Sunday, 15 July 2018

TLFG: 16-22 July 2018

As I write this the World Cup final has just kicked off.

So it wasn't to be for England and despite all the positives to come out of the tournament, I'm still a bit disappointed that our brave boys seemed to well and truly let Croatia off the hook.

At half-time, Gareth Southgate's side were in control and on another night could and should have been home and dry by the interval.

What happened at half-time? The same side never reappeared and ultimately Zlatko Dalic's side were worthy winners. 

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Because we were second best overall, it made the defeat way easier to take than the semi-final losses of 1990 and 1996 and even the quarter-final of 1986 when injustices (a grave one in the latter) and thorough bad luck seemed to rob us. 

It's clear England are nowhere near the finished article but things are looking good. It's important that we don't rest on our laurels and the forthcoming Nations League matches against Spain and Croatia now look really quite meaningful again - tickets are on sale now by the way.

With the World Cup coming to an end, the focus will shift firmly to pre-season.

More Premier League teams will enter the fray this week as the quality of matches on offer gradually creeps up.

For those who went to Boreham Wood on Saturday to watch Unai Emery's debut as Arsenal boss, you wouldn't have been left disappointed with the Spaniard fielding pretty much the strongest side possible.

QPR, in pink, go close during their 1-0 win at AFC Wimbledon
Stars including Cech, Bellerin, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Mustafi, Chambers, Ramsey and Mkhitaryan were all on show as the Gunners routed their non-league hosts 8-0.

By contrast I headed down to Kingston for the London derby between AFC Wimbledon and QPR.

The two EFL clubs put on a far more low-key spectacle and although there were chances it wasn't a classic.

In fact, one of the high points was when the sprinklers accidentally came on very early in the game, forcing a brief suspension of play!

Nonetheless, as an R's fan it was worth going - boss Steve McClaren fielded a full squad over the 90 minutes and Luke Freeman scored the only goal to win it with virtually the last kick of the game, somewhat undeservedly. 

There are over 100 games this week so where will you be going? 

Sadly I move on to late shifts this week so my next opportunity isn't likely to come until the middle of next week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days as the pre-season period starts to really get going. The highlights include a few decent friendlies featuring a couple of Premier League sides and several from the EFL.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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.
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 16 July

Friendly
Aveley v Billericay Town @745pm - get your week underway with a trip to the far east (in London terms anyway) for this all-Essex fixture at the well appointed Parkside. Big spending Billericay haven't made any outrageous signings following their promotion to the National League South but have still recruited a few with some EFL experience - Simon Walton formerly of QPR stands out for me

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Tuesday 17 July

Friendly
Dartford v Gillingham @730pm - after suffering a heavy defeat to Millwall in their opening game of pre-season, the Darts have blasted 10 goals past two non-league opponents over the last few days. The Gills, from League One, should provide a much tougher test in this Kent derby
Dagenham & Redbridge v Colchester United @730pm - when the Daggers were in what is now the EFL alongside Colchester they met on three occasions and never lost. Now down in the National League, the hosts will want to continue that run against League Two opposition
Bromley v Crystal Palace XI @745pm - having enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 win over tenants Cray Wanderers on Saturday, the Ravens next welcome a development side from their local Premier League club
Fisher v Millwall XI @745pm - the showpiece of ninth tier Fisher's pre-season is this game against a young side from their Championship neighbours

A bit further afield
Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford @745pm - after narrowly losing to West Ham on Saturday, the Chairboys next face the Bees, who have recorded back-to-back wins over Boreham Wood and Karlsruher, in another challenging fixture
Aldershot Town v Oxford United @745pm - these sides used to meet regularly in the EFL but it's been over five years since they last locked horns. On that occasion Aldershot edged to a thrilling 3-2 win in League Two so hopefully we'll get some more of the same
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Wednesday 18 July

Friendly

Dulwich Hamlet v Charlton Athletic @745pm - after a special and very successful trip to Hamburg for their 125th anniversary this weekend, Dulwich return to London to play the Addicks in their first pre-season game at Imperial Fields. It's listed as a first-team game for the League One side so this should be well worth a watch

A bit further afield
Woking v Chelsea U23 @745pm - a short train ride from Waterloo or Clapham Junction will bring you to the Surrey commuter town of Woking. The Cards suffered relegation from the National League last season but will be looking to bounceback with a new management team which includes Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler who is also a very experienced coach at this level

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Thursday 19 July

Friendly
VCD Athletic v Bishop's Stortford @745pm - there are a handful of games taking place on Thursday with this one between two Bostik League sides being the best on offer
Raynes Park Vale v Worcester Park @710pm - there's also a very local derby between these two south-west London clubs
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Friday 20 July

Friendly
Erith Town v Aveley @745pm - after a year or two on the road, the hosts are playing back in Erith and next welcome some Bostik League opposition

A bit further afield
Braintree Town v Cambridge United @745pm - if the match above doesn't grab you then a train north from Liverpool Street into deepest Essex will give you the chance to enjoy this match between teams from the National League and League Two

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Saturday 21 July

Friendly
AFC Wimbledon v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - after entertaining Championship sides Reading and QPR earlier in July, the Dons conclude their pre-season home games with the visit of Premier League opposition. Games between the Seagulls and London clubs effectively rank as derbies so a decent attendance should be expected for this one
Barnet v Ipswich Town @3pm - the Bees have already faced two Championship clubs, West Brom and QPR, in pre-season and both games ended in 3-0 defeats. For good measure they also lost to Fulham's U23s so things haven't exactly got off to a flyer. A trip to non-league Maldon & Tiptree precedes this game so hopefully they'll come into it on the back of a more positive result
Dartford v Colchester United @3pm - the Darts end the week with a friendly against another EFL opponent. On paper they shouldn't be as tough as Millwall or Gillingham but you never know
Sutton United v Chelsea U23 @3pm - the U's often manage to line-up a pre-season game with a side from Chelsea and this season is no different
Welling United v Watford U23 @3pm - after narrowly losing their annual game against Charlton on Saturday, the Wings will next welcome a development side from Premier League Watford
Corinthian Casuals v Crystal Palace U23 @3pm - CCs, despite suffering play-off final defeat last season, got promoted to the Bostik Premier and will look forward greatly to this visit from a young Eagles XI

A bit further afield
Derby County v Southampton @3pm - although Derby is some way north of London, it takes less than 90 minutes to get to by train from St Pancras and the stadium is close to the station. This is worth seeing as it marks the first home match for Frank Lampard as he makes his first foray into football management. Things began well for the Chelsea and England legend on Saturday as his new side won 4-1 at Notts County. This match against Premier League Southampton should see a significant step up in class
Oxford United v Crystal Palace @3pm - there should also be some Premier League talent on show at the Kassam Stadium where the Eagles head to for their first game after returning from a short tour of Scandinavia
Cambridge United v Millwall @3pm - there will also be some London interest in this fixture at the Abbey Stadium where the Championship Lions pay a visit
Woking v Salford City @3pm - head down to Kingfield if you'd like to take a look at one of the rising powers on non-league football. Backed by the a string of Manchester United legends (the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes and Butt), Salford have soared through the divisions in recent seasons and are about to begin life in the National League

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Sunday 22 July

A bit further afield
Southend United v Leeds United @2pm - if the weather holds then you might want to end your week at the seaside with this interesting looking game between two EFL sides. I couldn't find anything about it being all-ticket but you might want to buy one in advance to make sure you can get in


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, 8 July 2018

TLFG: 9-15 July 2018

Week two of pre-season proper has arrived and things have picked up considerably with a whopping 60 more games than last week.

The past seven days saw England's fantastic progress in the World Cup wreak havoc back home with all of Saturday's friendlies re-timed, rescheduled or cancelled completely.

Wednesday night's semi-final against Croatia has also put paid to a number of games but far fewer were on. Whether this Saturday's extensive range of fixtures will also have to be changed if the Three Lions find themselves in the Third Place Play-Off (the world's most unpopular game) remains to be seen but I'd like to think it's unlikely.

So did you make it to your first game of the new season? I know some of you did - thanks to Paul B for your picture from Dartford v Millwall.

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What are your plans for the week ahead?

I briefly flirted with the idea, like many others, of heading out to Russia as I just so happen to be off from Friday to Monday. However, I couldn't find anything available for Moscow and although £750 for three nights in St Petersburg isn't outrageous I don't think it's really that sensible. Are any of you going or sorely tempted?

If I do get to a game it's likely to be the London derby between AFC Wimbledon and QPR on Saturday but we'll have to wait and see.

New Arsenal boss Unai Emery will take charge of his new team for the first time on Saturday

The other big event in London that day will see Unai Emery take charge of Arsenal for the first time as he takes a development side to Meadow Park to play National League Boreham Wood.

There's probably a load more I could write at this stage but I'm back on early shifts for the first time in many weeks and need to be up at 345am so I think I'll leave at this.

Here's to a great week and who knows, by the time I publish next week's piece England could be WORLD CHAMPIONS!

Hold onto your hats and good luck everybody!!!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 90 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days as the pre-season period starts to really get going. The highlights include a few decent friendlies featuring a couple of Premier League sides and several from the EFL.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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.
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




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 9 July

Friendly
Haringey Borough v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - get your week underway with a trip down White Hart Lane to see two sides who enjoyed promotion last season. Haringey won the Bostik North play-offs while Dulwich did the same in the Bostik Premier - in other words the Hamlet play one division above their hosts
Aveley v Dartford @745pm - although two divisions separate these clubs, this is very much a local derby with the sides located either side of the QEII Bridge in Essex and Kent respectively

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Tuesday 10 July

Friendly
Bromley v Gillingham @745pm - the top game in the London area on Tuesday is this Kent derby at Hayes Lane. The Gills play in League One and usually spend most of pre-season touring their home county. The Ravens made it to the FA Trophy final last season and came close to a place in the play-offs so will no doubt want to push on

A bit further afield
Braintree Town v Colchester United @745pm - an hour's train ride from Liverpool Street will deposit you in the Essex town of Braintree. They won the National League South play-offs last season to move up to the fifth tier. On Tuesday they welcome county rivals Colchester from League Two
St Albans City v Stevenage @745pm - after getting thumped by Northampton on Saturday, St Albans welcome another side from League Two. On this occasion their opponents also hail from Hertfordshire so, like the game above, this is a county derby
Woking v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - talking of county derbies, there's an all Surrey affair at Kingfield where the Cards take on the Dons from League One
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Wednesday 11 July

Friendly

Carshalton Athletic v Charlton Athletic XI @4pm - there were several friendlies scheduled for Wednesday night but England's progress in the World Cup has seen all but one of them cancelled or moved to another date. Rather than lose the chance to host a side from the League One Addicks, Carshalton have managed to move the game to 4pm so you can watch this and then watch the big match in the Robins' clubhouse

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Thursday 12 July

Friendly
Aveley v Southend United XI @745pm - after starting the week with a cross-Thames derby, Aveley finish it with an Essex derby. The Shrimpers sent a side to Great Wakering Rovers on Saturday and could only manage a draw so the Millers should fancy their chances
Hendon v Edgware Town @730pm - there's nothing particularly glamorous about this game but the two sides groundshare so there are bragging rights to play for

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Friday 13 July

Friendly
Staines Town v Queens Park Rangers @745pm - the Swans, having been recently moved to the Southern League, entertain Championship opposition on Friday night. At the moment, this is listed as a first-team game on the QPR website but given they also have a match on Saturday there could well be some squad rotation, including the use of a few youngsters
Dagenham & Redbridge v West Ham United XI @730pm - the Daggers have found themselves struggling for cash in recent months and it was great to see the Hammers send an almost full-strength team down to Victoria Road in March for a fundraiser. The two east London clubs will do battle again on Friday although the Premier League side are likely to field a much weaker line-up

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Saturday 14 July

Friendly
AFC Wimbledon v Queens Park Rangers @3pm - the game of the week should be this London derby between the Dons of League One and QPR of the Championship. Neal Ardley's side managed a 0-0 draw against Reading on Saturday whilst Rangers could only manage a 3-3 draw against Charlton. Although it probably won't sell out, Kingsmeadow is relatively small and the club's beer festival is taking place so I suggest buying a ticket in advance to make absolutely sure you get in
Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI @3pm - although most of the Gunners' stars are still at the World Cup or recovering from it, the north London giants have confirmed that new boss Unai Emery will take charge of a game for the first time. Tickets are on sale online from the National League club so book now to be part of this historic moment
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Oxford United @4pm - the Beavers welcome League One Oxford for a late afternoon kick-off. It's starting at this time because the U's are playing local rivals Oxford City in another game at 1230pm (the details are also on the map) so I hope there's no traffic on the motorway on the way down!
Welling United v Charlton Athletic @1230pm - having seen this match re-arranged a couple of times already, the Wings finally get to welcome fellow south-east Londoners Charlton for their annual pre-season game
Northwood v Chelsea XI @3pm - eighth tier Bostik League club Northwood have landed a big game against a development side from the Blues. The match is being held in memory of club stalwart Pete Barry who passed away in 2016

A bit further afield
Fulham v Reading @130pm - now back in the Premier League, the Cottagers began their preparations with a 4-2 win over Crawley Town in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Saturday. Next up they entertain Championship side Reading at Aldershot Town's ground. Adult tickets will be available on the gate and are £10
Wycombe Wanderers v West Ham United @3pm - you should also be able to catch a glimpse of a few Premier League faces at Adams Park where the newly promoted Chairboys play host to Manuel Pellegrini's Hammers in what is listed as a first-team game on the London club's website
Swindon Town v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - less than an hour's train ride from Paddington, a trip to Wiltshire shouldn't be ruled out. League Two Swindon have lined up an a decent looking friendly with the Baggies who dropped out of the Premier League last season
Stevenage v Portsmouth @3pm - just to the north of the capital, League Two Stevenage entertain 2008 FA Cup winners Pompey who now reside in League One
Braintree Town v Ipswich Town @3pm - the Iron continue their attractive pre-season schedule with a match against Championship opposition. Hailing from just across the county border in Suffolk, the Tractor Boys are getting ready for their first season under new manager Paul Hurst
Chelmsford City v Cambridge United @3pm - the Clarets were one of several teams to have fought hard but come up short in an incredibly tight National League South promotion race last season. On Saturday they take on Cambridge who have promoted assistant manager Joe Dunne into the hot seat for the start of the new campaign
Oxford City v Oxford United @1230pm - as mentioned above, it's the Oxford derby on Saturday. Although both hailing from the same city, there's never been much of a rivalry as the two have always been a long way apart in the pyramid. As it stands, three divisions separate the two but the match usually draws a decent crowd so should be worth a watch, especially if you're thinking about combining it with a more general visit to this place of great history and learning


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, 1 July 2018

TLFG: 2-8 July 2018

Greetings one and all and welcome back to TLFG for the 2018/19 season.

After a summer break of just three weeks, thanks in large part to a very entertaining CONIFA World Football Cup, we're back open for business.

The first week of July is often a slow one but we've still got a very good selection of games to choose from on Saturday 7 July with a number of EFL clubs in action.

So how has the recess been for you? Which of you lucky so-and-sos has been out to Russia for the World Cup? Have any of you got tickets for the final?

Do you have any other grand plans for pre-season? Will you be following one of our local Premier League sides overseas or taking the opportunity to do a bit of random groundhopping?

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Despite having always wanted to go to Russia, I didn't make it but I did get to enjoy four games at the CONIFA event I mentioned above as I know a lot of you did too.

Ahead of the final, goals were flying in at an average of over four a game so it was a massive anti-climax when the final between Northern Cyprus and Karpatalya was decided by a penalty shoot-out in the Ukrainian side's favour after a 0-0 draw.



Our friends at "TMISOTBG" made it to the CONIFA World Football Cup Final

The weather was also unpleasant with drizzle then full on rain and wind making life tough for supporters at a packed Donkey Lane.

So busy was the ground that getting a decent view of the game was actually pretty tough - you either had to turn up really early to get a decent spot (i.e. attend the third place play-off before it) or went outside the official confines of the ground up onto the grass bank along the north side of the stadium as many hundreds of spectators did.

Next up for CONIFA is the European Football Cup in 2019 and we're still waiting with baited breath to find out where it will be.

THE NEW SEASON

As usual, each season brings with it quite a bit of change and there's even more than normal as a result of the significant restructuring of the game at non-league level.

Whole new divisions have been created between the seventh and 10th tiers with some clubs, like my own Harrow Borough, moving laterally into a parallel league or lots of new teams appearing in the newly formed Eastern Senior League which will now bridge the gap between the Essex Senior League (ninth tier) and Essex Olympian League (11th tier). It's all quite confusing and that's before we even mention the incredibly convoluted play-off system that's being introduced to go with it - apparently it will be possible in some cases to win your play-off final but still not get promoted!

The good thing about new teams and new divisions is the opportunity to visit some new grounds. I imagine Hackney Wick's move to the London Marathon Community Stadium in the shadow of West Ham's London Stadium will prove a popular destination. (Update - I have received word that this move has been delayed, thanks to the various readers who updated me).

If the Premier League is your thing then this is a great time to visit London as the city now plays host to SEVEN top flight clubs with Fulham rejoining the elite this season.

In years gone by it's always been pretty easy to get a ticket to see the Cottagers so many visitors to the capital find themselves watching a game there.

Last season your best chance of watching Premier League action usually came in the form of a trip to Wembley to watch Tottenham and they will be playing their first match of the new campaign, against Fulham, at the national stadium. However, from the 15 September they're set to be back in N17 at their newly rebuilt ground on the site of their former home. I was up there a few weeks ago and it's coming along well.

Given the novelty of a new ground and with tens of thousands of season tickets already sold, I should imagine that getting tickets to visit the new stadium will be quite challenging without good connections or a sizeable budget.

The next few days will see my preparations for Non-League Day move up a level.On Wednesday the National League will publish its fixtures for the top three divisions of non-league football which it controls. I will then have an initial planning meeting with Kick It Out in the afternoon and one or two other discussions with partners later in the afternoon.

Lastly from me - on the eve of this blog being published I was humbled to receive some really nice words and a very generous donation to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund from Michael J from Surrey - many thanks sir, I really appreciate it.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 30 or so matches in the London area over the next seven days as the season gets off to a soft launch. The highlights include a few decent friendlies featuring EFL sides including a number form the Championship.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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.
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
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue 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.

Wednesday 4 July

Friendly
Hadley v Redbridge @730pm - our new season of coverage gets underway in very unassuming fashion with this friendly between two ninth-tier teams at the Barnet Lane 3G facility just down the road from the site of Barnet's old ground at Underhill. The public are welcome but spectator facilities are pretty much non-existent

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Thursday 5 July

Friendly
Aveley v FC Clacton @745pm - the pick of the two games on Thursday is to be found at the Millers' state of the art Parkside facilities where these two Essex rivals go head-to-head

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Friday 6 July

Friendly

Boreham Wood v Brentford @730pm - the first friendly of real note is scheduled for Friday night. The Wood stunned many by making it to the National League play-off final at Wembley last season but squandered a superb chance to join the EFL when they lost to a Tranmere Rovers side reduced to 10 men after just a few seconds. Whether a club of their size will ever get such a chance again remains to be seen and it will be interesting to see how they respond to that disappointment. Brentford pushed hard for a place in the Championship play-offs but fell just short and will be hoping to be competitive again

A bit further afield
Hitchin Town v Luton Town @7pm - if you keep heading north from Boreham Wood into deepest Hertfordshire, you'll end up at Top Field. Hitchin play in the Southern League (seventh tier) and welcome the Hatters from nearby Bedfordshire. This will be Luton's first game since they won promotion back up to League One

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Saturday 7 July

Friendly
AFC Wimbledon v Reading @12pm - the biggest match of the week takes place at Kingsmeadow where two EFL sides do battle. Both sides fought long, tough battles against relegation from League One and the Championship respectively last season and both just survived, beating the drop by three points. Survival will probably be enough for the Dons again this season whilst Reading, under Paul Clement, will hope for far better

Barnet v West Bromwich Albion @1230pm - the Bees, inspired by manager Martin Allen, looked like pulling off a great escape but results went against them on the final day and they returned to the ranks of non-league football. Their pre-season gets underway with this attractive fixture against the Baggies who suffered the disappointment of falling out of the Premier League back in May

Sutton United v Coventry City @1pm - older readers will know that this match represents a re-enactment of the famous FA Cup tie of 1989 when non-league Sutton beat top flight Coventry in one of the biggest shocks in the competition's history. It's a rather different story these days - until May the Sky Blues were only a division above the U's but victory in the play-offs means Mark Robins' side will start this campaign in League One so should start this as firm favourites

Dartford v Millwall @12pm - the Darts topped the National League South for large parts of last season so it must have been really tough to eventually lose out in the play-offs. They'll look to banish a few of those ghosts with a strong performance against local EFL club Millwall who were desperately unlucky not to make the Championship play-offs after a superb run of results from the turn of the year

Hayes & Yeading United v Queens Park Rangers U23 @1230pm - the hosts were another local side to suffer play-off woe last season and remain in the eighth tier as a result. It is therefore of great credit to those at the club that they have managed to land this game against an XI from a Championship club. Although not a full first team game, former England boss Steve McClaren will no doubt put in appearance as he runs the rule over some of his new charges following his appointment as QPR boss in recent weeks

A bit further afield
St Albans City v Northampton Town @1230pm - just beyond London's northern frontier lies the pleasant market town of St Albans. Steeped in Roman history, the area is worth a visit and the local football club aren't bad either. Lead by former Arsenal player Ian Allinson, the Saints fans will want to see their side push for at least a play-off place. Northampton plummeted into League Two after a 2017/18 to forget and should want to make a strong start to their pre-season

Great Wakering Rovers v Southend United @1230pm - after gaining promotion back to the Bostik League, Great Wakering have landed a visit from near neighbours Southend who recorded a solid 10th place finish in League One last season

Other games of interest
If you fancy a feast of football head down to Chalky Lane where Chessington & Hook United have lined up a doubleheader of games against Staines Lammas and Wembley from 1pm. Southall are playing a friendly at the Middlesex FA's new HQ at Rectory Park in Northolt. Waltham Forest have now become Walthamstow and begin life with a game against Dulwich Hamlet. There are also games for new TLFG clubs British Airways, Frenford and Tooting Bec


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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.

Friday, 8 June 2018

TLFG: Saturday 9 June 2018

Ten days since getting underway, the CONIFA World Football Cup has reached its final day.

Conducted at a breathless pace, the tournament has been a joy to watch as teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' have put themselves firmly on the football map, certainly in the minds of all those watching.

With an average of over four goals per game, a number penalties, red and green cards - entertainment has been in rich supply.

There was drama too in the form of the Ellan Vannin/Barawa 'ineligible' player row which threatened to derail the tournament at the end of the group stage and the effects will still be felt on Saturday as the 15th/16th Placement Match has been turned into a dead rubber.

The form book has also gone out the window with a number of shocks and upsets along the way. Neither the current leaders in the rankings nor the reigning world champions made it to the semi-finals and a team who filled in at short notice have gone all the way to the last two and could well win the whole thing.

Northern Cyprus make it 2-2 against  Padania shortly before scoring the winner which sent them to Saturday's final
The fans of various nations have also made their mark on the tournament - be it the music and colourful clothing of Matabeleland and Tibet, the pyro of Szekely Land or simply the large numbers of vocal fans from Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia.

If you haven't been to a game yet, Saturday is your last chance and Enfield is the place to be. If you want, you can get tickets to watch the Third Place Play-Off (3pm) and Grand Final (6pm) played back-to-back and then watch the Closing Ceremony afterwards. We should get the biggest crowd of the tournament by some distance and the atmosphere should be great.

You can buy tickets in advance here or you can take a chance and pay on the gate.

There is also a range of merchandise you can order online or buy at the stadium - CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a difference.


For a flavour of what to expect from a Northern Cyprus game at Enfield Town watch this fine piece by
 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game

My tournament so far has seen me watch Northern Cyprus draw 2-2 with Abkhazia, Matabeleland beat Tuvalu 3-1 and on Thursday I went to the thrilling semi-final between Northern Cyprus and Padania where I took the photo above.

I've got my ticket for the final and am genuinely rather excited. The buzz around the tournament has been great and I believe CONIFA are set to announce who will host next year's European Football Cup before the end of the tournament - the last I heard was that County of Nice and Nagorno-Karabakh were the two main contenders.

Don't forget that individual membership of CONIFA is available to anyone for 25 euros giving you the chance to vote on all kinds of things at the AGM - I got mine a couple of months ago.


Copies of the official programme are available at grounds and a rather good

There are eight matches in the tournament on Saturday with several grounds hosting two games so a double or triple, at a push, is possible. The only realistic possibility of this is if you shuttle between Fisher, Haringey and Enfield but a car or bike will be required to see all three games. Please note, that a significant part of the London Overground network is shut on Saturday making travel to games at Haringey and Enfield less straightforward than normal but more on that below.

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 day'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.

MATCH MAP 9 JUNE





Saturday 9 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Final Day

If you've come late to this, you might not be aware that after the group stage no-one gets entirely eliminated. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th.

With the quarter-finals completed, all the losers from those games move into the placement competition for 5th-8th, while the losers of the first round of placement games move into a new contest for 13th-16th. After the semis, we get to see who will contest the third place play-off too. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 adults, £6 U18s per game on the gate. Seeing two games at two different grounds is possible on Saturday with matches at taking place at 12pm, 3pm and 6pm. If you're prepared to shave off a few minutes at the end or start of a game, squeezing in a third could be done as well if you go to the 12pm game at Fisher, the 3pm one at Haringey and the final at Enfield at 6pm but you will need your own transport to have any chance.

Please be aware that a large chunk of London Overground is shut on Saturday so there will be no train service to White Hart Lane, Southbury or Enfield Town. Therefore if you are travelling to the games at Haringey Borough or Enfield Town by train you are advised to catch a Piccadilly Line train to Wood Green for the former or a Great Northern service from Moorgate to Enfield Chase for the latter.

Here is a rundown of what's on:

Grand Final and Closing Ceremony

Karpatalya v Northern Cyprus @6pm - after 10 days of international competition, the CONIFA World Football Cup comes to an end with this intriguing contest at Enfield Town's Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. These two started the tournament by playing each other in Group B on the opening day. Karpatalya, made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Ukraine, came in as late replacements for Felvidek so not many knew what to expect of them. When they held one of the favourites to a 1-1 draw, people started to take notice. Two games later, they had won the group after beating reigning champions Abkhazia and Tibet. They notched up further victories over Cascadia and Szekely Land to make the final, meaning the only team they failed to beat were Northern Cyprus.

Mustafa Boratas's side look the stronger on paper and are one of the big boys of CONIFA. Runners-up in last year's European Football Cup, they arrived in London at number three in the rankings. The draw against Karpatalya was followed up by a win over Tibet and another draw against Abkhazia. However, with this less than stunning group stage performance behind them they then thrashed Barawa 8-0 and came from behind to beat Padania, who looked like champions up until that point, 3-2 in the semi-finals.

This game will undoubtedly be close again but that doesn't mean there won't be goals - this tournament has produced loads with 157 from 38 games (excluding the two friendlies following the exit of Ellan Vannin) which is an average of over four per match. With a large Turkish Cypriot community based in north London and all the other squads and many of their fans present for the Closing Ceremony after the game, there should be a very decent attendance and fantastic atmosphere. Don't miss out - book your ticket online now and print it out before you set off.

Third Place Play-Off

Padania v Szekely Land @3pm - the pre-tournament rankings suggested that Panjab or Padania, the top two, would make it to the final. As it turns out neither of them did. Panjab never got going but more on them later. Padania, on the other hand, came flying out of the blocks and crushed Matabeleland 6-1 in their opening game. They then put eight past Tuvalu before beating Szekely Land 3-1 in a more challenging fixture to win the group. In the quarter-finals they put an end to Panjab's title hopes before meeting Northern Cyprus in the semis. They led twice in the match before conceding two late goals to lose 3-2. On reflection it looks as if Padania had a considerably easier group than Northern Cyprus and perhaps their huge wins distorted my and many others views of just how good they were. Szekely Land are by all accounts a very competent side and play some good stuff but, as already mentioned, they lost pretty comfortably to the Italians on Sunday so might struggle here. However, the disappointment of their semi-final defeat could weigh heavily on the Padania squad and they might struggle to motivate themselves for this one

5th-6th Placement Game

Cascadia v Panjab @3pm - Cascadia, the sole representatives from North America, had never played a game before arriving at this tournament so it was no surprise when they lost 4-1 to Ellan Vannin in their opening game. However, they bounced back superbly with back-to-back wins over hosts Barawa and Tamil Eelam. They thrashed the latter 6-0 to edge ahead of Ellan Vannin on goal difference and make the quarter-finals.Sadly, their progress ended there when they came up against eventual finalists Karpatalya but they still gave a good account of themselves in a 3-1 defeat. They returned to winning ways in their first placement match, thrashing a previously impressive Western Armenia side 4-0 so come into this game in good form. As mentioned above, Panjab arrived in London as CONIFA's top ranked team so a possible fifth-place finish must be seen as a disappointment. With only two wins from five games they certainly don't deserve any more but when they click they really click - the two wins came against Kabylia (8-0) and Barawa (5-0). This could be one of the games of the day

7th-8th Placement Game

Barawa v Western Armenia @3pm - despite being tournament hosts, Barawa weren't expected to do too much with some of their warm-up games ending in heavy defeats. However, with two wins over Tamil Eelam and Ellan Vannin they ended up topping Group A. Unfortunately, the 'ineligible' player complaint by Ellan Vannin then kicked off and although exonerated by CONIFA , the side have never been the same again and have since been heavily beaten by Northern Cyprus and Panjab. It's been a similar tale for Western Armenia who won Group D, beating Panjab in the process. The two games since the group stage have both ended in 4-0 defeats as ill discipline, among other things, has taken its toll. When you get to this part of the placement competition, it's quite hard to predict what will happen as all the teams are in bad form and losing games - hopefully this will lead to an open game

9th-10th Placement Game

Abkhazia v Kabylia @3pm - Beslan Adzhinzhal's side began the competition as reigning World Football Cup champions having won the event two years ago when they hosted it. After a solid 3-0 win over Tibet on the opening day, it looked like they could mount a challenge again. However it turned out that they'd ended up in what will probably be seen with hindsight as the group of death alongside the two eventual finalists Karpatalya and Northern Cyprus both of whom they failed to beat. Going out in the group stage was not what they'd planned and the deflation among the players was obvious at full-time after the 2-2 draw with Northern Cyprus. Thankfully they haven't let their heads drop and have comfortably won both their placement matches. Kabylia, on the other hand, had a poor group stage but have come alive in the placement competition. Accruing just one point from their first three games, they've since beaten Matabeleland (on penalties) and thrashed Tibet 8-1. For me Abkhazia's extra bit of class should win out

11th-12th Placement Game

United Koreans in Japan v Tibet @12pm - UKIJ haven't done a lot wrong in this tournament, playing some technically good football and defending well so they'll probably feel a little hard done by that 11th is the best they can hope for. Having lost only one of their five matches they have proven to be tough to beat but their weakness has been scoring goals. They drew all three group matches but only scored one - this was enough to knock them out. They thrashed Tuvalu heavily in the first placement game but then drew a blank again against Abkhazia on Thursday. They should get to end the competition on a high though as Tibet, like Tuvalu, have been pretty bad with their best result so far being a 3-1 loss to Northern Cyprus. For Tibet, though, taking part has been a huge success in itself. Pressure has been exerted by China and various sponsors to block them playing matches in recent years so to make it to London and not come last is a big achievement. They and their supporters have brought a lot of colour and pageantry to games and will no doubt put on a good show here at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe where you could begin a three-game groundhop

13th-14th Placement Game

Matabeleland v Tamil Eelam @12pm - African side Matabeleland have been one of the cult sides of the tournament thanks in part to an engaging crowdfunding campaign before and during the tournament. With some great merchandise available, many locals were turning up in their replica shirts to cheer on their adopted team. Manager Justin Walley has got his team playing with a good spirit and although a bit raw at times, the players' heads never seemed to drop. With one win from four they certainly don't deserve to be finishing last. They even managed to beat Chagos Islands in a hastily arranged friendly on Thursday so it's kind of two from five. Tamil Eelam were having a wretched campaign, losing four and scoring none, until Thursday when they came form 3-1 down to beat Tuvalu 4-3 with a performance that will ensure they avoid the ignominy of finishing last

15th/16th Placement Game

Chagos Islands v Tuvalu @12pm - if Ellan Vannin hadn't quit the tournament over the 'ineligible' player row earlier in the week then this match would have quite a bit riding on it. Sadly, though, they did and left a big gap in the fixture list for the second half of the competition - something which could see them expelled from CONIFA at the organisation's next AGM. In their place have come a Turkish All-Stars XI on Tuesday and since then the Chagos Islands have filled in. Having lost every single game, Tuvalu are good value for a last-placed finish but it's a shame they won't get to test themselves against Tibet who have also lost every game but find themselves in the 11th/12th place game because they received a bye after the Manx side failed to turn up for their match against them. Technically this game is being classed as a friendly and Tuvalu will finish in 15th whether they win or lose

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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.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

TLFG: Thursday 7 June

This week TLFG is taking a slightly different format.

That's down to the fact that London is currently hosting the CONIFA World Football Cup and we only know what's going on at short notice so I'm going to aim to produce a fresh guide every other day for the rest of this week to reflect what's going on.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet with every continent bar South America represented.

There have been one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has officiated at some of the games.

Tuvalu will be hoping to avoid the dreaded 15th/16th place play-off
Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card has been introduced and is shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

So far, I've seen Abkhazia draw 2-2 with Northern Cyprus - a result which sent the reigning champions into the placement competition and Matabeleland's 3-1 win over Tuvalu. Next up for me is one of the semis on Thursday and the final on Saturday.

'Two Men In Search Of The Beautifual Game' take in a group game at Enfield Town

The big news since I last wrote is the unholy row which blew up after Ellan Vannin got knocked out in the final group game by Barawa who they then accused of having fielded and ineligible player.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, CONIFA rejected their appeal and ultimately Ellan Vannin quit the tournament in protest. As a result, a couple of sides have been drafted in at short notice to play friendlies and fill the gaps in the fixture list.

I know many of you have made it to games too and there have been some great photos appearing on social media. We're also lucky enough to have a video piece from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' too which I've attached above.

The atmosphere at these games has been great with singing, dancing, flag waving, drum beating and even some naughty smoke bombs which we all, not so secretly, love.


Copies of the official programme can be ordered now

There are eight matches in the tournament on Thursday with several grounds hosting two games so a double, triple or even quadruple header is possible. The only realistic possibility of this is if you stay in south London and shuttle between Bromley, Sutton and Carshalton but a car or bike will probably be required to see four games.

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.

MATCH MAP 7 JUNE





Thursday 7 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Semi-Final Stage

If you've come late to this, you might not be aware that after the group stage no-one gets entirely eliminated. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th.

With the quarter-finals completed, all the losers from those games move into the placement competition for 5th-8th, while the losers of the first round of placement games move into a new contest for 13th-16th. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 adults, £6 U18s per game on the gate. Seeing three games at up to three different grounds should be possible on Thursday with matches at Bromley, Sutton and Carshalton taking place at 12pm, 3pm, 5pm and 8pm. If you're prepared to shave off a few minutes at the end or start of a game, squeezing in a fourth could be done as well if you go to the 3pm game at Sutton and the 5pm one at Carshalton. Here is a rundown of what's on:

Semi-Finals

Northern Cyprus v Padania @5pm - after a few mismatches in the earlier rounds, the semis have thrown up a couple of really heavyweight fixtures. The first sees the big two from Europe go head-to-head for what should be an intriguing game. Having already knocked out CONIFA's top ranked side Panjab, Padania would now appear to be the tournament favourites. The Italian side have scored 19 goals and conceded just two from their four games so far and are looking formidable. Northern Cyprus sit just behind Padania in the rankings and have a score to settle after losing to them in the European Football Cup Final last year on home turf. That game went to penalties and although the island side have only won two of their four games so far, it's likely to be tight again

Karpatalya v Szekely Land @8pm - the other game is a derby between ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine and Romania respectively. The former only came into the tournament as late replacements for Felvidek but have more than held their own, coming top of a group containing Northern Cyprus and reigning champions Abkhazia. On Tuesday they beat Cascadia 3-1 to make it to the last four. Szekely Land finished second to Padania in the group stage meaning they had to face a tough match against Group D winners Western Armenia. The side from the Caucasus region had a quarter-final to forget and got thrashed 4-0 setting up this mouthwatering tie where the support should be loud and colourful

Placement Semi-Finals for 5th-8th place

Barawa v Panjab @3pm - having been involved in the 'ineligible' player row with Ellan Vannin the day before, Barawa probably went into their quarter-final with Northern Cyprus in unsettled mood. The performance was way below par for the team who had won Group A and they got demolished 8-0. For the top-ranked side, Panjab have had a disappointing campaign. Stuttering through the group phase with one win, one draw and one defeat, it was no real shock when Padania knocked them out on Tuesday. They should still have too much for Barawa

Cascadia v Western Armenia @3pm - little was really expected of either of these two ahead of the tournament, certainly not by the bookmakers, so both have done really well to have got this far. Reports suggest this could produce a real clash of styles with Cascadia playing some good football at times whilst Western Armenia are, shall we say, a little more disruptive in the way they go about things

Placement Semi-Finals 9-12th place

Tibet v Kabylia @12pm - after a pretty horrific group stage, it's a credit to both teams that they've avoided the 15th/16th place play-off. In Tibet's case that's because Ellan Vannin decided to pull out over the 'ineligible' player row, giving the Asian side a bye to this stage. However, the North African side managed to squeak past Matabeleland on penalties to guarantee they won't finish last. Both sides have had strong support in previous games so there could be a reasonable attendance for this early kick-off

Abkhazia v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - these sides were somewhat unlucky not to make the quarter-finals after coming third in what turned out to be very competitive groups. Put up against two of the leakiest defences in the tournament in the opening round of the placement competition, Abkhazia and UKIJ lashed in 11 goals between them on Tuesday as they set up this match. Technically they are both decent sides and this should produce an entertaining game

Placement Semi-Finals 13th-16th place

Tamil Eelam v Tuvalu @12pm - having scored just one and conceded a whopping 38 goals between them, these two really have been the whipping boys of the tournament. However, one of them will avoid playing in the 15th/16th place play-off. I watched Tuvalu play on Sunday and they weren't that bad, taking the one goal they have scored very well. I'm backing them them to progress

Matabeleland v Chagos Islands @12pm - with Ellan Vannin having pulled out of the tournament on Tuesday, CONIFA managed to hastily arrange a Turkish All-Stars XI to play Tibet in a friendly and on Thursday they've managed to get Chagos Islands, a CONIFA member, to fill in here. This is officially being classed as a friendly and is being staged so that ticket holders have a game to watch. Presumably, win or lose, Matabeleland will progress to the 13th/14th place play-off. UPDATE (07/06/18): it was announced on Wednesday that Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar will start in goal for Matabeleland in this game

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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, 4 June 2018

TLFG: Tuesday 5 June 2018

This week TLFG is taking a slightly different format.

That's down to the fact that London is currently hosting the CONIFA World Football Cup and we only know what's going on at short notice so I'm going to aim to produce a fresh guide every other day for the rest of this week to reflect what's going on.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet with every continent bar South America represented.
The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more
There have been one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has officiated at some of the games.

Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card has been introduced and is shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Northern Cyprus frantically defend as Abkhazia push for a late winner
Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

So far, I've seen Abkhazia draw 2-2 with Northern Cyprus - a result which sent the reigning champions into the placement competition and Matabeleland's 3-1 win over Tuvalu. Next up for me is one of the semis on Thursday and the final on Saturday.

I know many of you made it to games too and there have been some great photos appearing on social media.

The atmosphere at these games has been great with singing, dancing, flag waving, drum beating and even some naughty smoke bombs which we all, not so secretly, love.


Copies of the official programme can be ordered now

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are eight matches in the tournament on Tuesday with several grounds hosting two games so a doubleheader is very possible but jumping between grounds will be tough as they're too far apart. The only realistic possibility of this will be between Bromley and Sutton but a car or bike will be required to have any chance.

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.

MATCH MAP 5 JUNE





Tuesday 5 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Quarter-Final Stage

With the group stage complete, the competition effectively splits into two parts. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 per adult per game on the gate. Seeing two games in a day is still very easy to do but you'll probably have to stay in one ground to watch them as the distances between grounds, especially if extra-time is needed, should be too far. Here is a rundown of what's on, including a brief profile of each team:

Quarter-Finals

Barawa v Northern Cyprus @3pm - as hosts and probably the best supported side respectively, for the sake of the tournament it was good to see these two make it through. Barawa caused a bit of an upset by beating Ellan Vannin on Sunday to top the group so will come into this with some confidence. Northern Cyprus were runners-up in what turned out to be a tough group and should start as favourites here

Padania v Panjab @3pm - with the only 100% record left in the competition, Italian side Padania are looking like strong favourites for the title. With 19 scored and just two conceded from their three group games, they're going to take some beating. Panjab came into the tournament at the top of CONIFA's rankings and were runners-up in the last WFC and after thrashing Kabilya 8-0 in their first game it looked like they were going to challenge again. However, they followed this up with a loss and a draw to squeak through ahead of United Koreans in Japan. They're going to have to raise their game considerably to make the semis

Cascadia v Karpatalya @6pm - representing a region in the Pacific North West of North America, Cascadia have done incredibly well to get this far. With little experience of playing together prior to the tournament, it was no surprise that they lost comfortably to Ellan Vannin in their opener. However, come the end of the weekend, they'd won back-to-back games including a 6-0 trouncing of Tamil Eelam to dramatically edge out Ellan Vannin on goal difference. As late replacements for Felvidek, no-one knew what to expect of Karpatalya. Made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Ukraine, they surprised quite a few by storming through Group B to finish above Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia dropping only two points in the process - the smart money would appear to be on them

Szekely Land v Western Armenia @6pm- I really like the look of this match partly because it features Western Armenia who I tipped last week to be dark horses for the title at 25/1. Harutyun Vardanyan's side impressed in Group D with some 'professional' performances to thwart the likes of Panjab who struggled to get to grips with them. I also noted that Szekely Lane were 'a team on the up' and they played some good stuff in their first two games before easing off and losing quite comfortably to Padania on Sunday. They also have some great ultras who were out in force on Saturday with their smoke bombs and drums - hopefully they do midweek games too

Placement Quarter-Finals for 9th-16th place

Ellan Vannin v Tibet @3pm - at the start of play on Sunday Ellan Vannin (aka Isle of Man) were one of only three teams with a 100% record so looked like certs to make the quarter-finals. However, they lost to Barawa and Cascadia thrashed Tamil Eelam 6-0 to achieve a huge swing in goal difference to edge them out by a tiny margin. The disappointment for all connected with the Manx team must have been huge as many had them as pre-tournament favourites. Finishing ninth is now the best they can hope for but they'll need to win three games to secure it. The first match is against Tibet who, despite huge support, have been one of the whipping boys of the tournament and they'll do well to avoid finishing last. UPDATE (05/06/18) - Ellan Vannin have withdrawn from the tournament because of a dispute over an 'ineligible' player fielded against them by Barawa earlier in the competition

Matabeleland v Kabylia @3pm - these two conceded goals by the bucket load in the group stage (12 each) but still managed to pick up four points between them. Matabeleland have won a lot of friends and generated a lot of media interest with their crowdfunding campaign to get them to the tournament and the joyous way they've played their games and celebrated afterwards despite some heavy defeats. They also include Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar among their squad and although he's primarily a coach, he almost made it on as a sub on Sunday. Their supporters also sing and dance their way through games adding that bit extra to the experience. Fellow African side Kabylia managed only a point from their three games but had arguably a tougher group - it will be interesting to see how this goes

Tamil Eelam v Abkhazia @6pm - like Tibet, Tamil Eelam have really struggled at this tournament. Another team to have conceded 12 goals, they are one of three teams to end the group stage with zero points. To say another defeat here looks certain is an understatement. Abkhazia are the reigning WFC champions and it's a surprise to see them having to play placement football at such an early stage. I can only see this going one way

Tuvalu v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - with the worst record in the tournament, Tuvalu are living up to their rank outsider status very well indeed. Scoring one and conceding 15, the Pacific Islanders have found life tough in London. Having watched them on Sunday against Matabeleland they didn't seem that bad although a number of their players looked far more suited to rugby which the region is far more famous for. UKIJ on the other hand were the only side in the group stage who drew every game and from what I hear were technically good and well disciplined but struggled to create chances (scoring only one) - this looks  likes being the game when they get to cut loose

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