Sunday, 21 August 2016

TLFG: 22-29 August 2016

Greetings one and all and welcome to the August Bank Holiday special edition of TLFG.

If you thought last week's football menu was extensive and tasty, then you'll be left drooling by what's on offer this time.

Not only are there over 130 games taking place, many of them are derbies and on the Bank Holiday (29 August) the Combined Counties League are starting most of their games at 1130am meaning you can see at least two games in a day.

And that's not all - for the first time ever we have a guest ground review from reader Nick Willis who took the time and effort to produce a piece on his trip to AFC Wimbledon as they played their first home game in League One against Bolton Wanderers last weekend.

Also, there's only 13 days until this year's Non-League Day which is keeping me incredibly busy alongside this blog.

By the middle of the week we should get final confirmation of all the day's fixtures following the FA Cup replays so keep checking the map on our site to see what's on come the 3rd September.


If you want to see and hear what I've got to say then watch this short film

Our charity fanfunder for Prostate Cancer UK is now up and running and we're getting close to £2,000. As with all such pages, there's an obligatory video which I make an appearance in alongside the likes of far greater football luminaries like Les Ferdinand, Gianluca Vialli, Matt Elliott and Guillem Balague.

All have donated rewards and prizes which you can buy or bid for and there's also some exclusive NLD merchandise too. Please take a look and if this blog has been of use to you, I'd really appreciate it if you could put a pound or two PCUK's way. Just to clarify - all profits will go to the charity, none of it will go to me or NLD in any way.

That's enough from me, enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to. Now over to Nick and AFC Wimbledon...


GUEST GROUND REVIEW: AFC WIMBLEDON
by Nick Willis

AFC Wimbledon were promoted via the playoffs in May 2016 to League One (the third tier of English football), their sixth promotion in 14 years. ​The feel­good factor from the League Two play-off win still hangs in the air, and I was keen to see this occasion at Kingsmeadow.

Bolton find themselves in League One after relegation from the Championship, and presumably fixtures like these represent something of a novelty given some of the grounds they are used to seeing their team play at in recent years.
 
I travel by train to Norbiton station and then walk for 10 minutes through a tidy looking residential area until arriving at the Cambridge Road, passing a cafe and a fish and chip shop, both full of supporters. The ground is situated down a small side road, just past the row of shops. It is not a ground that one sees coming from miles around (though I suppose this could be different on a night fixture, with the floodlights turned on). 

The grand entrance to AFC Wimbledon's Kingsmeadow home

The ground (official name the Cherry Red Records Stadium) was leased by local club Kingstonian until 2003, when AFC Wimbledon took it over. It has undergone quite a few changes since then. The Chemflow end ­ formerly the Tempest end ­ had a roof installed and the John Green stand became seated, while access was improved for away fans as well. 

Away fans are mainly housed in a section of the newly renamed RyGas stand, a partially covered shallow­roofed terrace that runs along the sideline of the pitch opposite the main stand. Some away fans are also seated in a small area of the adjacent John Green stand. There are around 800 tickets available for away fans, and presumably these are likely to be sold out quickly against League One opposition this season. 

Many supporters are proudly wearing the latest iteration of the Dons' replica kit, an attractive, round­collared, electric blue number with canary yellow trim. There is lots of yellow and blue on show in general, with some supporters opting for shirts that date back to the Premiership era, and some inevitably sporting the 1988 FA Cup winning shirt. A few are bravely wearing the Dons’ third kit ­ and it’s not for the faint­hearted ­ of alternating vertical stripes of pea green and swamp green. One supporter wearing this shirt assures me that despite the garish colour combination, the shirt is viewed with affection ­ the team achieved some important results at the end of last season while wearing it. 

There was a turnout of 4,600 for this game, which is nearly a sell­out. Tickets to Wimbledon’s home games are going to be hard to come by this season ­ the programme informs us that 3,100 season tickets have been sold. Once up to 800 away fans have been subtracted, it doesn’t leave many tickets in a ground of 4,800 capacity. 

Pre kick­-off I talk to Dennis, in his late forties, with a Van Halen haircut, who has travelled over from Berne in Switzerland with a group of friends to watch Brighton & Hove Albion and AFC Wimbledon.

He is particularly knowledgeable about English football, and is very interested in the wording of the chants going on around him. He seems upset when he is told that Adebayo Akinfenwa is not at the club anymore. That a middle­aged man from Switzerland would know who was playing upfront for a then fourth­tier English football club is evidence of the broad international appeal of the English game.

The ChemFlow end I am stood in, behind the goal furthest from the Cambridge Road, is by a stretch the noisiest in the ground. The area of this stand directly behind the goal is seemingly responsible for the generation of most of the chanting. The roof that covers the stand does a decent job in amplifying the sound out on to the pitch. 

Nick's friends enjoy some refreshment despite a disappointing result
Wimbledon don’t seem to have any real bitter local rivalry. When asked, people might murmur about ‘Palace’, and there are a couple of chants about Chelsea, but most of the real feeling is reserved for a team that moved to Milton Keynes. There is no need to go into the history of this here as I’m sure most readers will be aware of the story, but safe to say that AFC Wimbledon’s supporters have not forgotten about that decision to move their club to a new town in Buckinghamshire.

The toilets for the Chemflow end are a small outhouse near to the exit. There is one door in and out, and by the time I get there after half­time, there is a sizeable queue. There is an even bigger queue for the ‘Gourmet Burger’ stand positioned at the corner of the Chemflow and main stand. Even though the burgers that people are holding with sheets of kitchen tissue paper look better quality than the average football ground fare, I decide it will take too long to queue and head back to the stand. 

With the game over, a large number of fans meet in one of the three bars positioned under the main stand. The atmosphere is genuinely convivial, which is something of a surprise given that the home team have just lost (Bolton come back from a goal down to beat AFCW 2­1). There are groups of friends catching up with each other over a post­match pint, some watching the late kick­off Premier League fixture, some spilling out on to the outdoor area in front of the bars, enjoying the afternoon sun.  

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As well as Nick's fine review, our good friends at 'Two Men In Search...' have also put up their latest piece about a visit to QPR so you're really spoilt this week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are well over 100 matches in the London area over the next week thanks in part to all the extra Bank Holiday games.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures
Grey pin - Bank Holiday Monday 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 22 August

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Newcastle United @7pm - the Hammers' U23 side play the first of their games at Dagenham & Redbridge who they will groundshare with for most of this season's games

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Ilford @745pm - staying on the east side of town, we've got a derby at the Mile End Stadium between sides looking to bounce back from FA Cup defeats at the weekend

----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 23 August

EFL Cup
Chelsea v Bristol Rovers @745pm  - having failed to qualify for Europe, the Blues enter a round earlier than normal and host League One opposition, tickets are available
Crystal Palace v Blackpool @745pm - on paper the Eagles have an even more beatable opponent in the form of the Seasiders from League Two, tickets are also available which is rare for non-members
Watford v Gillingham @745pm - it's Premier League against League One here too, although it might not be the most enticing fixture it is a great way to get on the Hornets' ticket database so you can qualify for bigger games in future

FA Cup Preliminary Round Replays
Thamesmead Town v Guernsey @745pm - the Green Lions travel to the mainland after the sides fought out a 2-2 draw on Saturday in what was the first ever FA Cup tie played in the Channel Islands
Walton & Hersham v Greenwich Borough @745pm - the Swans did well to hold Greenwich, from the division above, on Saturday so will hope to go one better here
Harefield United v Wembley @745pm - as above, Harefield did well to draw at higher ranked opposition in the original game and will want to make the most of their second chance here

-----------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday 24 August

EFL Cup
Fulham v Middlesbrough @745pm - the Cottagers take on Premier League new boys Boro and it's only £15 to get in

FA Cup Preliminary Round Replays
Croydon v VCD Athletic @745pm - the Trams have a chance of causing a cupset at the Croydon Arena as they welcome a Ryman League outift
Colliers Wood United v Banstead Athletic @730pm - the hosts should have too much for Banstead but anything's possible at this stage of the competition

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Thursday 25 August

Europa League
West Ham United v Astra Giurgiu @745pm - after drawing the first leg in Romania, the Hammers should be favourites to progress but they came unstuck against Astra last year so won't take anything for granted

---------------------------------------------------------------

Friday 26 August

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Liverpool @7pm - it may only be the U23s in action but it's a great way to see a game at the Emirates Stadium and at a fraction of the cost but please bear in mind that tickets must be bought in advance

Combined Counties League
Colliers Wood United v Epsom & Ewell @730pm - the best non-league option of the night sees two sides from south-west London duel at the Wibbandune

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Saturday 27 August

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool @1230pm - two of the big boys meet in the televised lunchtime kick-off in a game that doesn't really need any selling
Watford v Arsenal @3pm - the Hornets continue their ridiculously tough run of Premier League games with this derby against the Gunners

EFL
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - with two wins and two defeats, the Bees will be happy enough with their form as they prepare to welcome one of the favourites for promotion
Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - these sides suffered relegation together last season but have both begun life in League One well, a top-five clash
Leyton Orient v Mansfield Town @3pm - the O's started their League Two campaign well last season but fell away, again they've got off to a good start but will they be able to keep it going...

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Wrexham @3pm - the Daggers dropped out of the Football League at the end of last season but have raced out of the blocks and are second only to former second-tier club Tranmere at the time of writing
Wealdstone v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - in the southern section of the league, new boys Hampton seem to have made a pretty seamless transition from Ryman League football and should be confident heading into this derby against the Stones who are also looking good

Ryman League
Staines Town v Kingstonian @3pm - it is very early days but of our local teams, Staines are the pick of the bunch in the Premier Division and they should feel confident of beating the K's who have had a bit of a shocker so far
Phoenix Sports v Heybridge Swifts @3pm - in Division 1 North, Phoenix are the early pacesetters having scored a spectacular nine goals over the course of their two games thus far
Tooting & Mitcham United v Dorking Wanderers @3pm - this top-six clash at the well appointed Imperial Fields looks like the match of the day in Division 1 South

Spartan South Midlands League
Oxhey Jets v London Colney @3pm - the hosts have won two of their three opening games and they'll need to be at their best as they welcome the only team in the Premier Division with a 100% record

Combined Counties League
AC London v Cobham @3pm - not much is floating my boat in the Premier Division but this game between two of the top four in the division below looks decent

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Sunday 28 August

FA Women's Super League
London Bees v Aston Villa @2pm - with nothing else on, this is a great chance to catch some women's football at Barnet's ground

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Monday 29 August

National League
Sutton United v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - it wasn't hard to pick this one as both sides are currently in the top three and it's also a derby
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Dartford @3pm - Boro will look to continue their great start against the Darts who have only lost one of their first five

Ryman League
Hendon v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - the London contingent, often among the powerhouses of the Premier Division, have made a slow start and both of these will want to start building some momentum
VCD Athletic v Phoenix Sports @3pm - in Division 1 North we have possibly the closest derby in the whole league, you can sometimes hear what's going on at the other ground if they're playing at the same time
Corinthian Casuals v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - at the time of writing these sides are in the top six in Division 1 South and it's another derby too

Combined Counties League
Bedfont Sports v Bedfont & Feltham @1130am - it's derby day in the CCL and these clubs are even closer than VCD and Phoenix, they are literally next to each other
Chertsey Town v Abbey Rangers @1pm - the Chertsey/Addlestone derby between two sides who were several divisions apart until recently
Banstead Athletic v AC London @1130am - a groundshare derby between sides in Division 1's top five

Southern Counties East League
Crockenhill v Orpington @3pm - a derby featuring sides in the top six of Division 1
FC Elmstead v Holmesdale @3pm - elsewhere in the division we have a groundshare derby near Bromley

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, 14 August 2016

TLFG: 15-21 August 2016

My oh my, what a week of football we have to look forward to.

It seemed there were quite a few games on as it took far longer than normal to put the match map together.

When I totted them up I found we have a whopping 109 to choose from!

We've got Premier League, EFL, National League, Ryman League and loads of exciting looking FA Cup ties as the competition reaches its second round or 'Preliminary Round' to give it its official name.

I've tried to keep the 'Daily Digest' below as concise as possible and as a result I've definitely missed a few good games off so make sure you have a good look round the match maps to see if there's anything you'd prefer.

I've been starved of  live football again this week as the build up to Non-League Day continues.

For someone who is heavily involved in football and writes about it in his spare time, the amount I actually get to watch is staggeringly low. That's why I rely so much on other bloggers and writers to do the ground reviews and visits that sometimes appear here.

As I mentioned last week, there were several ground openings taking place and I would've dearly liked to go to at least one - Fisher, Hayes & Yeading United and Hendon apologies for not getting down but hopefully a few people will have read about proceedings here and gone along. Let me know if you did.

Lastly this week, there's just time for another plug for Non-League Day (NLD). Scarily there's less than three weeks to go now and there still feels like there's a lot to do - it always does at this stage.


If you want to see and hear what I've got to say then watch this short film

Our charity fanfunder for Prostate Cancer UK is now up and running and we're getting close to our first £1,000. As with all such pages, there's an obligatory video which I make an appearance in alongside the likes of far greater football luminaries like Les Ferdinand, Gianluca Vialli, Matt Elliott and Guillem Balague.

All have donated rewards and prizes which you can buy or bid for and there's also some exclusive NLD merchandise too. Please take a look and if this blog has been of use to you, I'd really appreciate it if you could put a pound or two PCUK's way. Just to clarify - all profits will go to the charity, none of it will go to me or NLD in any way.

This time next week we'll have almost finalised all the fixtures taking place on the day. There are loads of confirmed games all over the country already so have a look at our match map and see what takes your fancy.

That's enough from me, enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to. 

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are well over 100 matches in the London area over the next week as the season gets into full swing.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange 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 15 August

Premier League
Chelsea v West Ham United @8pm - a cracking London derby to get the season underway for these two

Premier League 2
Fulham v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - just a short walk from Stamford Bridge we have this U23 game at Craven Cottage where it's only £3 to get in

Ryman League
Kingstonian v Hendon @745pm - both of these teams lost on opening day so will be looking for an instant recovery

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Redbridge @745pm - east London derby between sides who used to groundshare

----------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 16 August

EFL
Brentford v Nottingham Forest @745pm  - with a win and a loss apiece, this Championship match looks like being pretty even
AFC Wimbledon v Scunthorpe United @745pm - the Dons have struggled in their first two games in League One and it's not likely to get much easier against the Iron
Barnet v Blackpool @745pm - the Bees have made a solid start and should fancy themselves against their troubled visitiors

National League
Boreham Wood v Tranmere Rovers @745pm - we're only three games in but this is a top-two clash thanks to minnows Boreham Wood getting off to a sensational start

Ryman League
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town @745pm - both have gone close to getting promoted over the last couple of seasons and that's why they're among the favourites to win the title this time

Essex Senior League
London Bari v Clapton @745pm - groundshare derby at the oldest ground in London, Clapton prevailed in the recent FA Cup tie between the two

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Wednesday 17 August

Ryman League
Grays Athletic v AFC Sudbury @745pm - now fan-owned, the Gravelmen host newly promoted Sudbury in their first home match of the season

Combined Counties League
Bedfont Sports v Hanworth Villa @745pm - the visitors have made a good start to the season and come into this derby as joint leaders

Southern Counties East League
Croydon v Beckenham Town @745pm - there's also a local derby on the south side of town between sides who live very much in the shadow of Crystal Palace

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Friday 19 August

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Aveley v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - what better way to start a weekend of football watching than an Essex derby in the FA Cup

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Saturday 20 August

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace @3pm - both made unremarkable starts to the season on Saturday and will hope for better in this derby
Watford v Chelsea @3pm - the Hornets managed to draw both games against the Blues last season and I'm sure they'll be more than happy with another point here

EFL
Fulham v Cardiff City @3pm - the Cottagers have got off to a flyer, winning all three of their games so will look to push on against the Bluebirds
Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End @3pm - QPR have fared even better and are top of the Championship on goal difference at the time of writing
Millwall v Sheffield United @3pm - according to bookmakers, these clubs are ranked as the two most likely to win the League One title this season so it's a biggie

National League
Sutton United v Macclesfield Town @3pm - newly promoted to the division, the U's welcome former third-tier team Macclesfield for a game which could propel one of them into the top five

Ryman League
Wingate & Finchley v Hendon @3pm - the other north London derby, more of a North Circular derby if you will

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Sporting Bengal United v Clapton @3pm - after seeing off London Bari in the opening round, the Tons have landed a derby against another local rival over in Mile End
Sun Sports v Northwood @3pm - the hosts play in Watford so if you can't get a ticket for the Chelsea game, this derby is well worth a look at instead
Wembley v Harefield United @3pm - if there's a chance of seeing an FA Cup tie at Wembley and you've never been to Vale Farm before, one should never pass it up

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Sunday 21 August

Premier League
West Ham United v Bournemouth @4pm - the first ever top flight game to be played at the Hammers' new home

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Cray Valley PM v Hastings United @3pm - a short walk from the historic Eltham Palace, where Henry VIII spent time as a youngster, you'll find yourself able to enjoy a game in possibly the most historic cup competition in the world
Romford v Hullbridge Sports @3pm - if shopping's more your thing, you could combine this match with a trip to the mammoth Lakeside Shopping Centre which is just yards away

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GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground 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, 7 August 2016

TLFG: 8-14 August 2016

Hi there. How are you? Welcome along to this week's TLFG ahead of another week which is bursting at the seams with great games.

Over the last few days, we've seen several competitions including the EFL and FA Cup get cracking while the week ahead sees the opening games in the Premier League, EFL Cup and, the one you've all been waiting for, the Ryman League.

I heard from several readers who had huge weekends of groundhopping ahead of them with trips to Craven Cottage, the Den, Loftus Road and Wembley all crammed in - I hope you enjoyed yourselves as there were some fine games on offer.

The opportunities to 'hop' aren't quite so great this weekend but a match a day from Friday to Sunday is possible if you can somehow source a ticket for the Arsenal v Liverpool game which dominates the schedule.

For those of you who enjoy being there at important moments, a number of clubs are celebrating first games at new stadiums or at higher levels over the coming days. 

In League One, AFC Wimbledon play their first home game in the third tier. Having only been founded in 2002 and starting in the ninth tier, they've climbed the divisions at an impressive rate. On Saturday they welcome Bolton Wanderers who were a Premier League side as recently as 2012.

Elsewhere, non-league sides Hendon and Fisher both begin life at new grounds. 

After several years on the road, the Greens return to a refurbished Silver Jubilee Park which is a bit closer to Hendon than their historic home at Claremont Road which they lost several years ago. Newly promoted Worthing are the visitors for a Ryman League game.

On the south-east side of town, Fisher make an eagerly anticipated homecoming to Rotherhithe after several seasons groundsharing at Dulwich Hamlet. The Fish are the descendants of Fisher Athletic who played in the Conference at one point and were still in the Conference South when the money ran out in 2009. They play Rochester United at new ground Salter Road in the Southern Counties East League. You are all warmly invited to both of the above.

One or two other teams (e.g. Walton Casuals and Brimsdown) have been on the move over the summer and will be beginning new groundshares, while we're still waiting to hear when Hayes & Yeading United will be allowed to play a competitive game at their new stadium (on the site of Yeading's old ground). A friendly against Hendon went ahead there last week and it looks impressive but there's still a bit more work to do.

Lastly this week, there's just time for another plug for Non-League Day (NLD). There's less than four weeks to go now and there still feels like there's a lot to do - it always does at this stage.

If you want to see and hear what I've got to say then watch this short film

On Saturday we launched, with the help of Tifosy, our charity crowdfunder for Prostate Cancer UK. As with all crowdfunding pages, there's an obligatory video which I make an appearance in alongside the likes of far greater football luminaries like Les Ferdinand, Gianluca Vialli, Matt Elliott and Guillem Balague. All have donated rewards and prizes which you can buy or bid for and there's also some exclusive NLD merchandise too. Please take a look and if this blog has been of use to you, I'd really appreciate it if you could put a pound or two PCUK's way. Just to clarify - all profits will go to the charity, none of it will go to me or NLD in any way.

That's enough from me, enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to. 

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 90 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to wind down and the competitive stuff gets into full swing.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange 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 8 August

National League South
Wealdstone v St Albans City @745pm - bit of a derby feel to this one as the Stones host opponents from just outside the M25

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Sutton Common Rovers v Erith Town @745pm - after an entertaining 2-2 draw on Saturday, these two meet again on the 3G pitch at Sutton United

Tuesday 9 August

EFL Cup First Round
Leyton Orient v Fulham @745pm  - the EFL Cup gets underway on Tuesday and the draw has given us two decent crosstown derbies, the first being this one at the Matchroom Stadium
Barnet v Millwall @8pm - it's north versus south-east in the other one up at The Hive

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - Hampton host their first NLS match at the Beveree since promotion against a side who also won on opening day

Southern League Division 1 Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Marlow @745pm - both sides enjoyed fine wins on Saturday and come into this game in the Southern League Division 1 Central's top three

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
AFC Hayes v Abingdon United @745pm - after grinding out a 0-0 draw on Saturday, these two have another go
Sun Sports v London Tigers @745pm - used to playing each other in the Spartan South Midlands League, these two rivals produced a 1-1 draw in the initial tie

Wednesday 10 August

EFL Cup First Round
Queens Park Rangers v Swindon Town @745pm - playing a division above their opponents, the R's should start as favourites but are a notoriously poor cup team

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Tower Hamlets @745pm - if you'd prefer a bit of non-league football instead, you could try this derby on the east side of town

Friday 12 August

Premier League 2 (Division 1)
Arsenal U23 v Reading U23 @7pm - the brand new competition for the top clubs' youngsters and reserves begins on Friday night with this match at Boreham Wood

Saturday 13 August

Premier League
Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - after nearly three months of waiting, the Premier League finally returns to London with this offering at Selhurst Park

Championship
Brentford v Ipswich Town @3pm - after a disappointing start at Huddersfield, the Bees will look to bounce back against the Tractor Boys who smashed four past Barnsley in their first match

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - the Dons face former Premier League side Bolton in their first home match following promotion to League One

League Two
Barnet v Accrington Stanley @3pm - the Bees face a tricky first home game against opponents who made the play-offs last season and started well again on Saturday

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Worthing @3pm - be part of history and join the Greens as they play the first competitive game at their new ground against the newly promoted Rebels

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Fisher v Rochester United @3pm - if you can't get to Hendon, there's a new ground opening at Salter Road too as the Fish make their long-awaited return to Rotherhithe

Sunday 14 August

Premier League
Arsenal v Liverpool @4pm - two of the giants of English football go head-to-head in what is undoubtedly the standout fixture of the opening weekend

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

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

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

Sunday, 31 July 2016

TLFG: 1-7 August 2016

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

It's a big week in London with the EFL, National League, Southern League, Combined Counties and Southern Counties East Leagues all getting started. As an added bonus, it's also the opening round of the FA Cup so if you're thinking of embarking on a 'Road to Wembley' round-by-round odyssey then this is the week to start. 

Aside from these there are also lots of friendlies, several featuring Premier League sides. The pick are the International Champions Cup match between Liverpool and Barcelona on Saturday and the FA Community Shield between Leicester City and Manchester United on Sunday - both are at Wembley, but both are sold out.

Arguably the tie of the round in the FA Cup sees these rivals meet at the oldest ground in London
If all that isn't enough to get you salivating, we've also got the first two games being played by West Ham United at their new London Stadium home. I thought the Europa League match against NK Domzale and the friendly against Juventus would have completely sold out by now but there are still a few tickets available on general sale for the former and at low prices so get involved.

If you'd like to see more than one game in a day, Sunday's midday kick-off between QPR and Leeds United is a fine hors d'oeuvre for the Community Shield (I know at least one TLFG reader combining these two) while you should also just be able to make one of the three FA Cup ties which kick-off at 3pm elsewhere in the capital with Barkingside probably the easiest to get to by public transport.

In other news, preparations for Non-League Day on 3 September are still ongoing. This week I had a meeting with Kick It Out, did a bit of filming for our Tifosy run Prostate Cancer UK fundraiser, discussed merchandise, uploaded a few new games to the match map, heard from some European clubs who want to take part and also got contacted by a journalist at German football magazine '11Freunde' who wants to follow me on the day - it's been a busy time!

As I said, it promises to be quite a week so enjoy yourself and feel free to send your reports, pictures and also any questions if you have any.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 90 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to wind down and the competitive stuff starts to get going.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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 1 August
Hendon v Dagenham & Redbridge @730pm - the Greens continue to bed in at their new home with this friendly against National League opposition from east London
Metropolitan Police v Barnet XI @8pm - the Bees send their youngsters down to Imber Court for another pre-season game 

Tuesday 2 August
Bromley v Crystal Palace @7pm  - fifth-tier club Bromley welcome their Premier League neighbours for this hotly anticipated friendly (tickets must be purchased in advance)
Ryman League Charity Shield @745pm - Hampton & Richmond Borough play host to local rivals Kingstonian at the Beveree
Greenwich Borough v Leyton Orient XI @745pm - the hosts welcomed nearly 800 for the visit of a Millwall XI last week, they'll be hoping for another good turnout here
Tooting & Mitcham United v Crystal Palace U21 @745pm - the Eagles' youngsters play most of their home games at Imperial Fields so it's landlords v tenants
North Greenford United v Hanworth Villa @745pm - the Combined Counties League gets underway on Tuesday night with a handful of games, this one sees recently relegated Greenford welcome Villa who have former QPR and Fulham player Rufus Brevett taking charge of his first game as manager

Wednesday 3 August
Grays Athletic v Tilbury @745pm - two Essex rivals contest the Stan Veness Cup at Aveley's ground
Cray Valley PM v Cray Wanderers @745pm - it's only a friendly but this south-east London derby should still entertain

Thursday 4 August
West Ham United v NK Domzale @745pm - be part of history as the Hammers play the first match at their new home, tickets for this Europa League match are only £15 and are on general sale

Friday 5 August
Fulham v Newcastle United @745pm - the EFL season begins with this televised Championship game at Craven Cottage between two former Premier League teams
Tooting & Mitcham United v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - if professional football's not for you, these two old non-league rivals enjoy a friendly down south

Saturday 6 August

Friendlies
Liverpool v Barcelona @515pm - the newly created International Champions Cup rolls into London where two of the world's biggest clubs sold out Wembley in two hours
Crystal Palace v Valencia @3pm - if you can't get a ticket for the above, there's another England v Spain match-up at Selhurst Park which also looks very appealing
Watford v Lorient @3pm - the Hornets also welcome European opposition for a final friendly in the form of this French outfit

EFL
Millwall v Oldham Athletic @3pm - the only EFL game taking place in London on Saturday is this League One encounter at the Den

National League
Boreham Wood v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - the National League season starts on Saturday with The Wood welcoming the title favourites in a very tough opener
Bromley v Tranmere Rovers @3pm - the Ravens were London's top ranked non-league club last season and their campaign begins against another team expected to do well
Sutton United v Solihull Moors @3pm - the U's return to the fifth tier for the first time in many years and welcome a side from the Midlands who are also new to this level
Dartford v Wealdstone @3pm - the fine facilities of Princes Park are the setting for this game between sides with realistic play-off ambitions in the National League South

Southern League
Northwood v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @3pm - it's also opening day in the Southern League Division 1 Central where Northwood were our leading local team last season, they begin with this match against newly promoted Ashford

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
London Bari v Clapton @3pm - arguably the tie of the round is this groundshare derby in Forest Gate with tenants hosting landlords
Wembley v Daventry Town @3pm - if you're going to attempt an FA Cup 'Road to Wembley' what better place to start than Wembley FC who play within sight of the much grander national stadium
Colliers Wood United v AFC Croydon Athletic @3pm - a nice bit of inter-league action between clubs from opposite sides of London's southern hemisphere
Redbridge v Waltham Forest @3pm - two Essex Senior League teams do battle in what is probably fair to call a derby
Edgware Town v Holmer Green @3pm - after reforming in 2014, the Wares won the Spartan South Midlands Division 1 last season and now play their first ever FA Cup tie
Bridon Ropes v Canterbury City @3pm - even more significantly, the Ropes play their first ever FA Cup tie since coming into existence 81 years ago

Sunday 7 August
FA Community Shield @4pm - last season's surprise package Leicester City take on FA Cup winners Manchester United at Wembley in this annual curtain-raiser for the top flight
West Ham United v Juventus @1pm - if you can't make it to the first game at the London Stadium on Thursday then this friendly looks very enticing
Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United @12pm - if you want some competitive football, QPR begin their Championship season against these giants of Yorkshire football
Barkingside v Hadleigh United @3pm - there are three FA Cup ties on Sunday afternoon with this match at Ilford FC's ground the easiest to reach by public transport

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 July 2016

TLFG: 25-31 July 2016

It's been a steamy old week in London with temperatures of over 30C (approx 90F) on several days.

Such conditions have been great for most spectators but the players must have found the going pretty tough.

I had hoped to catch a game on Monday night on my way back from Ireland but the flight got held up and I missed out. It's a shame because the match between Hendon and QPR's U21s produced a nine-goal thriller which the visitors edged 5-4.

Did you make it to any games? 

Several readers have been in touch saying they've been to various matches which is great to hear. It's also been interesting to learn that several of you have headed beyond the city limits to take in some of the more interesting friendlies a bit further afield. 

With this in mind, I've made a special effort to see what else is on within a 50-60 mile radius of London and there are some really big games this week which you'll find details of below. Some of them are in locations like Brighton which could make for a good day trip or even an overnighter.

There's only six weeks to go!
With only six weeks to go until Non-League Day, the build up is now starting to get serious. This week I've got a meeting with anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out who have become important partners over the last few years. We'll probably discuss which games they'll hope to hold events at on the day so I'm looking forward to making a few recommendations. 

Hopefully I'll get to squeeze a game in this week but it will have to be a midweek one.

Right, I think that's it from me. Have a great week of football watching - once again the schedule is packed and the 'Daily Digest' below doesn't even come close to covering all the good games that are on offer so scour those maps to make sure you don't miss out.



THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 100 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to get into full swing.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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 25 July
Colchester United v Crystal Palace @7pm - a good chance to see a Premier League side in action not too far outside London
Wingate & Finchley v Maidenhead United @745pm - if you don't want to go that far, the next best option is this friendly in the northern suburbs

Tuesday 26 July
MK Dons v Everton @745pm  - if you're a fan of the Toffees you can catch them at Stadium MK just a short trip north of London
Southend United v Newcastle United @745pm - with the weather set fair, this is a fine chance to catch a decent game and combine it with a trip to the Essex seaside
Cambridge United v Aston Villa @730pm - if the coast isn't for you, enjoy a bit of culture in one of the great seats of English learning before heading to the Abbey Stadium for this
Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town @745pm - the best option within the M25 sees sides from League One and the Championship do battle
Dagenham & Redbridge v Leyton Orient @745pm - we also have this east London derby to look forward to
Dartford v Gillingham @745pm - talking of derbies, this game between two Kent rivals catches the eye as well

Wednesday 27 July
AFC Wimbledon v Crystal Palace @7pm - the Eagles are in action again but this time it's in a south London derby against the Dons

Thursday 28 July
Harrow Borough v Hemel Hempstead Town @745pm - Boro are averaging four goals a game in pre-season so far but the Tudors, from the National League South, should present a much tougher challenge

Friday 29 July
Reading v Bournemouth @8pm - Jaap Stam's Royals welcome Premier League Bournemouth for a game that could kick-off a great weekend of football watching
Hayes & Yeading United v Hendon @730pm - it is possible that this game could be the first to be played at Hayes' much delayed new ground, check with the club before you travel to confirm this
Chipstead v Crystal Palace U21 @745pm - CANCELLED
Greenwich Borough v Millwall XI @745pm - managed by former Lion Gary Alexander, ambitious Greenwich welcome a side from the Den to their new home

Saturday 30 July
Fulham v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Eagles first XI finish off their week with a trip to Craven Cottage for this derby
Queens Park Rangers v Watford @3pm - just up the road in Shepherd's Bush there's another derby between Championship and Premier League clubs
Millwall v Brentford @3pm - the Lions' Tony Craig enjoys a testimonial against one of his former clubs, it's a London derby too
Charlton Athletic v RKC Waalwijk @3pm - the Addicks welcome Dutch opponents if you fancy something a bit more exotic
Welling United v Bromley @3pm - elsewhere in south-east London we have this derby
Harrow Borough v Wealdstone @3pm - on the north-west side of town it's also the Harrow derby
Clapton v Tower Hamlets @3pm - if you want some competitive football, the Essex Senior League starts on Saturday and this East End derby featuring the support/performance of the Clapton Ultras is the pick for me

Sunday 31 July
Brighton & Hove Albion v Lazio @3pm - head south to the well appointed Amex Stadium to see the promotion seeking Seagulls host one of the big boys of Italian football in arguably the game of the week
Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies @3pm - back in London, your best option is this Women's Super League game at Boreham Wood

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 July 2016

TLFG: 18-24 July 2016

By the time you read this I'll hopefully be in Ireland at one of my wife's relative's wedding.

Hence this is a bit of a rush job ahead of a trip to the airport.

Once again, the amount of games to watch has shot up with almost 100 on offer this week so there's no chance of getting bored.

We don't have any Premier League sides to entertain us but plenty of EFL teams will be giving their players a run out in matches all over the region.

As in previous weeks I've listed a few games just beyond the M25 that look good and are easy to get to but there could be others as I haven't had a chance to thoroughly scour the fixture lists of London's near neighbours.

Right, I think that's all I need to write at this stage - I better go and finish my packing.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 100 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to get into full swing.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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 18 July
Hendon v QPR U21 @7pm - after several years in exile, the Greens are now back in a ground of their own and have made this a 'Pay What You Want Game'

Tuesday 19 July
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm  - two Championship clubs meet at the neutral venue of Aldershot Town
Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford @745pm - another interesting all EFL game as a League Two side hosts a Championship one, again just outside London
Boreham Wood v Luton Town @745pm - National League side Boreham Wood take on their fifth professional club in a little over a week in what can also be classed as a derby
Woking v Leyton Orient @745pm - the O's make the short journey outside London to take on National League opponents
Dartford v Millwall @745pm - the Lions, from League One, continue to do the rounds of the local non-league sides producing some eye-catching derbies in the process

Wednesday 20 July
Kingstonian v Sutton United @745pm - these two were divisional rivals until fairly recently but two promotions for the visitors have propelled them into the fifth tier
Staines Town v QPR U21 @730pm - Rangers' youngsters have a hectic schedule of non-league opposition this week, with Ryman League Staines their latest opponents

Thursday 21 July
Thamesmead Town v Welling United @745pm - a south-east London derby at Bayliss Avenue

Friday 22 July
Wycombe Wanderers v QPR @745pm - the fact Chairboys boss Gareth Ainsworth has played and managed both is just one of a number of things connecting these two clubs as is the A40 road which makes this journey just outside London very straightforward
Enfield Town v Brighton & Hove Albion U21 @730pm - if you want to stay inside the M25 then this is the next best option

Saturday 23 July
Brentford v FC Kiaserslautern @3pm - the Bees host London's first foreign visitors of the summer as this German side come to Griffin Park
AFC Wimbledon v Reading @3pm - the Dons' steady rise up the leagues means there's only one division between these two now
Leyton Orient v Charlton Athletic @3pm - hailing from either side of the Thames on the east side of London, this is very much a derby
Barnet v Gillingham @3pm - Martin Allen's side welcome League One opponents from Kent
Crawley Town v Millwall @3pm - the Lions make the short trip to League Two Crawley which is very close to Gatwick airport if you want to fly in especially
Hendon Invitation Cup from 1pm - the Greens host Carshalton Athletic, Farnborough and Slough Town in a tournament which plays out over the weekend

Sunday 24 July
Hendon Invitation Cup from 1pm - depending on Saturday's results, we'll have a third place play-off and final featuring the teams above
Phoenix Sports v Dartford @2pm - south east London derby
Chelsea Ladies v Doncaster Rovers Belles @2pm - FA Women's Super League 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, 10 July 2016

TLFG: 11-17 July 2016

This time last week British sport, especially the English part, was in a pretty bad place. However, this week things got a whole lot better.

With Andy Murray and Heather Watson winning titles at Wimbledon, Lewis Hamilton triumphing in the British Grand Prix, and British athletes netting 16 medals including five golds at the European Championships it's been a great few days.

On top of this, the England cricket and rugby union sides are doing the nation proud and a Brit is well placed to win the Tour de France too. So, why you might quite rightly ask, is football the national game of this country???

I think we've all got our own theories on this but too much money being involved at the top level must be a considerable factor. 
Since I left my job at BBC Sport five years ago, I've barely watched any Premier League football and wouldn't be able to identify many of the players in the way I could and had to.

Unsurprisingly, following the creation of Non-League Day, my focus has very much started to move firmly back in that direction.

Don't get me wrong, the Premier League is entertaining and I'd love to see QPR get back up there but while they're not in it and I continue to refuse to sign up to massively overpriced satellite subscriptions - it's becoming less and less relevant to me.

That's enough soapbox stuff - what have we got to look forward to this week?

Things are really starting to get cracking now. Two weeks ago we had 10 games, last week 40 and now we're pushing 70.

For me, pre-season is one of the most exciting times of the football year as it's a time when fantasy can become reality. Much is made of famous FA Cup ties between non-league minnows and top-flight sides but most fans will rarely if ever get to see their team take part. However, over July and early August, the most unlikely of match-ups do sometimes come to pass.

I've seen Harrow Borough, my favourite non-league side, host full strength Premier League sides on several occasions. Five years ago I watched them push QPR really hard before narrowly losing 1-0 while on another occasion in the early '90s I saw them crushed 9-0 by a ruthless West Ham side who took no prisoners! 

The chance to play such teams probably doesn't teach the non-league sides all that much about themselves but it makes the club a huge amount of money as large crowds pile in - the attendance for the QPR game was nearly 10 times the normal average for Harrow.

One match like this in pre-season can go a long way to covering a club's costs for several months, and in some cases the whole campaign, so landing such a prestigious fixture is highly sought after. 

Many lower league outfits include a friendly in the deal when they sell a player to a pro club because it is worth so much.

If you want to see a professional team in action over the next few days then you'll be able to see the following play in the London area at some point:

Premier League: Watford*

Championship: Ipswich Town

League One: Charlton Athletic, Millwall, Peterborough United

League Two: Barnet, Leyton Orient, Portsmouth, Stevenage*

*Watford's game at Stevenage is just outside the M25 but it's a derby, is very easy to get to by train and therefore seemed churlish to miss off the list.

One of our Dutch friends was reunited with QPR keeper Alex Smithies on Saturday
There are also a number of games involving professional teams' U21 and reserve sides which you can find in the daily digest and match maps below.

I'm on early starts at work this week which means midweek football watching is highly unlikely. I'm then off for a long weekend in Ireland so I'm unlikely to see anything before I get back.

It's always good to hear from TLFG readers - apparently some of you will be at the very tasty looking Bromley v Millwall game on Saturday (tickets are on sale now). While Dutch reader Peter, who visited QPR in February, has had Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's side virtually camped on his doorstep this week and went to see their open training session on Saturday in the Netherlands.

If you're going to a game, let me know and feel free to send a picture or two. Enjoy!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 70 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to get into full swing.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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 11 July
Boreham Wood v Peterborough United @730pm - having beaten Brentford and lost to Reading, the Wood welcome their third EFL opponent of the summer

Tuesday 12 July
Bromley v Charlton Athletic @745pm  - the Ravens were the capital's top ranked non-league club last season and here they play League One opponents in a bit of a derby
Wealdstone v Leyton Orient @745pm - the highlight of the Stones' pre-season campaign is this match against the League Two O's from east London
Dulwich Hamlet v Norwich City U21 @745pm - after putting four past local rivals Bromley on Saturday, the Hamlet will fancy their chances against this Canaries XI

Wednesday 13 July
Barnet v Ipswich Town @8pm - our first all-pro friendly of the summer sees Martin Allen's Bees welcome the Tractor Boys to the Hive for a League Two v Championship encounter
Thurrock v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - if north London isn't convenient for you, this Essex derby could be right up your street

Thursday 14 July
Stevenage v Watford @745pm - we venture just beyond the M25 for this one so you can see the Premier League Hornets in action in this Hertfordshire derby, it's also very easy to reach by train

Friday 15 July
Beckenham Town v Crystal Palace U21 @7pm - the hosts are hoping for a repeat of the record attendance they achieved when the Eagles last visited two years ago for this local derby

Saturday 16 July
Boreham Wood v Arsenal U21 @3pm - the Wood welcome a young Gunners side to Meadow Park for what is becoming an annual fixture
Bromley v Millwall @3pm - two south-east London clubs fielding full strength teams make this game arguably more attractive than the one above and tickets are on sale now
Sutton United v Portsmouth @3pm - elsewhere in south London, a big crowd is also expected as 2008 FA Cup winners Pompey pay a visit to Gander Green Lane
Staines Town v Barnet @3pm - the Swans have seven games in pre-season and this one against the League Two Bees is the standout fixture
Welling United v Maidstone United @3pm - an all-Kent affair between sides who seem to be going in opposite directions in the pyramid
Enfield Town v Barnet U21 @3pm - Enfield and Barnet used to be huge local rivals in the '80s but things went pear-shaped for the hosts and the two rarely play these days meaning this is quite a big deal, it's just a shame and a bit bemusing that the Bees have decided to send their first XI to Staines the same afternoon

Sunday 17 July
Chelsea Ladies v Arsenal Ladies @3pm - a big derby between the teams currently ranked second and third in the FA Women's Super League (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.