Friday, 11 June 2021

TLFG: 11-27 June 2021

Greetings one and all and welcome to this rather impromptu edition of TLFG.

Having pretty much decided to write off the rest of June, I've had second thoughts and put together one match map to last you until the latter part of the month when pre-season really gets going.

Unlike TLFG's usual maps this one has all the games listed on one map in purely chronological order - there is no colour scheme, just start as the top and work your way down.

It's by no means exhaustive so more games could well get added as the days progress.

You'll also notice it's become more of a home counties guide with several games outside the M25 and to boost the amount of matches on offer, I've included a few county cup finals down to a much lower level than normal. There are also one or two other more unique fixtures like the fans game between England and Scotland on Friday ahead of the big Euro 2020 match in the evening.

Well here's the map - let me know if you become aware of any other interesting games so I can add them.


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

Monday, 31 May 2021

TLFG: 1-6 June 2021

Greetings one and all and welcome to a very minimal offering from me.

Bar a handful of friendlies, there's very little on this week.

However, if you hear of anything else interesting, get in touch.

Last week I went to my first live match for around six months when I went to Bedfont Sports to watch the Capital Women's Cup Final between Actonians and QPR.

As you may have read last week, my daughter plays for Actonians U9s but as a family we support QPR - so my loyalties were very divided.

Actonians play a level above the R's and on balance probably had the better of things. However, they found it hard to make their dominance count and twice get pegged back as the game ended 2-2.

The match then headed straight to penalties and ended up being one of the most dramatic shootouts I've ever seen.

QPR opened a two-goal lead but then blew it so when it came to the fifth penalty it was all square.

Actonians scored theirs meaning that their keeper Paige Horsnell, who sometimes coaches my daughter, just needed to save QPR's final kick to win the match.

QPR win a thrilling Capital Women's Cup Final on penalties

With the ball heading to her right, she got her hands on it and turned it on to the bar only for it to drop down, hit her and go in!

Moving to sudden death, the gutsy Horsnell then got straight up and volunteered to take the next penalty - she leathered the ball only for it to fly over the bar.

This left R's captain Vicky Grieve to calmly roll home her spot-kick to claim the cup for the W12 club.

It was quite a climax to a very entertaining game and I can't wait to see more of both sides next season.

Overall it's been a pretty good week for London football with Chelsea winning the Champions League and Brentford claiming a place in the Premier League via the play-offs (a very tough day for QPR and Fulham fans) - hats off to the latter who have really deserved their crack at the big time. 

In the National League, Bromley won their final game to edge into the play-offs at the expense of Wrexham and now travel to Hartlepool United for a one-legged match on Sunday. The winners go through to a semi-final at Stockport County on 13 June.

Congratulations also go to Tooting & Mitcham United who played three ties in less than a week to win the London Senior Cup, beating AFC Wimbledon 2-1 at Hendon in the final on Monday.

There was joy too for FC Elmstead who claimed the London Senior Trophy on Saturday beating Forest Hill Park by a similar scoreline at Barking.

Well done everyone!

With very little happening before July, other than a few sold out European Championship games at Wembley - I might well take the rest of this month off as there's not much I can really add but we'll see.

Enjoy your week ahead and keep me informed of what you get up to.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include a handful of friendlies - if you hear of anything else being played at stadiums with reasonable spectator facilities, please let me know.

As there are a very limited number of games, I've also included a few games just outside London which can be reached with relative ease on public transport. Some matches are still to be arranged so there could be one or two additions before the weekend.

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 or youth matches. 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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Tuesday fixtures - green pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin




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, 23 May 2021

TLFG: 24-31 May 2021

Welcome back to another late season TLFG.

With play-offs, the Euros and various other bits and pieces I don't think the blog will really stop now until next summer unless we have another lockdown.

This week's piece runs for an extra day, including next Monday's Bank Holiday.

There aren't a huge amount of games this week but they're all pretty big with the EFL play-off finals, the last day of the National League season and several important league and county cup matches.

I'll be off to my first post-lockdown game on Tuesday when I head to Bedfont Sports for the Capital Women's Cup Final between Actonians and QPR.

My daughter plays for Actonians U9s and was lucky enough to take part in a Women's Euro 2022 Legacy event at the Middlesex FA's Rectory Park on Wednesday, the same day all the ticketing and match info came out for next summer's tournament.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the EFL, National League and a number of cup matches in various competitions.

As there are a limited number of games, I've also included a few games just outside London which can be reached with relative ease on public transport. Some matches are still to be arranged so there could be one or two additions before the weekend.

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 or youth matches. 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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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 - blue 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 May

Premier League 2
Crystal Palace v Sunderland @7pm - this week's action begins with another U23 match at Selhurst Park. Last Monday Palace saw off Wolves to make the PL2 Division 2 play-off final against the Mackems so there's quite a bit at stake here. Adult tickets are only £5 but must be bought online by noon on Monday

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Tuesday 18 May

National League
Barnet v Maidenhead United @745pm - the Bees have had a terrible season and under normal circumstances would have been relegated by now but thanks to Covid-19 that's not happening this year. On Saturday they pulled off one of the shocks of the day by drawing at second placed Torquay, almost gifting Sutton the title in the process. With Maidenhead sitting snugly in midtable there's little to play for. Tickets are only available to those with a previous booking history

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final 
Haringey Borough v Hanwell Town @745pm - after months of Covid-enforced hibernation, Haringey return for their first competitive match of the year on Tuesday. This county cup quarter-final against Hanwell looks very decent indeed with the Geordies booking their place in the match after an entertaining 4-3 win at Fisher on Saturday. The winners will host Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday before playing AFC Wimbledon in the final on Bank Holiday Monday - quite a hectic schedule! Tickets are £10 on the door

Len Cordell Memorial Cup Semi-Final
Clapton v Redbridge @745pm - if you're on the east side of town then this cup match between a couple of fifth-tier teams could be for you. The match is being played at Barking's ground with tickets available online or on the day for £6. The final is at Redbridge's ground at the weekend against Holland or Clacton

Capital Women's Cup Final
Actonians v Queens Park Rangers @745pm - the match of the week in our house without doubt - my daughter plays for one of Actonians' youth sides and we all support QPR so we can't really lose. Acton and Shepherd's Bush are right next to each other in the geography of London so it's a very local derby too. It may come as a surprise to some readers to know that Actonians play at a higher level than QPR, Brentford and Fulham so should start as favourites on paper at least. The match is being played at Bedfont Sports and has sold out already

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Wednesday 26 May

Middlesex Premier Cup Final
Kensington & Ealing Borough v St Panteleimon @745pm - the cup final feast continues on Wednesday in Northolt where we have another derby at the Middlesex FA's Rectory Park HQ. The ground has a tiny capacity so all tickets are gone. However, it's little more than a posh five-a-side facility so if you really want to watch, you can just stand outside and look through the chainlink fence

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Thursday 27 May

Women's match
QPR v Saltdean United @745pm - details for this are rather sketchy at the moment but Saltdean have confirmed thy're playing QPR at Brunel University and fans are allowed in - check with the clubs tomorrow to get the latest info

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Friday 28 May

London Senior Cup Semi-Final
Hanwell Town v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - after beating Haringey on Tuesday, the Geordies will play the Terrors in this all-Isthmian League clash. With Hanwell's pitch unavailable, the tie has been switched to Haringey's Coles Park - adult tickets are available on the gate for £10. The winners will face AFC Wimbledon in the final on Monday

Women's friendly
QPR v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @745pm - the R's are putting a side out for the third time in four days in this end of season friendly. The match is set to be played at QPR's Harlington training ground but the details are again a bit sketchy so check all the details before you travel

A bit further afield
There are a couple of matches in Kent on Friday night with a friendly at Lordswood and the Kent Challenge Shield Final at Maidstone United's ground between Metrogas and Farnborough OBG


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Saturday 29 May

Championship play-off final
Brentford v Swansea City @3pm - one of the biggest games of any season takes place at Wembley on Saturday. There will be fans but only 10,000 of them meaning each club will only get 4,000 - in other words if you're not a Bees or Swans season-ticket holder, you've got very little chance of getting a ticket. Brentford did superbly well to recover a 2-0 aggregate deficit and beat AFC Bournemouth on Saturday. They also finished third and had the best form coming into the play-offs so, despite their terrible play-off record, they should start as favourites against their Welsh opponents

National League
Barnet v Sutton United @1230pm - just up the road from Wembley, Sutton will arrive at The Hive as champions after beating Hartlepool on Sunday. Tickets are only for home fans with a previous booking history
Boreham Wood v Maidenhead United @1230pm - one of the smallest clubs in the division, the Wood have done well to keep their place in the fifth tier again. They conclude their season against team who sit just next to them in the table so this match will decide who finishes 13th! Adult tickets are £20 and can be bought online
Bromley v Notts County @1230pm - the hosts go into the final game with just goal difference keeping them out of the play-off places. Notts County have already secured their place but still need a point to secure home advantage in the first elimination match. Adult tickets are £25 and are on general sale
Dagenham & Redbridge v Wrexham @1230pm - the Daggers have fallen short in their pursuit of a play-off spot but Hollywood superstar Ryan Reynolds' Dragons side still need points to make sure of a top-seven finish. Adult tickets are £21 and must be bought in advance

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Sunday 30 May

League One play-off final
Blackpool v Lincoln City @3pm - the Seasiders finished the regular season in third and had the best form coming into the play-offs. They saw off last season's beaten finalists Oxford 6-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals and look like favourites to beat a plucky Imps side who did superbly well to beat Sunderland in their semi-final. Tickets are again very limited so your chances of getting one are tiny

Women's friendly
Clapton CFC v London City Lionesses Development @2pm - the season comes to an end for all the Tons' teams on Sunday and there will be an awards ceremony to go with this match up in Walthamstow. Given their sizeable support you'll need to have a ticket and there are less than 200 left - it's also pay what you want 

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Monday 31 May

League Two play-off final
Morecambe v Newport County @3pm - the teams who finished fourth and fifth have made it to Wembley. Welsh club Newport should fancy their chances after doing the double over their opponents during the regular season. Once again tickets are very limited but check with clubs for the latest

London Senior Cup Final
AFC Wimbledon v Tooting & Mitcham United @1pm  - After winning a thrilling semi-final against Hanwell Town on Friday, the Terrors now travel north to play near neighbours AFC Wimbledon at Hendon's ground. Adult tickets are £10 and can be bought online


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, 16 May 2021

TLFG: 17-23 May 2021

Three, two, one... and we're back!

After another break of almost five months where football below the fifth tier was once again brought to an early end, fans are being allowed in for - well who knows how long???

With a new Covid-19 strain beginning to manifest itself in the UK, another lockdown could be on the horizon.

In other words football fans, it's time to make hay while the sun shines and get out there while you can.

The loosening of restrictions means you'll be able to start going back to games from tomorrow (Monday) and there are games every day this week although several are sold out already.

Despite this, there are a number of options still open to you so no-one need miss out.

So what have you been up to over the last 20 weeks or so?

I was honoured to pick up this award last week
    

For me, my free time has mostly been filled with running and lots of it!

Early in January I had a week off and started it with an early morning run with a friend which turned into a half marathon. 

With nothing better to do, I did another one the day after and the day after that until I ended up doing seven in seven days!

The sixth one on the Saturday saw me run the streets surrounding QPR's ground about 26 times whilst they were playing Fulham in the FA Cup. 

I did it with a couple of friends and we drew a good amount of support from the stewards and police as we toiled away - we were even brought beer and water at one stage! This feat saw me end up having a chat with Phil Parry on BBC London Sport when I finished. 

The next big challenge arrived in March when I captained a team of 23 QPR fans in a virtual race around the Euro 2021 venues against teams from all the other clubs in London.

Over the course of the month we managed to run, walk and in some cases cross country ski over 5,000 miles to end up as champions in the non-cycling event!

At lunchtime on the final day we were over 100 miles behind West Ham but somehow turned it around in the final hours to win by 27 miles - it was possibly the greatest sporting achievement of my life.

As a result of this and the earlier 7 in 7, I was nominated by my team-mates to be named 'QPR Supporter of the Year' and last Friday I received a breakfast call from the R's chief executive Lee Hoos to say I'd won alongside a young supporter who had overcome a brain tumour.

What an honour - when fans are back in, I'm invited to be Mr Hoos' guest at a future game.

The other big thing of note on the football front was, of course, the disastrous attempt to set up a European Super League a few weeks ago.

The backlash caused by this and limited capacities at the big clubs will hopefully lead to a significant increase in crowds at non-league games over the next couple of weeks and at the start of next season.

Anyway, that's it from me. Hopefully you'll find this week's guide useful - enjoy!


THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League,  EFL, National League and a number of cup matches in various competitions.

As there are a limited number of games, I've also included a few games just outside London which can be reached with relative ease on public transport. Some matches are still to be arranged so there could be one or two additions before the weekend.

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 or youth matches. 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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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 - blue 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 17 May

Premier League 2
Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - the big return to football in the capital begins with this U23 match at Selhurst Park. Fair play to Palace for opening up the ground for this one and allowing fans and neutrals alike to visit before the end of the season. Adult tickets are only £5 but must be bought online by noon on Monday - none will be on sale on the night

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Tuesday 18 May

Premier League
Chelsea v Leicester City @815pm - the biggest game of the day is this instant repeat of Saturday's FA Cup final. Although the Foxes took the silverware at Wembley, a win in this one will almost guarantee them a far more lucrative place in the Champions League. With the Blues just behind them in the table and also desperate to clinch a top-four finish the stakes are huge. Several thousand fans are being allowed in but your chances of getting a ticket are virtually zero

Len Cordell Memorial Cup Quarter-Final 
Barking v Holland @745pm - there are number of matches in some regional cup competitions on Tuesday. Barking are the highest ranked team in action and their new artificial pitch will guarantee the game gets played whatever the weather. Tickets are £5 and can be bought online in advance. I'm not sure if it's all-ticket but with only small attendance limits I would buy one before to make sure

A bit further afield

National League
Aldershot Town v Eastleigh @745pm - the Shots' hopes of promotion are now over but Eastleigh, with games in hand, can still make it into the play-offs. Aldershot can be reached in just 44 minutes by train from Waterloo (if you catch the 1825) and the ground is a short walk from the station. Tickets for this must be purchased in advance by 23.59 on Monday night - no sales on the day. Strictly speaking, no away fans are being allowed so don't wear Eastleigh colours! 

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Wednesday 19 May

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Arsenal @7pm - the Eagles' last home match of the season sees them entertain the Gunners in a London derby. The hosts' season effectively finished a while ago with relegation comfortably averted. Arsenal have had another disappointing year and although a European place is still mathematically within their grasp it looks highly unlikely. If you're not a Palace season-ticket holder, then your chances of getting in also look unlikely
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa @6pm - earlier in the evening, Spurs will need a win to keep their chances of a European place alive. With Villa still in with a good chance of a top 10 or possibly even higher finish, they can't afford to be complacent. Once again, unless you're a diehard Spurs fan, you'll struggle to get a ticket for this

Middlesex Senior Cup Final
Hanwell Town v Harefield United @745pm - if you're not a member of any of the big clubs above, then this match is the next best thing. Covid-19 has seen the entry list for this competition significantly cut back from normal years with National League South side Hampton & Richmond Borough the highest ranked team to take part. They fell at the first hurdle leaving the way open for smaller clubs to take centre stage. Eighth tier Hanwell had made a reasonable start to their campaign in the Isthmian League and were expected to do well before the season got curtailed. Harefield play a level below their opponents so will start as underdogs. This match will be all-ticket and will probably sell out. Once the clubs have taken their share, any remaining tickets will go on general sale on Monday morning. Follow the Middlesex FA on Twitter for updates. The match is being played at Bedfont Sports, a short walk from Hatton Cross Tube station near Heathrow Airport

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Thursday 20 May

Women's FA Cup Fifth Round
Chelsea v Everton @7pm - the Blues have had a season to remember. Having won the Women's Super League and League Cup, they could win the Champions League tonight (Sunday) and also go on to bag the FA Cup and a quadruple if they can get past Everton here. The following round is being delayed until next season so this will be Chelsea's final match of the current campaign. At the time of writing, I haven't been able to find any ticket details but given how well they've done, they'll probably be in very short supply. Keep checking their Twitter feed for updates
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Friday 21 May

Sellebrity Soccer @730pm
If you've never been to QPR's Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium then now's your chance as two teams of celebs, peppered with a few R's legends and Lee Trundle will be taking to the hallowed turf to raise funds for 'Just 4 Children'. More info via the organisers' Twitter feed. It could be a giggle or maybe not...

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Saturday 22 May

Championship play-off semi-final second leg
Brentford v AFC Bournemouth @1230pm - the game of the day is this hugely important match at the Bees' new ground. Although they've played there all year, most of their fans have yet to visit and sadly only a very limited number will be allowed in for this. Brentford have a terrible knack of losing in the play-offs at various levels with last year's defeat to Fulham in the final being only the latest example. Of all the teams in this year's Championship play-offs, their form is the best by some margin with Bournemouth losing their last three regular season games. The first leg is on Monday night in Dorset. Tickets will not be going on general sale to neutrals  

National League
Wealdstone v Solihull Moors @3pm - Covid-19 means there's no relegation from the National League this season, therefore the Stones are safe and can't go down. Solihull are 12th but have a couple of games in hand and could just squeak into the play-offs with a very strong following wind. At the time of writing, I've seen no ticketing details but it's likely to be all-ticket

Non-League Finals Day
Usually the non-league showpiece event of the year gets a healthy aggregate crowd of around 40,000+ travelling to Wembley. This year, capacity has been severely restricted for the FA Vase/FA Trophy doubleheader and you'll do very well to get one. TLFG club Hornchurch have defied all the odds and caused a number of upsets along the way to make the Trophy final against Hereford so the very best of luck to them. In the Vase, Binfield take on Warrington Rylands

London Senior Cup Quarter-Finals
Tooting & Mitcham United v Erith Town @3pm - one cup match you should be able to get tickets to is this county cup game at Imperial Fields which has some of the best facilities at non-league level. The Terrors play a level above their opponents so will start as favourites. Tickets are available in advance and given capacity is limited, I would buy one ASAP
Fisher v Hanwell Town @3pm - over in Rotherhithe in the other tie of the day, the Fish welcome the Geordies in the battle of the black and white stripes. This time, Hanwell play a level above so should be expected to progress. Tickets for this are £8 and appear to be available on the gate with no advance booking available

Middlesex Super 6 League
Clapton CFC v Sporting Hackney @2pm - with the MCFL curtailed, these clubs plus AEK London, Cricklewood Wanderers, NW London and Stonewall set up their own mini league to end the season. All six clubs play on the same afternoon at Wadham Lodge in three back-to-back matches. The running order has changed to the one I saw so I can't give you the full details but the biggest game of the three is this one at 2pm. Although the Tons play down in the 11th tier they are very well supported and have had to limit tickets to 500 for this. At the time of writing, about 100 remain so get in quick - it's pay what you want

Conifa International Exhibition game
Kernow v Cascadia @3pm - three years ago Conifa brought their World Football Cup to London providing the locals with a feast of action featuring sides from parts of the world that aren't officially recognised as independent countries. Ultimately it was won by a team representing a Hungarian minority based within Ukraine after they beat Northern Cyprus on penalties. Sadly the winners were thrown in jail on their return home and faced all kinds of sanctions for daring to take part. This friendly match, which is being played at Northwood, is far less controversial as Kernow (Cornwall) take on Cascadia, a side hailing from the Pacific north west area that straddles the Canada/USA border. Adult tickets are £10 and can be bought in advance

A bit further afield

National League
There are three fifth tier matches within 80 minutes train ride of London with varying degrees of significance. Aldershot Town, Eastleigh and Maidenhead United all have matches where either themselves or their opponents will be chasing a play-off spot. Tickets are available to home fans only and must be bought in advance. Only 600 are being made available at Maidenhead with general sale starting at 9am on Monday. Eastleigh are selling tickets for their match against Boreham Wood now. Tickets for Aldershot v Bromley are also currently on sale

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Sunday 23 May

Premier League
The final three Premier League matches in London this season aren't hugely significant. Arsenal might still have a slim chance of European football going into their match with Brighton who have nothing to play for. Fulham are already down and face a Newcastle side who are just enjoying themselves. The most important of the three is likely to be at the London Stadium where West Ham entertain Southampton. As it stands, the Hammers are still very much in contention for a European place so they'll need all three points to make sure. There might be a very slim chance of tickets for the match at Fulham but the others have all gone

National League
Sutton United v Hartlepool United @1245pm - if the matches above are the biggest of the day, then this isn't far behind. If Torquay and Stockport drop points on Saturday, a win here will give Sutton the title and take them into the EFL. In other words, it could be arguably the most important match in the club's history. The visitors are also well in the hunt for a top-three finish so it's absolutely massive for all concerned. Capacity is being limited to just 1,050 and general sale will commence at 9pm on Wednesday

Charity match
South Western Railway v SouthEastern Railway @2pm - your most realistic chance of seeing any action will be this big railway derby that's being played on one of the 3G pitches at Tooting & Mitcham United's ground. It's free to attend, the bar will be open and donations are being sought for the mental health charity MIND as both sides have lost a number of colleagues to suicide in recent months


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

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

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

Monday, 21 December 2020

The Coronavirus Diaries

This time last year who would've thought we'd be where we are now?

As I understand it, the first Covid-19 case to be announced by China came on 31 December 2019.

Most people, myself very much included, thought it would be another one of those nasty viruses that flares up in East Asia, gets dealt with locally and never really affects countries like mine at all.

Even when it did start to spread, the mood was still very much a dismissive one - the death rate is tiny and it only kills the old and vulnerable.

How things changed.

I first remember getting a bit spooked when I travelled to Paris on Eurostar at the end of January and being surrounded by Chinese tourists, some of whom had terrible coughs.

France declared its first case that weekend while I was there but I didn't think too much of it.

Life went on as normal in the UK for another six weeks and then things started to gradually change.

There was a Sunday in early March when panic buying had become a thing and we thought we'd better head to the local Sainsbury's to see what we could salvage.

It was horrible day, with grey clouds and a fierce wind whipping along Goldhawk Road. As we waited outside the shop, two homeless people began fighting with each other outside the Tube station in a shocking display which combined with everything else really made us feel like the end of the world was coming.

Once inside the shop, all the basics like pasta, flour, eggs, tinned food and toilet roll had pretty much gone but we got what we could.

As we queued to pay, I suddenly and pretty much out of nowhere went into an uncontrollable coughing fit - with stares aplenty I had no option but to run out and leave my wife to pack and pay.

Whether it was the cough or a cough I don't know - it was annoying but I'd had far worse. Whatever the case, I went into self-isolation as the government instructed and took my wife and kids with me.

The first day was utterly depressing - the thought of being confined for two weeks was something I found quite hard to accept.

It was even worse for my seven-year-old who was begging to be allowed to go back to school after only three hours - something I thought I'd never hear!

However, with day one in the bag, things improved a lot.

Aside from the screaming matches over home schooling and the untold devastation done to the house by an imprisoned toddler, the days went quite quickly.

Numerous friends did the shopping for us and chatted from the street.

We live next to some artists' studios and one of them, who we'd never met, brought a load of chalk for my daughters so they could draw on and decorate the wall which runs around our tiny front garden - a place we learned to appreciate like never before.

When my time in isolation ended, lockdown had just begun and I remember trying to imagine what the world would be like when I got out there.

I imagined tumbleweed on the streets and army checkpoints to make sure only the right people were out.

The time came to do a bit of shopping so I stuck my toddler in the buggy and headed out. The backstreets were quiet, hardly anyone was around and those that were gave you a ridiculously wide berth as they took this new concept of social distancing very seriously indeed. 

But then as I hit the main road we nearly got run over by a pair of joggers!

As a keen runner I found this very reassuring but still quite shocking. As I looked further down the street, there seemed to be people everywhere - life was going on pretty much as normal.

Shepherd's Bush is a densely populated part of inner London with most sources of food and supplies coming from corner shops and smaller neighbourhood branches of supermarket chains so the high streets would inevitably have been quite lively and so it proved to be.

Essentials were still hard to get and I could often spend a couple of hours going round the various shops in the area trying to find everything.

Eventually, the giant Westfield shopping mall turned out to be a bit of a godsend for locals like us.

During this period it kept open its large branches of M&S and Waitrose who had great supplies of everything and virtually no customers so trips there were very welcome indeed.

With our routine and supply lines in place, we began to adapt fairly well to the 'new normal'.

One of the most positive things for me in those months was the amount of people who took up running, cycling or walking as it gave them an excuse to get out of the house. 

Aside from a morning at the London Marathon, I'd never seen so many runners. 

Admittedly some of them were very ill prepared and looked a bit ridiculous but they were having a go and fair play to them.

Many millions went on furlough but as a transport worker, I went straight back once my family's time in self-isolation ended.

Thankfully I've avoided all illness and haven't missed a day since mid-March - some bus drivers and station gateline workers weren't so lucky and some friends and I took part in the 'Run For A Bus' event to raise funds for the families of those who died.

Probably the biggest effect coronavirus has had on me and most of you has been on the amount of football we've watched.

All the action ended in March when the lockdown kicked in, leaving clubs at all levels in a strange state of limbo.

The big clubs all had the resources to ride it out but for those in the third tier and below, things got shaky quite quickly.

Before the end of March, all football leagues from the seventh tier and below were declared null and void and several teams who had had great seasons found their efforts expunged from the official record books. 

It was particularly heartbreaking for a club like Jersey Bulls, who play many London clubs in the Combined Counties League, to see their record of played 27, won 27 just disappear taking promotion with it.

Some clubs did benefit though and saw almost certain relegations or tense battles to stay up avoided.

FA competitions weren't cancelled and the top six tiers returned, some just for play-offs after a PPG system was applied, behind closed doors.

The prospect of watching top level football with no crowd or with dubbed sound effects was a strange one. Many Premier League games were put on free-to-watch TV whilst many others were streamed.

Despite this amazing access to live football, which I thought I'd be all over, I barely watched a game and still haven't.

Unless it's an absolutely massive game, I've suddenly realised that televised football doesn't really do much for me any more.

If 'Match of the Day' or a live game is on when I'm around and got nothing better to do then I'll definitely put it on but if I can go out and do something else then I will.

We have Amazon Prime in our house and have for years and I remember being thrilled at the news of them getting Premier League rights but when I had the chance to watch Liverpool v Tottenham the other night, I just went to bed!

For me it's now all about live football - being there is everything.

Whatever the level, give me that over a televised game any day and I'm sure most of you reading are exactly the same.

Consequently, since the return of football with fans in late August, the only games I've seen are a few friendlies and FA Cup matches when my shift pattern has allowed.

Covid-19 also saw me call off this year's Non-League Day (NLD).

I took counsel from people at all levels in the game and came to the conclusion that on balance, an event to promote maximum attendance at non-league matches probably wasn't the most appropriate thing to be holding during a time of social distancing.

Some of the FA Cup matches I went to in September and October really struggled to keep people apart particularly when it started raining so cramming even more people into grounds didn't seem like a great idea.

Having a year off was also quite a good thing for me - organising NLD is a huge drain on my time and finances and I can't say I really missed it. With many Premier League and EFL fans shut out of their own grounds and going to non-league matches week after week in the autumn, I don't think many non-league clubs suffered too much either.

The one disappointment of NLD not happening was the delayed launch of the European Day of Amateur Football.

The trip to Paris I mentioned earlier had been to attend a planning meeting for this new event.

We had France, Germany and The Netherlands signed up to take part in a continent-wide celebration of non-league football and other countries were very interested too.

In France and Germany, the respective local events are run by major football magazines So Foot and 11Freunde so they added great journalistic, logistic and design resources to the mix.

The planning meeting at So Foot's offices went really well as others joined us on Skype from Berlin - in times before Zoom meetings were a thing!

Things have now progressed to a stage where significant EU funding is being discussed but alas we'll now see none of it here, despite being the inspiration for the whole thing. 

There has also been talk of arranging friendlies between sides all over the continent but working out the financing would appear to be the main challenge to that.

If your club have got the wherewithal to do this and would like to arrange something when things calm down then we've got the contacts - get in touch.

Lastly from me, the impact of coronavirus on this blog has been huge. 

Shut from March to August, it was again quite a positive thing for me. 

During a normal year I get about six weeks down time between seasons and even less when tournaments like the CONIFA World Football Cup come to town like they did in the summer of 2018.

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of this blog launching and it's got bigger and bigger over that time, affording some great experiences and giving me some good friends and new contacts.

But it does come at a cost. As I've written many times on here, it takes eight to 10 hours a week to produce and with an expanding family, finding the time is becoming increasingly difficult.

I now often write it in my breaks at work or on train journeys and very often late into the night or early morning - I'm only writing this now as I'm on call at work and have little else to do.

It's very often the case that I have to choose between writing this blog or going to see a match and the former usually wins.

But I do it because I love it and it gives me some purpose.

However, having a few months off earlier this year has been refreshing and I came back ready and raring for another season.

With fewer matches to cover, it was also proving to be less time consuming too - that was until the last few weeks when lockdown ended.

The introduction of Tier 3 restrictions to some of the leagues and rising Covid-19 rates across the London area have wreaked havoc on this blog!

Some leagues carried on, others stopped, friendlies were arranged, cancelled and altered - sometimes at two hours notice.

Last week I spent probably more time than ever revising and re-revising what I'd written day after day to try and make it as relevant as possible for the weekend and I still missed stuff.

Although I knew there would be significant changes, I planned ahead and got the match maps in place for the usual bumper Christmas and New Year edition but with Boris introducing Tier 4 across London on Saturday it all got called off and rightly so.

I've got a rare Boxing Day off this year so was really looking forward to seeing something but it's not to be. 

I believe there's another Tier review before the end of the month but the chances of anything changing in London look remote.

Personally, Christmas isn't a big thing for me so I'm not too devastated by all the restrictions that have come in. 

A few years ago, I went to watch Lewes play Ebbsfleet United in what had been their scheduled Boxing Day game. 

Bad weather had seen it rescheduled to the end of February and the always-innovative Sussex club decided to go with the Christmas theme with festive songs on the PA, Santa putting in an appearance and mince pies and other seasonal treats on sale in the tea bar and club house.

It was great - hopefully the nation will be able to do something similar. Boris - how about another Bank Holiday on a Friday later in 2021 when we get the family together for a big knees up to make up for this situation we currently find ourselves in???

Well I think that's it from me. I had no intention of writing this when I got up this morning but I've rather enjoyed putting my personal experience of the last year in writing and I could've put a lot more.

I'm well aware that many people have had it a lot worse than me so I don't for a minute want to trivialise anything they or you may have gone through - apologies if I have offended.

Wherever you are, whether you're celebrating or not, stay safe, make the most of the time you have and I hope to see you all back on here in 2021.


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, 13 December 2020

TLFG: 14-20 December 2020

Greetings readers and thanks for visiting and trying to keep up!

Writing this blog over the last week or so has been more time consuming than ever as Covid-19 has wreaked havoc with the match schedule.

Fortunately I've been on late shifts at work which has allowed me the mornings to trawl through all our local clubs' websites and social media feeds for the latest fixture info.

With each revision another change would come in, even up until around noon on Saturday when Tooting & Mitcham United had to cancel their friendly against Whyteleafe with around two hours notice because one of their squad tested positive.

The week ahead is arguably even more complicated with midweek FA Trophy games deciding who will face each other in the next round on Saturday, not to mention the government's review of the Tier system on Wednesday.

London's oldest ground needs your help

This could well impact on whether the Isthmian, Southern and Southern Counties East League decide to relaunch their respective competitions.  

Whatever happens, the match maps below are likely to change pretty significantly as the week progresses so keep checking back and I'll do my best to update them.

Once again I'm not going to bother with a daily digest as it's a lot of effort which could potentially be spent on games that never happen.

Although tickets for the top men's clubs are out of reach for most of us, Women's Super League games are beginning to open up with Sunday's derby between Chelsea and Spurs at Kingsmeadow currently on general sale

Tickets are also available for West Ham United v Aston Villa at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground.

If it has to be men's football then you won't be disappointed as there is still plenty to see at our local non-league clubs with numerous FA Trophy ties topping the bill. 

Last week quite a few of you went to watch Croydon enjoy a thrilling 4-3 win over Athletic Newham in the London Senior Trophy, so I'm pleased to report you can catch the next instalment of their cup 'run' on Saturday when they travel to reigning LST holders Peckham Town.

The match at the ominously titled Menace Arena kicks off at 1230pm to allow you to see another local game at 3pm - possibly at neighbours Dulwich Hamlet. Entry is only £3 and I'm told by the club that former Everton and Nigeria striker Yakubu could be in attendance!

After selling out, British Football's Greatest Grounds is back on sale this week

One other thing that might interest some of you is the chance to play your part in renovating the oldest football ground in London.

The fantastically named Old Spotted Dog sits on Upton Lane in Forest Gate on the east side of town, is well hidden, easy to miss and unknown by many locals - I have quite a few colleagues and friends from the area and they always look blankly at me when I ask about it.

Historically the home of Clapton, it's recently been taken over by the fan-owned Clapton CFC after a several years of neglect and they're doing a great job getting it back up to a condition where it can host matches.

They're currently trying to raise £15,000 for a new clubhouse roof and are well on their way to hitting the target but if you'd like to help them and play your part in getting such an historic venue back on its feet, you can donate here.

Talking of donations - many thanks this week to Hinn Li for donating to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund, it's really appreciated.

On the subject of appreciation, it was great to see vloggers/bloggers/photographers 'Two Men In Search of the Beautiful Game' pick up a top award at the Football Content Awards during the week. 

We regularly cross-promote each other so it was really pleasing to see them grab the recognition for all their hard work. Well done chaps!

Well I think that's about it from me - for now. Check back as the week progresses.

Good luck everyone!

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the National League, FA Trophy, FA Vase, FA Youth Cup, Women's Super League and Women's FA Cup. There are also games at higher levels but none of them are open to non-season ticket holders.

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 or youth matches. 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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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 - blue pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



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





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

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

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

Monday, 7 December 2020

TLFG: 7-13 December 2020

Apologies for the late publication this week, I've simply been too busy.

My shifts at work have been at really unsociable times and I'm pretty tired so it's a bit of a minimalist effort I'm afraid.

Sourcing match info in the current climate has also been far more time consuming than normal and I readily admit to completely missing several games last week with clubs announcing matches or changes of opponents at very short notice. Thanks to all of you who take the time to alert me to any such alterations, I really appreciate it.

The next few days are likely to be equally turbulent so apologies in advance if I miss anything and keep your updates coming.

Croydon played their first game at the Crystal Palace NSC
(Photo by Mike Smaldon)

To re-cap, clubs at every level are now letting a limited number of fans in but the capacities are so low at Premier League and EFL clubs that you won't get in without a season ticket.

It's the same at some National League clubs but for most in the fifth tier and below, you should be able to get something if you're organised and book in advance.

Sadly, the Isthmian League and Southern League are still suspended but some of their clubs are playing in the FA Trophy, county cups and friendlies.

It's the same in the SCEFL but matches in all our other local ninth and 10th tier leagues are taking place.

Looking back to the weekend just gone, I saw that quite a few of you went to see Croydon's first game at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

What a match it was too with the hosts coming back from 3-0 down against Athletic Newham to win 4-3 with a last-minute goal. 

A friend of mine who's been discovering non-league matches for the first time with me over the last few months is actually from Croydon and this was his first Trams match - hopefully it'll persuade him to become a regular.

That's about all I've got time for at the moment as my next shift is kicking off shortly. 

As I always say, check all match details before you travel and please let me know if you become aware of any short notice alterations.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the National League, FA Trophy, FA Vase, FA Youth Cup and Women's FA Cup. There are also games at higher levels but none of them are open to non-members.

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 or youth matches. 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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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 - blue pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



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





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.