Monday, 13 August 2018

TLFG: 13-19 August 2018

It's been a long, tiring but ultimately enjoyable day.

Regular readers might remember that I was intending to make a trip to Yorkshire on Sunday to pay a visit to the oldest football ground in the world.

Well I succeeded and had a great time.

If you don't know, the ground in question is called Sandygate. It's located in Sheffield and plays host to Hallam FC who have been at the ground since 1860.

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It's unusual as the football club share the playing area with the local cricket club so the ground only has three sides.

Despite playing way down in the tenth tier, two of the three sides are well developed with a large modern stand, a decent covered terrace and fine new clubhouse.

The match I saw was an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Cheshire club Runcorn Linnets from two levels above.

A decent crowd of well over 300 watched a competitive game but the visitors were the better side and deservedly won 2-0.

The unassuming sign which welcomes you to one of the most significant places in football history 

Given its historic status, every football fan should at least consider a visit here.

With rolling hills in the background and a considerable slope to the pitch, it's very different to the stadiums, grounds and arenas most fans are used to. It's also only £5 to get in and the food and drink are reasonable too. Give it a go!

All that travelling means I haven't been able to devote as much time to the blog this week so the daily digest below is a little less in depth than usual so apologies for that.

Finally, thanks to all those of you who have been in touch this week with info and photos of where you've been and those of you with questions about where to go. I love hearing from you all so do let me know what you've been up to and have a great week.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the Premier League and Championship dominating proceedings - there are also a number of replays in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round too.

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
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 13 August

National League South
Wealdstone v Woking @745pm - the Stones suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday at newly promoted Billericay Town. On Monday night they welcome recently relegated Woking who under new manager Alan Dowson have won all three of their opening fixtures to go top

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Worthing @745pm - the Robins won the South Division title last season to return to the seventh tier. On Saturday they won at Lewes, who they were promoted with, to get off to a great start. Next up they face Worthing who narrowly beat Wingate & Finchley in front of the biggest crowd of the day (755) in the Bostik Premier
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Tuesday 14 August

Carabao Cup First Round
Millwall v Gillingham @745pm - the early rounds of this cup often throw up some really uninspiring ties and consequently cheap tickets are usually in plentiful supply. Cheap tickets are available here (£10 adults) but this is actually a bit of a derby so it should have a bit more about it than would otherwise be the case
Queens Park Rangers v Peterborough United @745pm - this game, however, has very little going for it. QPR have lost both their opening games and have a terrible record in cup competitions. Posh, on the other hand, have won both of their games in League One and in many ways will start as favourites. To top it all, tickets are £15 - I'll be surprised if as many as 5,000 turn up

National League
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @745pm - with four points from three games, the Wood have made a solid enough start but they'll need to up their game for the visit of Gateshead who have been arguably the surprise package so far this season. Managed by former Newcastle player Steve Watson, this very young side have won their opening three games to arrive as joint leaders

National League South
Welling United v Billericay Town @745pm - the Wings have made a pretty decent start with two wins from three and now face Bostik League champions Billericay who are already up in second after an unbeaten start to their campaign

Bostik League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Folkestone Invicta @745pm - both sides began the season with defeats so will hope for improvements here. This will also be the hosts' first home game since winning promotion to the seventh tier
Enfield Town v Bishop's Stortford @745pm - the Towners picked up an impressive away win at Folkestone on Saturday and will look to build on that here. The visitors make a welcome return to the Bostik League after several years in the National League South and Southern League and come from just beyond the northern periphery of London giving this a bit of a derby feel too

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
Bedfont Sports v Little Common @745pm - having battled out a 2-2 draw on Sunday these two have another go at the Recreation Ground next to Heathrow Airport so if planes are your thing, check it out
Clapton v Woodbridge Town @745pm - the majority of fans have fallen out with those running the club so Tons games aren't the experience they were two or three years ago. Where crowds where averaging around 350, they're now way back down in double digits. However, Clapton are still a hugely historic club who play at the oldest ground in London so they're worth visiting for that reason alone
Colliers Wood United v Beckenham Town @745pm - the hosts caused a minor upset by earning a draw on Saturday against a side I thought would be too good for them
Hanworth Villa v Crowborough Athletic @730pm - it's Combined Counties League against Southern Counties East League in this replay at Rectory Meadow

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Newbury Forest v Fire United @745pm - both of these sides have moved up to the tenth tier this season and as such TLFG are now covering them. Forest play at Redbridge's ground whilst the visitors are a Christian team with a founder from Brazil

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Wednesday 15 August

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay

Leyton Athletic v Barkingside @745pm - two Essex Senior League sides meet again up at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow after initially drawing on Saturday

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Raynes Park Vale @730pm - with Balham groundsharing at Colliers Wood United this is effectively a derby. After winning the London Senior Cup last season, the hosts have made a bright start and should start as favourites

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Friday 17 August

Professional Development League
Watford v Sheffield United @3pm - the Hornets' U23 side welcome their counterparts from Bramall Lane. UPDATE (15/08/18): this match and most of Watford U23 games are set to be played at Wingate & Finchley this season

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Saturday 18 August

Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal @530pm - the match of the week takes place at Stamford Bridge where this derby between London's two biggest clubs gets underway at teatime. The Blues won comfortably at Huddersfield under their new manager on Saturday whilst the Gunners, also under new management, lost to reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday. Interestingly, Arsenal are unbeaten in six matches (in all competitions) against their cross-town rivals but will do well to extend that run here
Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham @3pm - tickets for the match above will be like gold dust so you'll be much better off concentrating your efforts on going to this. This derby is the last game Spurs will play at Wembley before moving back to their revamped ground in N17 next month. Tickets are in good supply so give it a go (UPDATE (15/08/18): Spurs' new ground has been delayed so this won't be their last game at Wembley)
West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - the last time I looked there were also tickets available for this. The bad atmosphere and discontent at the London Stadium last season created quite a few headlines. Manager David Moyes ended up doing a decent enough job and kept the Hammers up but he still parted ways with the club over the summer. Former Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini is now in charge but he presided over a 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool on Sunday to get off to the worst possible start

Championship
Millwall v Derby County @3pm - the Lions ground out another perfectly respectable point on the road at Blackburn on Saturday to remain unbeaten. Elsewhere, the honeymoon seems to be over for new Rams boss Frank Lampard who saw his side demolished 4-1 by Leeds at Pride Park. Derby are always among the contenders for promotion so we should get a decent game here

Saudi Super Cup
Al-Hilal v Al-Ittihad @630pm - with no other EFL fixtures in London on Saturday, the next best thing would appear to be this rather incongruous but incredibly intriguing fixture at QPR's Loftus Road. Rangers hosted the Saudi equivalent of the Community Shield back in 2015 and have been selected to host it again. The late kick-off time means it can be very easily combined with one of the numerous 3pm matches around the capital that day. Tickets were originally eye-wateringly expensive but prices have been revised and many are now available for £35

There are lots of non-league options too but sadly I've run out of time this week - they are all on the match maps so you can take a look and make your choice

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Sunday 19 August

Championship
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - with the Owls playing in a televised Carabao Cup game at Sunderland on Thursday, this match has been moved back to Sunday to the great benefit of neutrals and groundhoppers. The Bees, despite being one of the division's smallest clubs, have assembled a fine team who have begun the season very promisingly indeed. After thrashing Rotherham on the opening day, they earned a creditable draw at Stoke on Saturday. Wednesday are expected to struggle this year and have accrued only one point so far

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Manchester City @1pm - Sunday is also a good day to watch U23 football with some of the best young players in the land on show at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

Bostik League South East
Cray Wanderers v Whitstable Town @3pm - the hosts are the oldest team in London. If you've not seen them in action yet, get yourself along to Bromley's Hayes Lane which they share

FA Continental Tyres Cup
The women's season gets underway with a number of fixtures in this competition. The derby between Arsenal and West Ham at Boreham Wood and the match between double-winners Chelsea and Brighton, both at 2pm, are the best on offer


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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.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

TLFG: 6-12 August 2018

Well we're finally underway - or many of us are anyway.

With the FA Community Shield behind us and the opening day of the EFL and National League complete - the new season is alive and kicking.

I know quite a few of you followed the tip last week and nabbed tickets for Sunday's big game at Wembley between Chelsea and Manchester City.

But that wasn't all with people heading out to watch Millwall and even Brentford B down at the Bees' training ground.

Where did you go?

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It's been another quiet week for me on the football watching front but I'm all set to head to Sheffield next weekend for a Non-League Day planning meeting ahead of the FA Cup tie between Hallam and Runcorn Linnets at the oldest football ground in the world.

Are you planning on attempting the FA Cup 'Road to Wembley' this season? Have you completed it before?

Getting to matches in the early rounds is a great experience and shows you just how important this competition is to clubs at non-league level.

The Saudi Super Cup returns to Loftus Road on 18 August

In other news - we love an exotic match here at TLFG and I'm pleased to announce, if you didn't already know, that QPR will be hosting the Saudi Super Cup again on Saturday 18 August at 630pm.

Saudi league champions Al Hilal will play cup holders Al Ittihad for the glittering trophy at Loftus Road on what should be an entertaining evening.

When the prices were initially released, the vast majority were at the eye-watering price of £65 with many at even higher prices.

However, it appears these have been revised and now many are available at a much more reasonable £35. Book your tickets here.

A big thank you this week to TLFG reader Kevin M from Hertfordshire who made a generous donation to the TLFG coffee-drinking fund - it's much appreciated.

Right, that's it from me - I'm out of time and need to get ready for another early start at work tomorrow.

Enjoy your week!
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League finally gets underway. The other highlights include the opening fixtures in the Bostik and Evo-Stik Leagues and the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.

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
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 6 August

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - get your week underway with an east London derby. The Side are still at Cricklefields in Ilford and began their season with a 0-0 draw at Hullbridge. Sporting saw their opening game postponed so this will be their first match of the new campaign

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Glebe @745pm - the Dockers suffered a disappointing 4-2 defeat at K Sports on the opening day and will hope to put that behind them as they prepare to host their first competitive game back at the Erith Stadium. Glebe will be hoping to do well this year and began with a solid 3-1 win over Tunbridge Wells

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Tuesday 7 August

Friendly
Chelsea v Lyon @805pm - after losing to Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on Sunday, the Blues host Les Gones in their final warm-up match ahead of the new Premier League season.Tickets are available to non-members so if you haven't been to Stamford Bridge, this is a great opportunity

National League
Bromley v Dover Athletic @745pm - there's a huge night of action in the NL with five of our local sides playing at home. This match is a Kent derby between last season's FA Trophy runners-up and a side who missed out on a play-off spot on goal difference. Both started with defeats on Saturday so will want to see an improvement here
Dagenham & Redbridge v Maidstone United @745pm - the Daggers come into this season with financial worries and will be hoping for a bumper crowd as the Stones make the short trip up from Kent. With 2,599 flowing through the turnstiles for their match against Hartlepool, Maidstone recorded the biggest attendance in the division on Saturday
Leyton Orient v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - the biggest attendance of the night, however, could well come at Brisbane Road where the O's also host another well-supported team from Kent. Neither managed a win on Saturday but Orient will probably be more than happy with the point they got at Salford City

National League South
Dartford v Chelmsford City @745pm - the Darts topped the table for many weeks last season but sickeningly missed out on the one automatic promotion place on goal difference, whilst Chelmsford finished third. Both sides then failed in the play-offs with sixth placed Braintree ultimately coming out on top. Dartford won their opening game and will hope to win again to keep pace with newly promoted Billericay who are looking ominously good already
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hemel Hempstead Town @745pm - in the other game of the night, the sides who finished fourth and fifth last season also meet again. Hampton made it to the play-off final but lost on penalties. Since then they've brought in Gary McCann as manager from Hendon and they'll be looking to challenge again

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Banstead Athletic v Spelthorne Sports @745pm - based solely on the opening day's results, this is the top match of the night in the CCLPD. Both managed convincing wins and come into this in the top five

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Stansfeld v Bridon Ropes @745pm - London sides fill the top six spots in the division after one game and these are two of them

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Broadfields United v Harefield United @745pm - we've got a groundshare derby to enjoy at Preston Park between sides who both enjoyed comfortable wins on the opening day

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Hashtag United v Hackney Wick @745pm - the controversial Hashtag United prepare to host their first game against the Wickers up at Haringey Borough's ground

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Wednesday 8 August

National League South

Dulwich Hamlet v East Thurrock United @745pm - after losing to Welling in their first game at this new higher level, the Hamlet take on the Rocks at Tooting & Mitcham's ground in what should be a more winnable game

Essex Senior League
Leyton Athletic v Tower Hamlets @745pm - formerly known as Wadham Lodge, Leyton Athletic play their first home game since re-naming themselves

Friendly
Chelsea Women v Juventus Femminile @7pm - the Blues play their last friendly against top Italian opposition in readiness for their season opener against Crystal Palace next week

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Friday 10 August

Premier League 2
Fulham v Manchester United @7pm - the weekend begins with a very interesting looking U23 match at the Cottagers' Motspur Park training ground. Adult tickets are £3 on the gate

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Saturday 11 August

Premier League
Fulham v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Premier League gets underway in London with this derby at Craven Cottage. The hosts won the Championship play-offs last season to get back into the top flight after an absence of three seasons. Palace started terribly last year but finished well under Roy Hodgson and could well start this as favourites
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - given Brighton's close proximity to London, this match is effectively a derby too. Both sides did really well to avoid the drop last season and will both attempt to further consolidate their position at football's top table for another year

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield United @3pm - Steve McClaren's reign as QPR manager started with a 1-0 defeat at Preston on Saturday - not a great result but far from disastrous as the west London club look begin an important season with a squad built heavily on young talents like Eberechi Eze and Paul Smyth. United impressed many last season after promotion from League One but they too came unstuck on Saturday against Swansea

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Coventry City @3pm - the Dons had a pretty decent pre-season and began with a fine 1-0 away win at Joey Barton's Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Next up they face the newly promoted Sky Blues who are one of the biggest clubs in the division - unsurprisingly they've already sold out their allocation of tickets
Charlton Athletic v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - the Shrews defeated Charlton in last season's League One play-offs so there will be a bit of a score to settle here

National League
Leyton Orient v Barrow @3pm - at the time of writing, Barrow are the division's early pacesetters so they could provide a very stern test for the O's
Sutton United v Salford City @3pm - the U's made it to the National League play-offs last season and will want to at least repeat that again this time round. On Saturday they welcome big spending Salford who have made huge strides up the divisions in recent years following the high profile take over by Manchester United legends the Nevilles, Butt, Scholes and Giggs - a big crowd should be guaranteed

National League South
Dartford v Hemel Hempstead Town @3pm - two of the division's seemingly perennial challengers meet again as both sides begin their seasons with a very challenging set of fixtures

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - our local seventh and eighth tier teams begin their seasons on Saturday too. Up at Coles Park, Haringey get ready to play their first game at this level for a long time having enjoyed play-off success last season. They begin with a tough match against Bognor who have just come down from the National League South
Kingstonian v Brightlingsea Regent @3pm - after a year groundsharing at Leatherhead, it's great to welcome back the K's into the TLFG fold. Now sharing with Corinthian Casuals in Tolworth, they're back in the borough they come from so hopefully they'll get some bigger crowds

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Harrow Borough v Weymouth @3pm - after many decades in the Isthmian (now Bostik) League, Harrow are one of a handful of teams who have rather unwillingly been shunted over into the Southern (Evo-Stik) League as part of the FA's major overhaul of football at this level. Supposedly done to make leagues more regional and cut down travelling for cash-strapped teams, the opposite effect has been well and truly inflicted on Boro, Hendon, Met Police, Staines and Walton Casuals who will now all face trips to Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and even Wales. While these are all fantastic places, the financial burden will be significant. Harrow's first game in this league will be against one of its biggest and best sides who will no doubt bring a decent following

Bostik League South East Division
Greenwich Borough v Cray Wanderers @3pm - the hosts have spent big and fallen short in both of the last two seasons. Local rivals Cray finished as runners-up last season but also failed in the play-offs so you would expect both to challenge for honours in this newly created division

Bostik League South Central
Uxbridge v Westfield @3pm - this game, for me, is all about the visitors. The Woking-based club romped to the Combined Counties League title and it will be interesting to see how they fare at the higher level. With a decent bit of investment behind them, they could be ones to watch

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
If you're planning on undertaking a trip along the mythical 'Road to Wembley' this season then you need to get started at some point this weekend. There are over 170 ties being played all over the country between Friday and Sunday with many taking place in the London area. The FA Cup is hugely important to non-league sides with the prize money on offer being considerable for clubs at this level - the winners of each of these matches will earn £2,250 whilst the losers will get £750. It's really hard to single out which ties to watch at this stage but here are a few which catch my eye

Beckenham Town v Colliers Wood United @3pm - the Becks have enjoyed a bit of investment over the last year and had a good season last year. They began with a win on Saturday and should fancy themselves against a team from south-west London who had a very poor opening day
Croydon v Tunbridge Wells @3pm - sadly overshadowed by near neighbours Crystal Palace, the Trams will want to do well against the 2013 FA Vase finalists
London Lions v Wembley @3pm - there's a north London derby at the well appointed Rowley Lane in Borehamwood - and what better way to start your 'Road to Wembley' than by watching Wembley FC
Spelthorne Sports v Peacehaven & Telscombe @3pm - the hosts enjoyed a fantastic start to their campaign on Saturday and welcome P&T who were Isthmian League contenders not all that long ago before the money dried up and they returned to this level
Sporting Bengal United v Ilford @3pm - we've got an east London derby at the Mile End Stadium. Ilford were one of the greatest non-league sides in the country at one time, winning the FA Amateur Cup twice in the inter-war years
Walthamstow v Walsham le Willows @3pm - the home team (formerly Waltham Forest) take part in their first FA Cup tie since re-naming themselves so this is an historic occasion

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Sunday 12 August

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester City @4pm - talking of historic occasions, this match will be the first for the Gunners without manager Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman finally departed at the end of last season to be replaced by Spaniard Unai Emery. Pre-season has gone well with three wins and two draws from their five games so they should feel reasonably confident of putting up a decent fight against Pep Guardiola's reigning Premier League champions. City beat Chelsea in the FA Community Shield on Sunday so will still start as favourites

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Everton @1pm - tickets for the match at the Emirates will be very hard and/or expensive to get hold of but there's an excellent alternative for neutrals at Stamford Bridge where this U23 game should be worth a watch. Adult tickets are £5

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Cray Valley PM v Eastbourne Town @3pm - CVPM have made the last two London Senior Cup finals, winning one. However, they've struggled in the FA Cup where getting past this round is something they've only achieved on three occasions. The visitors have a growing following, swelled mainly by a couple of groups of ultras who will no doubt turn out for this big occasion
Southall v Levertock Green @3pm - the hosts won the SSML Division 1 last season despite having to groundshare out at Burnham. This season they've moved closer to their roots to share with Ashford Town near Heathrow. It will be interesting to see how they get on against a fellow ninth-tier team
Sutton Common Rovers v CB Hounslow United @3pm - if I was around I'd go to this all CCL affair at Sutton United's Gander Green Lane. My friend's son, striker Kristian Wynter, has just broken into the squad at SCR so hopefully he'll get a game

Women's Charity Trophy
FA Women's National League XI v England All-Stars XI @2pm - some of the stars of the past and present of the women's game do battle at Boreham Wood with the proceeds going to the Grenfell Foundation


A bit further afield
St Margaretsbury v Enfield 1893 @2pm - TLFG reader Kevin M got in touch earlier in the week to big up the merits of this FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie taking place just north of London in Hertfordshire. Easily reached by train from Liverpool Street, this is a fine option for groundhoppers

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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.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

TLFG: 30 July - 5 August 2018

Greetings one and all and welcome to TLFG as pre-season starts to wind down and the real stuff begins.

For the majority of our local clubs, the real competitive action gets underway this weekend with the EFL, National League and all our local ninth and tenth tier leagues starting.

The Premier League and all those in the seventh and eighth tiers stick to friendlies for another week and kick-off on the 11 August.

So what did you get up to this week?

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From what I've seen around online, quite a few of you made it down to Loftus Road to watch QPR take on German side Union Berlin.

Their supporters put on quite a display, filling out the entire upper tier behind one of the goals which would mean them bringing between 1,500-1,800 fans.

I didn't make it to the game but managed to capture the bulk of their fans' arrival in Shepherd's Bush as the police marched their large red column (ooh errr) down Uxbridge Road prior to the game - something you can see in my tweet below.


Sadly the fans' impressive performance was not mirrored by their team who seem to have been seen off with relative ease by Steve McClaren's side who ran out 3-0 winners.

The week ahead affords you plenty more opportunities to watch some decent European sides although you might have to travel outside London to see some of them. The biggest names include the likes of Marseille, Real Betis, Sampdoria and Valencia but there are others too.

The biggest game of the week takes place at Wembley where Chelsea and Manchester City contest this year's FA Community Shield.

Although seen as a glorified friendly in most people's eyes, it's a nice bit of silverware to win and both sides usually field their strongest teams.

The good news is that, at the time of writing, tickets are on sale to non-members from both clubs so choose which team you want to support (or hate least) and head to their website to buy one. Tickets in the Chelsea end are only £25 so they're pretty reasonable too.

One other match I'd like to highlight is the one taking place at Harefield United.

Most of you will probably have never heard of them but on Saturday they're celebrating their 150th anniversary which makes them one of the oldest clubs in the world.

They want as many people as possible to celebrate with them and have made it free entry to all for their game against Winslow so if you're over in the Ruislip/Northwood area then get yourself to Preston Park.

My personal football highlight of the week was seeing my five-year-old daughter take part in her first football match just yards from Loftus Road as part of a 'She Can Play' session on Wednesday.

If you've got a young daughter between the ages of 5-11, I strongly recommend one of these drop in sessions that cost only £3 a go and take place all over the country.

Have a great week and please keep me updated on what you've been up to and let me know if you have any questions.
.

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 wind down and real stuff gets going. The highlights include a few decent friendlies featuring some Premier League sides and the opening weekend of 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 30 July

Friendlies
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Barnet @730pm - both these sides ended last season on a low note - Hampton lost in the NLS play-offs and Barnet lost their place in the EFL to return to the non-league ranks from which they originated. Now only one division apart, this is set to be a full first-team game for both
Welling United v Millwall XI @730pm - after stuffing a young QPR XI 4-1 on Saturday, the Wings conclude their pre-season preparations against a squad from near neighbours Millwall

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Tuesday 31 July

Friendlies
Boreham Wood v Crystal Palace XI @730pm - the hosts bring their series of friendlies to an end with another game against a pro club. After holding AFC Wimbledon to a 0-0 draw on Saturday, they'll fancy their chances of getting a good result here
Wealdstone v Cardiff City U23 @730pm - the Stones have saved the most eye-catching of their friendlies till last as a Bluebirds development team heads to Ruislip
AFC Hornchurch v Arsenal U23 @745pm - the Urchins won promotion last season back up to the seventh tier and have done well to land a home game against the Gunners
Enfield Town v Oxford United XI @745pm - last week Spurs sent a side to Donkey Lane, this week it's the U's turn
Clapton v Upton Park @745pm - the oldest ground in London plays host to two of the most historic clubs in the city as the two look to raise funds for young cancer sufferer Isla Caton - give her your support

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Wednesday 1 August

Friendly

Grays Athletic v Ipswich Town XI @745pm - the fine facilities at Aveley's Parkside ground host Grays and a team from the Tractor Boys

A bit further afield
Fulham v Sampdoria @745pm - the best action on Wednesday is to be found outside London with the Cottagers staging this attractive friendly against 'La Samp' at Aldershot Town's ground on the south-western fringes of town - direct trains from Waterloo and Clapham Junction drop you off very close to the stadium so it's very easy to get to
Leicester City v Valencia @745pm - it might be some way north of London but Leicester is only a 71 minute train ride from St Pancras. The Foxes warm up for their Premier League campaign against the side who finished fourth in Spain last year. If going by train, you'll probably have to stay overnight or run back to the station to catch the last train just before 10pm
Southampton v Celta Vigo @745pm - a far less risky option on the train front is a trip to St Mary's. The journey time is about the same but trains run back to London far later

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Thursday 2 August

Friendly
FC Elmstead v Farnborough OBG @7pm - this is the only game in town and it's only for hardcore hoppers and addicts in desperate need of a football fix. If 10th/11th tier football on a park pitch is your thing then fill your boots! 
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Friday 3 August

Friendlies
Brentford B v Southampton U23 @1pm - the Bees' second string entertain a development side from the Saints at lunchtime. There is also a game between Watford and West Ham's U23 sides at the same time but I'm not sure if the public will be admitted, something which is never usually an issue at Brentford's training ground

Roy Vintner Charity Shield
Cray Valley PM v Phoenix Sports Reserves @745pm - I was under the impression that this annual curtain raiser ahead of the SCEFL season was supposed to feature the league champions and league cup winners. Last season they were Sevenoaks and Whitstable respectively so how Cray Valley and PSR are in the final I've no idea. If someone could enlighten me I'd be very grateful

A bit further afield
AFC Bournemouth v Real Betis @7pm - once again the day's best action is to be found outside the capital. If you've got the time, I'd really recommend a trip down to the Dorset seaside resort town of Bournemouth to catch this match and their friendly against Marseille the day after - tickets for both are still available. If you have only got time for this one then the early kick-off time means there are trains back to London after if that's you preferred mode of transport
Brighton & Hove Albion v FC Nantes @745pm - if you don't want to go that far, then there's some more seaside fun to be had less than an hour from London. The Seagulls' Amex Stadium is well worth a visit and adult tickets, if bought in advance, are £15
Reading v Derby County @8pm - ALERT ALERT the first competitive match of the season in the EFL takes place at the Madejski Stadium on Friday night as the Championship kicks off with this televised game. Frank Lampard will make his management debut in charge of the Rams

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Saturday 4 August

Friendlies
Crystal Palace v Toulouse @4pm - unbeaten in four and scoring 15 times in the process, the Eagles have had a pretty decent pre-season thus far. They conclude their preparations against a side who just about clung on to their French top-flight status after winning a play-off so you'd like to think they'd see them off too
Fulham v Celta Vigo @3pm - unlike Palace, Fulham's pre-season results have been disappointing with only one win over League Two Crawley, they've failed to win their other three and haven't scored in any of them. Celta managed a midtable finish in Spain last year so aren't a huge draw, I therefore find it quite surprising that adult tickets on the day will be £25 (£21 in advance)
Watford v Sampdoria @3pm - in terms of overseas opposition I would say this famous club from Genoa are the best on offer in the capital on Saturday - it's definitely the game out of the three I would go to. It's also 'The Graham Taylor Matchday' where the Hornets will pay tribute to their 'greatest ever manager' who sadly died last year - a statue of the great man is set to be unveiled. Adult tickets are a far more reasonable £12

A bit further afield
AFC Bournemouth v Marseille @3pm - as mentioned above, the Cherries will be hosting French giants Marseille less than 18 hours after playing Real Betis. If the weather's good, get yourself down to the south coast for this one
Southampton v Borussia Monchengladbach @3pm - a little closer to home, and on the same train line, you could get to see the Saints take on one of the longest and hence most recognisable names in European football. The Foals finished a creditable ninth in the Bundesliga last year so should provide a stern test

Championship
Brentford v Rotherham United @3pm - if none of the fluff above floats your boat and you want some meaningful action then look no further as the EFL season gets underway in London at Griffin Park. The Bees are one of the smallest clubs in the division but have more than held their own since coming up from League One in 2014. They made the play-offs in their first season and came close last time too. On paper you'd expect them to beat The Millers but they arrive in London having just been promoted and should be full of optimism. As a side note, this is set to be Brentford's last full season at Griffin Park so don't delay if you've never been - I don't know a football fan who doesn't love it
Millwall v Middlesbrough @3pm - the only other game in the EFL in London this weekend takes place at The Den where the Lions will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their move to the ground after many years at Cold Blow Lane. This is definitely a bigger match than the one above as it features two sides who chased a play-off spot last season and at least one of them should do so again

National League
Boreham Wood v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - the National League season also begins on Saturday and we've got a London derby to enjoy at Meadow Park. The Wood were the smallest club in the division last season in terms of attendance and yet still made it to the play-off final at Wembley. Despite playing 89 minutes against a Tranmere side with 10 men, they still contrived to lose 2-1 and blow perhaps the best chance they will ever have of getting into the EFL. The Daggers have spent many seasons in the third and fourth tiers and at first glance you would favour them to win but financial problems have rocked them over the last few months and this could be close

National League South
Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - one of the best atmospheres of the day, particularly at non-league level, should be found at Park View Road where Welling host Dulwich in this derby. After years of choking in the play-offs, the Hamlet finally made up after a dramatic final win against Hendon in front of around 3,500 fans at Imperial Fields. Still without a ground of their own, supporters of Gavin Rose's side will no doubt turn out in their hundreds for this highly significant game. By recent standards, the Wings had a decent season last time out and weren't far off the play-offs. Pre-season has gone pretty well and they'll fancy themselves to give the upstarts from SE22 a baptism of fire at the higher level 

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Hoddesdon Town @3pm - with all the seventh and eighth tier clubs engaged in friendlies until next weekend when their seasons begin, the focus now falls on the ninth tier where one of the most notable games is the newly renamed Walthamstow FC (formerly Waltham Forest) playing their first ever competitive game. They're up against Hoddesdon who now find themselves in the ESL having been moved over from the Spartan South Midlands League as part of the FA's major summer restructuring of non-league football

Eastern Senior League Division 1 South
Frenford v Newbury Forest @3pm - one product of the restructure is the creation of this entirely new division at 10th tier level. There's only one game in it in London this weekend and it's between these two local rivals over in Ilford

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Winslow United @3pm - it's a huge day at Preston Park where the hosts celebrate their 150th anniversary which makes them one of the oldest clubs in the world. They want you to join them in marking the day and have made it free entry to all

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Sunday 5 August

FA Community Shield
Chelsea v Manchester City @3pm - the FA Cup winners take on the Premier League champions in the annual curtain raiser to the new season. Wembley plays host as always and the good news is, that at the time of writing, tickets are still available to non-members from both participating clubs and at very decent prices so get on to their websites as soon as possible if you want to go

Friendly
Arsenal Women v Juventus Women @2pm - if women's football is more your thing then this friendly at Boreham Wood looks like a great alternative

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, 22 July 2018

TLFG: 23-29 July 2018

We're into the final full week of July already which means there's now less than two weeks until the season gets underway for all our local EFL and National League clubs.

Consequently things are getting really busy in and around the capital with clubs at these levels hosting their biggest showpiece friendlies to try and get their fans re-engaged after the summer break - not that there's really been one.

Aside from Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham who are all overseas, most of our local pro clubs are all in action in and around the capital this week.

Where have your football travels taken you over the last few days?

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QPR welcome cult German club Union Berlin to Loftus Road on Saturday
After the thrills of Kingsmeadow last Saturday, I haven't been able to get to a game since but hope to head somewhere on Tuesday.

Apart from the emergence of some Premier League sides this week, there will also be several visitors from Europe and the number will increase even more the week after as some pretty big names arrive on these shores.

For me this week has been all about getting this blog together, going through the Southern League fixtures to see who Harrow Borough will be playing and when (Weymouth at home on the opening day - tough one) and loading all the Steps 1-3 fixtures onto the Non-League Day match map ahead of this year's event on 13 October.

Aside from that, I don't have a huge amount to add at this stage so will leave it at that as work beckons once again.

Have a great week and please keep me updated on what you've been up to and let me know if you have any questions
.

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 some 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 23 July

Friendly
Enfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur U23 @730pm - after successfully hosting a number of games during the CONIFA World Football Cup in late May and early June, live match action returns to the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium with this attractive friendly against the Towners' Premier League neighbours. Although only an U23 side, this should still be well worth a watch - tickets are £10 adults and £1 U16s

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Tuesday 24 July

Friendly
Charlton Athletic v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - unbeaten in five pre-season away games, the Addicks play their first match back at The Valley and have landed a plum fixture against Premier League opposition. The Seagulls lost 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday and will hope for a better outcome against another side from League One
Corinthian Casuals v Bristol Rovers @745pm - for the second season running Casuals welcome a squad from Rovers. Listed on the League One's side as a first-team game, they should bring a pretty strong side

A bit further afield
Oxford United v Leeds United @745pm - about an hour's journey north-west of the capital you'll come to the historic university town of Oxford. On Tuesday, the U's welcome Leeds for another eye-catching pre-season game
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Wednesday 25 July

Friendly

Dagenham & Redbridge v Cambridge United @730pm - the Daggers have enjoyed a decent pre-season so far with a win over a West Ham XI and a draw against Colchester being the highlights. They have a chance to impress against another League Two opponent here

A bit further afield
Luton Town v Norwich City @745pm - a lot of overseas readers of this blog seem to share an ambition to visit Kenilworth Road. It's old school, it's unusual and is a gritty place to watch football, nestled among terraced houses. On Wednesday you too can fulfil that ambition by going to see the Hatters entertain the Canaries in a game that wouldn't have looked out of place on 'Match of The Day' back in the '80s

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Thursday 26 July

Friendly
Wingate & Finchley v St Albans City @745pm - the hosts welcome National League South opposition from just beyond the M25 border to the north. Wingate play in the seventh tier, punching well above their weight and will hope to be competitive again this time around
Beckenham Town v Milllwall XI @7pm - the highlight of the Becks' pre-season is this friendly against a development squad one of their local EFL sides
Barking v West Essex @745pm - not a huge match in the grand scheme of things but a groundshare derby nonetheless
Greenwich Borough v Cray Valley PM @745pm - ditto this game which is also between groundsharers
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Friday 27 July

Friendly
Erith Town v Greenwich Borough @745pm - the Dockers seem to be making a habit of cornering the market in Friday night friendlies and why not? It gives them a great chance to showcase the facilities at the Erith Stadium following their return to the town

A bit further afield
MK Dons v Ipswich Town @745pm - possibly the most controversial team in English football have had a tough couple of years and now find themselves down in League Two playing at a lower level than AFC Wimbledon for the first time since their creation. They inhabit the very well appointed Stadium MK which was actually part of England's World Cup bid the last time we went for it. Most of it's 30,500 capacity will remain unused this season. On Friday they welcome the Tractor Boys who, as ever, will be pushing to get back into the Premier League
Maidenhead United v Wycombe Wanderers @745pm - York Road, located just to the west of London, is well worth a visit as it is recognised by Fifa as being the 'oldest senior football ground continuously used by the same club' - Maidenhead have been there since 1871. Apart from that, the club are friendly, well run and forward thinking and have done really well to make it into the fifth tier and hold their own. This match against League One Wycombe is pretty much a derby too so give it a go

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Saturday 28 July

Friendly
Brentford v Watford @3pm - this is marginally the game of the day as it's a derby and features a Premier League team. The Bees came close to a play-off place last season and will want to at least match that again this time. With their new stadium under construction, this is set to be the last full season Brentford will spend at Griffin Park so get your visit in soon if you haven't yet been
Queens Park Rangers v Union Berlin @230pm - over in Shepherd's Bush, QPR welcome European opposition in the form of German second tier club Union. Having played each other in Berlin last summer and traded a couple of players recently, there seems to be a growing link between these two similar sized outfits. A cult club in their homeland, they are likely to bring some lively and possibly sizeable support - tickets are £10 adults
Millwall v VFL Bochum @1pm - there's a very similar fixture taking place in Bermondsey where Championship side Millwall also welcome a side from the German second tier for Jimmy Abdou's testimonial
Charlton Athletic v Norwich City @3pm - at The Valley we've got a League One versus Championship clash - it's not likely to produce the sights or sounds of the game above but should be worth a watch if you're in the area
Boreham Wood v AFC Wimbledon @3pm - the Wood always seem to line-up an entertaining pre-season programme and their final Saturday warm-up match gives them the chance to play an opponent from League One
Leyton Orient v Southend United @3pm - it's the same at Brisbane Road for the O's where they also welcome some third-tier opposition who make the short journey from the Essex seaside

A bit further afield
Derby County v Wolverhampton Wanderers @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. With new boss Frank Lampard spending quite a bit of time in Russia as a World Cup pundit, I thought the Rams' preparations might be suffering but not a bit of it as they comfortably beat a strong Southampton side 3-0 on Saturday. Next at Pride Park are Premier League new boys Wolves in a battle for Midlands bragging rights
Ipswich Town v West Ham United @3pm - another very easy one to visit by train, Portman Road hosts what could effectively be described as a derby with the biggest side in Suffolk taking on pretty much the flagship club of Essex where legions of its fans live. The trains up from Liverpool Street will no doubt be busy so if you are planning on travelling this way, it might be worth buying in advance
Reading v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Royals also welcome Premier League visitors. Although Reading is less than 30 minutes from Paddington by train, the Madejski Stadium is way out on the outskirts of town near the M4 and is easier to drive to. Saying that, a shuttle bus usually runs from the station
Portsmouth v FC Utrecht @1pm - fancy a trip to the seaside? Then you could combine it with a trip to Fratton Park where Pompey have landed a game against top Dutch side Utrecht. Jean-Paul de Jong's side finished fifth in the Eredivisie last season and narrowly missed out on a place in the Europa League so they should prove to be a stern test for Kenny Jackett's charges
Crawley Town v KSV Roseleare @3pm - there are some more European visitors in Sussex but this time from Belgium. Playing in the country's second tier, they are managed by Jordi Condom who hails from Palamos in Catalonia. He played for and managed the local club for many years so must be a bit of a legend in those parts

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Sunday 29 July

Friendly
West Essex v Clapton CFC @1pm - there's an east London derby to be enjoyed at the London Marathon Community Stadium right next to West Ham's ground. This will be one of the first ever games featuring the new side formed by Clapton's supporters following their fallout with the people running the famous old club in Forest Gate. Entry is £5 adults and free for U16s
Football Scuola v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - this match features an academy side and the Deres. We believe this is taking place at Sporting Club Thamesmead but double check everything before you travel in case we've got it wrong or things change

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, 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


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