Monday, 23 May 2016

TLFG: 23 May - 5 June 2016

And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain...

A bit of a melodramatic start I grant you but this is it for another season. 

We finish with a two week special edition to get us to that final game at Sutton United on 5 June and will then take a month or so off before coming back for pre-season friendlies at the start of July.

So how was your week?

The highlight for me, unsurprisingly, was spending Sunday at Wembley for the first ever Non-League Finals Day.

The action began at 1215pm with the FA Vase final between Hereford and Morpeth Town. The Bulls were a League Two side until fairly recently but financial disaster had seen them go bust and reform as a ninth-tier team. Consequently they brought an awesome following of 20,000 which comfortably filled their quarter of the stadium. Morpeth play in the parallel Northern League but are a much smaller club and brought a more normal 4,000 fans.

The match looked as if it would go to form when Hereford raced into an early lead but a slightly fortuitous equaliser brought the Highwaymen level at half-time. The second half saw an almost total reversal of fortunes as Morpeth scored early and then comfortably accelerated away to a comprehensive 4-1 win to totally upset the applecart. 

Tickets are now available for England's final warm-up match before Euro 2016
To be fair to Hereford and their hordes of fans, most of them took defeat very graciously and were a credit to the spirit of the day.

In match two, the FA Trophy final, another two former Football League clubs faced each other after very contrasting seasons.

Grimsby were playing their second match at Wembley in a week after winning the all-important National League play-off final against Forest Green Rovers last Sunday, while Halifax had suffered the disappointment of relegation meaning the two will be two divisions apart next season.

The first half was pretty cagey with few chances but the second became interesting pretty quickly when a fine goal by the Shaymen's left-back gave the underdogs the lead. 

The Mariners, with the prospect of a rare double slipping away, threw everything at their Yorkshire opponents but they remained resolute and repelled everything to end their otherwise disappointing season on a high.

With a crowd of over 46,000 enjoying proceedings, Non-League Finals Day actually outsold England's curiously scheduled friendly against Turkey up in Manchester which took place at the same time. A huge achievement for the non-league community who clearly saw the value of the event. There were a few minor issues that irked myself and others but they can definitely be rectified and hopefully we'll have an even better day next year.

A fine way to end the season and get ready for the Euros
Although there isn't much going on over the next two weeks, the games are pretty significant. Not least the three Football League play-off games over the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Two London clubs will be competing for promotion - Millwall in the League One final and AFC Wimbledon in the League Two one.

Some tickets may well make it to general sale, in fact they already have for Wimbledon, so check the clubs' websites for the latest information. Tickets for the Championship game between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday will probably be restricted to members only but check with them too just in case some do become available.

To finish off the season in the capital there's an England friendly against Portugal at Wembley on Thursday week and an England C (non-league players) game against Slovakia U21 at Sutton United's ground where it's free to get in.

It's been another fun season and I hope you've found this blog useful. Get in touch if there's anything else you'd like to see.

That's about it from me, thanks once again for reading. Have a great summer and enjoy the Euros.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 7 matches in the London area over the next two weeks as the season finally comes to an end.

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

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

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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



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 25 May
Chelsea Ladies v Sunderland Ladies @745pm  - the hosts, playing at Staines Town, need to win to close the gap on leaders Manchester City

Saturday 28 May
Championship play-off final @5pm - Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday do battle at Wembley for the £100m+ prize of a place in next season's Premier League

Sunday 29 May
League One play-off final @3pm - Millwall look for an instant return to the Championship but will have to get the better of former Premier League club Barnsley

Monday 30 May
League Two play-off final @3pm - there's more London interest in the final match of the Wembley play-off trilogy as AFC Wimbledon face the mighty Plymouth Argyle

Thursday 2 June
England v Portugal @745pm - the Three Lions play their final warm-up game at Wembley before heading off to France for Euro 2016

Sunday 5 June
England C v Slovakia U21 @2pm - it's free entry at Sutton United to watch the cream of England's non-league players in this final match of the season


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

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

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

Sunday, 15 May 2016

TLFG: 16-22 May 2016

For the first time in what seems like a while, we came into the final round of Premier League games with most of the big issues settled.

Leicester had won the title nearly two weeks ago while Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich had already been relegated. 

Even the Champions League places were pretty much decided with Manchester City needing a point to pip rivals United to the last spot which they duly got. The Red Devils, on the other hand, had their game against Bournemouth abandoned before kick off for security reasons so when it is eventually played it will ultimately only decide whether they finish fifth or sixth (only a win by a 19-goal margin will see them claim fourth).

The only major issue left to be decided was who would finish second. The two candidates were arch north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Tickets will be on sale from the box office at Wembley on the day
Spurs were the only team to end up challenging Leicester for the title but faltered at the end, allowing the Gunners to catch up.

Going into the final game, Tottenham simply needed to draw at relegated Newcastle to get that second spot while Arsenal needed them to lose and beat Aston Villa themselves. 

What happened at St James' Park will probably haunt Spurs fans for many years to come.

Routed 5-1 by a previously poor team who played most of the final 30 minutes with 10 men, they capitulated spectacularly while Arsenal thrashed Villa with ease to overtake them at the death.

Despite a top three finish and a place in the Champions League, a massive achievement by Tottenham's standards, most of their fans will be understandably devastated this evening.

To rub salt in the wounds, a significant section of Arsenal's fanbase will still be asking for Arsene Wenger's head as he has 'failed to deliver again' this season. 

I kind of get where they're coming from but when you step back and look at the facts, you wonder what they're moaning about. The last three seasons alone have delivered two FA Cup wins and a runners-up spot in the Premier League. They are one of the most financially stable clubs around and will be playing Champions League football for the 99th year in a row or whatever ludicrous figure it is. How many fans can boast that?

Clubs like Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd may have won more titles recently but they've grossly overspent and all three, on the basis of this year's performances, are going backwards - drastically so in Chelsea's case.

I guess the grass is always greener...

Anyway, it's now all about the FA Cup Final which takes place at Wembley on Saturday. London is represented by underdogs Crystal Palace who meet Manchester United in a repeat of the 1990 final which produced a thrilling 3-3 draw, before United won the replay 1-0. Hopefully we'll get more of the same.

The following day, it's Non-League Finals Day (NLFD) at Wembley which I've been spending the last three or four months helping the FA to promote.

For the first time ever, the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals will be played back-to-back on the same day with one ticket getting you in for both. It's £25 for adults, £10 concessions and just £1 for U16s.

Hereford play Morpeth Town in the former while FC Halifax Town take on Grimsby Town in the latter. 

One of our challenges for the day was to try and outsell England's friendly against Turkey which is going on in Manchester the same afternoon. So far over 40,000 tickets have been sold for NLFD. I don't know how many England have sold but it's in a 50,000 capacity stadium and there are still tickets available so it must be close. Keep buying people!

Aside from these two magnificent Wembley occasions, the rest of the week is all about women's football and a few eleventh tier games several of which have plenty riding on them so check 'em out.

Hope to see you at Wembley.

UPDATE (16/05/16): This morning I found out that sales for NLFD are marginally ahead of those for the England game so outselling it is a real possibility. Go on, you know you want to be part of it.

Also, I forgot to mention that our friends at 'Two Men In Search...' paid a visit to Metropolitan Police's Imber Court for the London Senior Cup Final a couple of weeks ago. Read what they got up to here.

UPDATE (22/05/16): Heading off to Wembley shortly in the knowledge that we're close to reaching 50,000 sales. If you haven't got a ticket yet, you will be able to buy one at the stadium so come along and help us make history. The matches are at 1215pm and 415pm.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 20 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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

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

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

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

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




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



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 May
Watford Ladies v London Bees @745pm - get your week under way with some Women's Super League action at Vicarage Road, tickets are only £3

Tuesday 17 May
Essex Olympian League Cup Final @730pm - eleventh tier sides Kelvedon Hatch and Manford Way battle for silverware at AFC Hornchurch's ground

Wednesday 18 May
West Essex v FC Assyria @745pm  - the hosts, playing at Barking, can still win the Middlesex County League but they have to win one of their final two games to do it

Thursday 19 May
Chelsea Ladies v Manchester City Women @730pm - the top two in the Women's Super League go head-to-head at Staines Town
Millwall Lionesses v Oxford United Women @745pm - in the WSL2, Millwall's women welcome Oxford to the New Den

Friday 20 May 
Millwall v Bradford City @745pm - the following night, the men's team grace the New Den as the Bantams visit for the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final with Millwall 3-1 up from the first leg

Saturday 21 May
FA Cup Final @530pm - Crystal Palace and Manchester United contest the annual showpiece of the English football season at Wembley
West Essex v CB Hounslow United Reserves @TBC - if they don't win it on Wednesday, the hosts can seal the Middlesex County League title with victory here

Sunday 22 May
Non-League Finals Day - Wembley provides the stage for the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals which are being played back-to-back for the first time ever. Hereford play Morpeth Town in the former at 1215pm while FC Halifax Town meet Grimsby Town in the latter at 415pm. One ticket, costing £25 adults and just £1 for U16s, will get you in for both. Bargain!


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

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

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

Monday, 9 May 2016

TLFG: 9-15 May 2016

Apologies for the later than normal publication of this week's piece. On Sunday I ran the Hackney Half Marathon in east London where temperatures reached 27C (81F) leaving me pretty shattered for the rest of the day.

With the Football League concluding over the weekend, we have less than 30 matches to look forward to this week and a large chunk of those are in the 11th tier. 

Possibly the biggest game of the week and certainly the most historic will take place on Tuesday when West Ham United finally play their last ever match at the Boleyn Ground.

Almost like a testimonial, the famous old stadium will be graced by a visit from Manchester United for a match which both sides could do with winning in their pursuit of European places. Unsurprisingly it's sold out so don't even try getting a ticket unless you're prepared to pay an absolute fortune for it.

I went to the Boleyn Ground twice to see QPR play there. The first time back in 1994/95 the match got rained off as I was going through the turnstiles so I didn't even get in let alone see a game. The second time was last season when I took part in a fans' charity walk across London and then saw our rather hopeless side lose 2-0. 

There's less than two weeks to go - join us for this historic occasion
It will be a shame to see it go and whether the Olympic Stadium proves to be a good home or not remains to be seen. Of the bidders, West Ham certainly seemed the most logical tenants and it will be great to see a Premier League club using it and bringing people to the surrounding park. The area certainly has great facilities and the transport infrastructure is way better than that which serves the Boleyn. 

Aside from that, we also see the Premier League season come to an end this week. From a London perspective, the most interesting thing will be to see whether Tottenham or Arsenal finish second.

For weeks it's been all about whether Leicester or Spurs would win the title, with little focus on the rest of the chasing pack.

With the spotlight elsewhere, Arsenal have gone on a nine game unbeaten run which means they will pip their north London rivals to the runners-up spot if they win against bottom club Aston Villa and Spurs lose at struggling (and possibly already relegated) Newcastle.

To miss out on the title was very disappointing for Tottenham fans but to get eclipsed again by their biggest rivals right at the death would be devastating.

In League Two, AFC Wimbledon are in the play-offs and host Accrington Stanley in the first leg of their semi-final on Saturday evening. Given their small capacity, tickets aren't available to non-members but there were some hospitality tickets going for £60 the last time I looked which I thought was pretty reasonable given you get a three-course meal thrown in.

Earlier in the day up at Wembley, we've got a tasty London derby to look forward to the FA Women's Cup Final where Arsenal and Chelsea go after a major piece of silverware. Tickets are really cheap so give it a go if you've never been to the national stadium before.

It's a busy weekend at Wembley so if you're not a fan of women's football you could try the National League play-off final instead. Forest Green Rovers play Grimsby Town for a place in the Football League so there's plenty at stake. Consequently tickets are up around the £40 mark.

As I mentioned earlier, there's still a lot of 11th tier football on at the moment. If you do decide to go to one of these games, please verify kick-off times and venues with the clubs involved as they do have a habit of changing at short notice.

Have a great week and make the most of it, there's only about two weeks to go before the summer break.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 30 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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

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

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

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

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




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



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 May
British Airways v New Hanford @745pm - the visitors have two games to go and must win them both to secure the Middlesex County League title (match being played at Ashford Town near Heathrow)

Tuesday 10 May
West Ham United v Manchester United @745pm - the Hammers play their last ever match at the Boleyn Ground and it's an important game that could play a large part in deciding whether or not they play in Europe next season
Arsenal v Aston Villa @7pm - the clubs' respective sides meet in the U21 Premier League Division Two play-off final at the Emirates (tickets are only £4 but must be purchased by 3pm on match day)

Wednesday 11 May
Southern Combination Cup Final @745pm  - Dorking and Molesey meet for the week's first bit of silverware at Molesey's Walton Road ground

Thursday 12 May
South Kilburn v Kilburn @TBC - the Kilburn derby takes place at Vale Farm Sports Centre in Sudbury. Neither side have any great online presence so I've struggled to get a kick-off time. Check with the clubs or league before you travel.

Saturday 14 May 
FA Women's Cup Final @2pm - Arsenal take on Chelsea at Wembley in one of the games of the week where it's free for U16s to get in
AFC Wimbledon v Accrington Stanley @730pm - two of the smaller clubs in League Two have made it to the play-offs where they meet for this semi-final first leg

Sunday 15 May
Arsenal v Aston Villa @3pm - the Gunners could finish above Spurs in second if they win here against Villa who play their last match before relegation
Chelsea v Leicester City @3pm - with the Foxes already securing the title, neither side have much to play for but that could well lead to a more open game
Watford v Sunderland @3pm - depending on midweek results, the Mackems may have to win this to retain their Premier League status
National League Play-Off Final @4pm - Forest Green Rovers and Grimsby Town go head-to-head at Wembley for a place in the Football League


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

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

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

Monday, 2 May 2016

TLFG: 3-8 May 2016

Greetings one and all, I hope you're well.

The last week has again seen a number of major issues settled as we approach the end of another season.

Leicester's fine draw at Manchester United on Sunday put them on the verge of winning the Premier League. To be stopped, Tottenham Hotspur have to win at Chelsea today (Monday) so it could all be over by the time you read this.

Arsenal edged to a 1-0 win over struggling Norwich to move up to third and can still theoretically finish above Spurs in second which would be the ultimate insult to their north London rivals given how this season has gone.

West Ham still have an outside chance of a Champions League place after winning comfortably at West Brom while at the other end, Crystal Palace still need a win to make absolutely sure of staying up.

The Championship comes to end this weekend and there's very little at stake for any of our local teams. If QPR fail to win at Burnley today (Monday) then Brentford will be crowned top London club in the division.

With Wigan and Burton claiming the two automatic promotion spots, Millwall made sure of a League One play-off place with their 3-0 win over Oldham on Saturday. In terms of this division, they play their geographically closest rivals Gillingham in their final game to decide whether they keep home advantage for those all important second legs. The Gills also need a win to make the top six themselves so it should be a cracker.

There's less than three weeks to go - have you got your tickets?
In League Two, AFC Wimbledon drew with Stevenage to earn the last play-off berth in League Two. With still one game to go their opponents in the 'post-season' are still unknown but will be one of either Accrington Stanley, Bristol Rovers or Oxford United.

Since having their relegation confirmed, Dagenham & Redbridge have gone on a winning streak with fine victories over Plymouth and Crawley which must make the fans wonder what might have been. Sadly it is too little too late and the Daggers will be in the National League next season.

Once here, they'll be able to enjoy derbies against Boreham Wood who won their crucial final game at Welling to stay up - a fine achievement by a club with the smallest crowds (avg. 544) in the division. 

The only major issue of note in the National League South for our local clubs was whether Dartford would make the play-offs. They faced a tricky trip to St Albans who were fighting hard to avoid relegation. It seems the hosts wanted it more and won 4-0 meaning the Darts missed out.

By and large, the Isthmian League play-offs proved a disappointment for TLFG clubs. With no representatives making the Division 1 South semi-finals, three of the four spots in Division 1 North were taken by our teams. However, it was Essex club Harlow Town who ultimately prevailed, beating AFC Hornchurch in the final. 

Our only hope of joy comes in the Premier Division final later today where Dulwich Hamlet travel to East Thurrock United. The Hamlet only just scraped into the play-offs because Enfield Town didn't win their final game and to me looked like underdogs against Bognor Regis in the semis. The Sussex club were on fire in the last few weeks of the season and had been scoring for fun. On Thursday, with the game goalless and well into injury time, Ashley Carew scored with a free-kick to send Gavin Rose's side through in dramatic fashion. 

East Thurrock are a tough and well organised side who should really have beaten Dulwich when they last met at Champion Hill back in February - only two injury time goals saved the hosts that day - and will be hard to beat on their own pitch. If Dulwich do win, it will be a shame to lose them from the Isthmian League but with average crowds approaching 1,400 they are arguably well ready for the next level in a way that their opponents with attendances of only 200 aren't. 

In the Southern League there was also play-off disappointment for Egham Town who did really well to finish third in the Division 1 Central before going out in the semis at home to St Ives. 

Edgware Town won the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 - a fine achievement in only their second season since re-forming. Dartford also beat Charlton to win the Kent Senior Cup and Chelsea's U18s beat Manchester City to win the FA Youth Cup.

With most non-league football now concluded, the week ahead sees a massive drop off in the amount of games that you can watch and as a result I've bulked it out with some 11th tier games from the Middlesex County, Herts Senior County, Essex Olympian, Kent County and Surrey Elite Intermediate Leagues which should give you the chance to experience some new teams and unusual venues.

The week ahead, as far as the Premier League is concerned, will really all revolve around whether Spurs can beat Chelsea today (Monday). If they do, then their game against Southampton could become huge. 

The biggest game in the Football League taking place locally is Charlton Athletic v Burnley. Although the Addicks are down, Burnley may well win the title if they come away with three points here.

The other two highlights for me are the London and Middlesex Senior Cup Finals at Metropolitan Police and Uxbridge's grounds respectively. I'm a big fan of these competitions and they often represent the best chance of silverware most non-league sides get during a season. 

There are also two big U21 games this week at Arsenal and Chelsea. Both teams will be playing at their main stadiums (i.e. the Emirates and Stamford Bridge) and tickets are on general sale which means non-members will have a rare chance to see a game there. Tickets are really cheap but you must buy them in advance - there won't be any sales on the night in either case.

Lastly, we've got another ground visit to enjoy reading from our friends at 'Two Men In Search...' who went to Rayners Lane to watch their Middlesex Charity Cup semi-final against Cockfosters. I shamefully have to admit to having grown up a few minutes drive away from the Tithe Farm, passed it many times but still have never been to a game there. With Harrow Borough and Wealdstone dominating non-league football in that part of London and for some reason playing in the Hellenic League, they are very much the forgotten club in the locale.

That's it from me. Let me know how you get on on your football travels and as always, enjoy it!


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 40 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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

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

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

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

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




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



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

Tuesday 3 May
Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - U21 Premier League Division 2 play-off semi-final at the Emirates, great chance to see a game at one of the big grounds for just £4 (must buy online by 3pm on the day)
London Senior Trophy Final @730pm - Glebe (10th tier) take on Tooting Bec (11th tier) for some silverware at Enfield Town's ground

Wednesday 4 May
Premier League International Cup Final @7pm - the U21 sides of PSV Eindhoven and Villarreal meet at Millwall where it's just £3 to get in
London Senior Cup Final @745pm - Tooting & Mitcham United play Hendon at Met Police's Imber Court in a repeat of last year's final which the Greens won 
Molesey v Camberley Town @745pm - a little further up the road, these two contest a Southern Combination Cup semi-final

Thursday 5 May
Broadfields United v Hillingdon Borough @745pm - a local derby in the Spartan South Midlands League being played at Harefield United's ground

Friday 6 May
Chelsea v Manchester United @705pm - the recently crowned U21 Premier League champions visit Stamford Bridge to play the Blues in their final game of the season (tickets must be bought by 4pm on match day)

Saturday 7 May 
Crystal Palace v Stoke City @3pm - a win for the hosts will see them avoid relegation from the Premier League
Charlton Athletic v Burnley @1230pm - the Addicks are already down but a win for the Clarets could see them finish top of the Championship
AFC Wimbledon v Newport County @3pm - the Dons go into their final game having already secured a League Two play-off place
Middlesex Senior Cup Final @3pm - Northwood start as underdogs against Enfield Town at Uxbridge's ground
Epsom Athletic v CB Hounslow United @3pm - depending on results earlier in the week, the visitors could wrap up the Combined Counties Division 1 title here

Sunday 8 May
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton @130pm - if Spurs beat Chelsea on Monday, then they'll need to win this to keep their Premier League title hopes alive
Chelsea v Liverpool @2pm - FA Women's Super League 1 action at Staines Town


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

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

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

Sunday, 24 April 2016

TLFG: 25 April - 2 May 2016

This weekend looked like being significant and it didn't disappoint.

In the Premier League, Leicester took another massive stride towards the title after thrashing Swansea 4-0 meaning Tottenham simply must beat West Brom on Monday to stay in with a chance. Defeat would leave them eight points adrift with three games to go, a deficit which a team of seasoned winners would find hard to overcome let alone one which hasn't won the title for 55 years.

A disappointing 0-0 draw at Sunderland saw Arsenal slip to fourth and with the Foxes winning, their already slim chances of finishing top are now over.

The biggest success story of the weekend for our top flight clubs was Crystal Palace winning their FA Cup semi-final against Watford. They will now face Manchester United in a repeat of the 1990 final in just under four weeks.

In the Championship, the only news of note was not positive as Charlton Athletic finally lost their long struggle against relegation as Brighton beat them 2-1 at The Valley.

At only £25 adults, £10 concessions and £1 U16s it looks like a great value day out
GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
They could well be swapping places with near neighbours Millwall who are now pretty much guaranteed a League One play-off place following their 3-1 win at Bury. That result still leaves them with a mathematical chance of an automatic promotion spot but they'll have to win their last two to even think about it.

With Dagenham & Redbridge already relegated, the main news to come out League Two was AFC Wimbledon winning the derby against Leyton Orient. The slender 1-0 win has given the Dons a very strong chance of making the play-offs while at the same time condemning the O's to finish in midtable.

In the National League, with Bromley having secured a very creditable midtable finish and Welling United sadly relegated, the focus is now very much on Boreham Wood and their fight to stay up. With two wins on the bounce, including a crucial win over fellow strugglers Guiseley on Saturday, the Wood have put their fate in their own hands. However, they are only one point clear of the bottom three and travel to Welling for a derby on the final day - it will be tense.

Congratulations are due to Sutton United who claimed the National League South crown with a 2-0 win over Chelmsford on Saturday. I'm staggered it's taken them so long given they haven't lost a league game since early November. They now return to the fifth tier for the first time since 2000.

Elsewhere in the division, Dartford can still make the play-offs if midweek results go their way and they beat St Albans City in their final game. St Albans are still fighting hard to avoid relegation and are in decent form so will be no pushovers.

Like Sutton, there was also title joy for Hampton & Richmond Borough in the Isthmian League Premier Division but they put their fans through it. They needed to draw with Enfield Town to finish top but their Middlesex rivals also needed a win to nick the final play-off berth from Dulwich Hamlet if the south Londoners slipped up at struggling Needham Market.

Elsewhere, second-placed Bognor Regis could steal top spot if they beat Hendon and achieved a four-goal swing in the process. They duly won 4-0 but an Enfield goal did not materialise and the title headed to the Beveree. Dulwich did come unstuck at Needham Market but had enough points to scrape over the line. They now face Bognor in Sussex on Thursday night in the one legged semi-final.

In the Isthmian League Division 1 North, three of the four play-off places went to local clubs with Thurrock, Cray Wanderers and AFC Hornchurch all making it. In the parallel Division 1 South, Corinthian Casuals were well on course for a play-off place until Friday when they controversially had three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player way back in January. They won their final game but so did the teams above them and they cruelly missed out.

Egham Town were one of the surprise packages of the Southern League Division 1 Central season and went into the final week as contenders for top spot. Sadly it didn't quite work out for them and they finished third - still a massive achievement for a club not long out of the Combined Counties League and averaging attendances of 102. They welcome St Ives Town on Tuesday for their one legged play-off semi-final.

In the ninth and tenth tier, there are still a few issues to be settled. A title win should be a formality for Edgware Town in the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1. Three local clubs can all win the Combined Counties League Division 1 title and should all get promoted - good luck to Abbey Rangers, Bedfont & Feltham and CB Hounslow United.

In other news I had planned to take in one of Saturday's big games but ended up babysitting. Not to be defeated I made my first trip to see my local non-league side.

The Linford Christie Stadium plays host to some Middlesex County League football
Kensington Dragons play in the Middlesex County League, part of the 11th tier of English football. The day's opponents were AFC Wembley and an even game ensued at the Linford Christie Stadium - a multisport venue (i.e. there was a running track and athletics facilities) sandwiched between Hammersmith Hospital and Wormwood Scrubs.

With my three-year-old happily playing with some of the players' kids in the long jump sand pit, I was afforded plenty of time to watch the action.

To be fair, there wasn't much but the pitch was heavy and the grass long so passing was tough. The hosts eventually won 2-1 with a late goal. Sadly I missed it as I was retrieving a ball from an earlier wayward shot, something I did four or five times.

Overall, I'm a bit of a fan of this league as long-term readers will know. Over the next month, as most leagues finish, this one will keep going a bit longer and I'll add its games to the map.

For the eagle-eyed among you, this week's piece runs through until next Monday as we have another Bank Holiday with several big games taking place.

Lastly, our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have paid a visit to Isthmian League club AFC Hornchurch - find out how they got on.

It's going to be another defining week - enjoy it! 

LATEST TICKET NEWS

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


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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

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

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

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

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




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



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 25 April
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion @8pm - Spurs' title challenge continues and they simply must win to keep in realistic contention
U21 Premier League Cup Final @7pm - West Ham's youngsters take on Hull City at one of the last ever games at the Boleyn Ground for the week's first piece of silverware
Waltham Forest v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - a win for the visitors, who made the FA Vase semi-finals, will put them top of the Essex Senior League with one game to go

Tuesday 26 April
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @745pm - a big game in League Two as both sides look to make sure of their play-off places
Kent Senior Cup Final @745pm - Dartford host Charlton Athletic in the second final of the week
Southern League Division 1 Central play-off semi-final @745pm - Egham Town host St Ives Town in this one legged winner takes all match

Wednesday 27 April
FA Youth Cup Final Second Leg @745pm - the U18 sides of Chelsea and Manchester City drew the first leg 1-1 meaning it's all to play for at Stamford Bridge 
Isthmian League Division 1 North play-off semi-final @745pm - Thurrock play host to local rivals AFC Hornchurch for a place in Sunday's final
Middlesex Premier Cup Final @745pm - Hillingdon Borough, former FA Trophy finalists, meet Woodford Town at Wealdstone

Thursday 28 April
London Tigers v London Colney @745pm - depending on results earlier in the week, London Colney might still have a very slim chance of winning the Spartan South Midlands League title 

Saturday 30 April 
Arsenal v Norwich City @530pm - an important game for clubs at opposite ends of the Premier League table
Brentford v Fulham @3pm - it's west London derby time in the Championship but apart from local bragging rights, there's little else to play for
Millwall doubleheader from 3pm - the men's side, still with an outside chance of automatic promotion from League One, entertain Oldham at a 3pm before the women's side play Yeovil at 630pm, one ticket will get you in for both
Dagenham & Redbridge v Crawley Town @3pm - with relegation confirmed, this will be the Daggers' last home game as a Football League club
Welling United v Boreham Wood @530pm - with the hosts already relegated from the National League, the Wood need to win this derby to make sure of avoiding the same fate
Abbey Rangers v Banstead Athletic @3pm - the hosts need to win to keep their chances of winning the Combined Counties League Division 1 title alive
Edgware Town v Arlesey Town Reserves @3pm - the Wares could secure the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 title on Tuesday night, if they don't then they almost certainly will here

Sunday 1 May
Isthmian League Division 1 North play-off final @3pm - finalists and venue to be decided
Arsenal v Birmingham City @2pm - FA Women's Super League 1 action at Boreham Wood

Monday 2 May
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - a huge London derby with the Blues having the chance of thwarting Spurs' Premier League title hopes
The Legends: England v Germany @4pm - special 1966 commemorative match at West Ham's Boleyn Ground, it could be your last chance to visit before it closes
Middlesex Senior Charity Cup Final @3pm - Cockfosters and Hanworth Villa contest another piece of county silverware at Northwood FC
Southern Counties East League Cup Final @3pm - after a disappointing league campaign, Erith & Belvedere will hope to end the season on a high against Hollands & Blair


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

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

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

Sunday, 17 April 2016

TLFG: 18-24 April 2016

With the season very much into its final furlong, things are really starting to get interesting.

Although there's still a few weeks to go in the Premier League and Football League, some of our local non-league competitions conclude this week.

In the seventh and eighth tiers we see the end of the Isthmian and Southern Leagues and several of our local teams could be celebrating come the final whistle on Saturday.

Hampton & Richmond Borough are all set to be crowned champions of the former and could know as early as Tuesday if Bognor Regis fail to win their midweek game in hand. If they do see off the already relegated Brentwood Town then Hampton will need to draw their final match at home to Enfield Town to make absolutely certain as the goal difference between the two is bridgeable. Enfield will be no pushovers though as they need to win to have any hope of securing a play-off spot themselves.

Ticket sales for Non-League Finals Day passed 30,000 on Friday - join us
Dulwich Hamlet and Kingstonian are also in the mix for that all-important fifth spot so at least two local clubs will miss out there.

In Isthmian Division 1 North the play-off contenders have all been decided, it's now just a battle for position to discover who plays who. Three of the four are from our area - AFC Hornchurch, Cray Wanderers and Thurrock.

All London hopes are pinned on Corinthian Casuals in the Isthmian Division 1 South who moved into the final play-off spot on Saturday afternoon and will need to win their final match at home to Three Bridges to keep hold of it.

Egham Town are our only hope of honours in the Southern League Division 1 Central. Still very much in the hunt for the title, they face a very tough final week against AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Royston Town who are immediately behind them in the top four. A play-off place is assured though.

The Southern Counties East League (ninth tier) concludes this week too but Greenwich Borough won the title last week so there is nothing of significance to be decided there.

Although there's still a couple of weeks to go, Sutton United will clinch the National League South title (sixth tier) with a win over Chelmsford on Saturday. With five wins on the trot and unbeaten in the league since 7 November they will be worthy champions. On Saturday they beat nearest rivals Ebbsfleet United 2-0 in front of 3,142 spectators to make it almost a certainty. 

On the subject of healthy non-league crowds, Dulwich also pulled in just shy of 2,500 for their match against Lewes. It should be noted that both these clubs make huge efforts to really engage with their local communities and it clearly pays off. With attendances like these they can match several League Two sides and even a few in League One.

Staying with non-league football, ticket sales for Non-League Finals Day (NLFD) at Wembley on Sunday 22 May have now passed the 30,000 mark. 

If you want to be part of the first ever NLFD where the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals will be played back-to-back, remember it's only £25 adults, £10 concessions and £1 kids. If you can get 12 or more friends together then adult tickets halve in price to just £12.50 which is damn good value for a whole day at the national stadium. You'll even be able to pass in and out of the ground during the day so you won't be restricted to stadium food and drink. Tempted? Order your tickets here.

Talking of Wembley, it's also hosting the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend. TLFG sides Crystal Palace and Watford will be playing each other in game two on Sunday - good luck to both. 

I think that's it from me. I'm off to Lyme Regis for a few days by the sea but hope to be back for a bit of football next weekend. The games at Hampton and Sutton are both looking very tempting. If you're after a bargain then it's FREE to get in at Chipstead where they take on Walton Casuals in the Isthmian League.

LATEST TICKET NEWS

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


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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

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

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

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

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




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



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

Monday 18 April
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @7pm - U21 action at Boreham Wood, a chance to check out the next generation of Gunners stars and it's free to get in
Hendon v Billericay Town @745pm - the Greens badly need a win to make sure they avoid relegation from the Isthmian Premier
Greenhouse Sports v Basildon United @745pm - the visitors are currently top of the Essex Senior League but the title race is still wide open so they need to win

Tuesday 19 April
Brentford v Cardiff City @745pm - the season is over for the Bees but Cardiff can still make the Championship play-offs 
Millwall v Fleetwood Town @745pm - a crucial game for sides at either end of League One, thankfully it's the Lions who are going for promotion
Dagenham & Redbridge v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - sadly the Daggers got relegated from the Football League on Saturday but that should make them more determined to win this derby and damage the Dons' promotion hopes
Leyton Orient v Plymouth Argyle @745pm - elsewhere in League Two, two clubs with hopes of going up go head-to-head
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United @7pm - big U21 match between two of the country's best sides at that level, consequently it is being played at White Hart Lane
Egham Town v AFC Rushden & Diamonds @745pm - big game between two clubs going for promotion in Southern League 1 Central
North Greenford United v Kings Langley @745pm - bottom versus top in the Southern League 1 Central, victory could win the title for the visitors while anything less than that will see NGU go down
Hanworth Villa v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @730pm - Middlesex Charity Cup semi-final and a local derby featuring two sides from the Combined Counties League top five

Wednesday 20 April
West Ham United v Watford @745pm - a big night at the Boleyn Ground where the Hammers need a win in this derby to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place
FC Porto v Villarreal @7pm - the youngsters from these two Iberian clubs contest a semi-final of the Premier League International Cup at Millwall
Greenhouse Sports v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - the hosts welcome another set of Essex Senior League title challengers

Thursday 21 April
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @745pm - a rare Thursday night fixture in the Premier League which could see the Gunners go level with Spurs if results go their way between now and then
Rayners Lane v Cockfosters @745pm - the second semi-final of the Middlesex Charity Cup
Arsenal v Chelsea @6pm - big derby in the FA Women's Super League at Boreham Wood

Saturday 22 April 
Everton v Manchester United @515pm - it's FA Cup semi-final weekend at Wembley with this one taking place first
Charlton Athletic v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - a game of equal importance at either end of the Championship, sadly it's the Addicks who are fighting to avoid the drop
Queens Park Rangers v Reading @3pm - a dead rubber for both but effectively a derby with the visitors located just to the west of London
AFC Wimbledon v Leyton Orient @3pm - huge game in League Two as two London clubs fight for a play-off spot
Boreham Wood v Guiseley @3pm - big relegation six-pointer in the National League
Sutton United v Chelmsford City @3pm - a draw will be enough for the U's to win the National League South title and get promoted
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Enfield Town @3pm - the hosts will almost certainly be celebrating winning the Isthmian League title at some point on Saturday while Enfield can still grab the last play-off spot if they win
Thurrock v Aveley @3pm - local derby over in Essex where a win for Thurrock could see them finish second in the Isthmian 1 North
Corinthian Casuals v Three Bridges @3pm - the hosts need a win to make sure of a play-off place in the Isthmian 1 South

Sunday 23 April
Crystal Palace v Watford @4pm - FA Cup semi-final number two and a derby to boot
London Bees v Bristol City @2pm - just up the road from Wembley, we've got some women's football at Barnet's ground

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

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

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

Monday, 11 April 2016

TLFG: 11-17 April 2016

After another action packed few days, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat and that's why it's arriving on Monday morning - apologies.

The week has again featured planning meetings ahead of Non-League Finals Day and also working with Goalshouter (GS) who have entered into a partnership with my Non-League Day organisation (different to the aforementioned event which belongs to the FA). I don't want to bore you with details of that right now but if your club could make do with a free annual subscription to Goalshouter then get in touch as soon as possible as we have a few available.

Being new to London, I took one of the GS team to the derby between QPR and Charlton on Saturday. 

Having finished work at Waterloo at 2pm, I managed to dash across to Shepherd's Bush in time to meet him, walk to the ground and buy a ticket on the gate.

It was alarming to be told there were only restricted view seats available as Loftus Road is famous for having some of the worst seats in this category anywhere in the country.

Our restricted view at Loftus Road on Saturday wasn't too bad
However, on taking up our positions in Block X of Ellerslie Road (where I once had a season ticket), I found the views were no worse than some so-called normal seats. With a fraction of the goal in front of the Loft slightly obscured by a pillar, the significantly cheaper ticket was looking well worth it and I would seriously consider buying it again. 

With QPR sitting snugly in 11th, this would be the first late-season game I'd attended in about six years where Rangers had absolutely nothing to play for. I'd become accustomed to watching tense matches which had decided title wins, play-off glory, that game which gave Manchester City the Premier League title in 2012 and kept us up and sadly some terrible performances which had led to a couple of abject relegations. It was a pleasure to just be able to sit in the stands and enjoy a game of football.

Unfortunately for the Addicks, the opposite was true. Second from bottom and well adrift of safety, a win was absolutely essential for a club which had struggled both on and off the pitch this season. With the fans desperate to get rid of their Belgian owner, who has run the club very badly in their opinion, I was interested to see how many would come.

In years gone by, the away end would have been largely full for a game between our sides but tickets were only sold in the top tier this time and there was still space available there. 

With the stage set, the game commenced and produced a reasonably entertaining spectacle. Although there were lulls in proceedings, the teams were pretty evenly matched and both created chances.

The opener fell to QPR in first half injury-time when Matt Phillips's speculative cross to the far post evaded everyone, confused goalkeeper Nick Pope (a man with time at Harrow Borough on his CV) and dropped inside the far post. There were a few furious appeals, presumably for off-side but the referee was unmoved.

On the subject of Matt Phillips - I personally really rate him but scores of QPR fans can't stand the man. Many around me were labelling him 'useless' midway through the game despite us leading through his goal. The man may not take every chance that comes his way (e.g. the sitter he missed to make it 2-0 in this one) but he is technically one of our best. He also has one of the most ferocious shots in the country which makes him a threat almost anywhere inside the opposition's half as Crystal Palace found out last year. His goals and performances this season alone, have saved us on several occasions and I think we'd be worse off without him. 

Back to Saturday and the second half was a much more open affair. With relegation looming, Charlton threw caution to the wind and attacked with more purpose. With an injury to James Perch forcing a reshuffle of QPR's back four, the left-side, now made up entirely of unproven youngsters, became vulnerable.

With a great chance coming back off the bar, it wasn't long before the visitors were level through Jordan Cousins' low effort.

The last half hour saw plenty of chances at both ends with Charlton looking the far more likely to score. With just minutes to go, Igor Vetokele found himself through on Alex Smithies but the Rangers keeper made a crucial block and it proved decisive as substitute Nasser El-Khayati bent a superb effort into the top corner with virtually the last kick of the game to win it for QPR.

The result left Charlton 10 points adrift with only five games to go. Relegation now looks certain and it's something I take no pleasure in. The Addicks were a well run local club, punching well above their weight in the Premier League for a long time but the last 10 years have been traumatic and the immediate future looks bleak. If you're a Charlton fan, good luck.

Lastly this week, we've got another piece from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who recently paid a visit to Isthmian League leaders Hampton & Richmond Borough. The Beavers could win the title this week so give it a read. 


LATEST TICKET NEWS

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


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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

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

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

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

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




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



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

Monday 11 April
Brentford v Crewe Alexandra @1pm - U21 action at Griffin Park, chance to check out one of the capital's pro-club grounds and combine with another match later in the day
Charlton Athletic v Leeds United @1pm - U21 game at The Valley, also allowing you to do a 'double'
Millwall v Barnsley @2pm - U21 fixture at The Den but a little bit later
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland @7pm - the pick of the day's U21 games takes place at White Hart Lane in the evening
Sutton United v Bishop's Stortford @745pm - a win for Sutton will put them top of the National League South
Kingstonian v Farnborough @745pm - significant game for both clubs in the Isthmian Premier as they fight for promotion and survival respectively

Tuesday 12 April
Essex Senior Cup Final @745pm - Concord Rangers look to win the cup for the third year running and will start as favourites against Heybridge Swifts in the match at Dagenham & Redbridge
Egham Town v Fleet Town @745pm - the Sarnies, currently top, continue their quest for the Southern League Division 1 Central title against a very beatable Fleet side
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Camberley Town @745pm - with the Combined Counties League title now probably beyond them, second play third in the CCL Cup semi-final
Clapton v Bowers & Pitsea @745pm - the Tons welcome FA Vase semi-finalists Bowers to the Old Spotted Dog as the visitors look to close the gap on leaders FC Romania in the Essex Senior League

Wednesday 13 April
West Ham United v Manchester United @7pm - a big night at the Boleyn Ground where the old stadium will host its last ever FA Cup tie which, for the record, is a quarter-final replay
Crystal Palace v Everton @8pm - a win for either will pretty much guarantee Premier League survival for another season

Thursday 14 April
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United @1230pm - U21 game at Selhurst Park which could be combined with one of the day's later kick-offs
Watford v Cardiff City @7pm - U21 match at Vicarage Road allowing you to visit two Premier League grounds in a day

Saturday 16 April 
Chelsea v Manchester City @530pm - two of the biggest clubs in the land meet at Stamford Bridge but with the Premier League title out of their reach, they're playing to secure a Europa League (unlikely) and Champions League spot respectively
Charlton Athletic v Derby County @3pm - a game of equal importance at either end of the Championship, sadly it's the Addicks who are fighting to avoid the drop
Leyton Orient v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - East London derby with both requiring wins at either ends of the table in the fourth tier
AFC Wimbledon v Crawley Town @3pm - the Dons continue their slightly surprising push for a play-off spot in League Two
Sutton United v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - massive game in the National League South as the top two meet at Gander Green Lane, they could come into this match with only goal difference separating them
Grays Athletic v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - depending on midweek results, Hampton could seal the Isthmian League title with a win here
Enfield Town v Needham Market @3pm - in the same division, this match sees two sides scrapping for points at either end of the division
Egham Town v AFC Rushden & Diamonds @3pm - a real David and Goliath clash in the eighth tier as Egham take on a re-born former League One side whose results have dropped off sharply in recent weeks, a win could leave the hosts on the verge of the Southern League Division 1 Central title
Abbey Rangers v Worcester Park @3pm - having only joined the Combined Counties League Division 1 this season, the hosts look set for an instant promotion

Sunday 17 April
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @4pm - a London derby at the Emirates where the Gunners will need points to make sure of their Champions League place, while Palace will hopefully have their top-flight status all but secured by this point
Kingstonian v Staines Town @3pm - there's a bonus bit of Isthmian League action at Kingsmeadow on Sunday with the K's still hopeful of nicking a play-off spot
Arsenal v Sunderland @2pm - Women's FA Cup semi-final at Boreham Wood
Chelsea v Manchester City @2pm - Women's FA Cup semi-final at Staines Town


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

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

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