among the play-off contenders and although they are four points behind in the league, they're starting to warm up with two wins on the trot and should start as favorites
Hendon v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - elsewhere in north London we have this derby. Not only do these sides come from neighbouring areas but they're also currently fifth and sixth in the Bostik League. As we've already heard, Hendon thrashed Harrow on Monday while Wingate went to Staines and won 5-0 - impressive form from both
Haringey Borough v Hitchin Town @3pm - if you're looking for a potential cupset then Coles Park on White Hart Lane could be the place to be. Haringey came close to promotion last season and are up in the top four of the Bostik North again. Hitchin play a level above in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier and made the play-offs as well but they haven't started brilliantly and could be vulnerable
Clapton v Needham Market @3pm - if the Clapton Ultras end their boycott of matches at the Old Spotted Dog then this could be a great game to go to. Having seen off Norwich United in the last round, the East End club face a Needham Market side who've been far from their best in the Bostik Premier and could be there for the taking
Banstead Athletic v Glebe @3pm - two of our lowest ranked teams that are left in the competition do battle at Merland Rise. Both enjoyed promotions last season but they've found the step up in their respective leagues pretty tough going so this cup match should be a good distraction and will guarantee a ninth-tier team in the next round

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Bedfont Sports @3pm - after only joining the CCL last season, Balham got promoted at the first attempt and have made a steady start at the higer level. The visitors are unbeaten in five and could go top with a win

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Wembley v Oxhey Jets @3pm - these two have both made solid starts and come into the game in the top seven. A win for Oxhey could send them to the top

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Sunday 3 September

FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Romford v AFC Hornchurch @3pm - round off your week with a trip to Thurrock for this Essex derby in the FA Cup.With the Urchins living up to their billing as favorites to win the Bostik North, local rivals Romford are averaging a point a game and are down in 17th. The visitors should start as clear favourites but this is the FA Cup and it could be anyone's - a potential cracker


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