Monday, 8 February 2016

TLFG: 8-14 February 2016

First off I'll begin by apologising for the late publication of this week's piece. Work schedules got in the way and I'm off again shortly so I'll keep this brief.

No football for me this week but there have been some ongoing discussions about FA Trophy/Vase finals day at Wembley on 22 May and there will hopefully be some news on it later this week.

There have also been some Non-League Day (NLD) discussions going on with the foundation of an NLD-style event possibly starting in another major European country.

This week 'Two Men...' pay a visit to Gander Green Lane
There are some more great games in London this week and I've outlined a few in TLFG's Top 10 towards the bottom of the page. If you can't get a ticket for any matches involving Premier League teams then I thoroughly recommend the West London derby between QPR and Fulham on Saturday at 1230pm. There are tickets still available so check out our ticket page for more details. The early kick off also means you can also combine it with another match. I have some Dutch friends who will be strolling down to Chelsea v Newcastle at 530pm for example. You could also check out a local non-league match at Southall  or North Greenford United which are both within walking distance of Perivale and Greenford Tube stations on the Central Line from White City.

Lastly, if you've enjoyed the ground reviews by 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' they are back with a visit to Sutton United, a side who are well on course for promotion this season and could even make it to Wembley.

Enjoy your week.

LATEST TICKET NEWS

Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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 (white 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.

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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Arsenal v Leicester City - the Foxes' fairytale continued over the weekend when they saw off title rivals Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad. Not only did they beat arguably their toughest rivals, they did it at a canter and moved five points clear. Next up they travel to Arsenal who are part of the chasing pack. I'm sure a draw would be a satisfactory result for Claudio Ranieri's team but they shouldn't fear anyone anymore and the Gunners, on paper, look far more beatable than the City side they disposed of. However, Leicester have only suffered two defeats this season and one of them was a comprehensive 5-2 home loss to Arsene Wenger's side back in September. If anyone knows how to beat this impressive unit from the East Midlands it's Arsenal. (Premier League, Sunday 14 February, 12pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Liverpool - both sides suffered disappointing weekends in the league but the prospect of this FA Cup replay will hopefully perk them up a bit. Although West Ham still have a chance of qualifying for Europe through the league, this competition represents their only chance of silverware so they should really go for it. Liverpool have already made it to the League Cup final but they have a great history in the FA Cup too and will sorely want to win it given that their Premier League campaign is going nowhere. The sides have met three times already this season and the smart money would seem to be on the hosts who won both the league matches and then drew the original tie at Anfield all without conceding a goal. It's also worth noting that if West Ham lose, this will be the last ever FA Cup match played at the Boleyn Ground. (FA Cup Fourth Round Replay, Tuesday 9 February, 745pm. Ticket info)

3. Queens Park Rangers v Fulham - you'll find it pretty tough to get tickets for any top-flight matches this week so this Championship game should provide a great alternative. A west London derby between two former Premier League sides who play just over two miles apart also got the TV schedulers interested hence the 1230pm kick-off. Neither side are having a great year although there are signs that Rangers could be turning a corner with new boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink making a few changes in the transfer window. Although only beating promotion chasing Ipswich 1-0 on Saturday, reports suggest it was a well deserved win with some of the new players looking lively. The Cottagers are only four points above the relegation zone but managed a decent draw against Derby who are also among the division's best teams. QPR look favourites to win but their recent record against Fulham is poor with only two wins from their last 10 meetings. When they last played in September, Rangers were humiliated 4-0 in another TV game. (Championship, Saturday 13 February, 1230pm. Ticket info)

4. AFC Wimbledon v Luton Town - with Millwall away this week, we next drop into League Two for this derby of sorts. Although not a London club, Luton play a short journey from the capital so most matches against TLFG sides have a derby feel to them. A top flight, League Cup winning side in the late '80s, it's fair to say the Hatters have known much better times. Playing in England's second tier until 2007, things fell apart rapidly as financial problems took their toll and they plunged down the divisions into non-league football two years later. It took several attempts to get out of the Conference but they are in the Football League again. On Saturday they travel to Wimbledon - another club to be big in the late '80s. Before the season started, I would've expected Luton to be the more likely promotion contenders but it's the Dons who are better placed at present. The ground should be packed for this but there are still a few tickets available. (League Two, Saturday 13 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Dagenham & Redbridge v Barnet - elsewhere in League Two we do have a genuine TLFG derby as east plays north. I was intending to say that it's also a relegation 'six-pointer' but although both are in the division's bottom seven, there's a whopping 13-point gap between them as the Daggers and fellow strugglers York have started to become cut off from the rest. The hosts have struggled in recent years but have always managed to stay up. This season is looking dodgy again and they come into this one four points adrift of safety. Barnet are a similar size club who also come from non-league origins but Martin Allen seems to be doing enough to keep them up which is an achievement. Games between the two are normally pretty close with the Bees winning 3-1 earlier in the season. (League Two, Saturday 13 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Bromley v Grimsby Town - outside the Football League, Bromley are TLFG's best supported and highest-ranked club. Playing their first ever season in England's fifth tier, the Ravens started superbly but have tailed off badly, turning from brief title contenders into lower midtable also-rans. Being a team of semi-pros in a league made up of many full-time teams, no-one would've expected much more. However, the board decided otherwise and asked manager Mark Goldberg to stand down last week. Some may have found that harsh but only one league win since October is the sort of run that would put any boss under pressure. Assistant manager Neil Smith has been put in interim charge and will go in at the deep end somewhat against perennial promotion contenders Grimsby Town. Like the aforementioned Luton, Grimsby are arguably too big for this division and were a second tier side until 2003. Prior to losing at Gateshead last weekend, the Mariners were in great form so Bromley will do well to get anything here. (National League, Tuesday 9 February, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. Hendon v Hampton & Richmond Borough - for me, the match of the week in the Isthmian League is this derby from the western hemisphere of town. It's north-west versus south-west at Earlsmead on Saturday as the Greens play host to current league leaders Hampton. The title race took another twist on Saturday as Dulwich and East Thurrock both suffered shock defeats while Hampton saw off fellow contenders Leiston in a seven-goal thriller at the Beveree. The result put Alan Dowson's side back on top, two points clear with a game in hand. Hendon were title contenders themselves for much of last season but couldn't quite see it over the line and sadly for them, that successful squad, for one reason or another, has been broken up and they've struggled. Bad weather has robbed them of a few games recently and they looked out of sorts as they lost 3-0 at Metropolitan Police on Saturday. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 13 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. North Greenford United v Hanwell Town - in the eighth tier we have a very local derby also on the west side of London. I'm pretty sure this Southern League game has been postponed about 23 times this season (joking) but it just seems to keep coming up. Playing either side of the A40 about 10 miles from central London these two old rivals must be looking forward to finally getting this game on. Both sides are having a bit of a stinker this season so I think it's fair to say this is a relegation 'six-pointer'. Neither side has been cut adrift or come anywhere near ensuring safety so there is plenty to play for. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Tuesday 9 February, 745pm. Club info)

9. Glebe v Sutton Athletic - not much of note in the ninth tier this week so we finish off with a rare double bill of 10th tier action. First up is this Kent Invicta League title clash. If you haven't noticed, the top of the KIL has become very congested of late with only one point separating the top four. Glebe are currently third, a point behind leaders Sutton but they have a game in hand - it couldn't be a lot tighter. A lot of TLFG's recent focus at this level has been on Glebe and their achievements but Sutton, another local side, have had a great year too. A crowd of 100+ could easily turn out for this one which is exceptional for a midweek game at this level. (Kent Invicta League, Tuesday 9 February, 745pm. Club info)

10. Worcester Park v Eversley & California - it's also competitive over in the Combined Counties League Division 1 where seven points separate the top four. Games in hand for some mean that things could get even closer. CB Hounslow United are currently leading the way with these two in second and third respectively. Worcester Park often challenge for the title and have won it in recent years but their relatively basic facilities mean promotion isn't an option. The strikingly named E&C come from a Hampshire village sandwiched between Farnborough and Wokingham and have had much expected of them since Eversley and California football clubs merged in 2012. As yet they haven't quite cracked it. Could this be their year? (Combined Counties League Division 1, Saturday 13 February, 2pm. Club info)

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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 31 January 2016

TLFG: 1-7 February 2016

At long last I've had a busy week in the footballing sense.

It started on Tuesday with a meeting with a member of the FA marketing team as they build towards the first ever non-league finals day at Wembley on Sunday 22 May.

For several decades, teams outside the Football League have competed for the FA Trophy and FA Vase with the respective finals held at the national stadium.

With attendances never getting anywhere near capacity, ideas have been sought to try and sell more tickets.

One that has been suggested many times is to have both finals played on the same day but internal politics and tradition has always got in the way.

This season they're going to give it a go so you'll get a whole day out at Wembley and two matches for one great price (I've seen the proposed prices which will be released shortly and have to say they're pretty fair).

On Wednesday I travelled to Nijmegen to watch my first Eredivisie match
Without going into the details I was also made aware of a number of other things which left me feeling a whole lot more positive than I did at this stage last season when originally asked to get involved.

Watch this space for more information and put the date in your diary.

The following day I headed over to the Netherlands to watch my first Eredivisie game.

Leaving St Pancras on the Eurostar at 0650, I enjoyed a very smooth journey, via Brussels, to the south-eastern city of Nijmegen which took less than six hours.

I met up with my host Paul (author of MatchDays) who took me and another friend Ashley (author of The Long Way) to watch NEC v FC Twente.

Probably the main reason I haven't explored Dutch football very much before is that tickets are so tightly restricted because of hooliganism problems. You have to be a club member or have to buy overpriced tourist tickets from one of the big three clubs - with Paul being a local, getting tickets wasn't a problem.

With this in mind, the weather poor, the opposition poor and the game kicking off at the inexplicably early time of 630pm, I wasn't sure what to expect.

The first thing to hit you is the price. If you can get hold of a ticket, a decent one at a club like this will only cost around 20 euro (£15). Not only this but they give away the match programmes for free via small boys outside the stadium (i.e. you don't even need a ticket to get one).

On entering the ground, the body search I received was thorough to say the least but I was heartily encouraged in English to 'enjoy the game' by the beaming steward once he'd finished getting a good idea of my tailoring requirements!

Once inside, you notice that there is a dry moat between the stands and the raised pitch and down within it are the refreshment kiosks. To speed up service at the tills, you are first asked to put some money on a cash card at a separate hut which is then debited when you order. Anything left over is then paid back to you after the game - bit of a palaver if you ask me. I didn't partake but the others did and the prices looked pretty reasonable.

We took our seats towards the front of the stand but quickly realised that we'd get pretty wet if we remained there for the whole game so elected to move to the back where there was a standing area. I don't know how official it was as there were still seats there but the two or three rows of people standing were left unbothered by the stewards and didn't interfere with anyone else.

On the playing side of things, the two most notable names in the hosts' line-up from an English point of view were former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones who had just joined the club and Chelsea youngster Todd Kane who played at right-back.

If like me you're not an expert on Dutch football, NEC are in many ways quite similar in standing to QPR - a bit of yo-yo team between the top two divisions who never really win any major trophies and play in a small ground (12,000) but have quite a cool kit (in my opinion, very cool in NEC's case). The fanbase are very local and asked several times why I'd bothered to come all the way from England to watch them. 

NEC celebrate after taking the lead
FC Twente, on the other hand, famously won the title for the only time in their history back in 2010 when Steve McClaren moved there to rebuild his career after a disastrous spell as England manager. These days they are very much on their uppers with all kinds of off-field problems contributing to a very poor showing in the league so a home win was expected.

The game itself, played in wind and swirling rain, wasn't a classic but provided plenty of opportunities (20 shots on target) and looked all set to become a 'good 0-0' when Belgian midfielder Anthony Limbombe lobbed the keeper with 15 minutes to go. The coup-de-grace was added by star striker Christian Santos just before the end to leave the majority of the 11,000 crowd in jubilant spirits as their side climbed to fourth in the table.

Overall my first experience of Dutch football was a good one - the prices and facilities were decent and the atmosphere was good. People often say that with many Dutch stars playing abroad, the quality of the league suffers and it probably does but live football is live football and if chances are being created, as was the case here, then as a neutral I don't think you can have too many complaints. When I contrast this to my last European adventure to Florence where I watched Fiorentina grind out a 0-0 draw against Juventus (two teams packed with stars) while getting soaked in an uncovered stand where someone else had nicked my seat which had cost 90 euro (face value) and I had to sit on the steps for the whole game, I know which one I'd be more likely to repeat.

One thing letting the Eredivisie down is the whole ticketing/security issue. The Netherlands is brilliantly set up for groundhopping with lots of teams in close proximity to each other and very close to the UK but the ticketing system in place is off-putting. On Wednesday, to my knowledge, there wasn't a whiff of trouble (although there was more than a whiff of some other stuff that's not strictly legal here) with groups of friends and family all heading out to enjoy the football. 

When the big clubs play it might be different but then such fixtures should be handled in a different way as they are here.

The other thing I've noticed more generally when talking to Dutch people about football is that almost all of them when asked say they support Ajax. Paul and others in Nijmegen I asked all said the big boys from Amsterdam were their primary Dutch club of choice (although he seemed to rekindle a love for NEC as those goals were going in) which seems a bit of a shame. As you know, I'm very much one for encouraging support of local clubs so it was good to see an English banner at the Goffert Stadion saying 'Support Your Local Football Team' - it's one of the only ways smaller clubs will have a chance of remaining competitive in the modern age.

If you're tempted by a trip to watch NEC I'm sure Paul will be more than happy to hear from you and I'd also like to recommend the Hotel Prikkels where I stayed - very informal, centrally located and great value at £50 (70 euro) a night for a queen room with breakfast and WiFi included. The woman running it used to be a sports reporter too - loved it!

LATEST TICKET NEWS

Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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 (white 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.

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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures



Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Chelsea v Manchester United - when you look at this fixture you immediately think 'game of the week' but when you check the league table and then the stats, you're not quite so sure. Usually this game between two of titans of the English game would go some way towards deciding the title but this year they're both also-rans. Chelsea were flirting so badly with the bottom three that they sacked Jose Mourinho and Man Utd are churning out such bad football that their fans are booing them off. When they met a month ago the sides, both led by hugely successful Dutch managers, produced a 0-0 draw and I can't see it being much different this time round. If I had to pick a winner it would be the Blues. (Premier League, Sunday 7 February, 4pm. Ticket info)

2. Arsenal v Southampton - the race for the Premier League title is the tightest it's been for years with the top four all within five points of each other. The Gunners were starting to convince a few that this could finally be their year but 2016 has not begun well and only two points have been gleaned from matches against Liverpool, Stoke and Chelsea. On Saturday they scraped past Championship side Burnley in the FA Cup and next face the in-form Saints at the Emirates. An iffy period in November and December caused a few worries at the Hampshire club but three wins on the trot without conceding a goal have put them right back in the hunt for a Europa League spot. With new signing Charlie Austin vanquishing Manchester United at Old Trafford on his debut last time out, Ronald Koeman's side pose a real threat here. (Premier League, Tuesday 2 February, 745pm. Ticket info)

3. Tottenham Hotspur v Watford - if Arsenal do slip up, fierce north London rivals Spurs are also nicely poised to mount a title challenge. Most neutrals are praying that Leicester win the league this year but if they don't then Tottenham would be a very acceptable alternative. Although one of the biggest names in English football, the club from N17 haven't won the title since 1961 so it's long overdue. Mauricio Pochettino has steadily built a very competent side over the last 18 months which finds itself firmly challenging for three trophies as we move into the latter half of the season. The match against local rivals Watford won't be a cakewalk by any means. Although suffering a poor run around the turn of the year, they have also now managed three consecutive wins in the league and FA Cup and should be well motivated for this derby. (Premier League, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Charlton Athletic v Bristol City - in the Championship we have a game for more niche tastes as two clubs in trouble scrap to fight against relegation. Both are in the bottom three after some fairly hideous results but neither have as yet been cut adrift from the rest of the pack. A win for either will elevate them out of the drop zone and give a great boost to morale which could help them in the following weeks. Charlton were a proud and well run Premier League side until 2006 but since then it's gone a bit awry. There have been relegations and promotions since then but the current set-up is causing real concern as the club's Belgian owner has hired and fired a string of unsuccessful managers as results have nosedived. Fans have been out in protest as they've demanded change. Things could be turning a corner though as the team are unbeaten in two and even thrashed relegation rivals Rotherham 4-1 on Saturday. Here's to a brighter future for the Addicks. (Championship, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Fulham v Derby County - elsewhere in the second tier we have game of significance at either end of the table. Like Charlton, Fulham have struggled since leaving the Premier League and are once again entrenched in a relegation dogfight having won only one of their last 14 games. The Rams head to Craven Cottage with their perennial promotion push on the verge of collapse again. It must be heartbreaking being a Derby fan - two years ago they lost to a last-minute goal in the play-off final after completely outplaying QPR and last season they looked certs for the title only to blow-up completely and not even make the play-offs. This season is starting to look doomed as well. Up in the top two for a while, County are now winless in five and down to fifth with several clubs ready to take their place. (Championship, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Welling United v Altrincham with all our local League One and Two teams on the road this week, we next focus on the National League where we have another relegation 'six-pointer' to enjoy. The Wings escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and haven't found it any easier this time round. An 11-game winless run saw them part with manager Loui Fazakerley at the beginning of the week and install former coach Dean Frost who guided them to a draw at Halifax on Saturday. Alty sit just above the bottom four so must be beaten if Welling are to entertain any real hope of staying up. (National League, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Sutton United v Bognor Regis Town as someone now involved in the promotion of the FA Trophy I'm understandably quite excited about this tie. Sutton are the last remaining club in the London area and a win here against lower league opposition will put them into the quarter-finals. To my knowledge, the U's have never been to Wembley so I'm pretty confident they'd take a sizeable following to the national stadium if they made it. Although in fantastic form at the moment, they should find Isthmian League title chasers Bognor a tough proposition and complacency must be stamped out quickly or they could come unstuck. (FA Trophy Third Round, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Hampton & Richmond Borough v Leiston - if you thought the Premier League title race was tight then the one in the Isthmian League is even more open. At this stage one point separates the top three, the teams in fourth and fifth have games in hand on those above meaning they're all effectively within a couple of points of each other. Two of those sides meet in this game. Hampton were top with a game in hand a little over a week ago but only a point from the two games against fellow challengers Tonbridge and Bognor since then have reeled them back in. That tough run of games continues with this match against Leiston. The Suffolk club also had a spell at the top earlier in the season during which time they beat Hampton 3-1. It's a big game for both. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Club info)

9. Northwood v Royston Town the focus has been on Egham in this division in recent weeks but bad weather has held up their campaign as postponements have had to be made. However, they are not the only local side to be challenging as Northwood now find themselves just a point adrift of the play-off places. On Saturday they recorded a very impressive 3-0 win at title contenders Chalfont St Peter to give them real belief of being able to push on. This weekend they face Royston who sit just above them on level points, a side they beat back in August. Overshadowed by a number of bigger clubs, not least Watford, it would be great to see the local community really get behind the side in their 90th year. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Saturday 6 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Barking v FC Romania - we're off to east London again for the game of the week in the ninth tier as third take on first in the Essex Senior League. The Blues mounted a spirited title challenge last season but were ultimately left in third as they trailed in the wake of a mighty Haringey side. Third again and with two games in hand on the leaders at the time of writing, they're in with a good chance again. FC Romania, formerly of TLFG's parish, now play in Cheshunt and have made steady progress since their formation in 2006. Unsurprisingly their squad is made up primarily of Romanian players who were technically very good on the one occasion I saw them. They've improved since then and are particularly dangerous going forward a point illustrated by the fact they've scored 16 in their last two and 88 in 25 overall. (Essex Senior League, Tuesday 2 February, 745pm. Club info)

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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 24 January 2016

TLFG: 25-31 January 2016

Welcome one and all to the latest edition of TLFG, I hope you're well.

The winter weather saw many fixtures called off at the beginning of the week but by yesterday temperatures were beginning to climb and most games took place.

Today the mercury rose to an impressive 14C/57F, well above the January average and it's set to stay that way for the next few days. It could, however, get a bit wet so make sure you check with clubs that games are still on before you set off.

Although there are the normal amount of games scheduled, they're pretty much all crammed into Tuesday and Saturday giving the week a kind of empty feel. In fact there's nothing at all on Thursday, Friday or Sunday which is unusual.

The FA Cup takes centre stage again this week but even then, there are only two games to choose from and both require membership to gain access to tickets (more info below).

Outside of the usual TLFG Top 10 match recommendations, there are a couple of county cup matches on Tuesday which deserve a mention.

In the Herts Senior Cup, National League side Boreham Wood entertain Premier League neighbours Watford. Admission is at a reduced rate of £10. It's highly unlikely the Hornets will field anywhere close to a first XI but I'd like to think there'll be one or two. In the Kent Senior Cup, Bromley host Charlton Athletic in a National League versus Championship derby match - again it's £10 and again the Addicks will probably put out an U21 side.

My football week sees a meeting with the FA on Tuesday about helping out again with the promotion of this year's FA Trophy final. This season the match has moved from March to May and there's the exciting added bonus of the FA Vase final being played on the same day as part of a Wembley doubleheader. More details to follow.

On Wednesday I'm hopping on the Eurostar and heading over to the Netherlands to watch some Eredivisie action. 

One of the huge benefits of writing this blog has been connecting with fans from all over the world and rather than play guide to them, this week it's my turn to play tourist.

The next few days are a great time to groundhop in the Netherlands as there are top flight games from Tuesday through to Sunday. I've got the week off and had grand plans of seeing at least two but given you require membership to get tickets or buy overpriced 'tourist' tickets (still cheaper than many Premier League ones) from clubs like Ajax, it's a bit tricky. It's even harder trying to sell the idea to a wife who'll be left behind with a two-year-old to look after (she turned down the chance to come, promise). 

In the end I've decided to go on an overnighter to Nijmegen for NEC v Twente where my friend Paul (author of MatchDays) will play host. We'll also be joined by Ashley (author of The Long Way), another person I originally met online, an Englishman who now resides in Germany. 

I've been to Feyenoord and PSV's grounds to see games but they were being used as neutral venues during Euro 2000 and also for the Uefa Cup final of 2006 - this will be my first Eredivisie experience. 

Despite requiring two changes, the journey to the eastern Netherlands will still take less than six hours which I think is pretty impressive - let's hope there are no hold ups.

Have a great week and I look forward to filling you in on my trip next Sunday. 


LATEST TICKET NEWS

Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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 (white 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.

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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures



Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Crystal Palace v Stoke City - it says quite a lot about how quiet a week it is when this match takes top billing. The only all-Premier League FA Cup tie in London this weekend features these two upper midtable sides. The good thing is that such league placings will hopefully make them both take the game seriously as they could conceivably do quite well. Stoke should start as favourites as, aside from Saturday's reverse at leaders Leicester, they're in reasonable form. Palace, on the other hand, continued their worrying slide down the table following a comfortable 3-1 loss at home to Spurs. One glimmer of hope is their recent record against the Potters which sees them unbeaten in four. Tickets for this are still available and priced at a ridiculously cheap £15. The only snag is that you must be a member to buy one. Membership costs £25 so might be worth getting. UPDATE (29/01/16): Tickets will now be going on general sale at the ground from noon on match day - no membership required. (FA Cup Fourth Round, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

2. Arsenal v Burnley - the only other tie in London pits the Gunners against the Clarets. Last season this would also have been an all-Premier League tie but Burnley got relegated despite fighting hard. This season Sean Dyche's side have responded well to that disappointment and will probably finish among the play-off places which they currently inhabit. If this game were taking place at Turfmoor then it could be quite a battle but sadly it's not. With the game at the Emirates and Arsenal challenging for the Premier League title, it should be a foregone conclusion. However, it's one of those games that will almost certainly see Arsene Wenger rest a few players and then who knows? There's no doubt Burnley will be motivated and have absolutely nothing to lose. As above, tickets are available but only to members but in this case it's £39 to sign up so it could get quite costly. (FA Cup Fourth Round, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Brentford v Leeds United - there's one game on in the Championship this week but it should be lively. Realistically, both sides will probably have to settle for midtable finishes this season but that means it should be fairly even. The Bees, as one of its smallest clubs, are doing really well in comfortably competing in this division. The fact they are the best London club in the second tier and are outperforming several former English and even European champions is quite something. Leeds, former three-time league champions and FA Cup and League Cup winners, are historically one of the biggest clubs in the country and arguably currently the biggest in the Football League. They will bring a sizeable following on Tuesday night, some of whom have earned their support a bad name (Leeds fans ranked fifth in England for football banning orders last season). Consequently, partly for security reasons, ticket sales have been restricted to people who have a purchasing history with Brentford. (Championship, Tuesday 26 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Millwall v Crewe Alexandra - talking of banning orders, it would be remiss of me to move on to the Lions and not mention their fans' record for bad behaviour. The Bermondsey club picked up 64 last season putting them fourth in the country - a significant 'achievement' when you consider they were averaging attendances of only 11,000 during a season of struggle. Now down in League One, the team are having a much better season with a third straight win lifting them into the top six this weekend. Visitors Crewe have had a campaign to forget and are currently stuck at the bottom, eight points adrift of safety. Given this and the fact Millwall are unbeaten in eight against their Cheshire opponents, it looks like a banker of a home win. (League One, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Leyton Orient v Cambridge United - it's been a rollercoaster week for the O's who began it by sacking boss Ian Hendon on Monday. It seemed a pretty harsh decision given they were still well placed for a crack at the play-offs but Italian owner Francesco Becchetti clearly felt that a run of only one win in eight was too much. Then on Thursday came the slightly leftfield appointment of 33-year-old former West Ham midfielder Kevin Nolan. Without a club since the summer, the midfielder has joined as a player-manager and began with a fantastic 2-0 away win at promotion rivals Wycombe. The next few days will ensure his management career gets off to a hectic start as they have back-to-back home games against Newport in midweek and then Cambridge at the weekend. The Welsh team are fighting the drop while the U's are in a similar position to themselves so should provide decent opposition. (League Two, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Wealdstone v Hayes & Yeading United - if you go back a few years then this would have been a local derby of some significance but both sides have suffered some major upheaval in the intervening time which has knocked the fixture's status. Regular readers will know that Wealdstone were the best non-league side in the land back in the mid-80s but they lost their ground and it all went pear-shaped in the following decade. They've patiently rebuilt themselves and have climbed back up to the sixth tier of English football. Hayes were a decent non-league side in their own right until they merged with local rivals Yeading in 2007. This went well and they made it into the Conference National (fifth tier) in 2009. At the end of 2010-11 they moved out of their historic Church Road ground but, like Wealdstone, the transfer to a new ground didn't go to plan and they've lived a nomadic existence ever since. A disastrous spell sharing with Woking saw their attendances dwindle and relegation to the Conference South ensued. Now playing at Maidenhead United, an easier ground to get to, they're still finding things tough and even had to rely on a reprieve to avoid another relegation in 2014. Although they are getting closer to returning to a ground of their own (a move which would see them join TLFG's family), they have another relegation battle on their hands. However, let us not forget that the Stones do too. Both are locked on 26 points and defeat here could drop one of them into the bottom three so there's plenty at stake. (National League South, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Enfield Town v Kingstonian - the battle for play-off places in the Isthmian Premier is wide open with anyone in the top half having a chance of getting into the top five. These two are among that group. Both took on sides battling to avoid the drop on Saturday and while Enfield surprisingly came unstuck at VCD Athletic, the K's enjoyed a win over Needham Market to leapfrog the north London side in the table. Kingstonian enjoyed a slender 1-0 win when they last met in November so this will almost certainly be tight again. There should also be a decent atmosphere as Enfield are one of the growing band of London non-league clubs to have a group of Ultras supporting them. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. AFC Hornchurch v Tilbury - we've got another match between teams battling for a play-off place in the division below and to add to the drama it's an Essex derby too. Formed out of the ashes of Hornchurch FC in 2005, the Urchins have had an action packed decade and a bit. In that time they've enjoyed three promotions, two relegations and two play-off defeats. One of those relegations came last season meaning they'd dropped from the Conference South to Isthmian North in two years - an unenviable feat. They've responded really well though and have been in the top three for most of the season. Currently second, seven points behind leaders Sudbury, it's looking like another play-off appearance could be on the cards. Opponents Tilbury are one of the smaller clubs in the division (only Haringey get smaller crowds) but are seventh, just three points off the top five with games in hand. Two of the highest scoring sides in the division, this could be interesting. (Isthmian League Division 1 North, Tuesday 26 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Ilford v Clapton - staying on the east side of town we have another derby between much closer neighbours. A brief six or seven minute train ride from Forest Gate (where Clapton play) to Seven Kings will leave you a short walk from Cricklefields, the venue for this match. The last time they played, back in October, nearly 800 turned up to witness an exciting 3-3 draw. I went to that match and had a great afternoon but it was Non-League Day and the match had received a fair bit of publicity. Nonetheless, thanks to the Clapton Ultras, I would expect at least 300 at this one - well above the Essex Senior League's average attendance of around 50-60. Both are in the top eight too so it should be close again. (Essex Senior League, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Club info)

10. Glebe v Bearsted - the match of the week in the 10th tier sees the top two in the Kent Invicta League meet at Foxbury Avenue. Glebe are really enjoying the first season at their new home, finding themselves one point off top spot with a game in hand with just over half the season played. Their fine performances are also drawing in some relatively sizeable crowds (nearly 300 on one occasion) to put them second in the division's attendance table too. With the best defence and attack, it's just that game in hand that's keeping them off the top. (Kent Invicta League, Saturday 30 January, 3pm. Club info)

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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 17 January 2016

TLFG: 18-24 January 2016

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

As a QPR fan, Saturday was a momentous occasion. Not only did Rangers win their first match under new boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at the ninth time of asking but we also lost the services of talismanic striker Charlie Austin.

I don't think there will be many Rangers supporters who begrudge him his move back to Premier League and in Southampton he seems to have chosen a club well suited to progress his career.

The thing that wrankles with me is the paltry £4m fee the club is said to have received for undoubtedly one of the best strikers in English football.

Yes his contract was up in a few months but when I see other players going for so much more I really despair - Jonjo Shelvy £12m, Benik Afobe £9m, Lewis Grabban £7m to name just three from the current transfer window.

Edgware Town appear in the latest ground review by 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'
Austin scored 18 goals in the Premier League last season for the team which finished bottom and has averaged pretty much a goal every other game over the course of his 200+ game career - Southampton and their fans must be pinching themselves QPR parted with him for so little. I'd expect at least another player thrown in as makeweight in the deal but apparently not. 

Anyway, it's all about his replacement Sebastian Polter now. The big German, who has spent most of the season in the reserves following his summer signing, has been given a chance by Hasselbaink and has scored three in his last four games. The king is dead, long live the king!

LONDON DOUBLEHEADERS

On the subject of QPR, you can catch them as part of a west London Championship doubleheader on Saturday thanks to their home match against Wolves starting at 1230pm. With that finished, you'll realistically have about 35-40 minutes to dash the 2.5-3 miles south to see Fulham v Hull City at 3pm. Although it's not far, the traffic between Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith and Fulham is notorious on matchdays so you might have to miss the end of one or start of the other. Running, cycling, motorbike or scooter will probably be quickest.

On the east side of town, West Ham United have a 530pm kick-off against Manchester City which means you could begin the afternoon with a trip to London's oldest football ground (the Old Spotted Dog) for the Essex Senior League clash between Clapton and Bowers & Pitsea at 3pm (Update 22/01/16: this match has been called off and replaced with a friendly against Enfield Town U21s). The atmosphere at this relatively tiny venue is great thanks to the home club's Ultras. A brisk walk should get you to the Boleyn Ground in time for your second game.

  AND FINALLY...

Lastly I'd like to give another mention to our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who this week have done a ground review of Edgware Town. Having only recently been re-formed, they're having a great season in the Spartan South Midlands League and are well on course for promotion. With 71 goals from just 17 games, your chances of seeing a 0-0 are virtually nil. Give it a read.

LATEST TICKET NEWS

Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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 (white 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.

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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Arsenal v Chelsea - undoubtedly the game of the week sees London's two biggest clubs go head-to-head at the Emirates. In recent years, this fixture has usually seen the Gunners needing to beat Chelsea to stay in the title race - how times change. Now the hosts are the favourites ( they may be top by the time you read this), whilst the Blues are among those trying to avoid the drop having won only one of their last five. I suspect the form book will go out the window here as it did back in September when Chelsea won the reverse fixture 2-0. I'm not saying the visitors will win but it should be tighter than the league table suggests. (Premier League, Sunday 24 January, 4pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Manchester City - the Hammers' impressive eight-game unbeaten run came to a disappointing end at lowly Newcastle on Saturday leaving them four points adrift of the top four. If they are to maintain realistic hopes of breaking into the elite then they'll need to beat one of its most powerful members. City have won the title twice in recent seasons and are firmly in the race to win it again this time, crushing a decent Crystal Palace side 4-0 this weekend. They are far from invincible though and can be undone by almost anyone in the division on one of their off days. In fact, West Ham have won two of their last three against them so could give them a run for their money. (Premier League, Saturday 23 January, 530pm. Ticket info)

3. Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - elsewhere in south-east London we've got a decent looking derby between these two. Spurs responded well to losing the midweek game against Leicester by drubbing ailing Sunderland on Saturday, cementing their place in the top four. For a while, Palace were looking like surprise contenders for the top four too but they've hit a sticky patch which has surely killed those ambitions. Winless and scoreless in five, the Selhurst Park club have slipped to eighth during a worrying period. If Tottenham play to their strengths, it could be another tough afternoon for Alan Pardew's men. (Premier League, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Fulham v Hull City - at Craven Cottage we have a match of equal importance to teams at either end of the Championship. The hosts still haven't come to terms with relegation from the Premier League and have again struggled to assert themselves in this tough division. With one win in 14 matches it's been another challenging season for the club from SW6. Hull, on the other hand, got relegated in May and have been the pick of the sides which came down. Up in second, with four wins in five, it's looking good for the Tigers. (Championship, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Bromley v Tranmere Rovers all our League One and Two clubs are out of town this week which means the focus next moves to the National League. There are a few good options at this level over the next seven days but I think this one is probably the most eye-catching. Although Bromley also entertain the higher ranked Grimsby in midweek, this match against another former Championship team will probably generate a bigger crowd and provide more of an experience. Playing their first season in this division, the hosts made a brilliant start and established themselves amongst the frontrunners. A dreadful November saw them slip back into midtable where I'm sure they'd be more than happy to finish. In terms of attendance, Tranmere are the biggest club in non-league football with average gates of around 5,000. If you're unfamiliar with English football, Rovers surprisingly fell out of the Football League last season after a poor run of results. They were League Cup finalists as recently as 2000 and FA Cup quarter-finalists in 2004 so to see them in non-league football is a bit of a shock. (League One, Sunday 17 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Sutton United v Dartford in the division below we have a mouthwatering clash between two of our local sides who are well on course for at least a play-off berth. In a division where all of the top 10 still have realistic promotion ambitions, this match between third and fourth could be pivotal in how the season progresses. Sutton made it through to the last 16 of the FA Trophy on Saturday to become the last remaining TLFG club in the competition. This result extended their winning run to six in all competitions. The Darts aren't on quite such an impressive winning streak but haven't lost a league match in over three months and disposed of former leaders Bath 4-1 on Saturday. I fully expect the U's to get a 1,000+ crowd for this and will be disappointed if they don't. (National League South, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Hampton & Richmond Borough v Tonbridge Angels - it's been a stunning few weeks for Hampton as seven consecutive wins have propelled them to the top of the Isthmian League. Currently two points clear and with a game in hand over second placed Dulwich, things are looking very rosy. Their next engagement in the league sees them welcome Tonbridge who are third. Seven points behind Hampton, defeat here would pretty much knock them out of the title race so plenty is at stake. TLFG fact - legendary Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler is among Hampton's coaching staff and can often be seen putting the players through their pre-match warm-up. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Club info)

8. Egham Town v Royston Town - after highlighting them last Sunday, the Sarnies didn't disappoint and produced back-to-back league wins over Kings Langley and Aylesbury United to move up to third in what is a very competitive division. Now just three points off top spot and with games in hand on both the teams above them, we are looking at another local team with strong title ambitions. On Tuesday they welcome Royston who are immediately below them for another crucial game. Interestingly, this match will pit the best defence in the division (Egham) against its joint best attack (Royston) so the outcome should be interesting. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Tuesday 19 January, 745pm. Club info)

9. Wembley v AFC Dunstable - they were a few contenders for game of the week in the ninth tier but I went for this one as none of our local sides have made much impact in the Spartan South Midlands League this season until now. Although not really in with much of a chance of winning it, Wembley have made their way into the top five and welcome a strong Dunstable outfit who need to win to keep the pressure on current leaders London Colney. Given their name and location within view of the famous national stadium, Wembley are always worth a visit. (Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Club info)

10. Edgware Town v Baldock Town - another side to do well after being highlighted in this section last week, Edgware won their huge top-of-the-table clash against Crawley Green on Saturday in front of a crowd of nearly 200 (superb for a tenth-tier fixture). On Saturday they face another tough game against fourth-placed Baldock who have a mean defence. The two have already played twice this season in league and cup and both have ended in 3-2 away wins for Edgware. Another five-goal thriller would go down nicely. (Spartan South Midlands League Division One, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Club info)

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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Sunday, 10 January 2016

TLFG: 11-17 January 2016

Greetings one and all and welcome back to TLFG.

I'm going to keep my preamble pretty brief this week (hooray I hear you cheer) as I've got to get to work - everything else is pretty standard though, except for the ticket section which I haven't got round to yet.

We've got another big week ahead with the highlight for me being the two very interesting looking FA Trophy ties which you can find out more about below.

I also usually put in a bit about ground reviews and whether you'd like to do one. Then it occurred to me that several blogs are or have done that already so why not just link to one directly.

One such publication is 'Two Men In Search of the Beautiful Game' who largely review grounds within TLFG's catchment area so here's a link to their latest piece on Isthmian League club Staines Town who have some of the finest non-league facilities within the M25. 

As always enjoy your week and get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

UPDATE (11/01/16): Once again our good friends at The Chicken Balti Chronicles have unearthed another unusual gem - a friendly between Sutton United and a Crystal Palace XI on Tuesday morning at 1030am. It's free to get in at Gander Green Lane so if you're off during the day this could well be worth checking out.

LATEST TICKET NEWS
Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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 (white 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.

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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City - for the second week running, this will be our top featured game. On Sunday they met in the FA Cup and three days later they meet in the league. At the time of writing, the cup match has still to be played so it could put this game into a different context but essentially it's a battle between two of the Premier League's top four so should hopefully be a bit of a cracker. Leicester could go top with a win while Spurs could jump up to third. (Premier League, Wednesday 13 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Chelsea v Everton - it's a hectic week for all Premier League clubs with Chelsea being no exception. Three home games in six days mean Guus Hiddink will probably have to shuffle a few players around to keep them all fresh. The match against Everton is the last of the three and victory combined with a favourable result against West Brom in midweek could see them on the verge of breaking back into the top 10. The Toffees shouldn't be a walkover by any means, however, as they beat Chelsea 3-1 in the reverse fixture back in September. (Premier League, Saturday 16 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Brentford v Middlesbrough - the Bees are another west London club with a punishing schedule this week as they play two of the Championship's best teams back-to-back on Tuesday and Friday. First up are current leaders Boro who disposed of Brentford in last season's play-offs to extend their winning run against the Griffin Park club to eight matches. In fact, Brentford have to go all the way back to 1964 to find a record of their last victory against the Smoggies. If you can't make this, Burnley roll into town at the end of the week for a televised game which should also be worth a watch. (Championship, Tuesday 12 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Millwall v Port Vale - one of the most attractive things about this fixture is that it's taking place on Sunday and makes it the only senior match on in the capital that day. The Lions have a cup match against Oxford on Thursday meaning this league game has been put back. It's also a decent looking game between two sides pushing to get into the League One play-off places - very much worth a trip to Bermondsey, give it a go. (League One, Sunday 17 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. AFC Wimbledon v Mansfield Town - in the division below we have a very similar game between two former non-league sides who are battling to get into the play-offs. The visitors took advantage of the Dons being without a game on Saturday and leapfrogged them into eighth with a win over Stevenage. Since the two made it into League Two together, Wimbledon have failed to win any of their five matches against the Stags so they seem to be becoming a bit of a bogey team. (League Two, Saturday 16 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Sutton United v Curzon Ashton - after all the thrills and spills of the FA Cup, next weekend sees the return of the FA Trophy. We've now reached the second round stage, which means we're down to the last 32 and it's starting to get serious. If you're new to English football, this competition is for clubs playing in the top four levels of non-league football and ends with a final at Wembley in May. Aside from the top division, football at this level is regional but at this stage of the Trophy the draw is national so you get ties between teams who have probably never met before. I haven't done my research but there can't have been too many previous meetings between south Londoners Sutton and Curzon from the east of Manchester. The Nash, as they are nicknamed, have had a fantastic couple of years winning back-to-back promotions to climb up to the National League North - the parallel division to the National League South in which Sutton United are currently one of the leading clubs. The U's have been getting impressive crowds of nearly 1,000 over the last few weeks and the novelty and importance of this tie will hopefully see them go well over that here. (FA Trophy Second Round, Saturday 16 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Dulwich Hamlet v Guiseley - elsewhere in London we have another Trophy tie pitting South versus North but there is a two-division gulf between the sides. On paper Dulwich should start as underdogs - they play in the seventh tier Isthmian League Premier Division while Guiseley, who hail from the Leeds area, compete in the National League. However, I actually think the home draw will give the Hamlet a significant advantage. Dulwich are a team in form - unbeaten in seven and top of the league, they also drew an awesome crowd of 2,249 for their win over Enfield on Saturday. Guiseley, on the other hand, are winless in four, fighting a relegation battle and have a long journey. Real cupset potential in front of another monster crowd. (FA Trophy Second Round, Saturday 16 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Egham Town v Kings Langley - the occasion won't be quite as grand at the Runnymede Stadium on the western fringe of TLFG's catchment area but this is an important game in the race for the Southern League Division 1 Central play-offs. Egham are currently the pick of our local clubs, occupying fifth place at the time of writing but with two games in hand. One of those is this one against Kings Langley who are level with them on points. Given how tight the table is, the Sarnies are still well in with a shot at winning the title. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Tuesday 12 January, 745pm. Club info)

9. Sun Sports v Oxhey Jets - in recent seasons both sides have challenged hard for the Spartan South Midlands League title. However, this time it's gone a bit pear-shaped for both. The hosts lie pretty much bang in the middle of the table while Oxhey have a fight on their hands to stay up. So why recommend this? Quite simply it's effectively the Watford area's non-league derby. The clubs reside to the north and south of Vicarage Road about four miles apart so it deserves a bit of extra coverage in my view. (Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, Tuesday 12 January, 745pm. Club info)

10. Edgware Town v Crawley Green - last up this week is the much-awaited clash between the top two in the division below. Crawley Green, who actually come from Luton and not Sussex, have made the running thus far and are five points clear having won 16 of their 17 league games. Edgware have won 14 of theirs but have played a game less so victory is looking pretty much essential if they want to keep it a two-horse race. (Spartan South Midlands League Division 1, Saturday 16 January, 3pm. Club info)


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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 within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

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