Monday, 22 May 2017

TLFG: 22-31 May 2017

Well this is it ladies and gentlemen - the final edition of TLFG for the 2016/17 season.

It's been another hectic year and generally a very good one for London football. Did you know that for the first time ever London clubs have claimed the top two spots in the top division and provided both FA Cup finalists?

I have author Steve Tongue to thank for this excellent fact after going to see his appearance at the London Festival of Football Writing on Saturday night.

He was promoting his fine book on the history of London football which I would highly recommend you read if finding out about such a topic interests you.

The event brought the festival to a close after several nights of discussion and debate at Waterstones bookshop on Tottenham Court Road. Did you go to any of the sessions? 

On Saturday, Steve was also joined by fellow sports journalists Mina Rzouki, Jacob Steinberg and Philippe Auclair who covered a huge range of subjects concerning the past, present and future of football in the capital. I even got a question in about non-league football and its chances of future success.

I'd never been to any kind of literary festival before but this was right up my street and look forward to the next one.

Get your copy of Steve's book here

My Sunday was completely taken up by Non-League Finals Day (NLFD) at Wembley where visitors get to watch the finals of the FA Vase and FA Trophy back-to-back.

Last year was the first time the two had been played together on the same day and there were a few teething problems, particularly the management of the two-hour break between games where fans were kept inside the stadium and little provision was made for them.

This year, the lock-in continued but the facilities were a lot better. Food and drink was in good supply which definitely wasn't the case last year, there were pop-up pubs with sofas, tables etc showing live Sky coverage of the final day of the Premier League season and there were various other entertainments like table football and football freestylers to keep people amused.

It was also great to see the amount of neutral supporters on the concourses in their various kits and strips and the general bonhomie between them. In my section, primarily for Cleethorpes fans, I spotted a diverse collection including Romford, Billericay, Brighton, Man Utd, Chester and Grimsby. There were also quite a few people in various German club tops like Hertha and Hamburg and I even spotted an FC Copenhagen one. It is more and more people like these that will ensure this event stays at Wembley and thrives there as the competing clubs alone will probably never fill out the stadium completely.

The attendance of 38,224 was down on last year but that was always likely to be the case after former Football League club Hereford brought 20,000 fans to the FA Vase final to slightly skew things last time around. However, it was higher than the crowds at Burnley, Hull, Leicester, Southampton, Swansea and Watford who were all completing their Premier League campaigns at the same time.

The matches themselves produced an impressive haul of nine goals. South Shields, the best supported side on the day, were expected to start as favourites against Cleethorpes Town and duly dominated a game which they went on to win 4-0. Although they had plenty of chances, they were only leading 1-0 until the latter stages when Clee conceded a second and then collapsed in the final five minutes. Despite the drubbing, Cleethorpes' goalkeeper Liam Higton was absolutely superb, pulling off numerous saves from all angles as the Mariners pushed for victory.

The FA Trophy provided a much more balanced and entertaining game with Macclesfield and York serving up a five-goal thriller. Having suffered a heartbreaking relegation on the final day of the league season, the Minstermen came into the game as underdogs but with veteran heavyweight striker Jon Parkin (previously of Preston North End) up front they had a chance.

And it was he who gave them a surprise lead with a deft header after the Silkmen had made the brighter start. It didn't last long though as Macclesfield quickly equalised and the game opened up.

Macclesfield go in search of an equaliser against York at Wembley
York took the lead again before the goal of the day arrived right on the stroke of half-time when Ollie Norburn crashed a shot into the roof of the net from 25 yards which brought many to their feet.

The second half was more cagey and extra-time looked highly likely until Parkin caused havoc in the penalty area again and with his partially blocked shot looping towards goal, substitute Aidan Connolly poked it over the line to grab victory.

It brought a fine end to a generally fine day.

NLFD still isn't quite perfect. The lock-in imposed by Wembley is annoying as it means fans that do attend for both games are looking at at least a six-hour stay inside the stadium. This is tricky if you've got young kids and pretty challenging for smokers who are strictly forbidden, officially, from lighting up.

It also discourages fans of teams in the second game from turning up early as once you're in, you're in. Staying in neighbouring pubs and restaurants outside the ground which may well be cheaper is a far more attractive option for many.

As I said before, the future success of this event is going to depend on how much it appeals to neutrals. I've also mentioned many times before, that club rugby matches at Wembley frequently come close to selling out because of the rugby community's willingness to get behind big events and support their game no matter who is playing. The non-league community need to develop that too. There are certainly enough of us out there so it should be possible but it will take time.

It is a fun day out, there were loads of families present and the atmosphere is relaxed - the support was passionate but I don't remember any real taunting of the opposition, it was largely positive backing of their own players.

So that's it for another year. I'm going to take this week and June off and intend to get going again around 2 July.


To mark your card, the Emirates Cup returns this summer with Arsenal hosting Benfica, RB Leipzig and Sevilla over a weekend at the end of July. Tickets for this go on general sale on 7 June and usually sell out fairly quickly so put the date in your diary if it appeals.

Crystal Palace have also announced a friendly against German giants Schalke in early August - tickets are on sale now.

Fixtures for the new season in the Premier League are released on 14 June while those for the EFL come out a week later on 21 June. Non-league fixtures usually follow in July.

With my summer holiday coming in mid-July I don't have anything big planned for June but if you're off to the Champions League final or Euro U21s in Poland have a great time.

Finally, I'd like to give a huge thanks to all of you for reading and all of those who have contributed with ground reviews, photos, comments and questions - its what makes it all worthwhile.

I look forward to welcoming you all back again in July.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 6 matches in the London area over the next few days with the FA Cup final and two EFL play-off final among the highlights.

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

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

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

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

MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday 27 May
Orange pin - Sunday 28 May
Grey pin - Monday 29 May
Magenta pin - Wednesday 31 May




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.

Saturday 27 May

FA Cup Final
Arsenal v Chelsea @530pm - the season comes to an end for our local top-flight teams with this fantastic showpiece game at Wembley. For any American readers, this match is probably the closest equivalent we have to the Super Bowl. The Gunners will be using it as a chance to save their season after failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years. If they win, it will be the third time in four years and will make them the most successful club in the history of this famous competition. The Blues, on the other hand, will be going for the double after already bagging the Premier League title. Tickets have sold out so your only route is likely to be hospitality, agencies or the black market - in other words £££ will be required!

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Sunday 28 May

Chelsea victory parade
Whether or not Antonio Conte's side complete the double on Saturday, they will be parading the Premier League trophy around the streets of Chelsea and Fulham at the very least. The procession will head off from Stamford Bridge at midday and finish on Eel Brook Common. Full details can be found here

League Two Play-Off Final
Blackpool v Exeter City @3pm - after two thrilling semi-finals we have been handed this final at Wembley. Given their huge issues off the pitch this season, it's been quite an achievement by Blackpool to have made it this far. A Premier League side as recently as 2011, the last few years have been turbulent to say the least as the fans and board have fallen out spectacularly after various problems which are still ongoing. In contrast, the Grecians have been the model of stability with boss Paul Tisdale having managed the side since 2006 as they have yo-yoed between what is now the National League and League One. Blackpool picked up a win and a draw from the two league games between them this season so might be slight favourites. Tickets are on general sale from both clubs - see their websites for details

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Liverpool @1205pm - in another spectacular slight to women's football, Chelsea have scheduled the victory parade for their men's team at the same time as this huge game for the women's team. At the time of writing, these clubs are the top two in the Spring Series table and with reigning league champions Manchester City just behind them, it's crucial for both that they win

FA Women's Premier League Play-Off
Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur @2pm - the FAWPL effectively constitutes the third tier of women's football in England. The competition is split into two with a northern and southern division and the winners of each meet in this play-off match to decide who wins overall. This year, the game is being held at Charlton Athletic's ground where adult tickets will be £5

NB - it is possible an Arsenal victory parade could also take place on this day or 29 May if they win the FA Cup

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Monday 29 May

Championship Play-Off Final
Huddersfield Town v Reading @3pm - the domestic season in the men's game finally comes to an end at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday with the highest stakes game possibly anywhere in the world. With bottom club Sunderland banking a whopping £99.9m in TV and prize money this season you can see why escaping the EFL is something all clubs want to do. Reading finished third so should start as marginal favourites. The Terriers have an illustrious history with three league titles and one FA Cup win but all were achieved way back in the 1920s and they've managed little of note since so a place in the Premier League would be particularly notable for them

NB - it is possible an Arsenal victory parade could also take place on this day or 28 May if they win the FA Cup

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Wednesday 31 May

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Reading @730pm - the Gunners' women's team bring TLFG's season to a close with this game at The Hive. Currently fourth and fifth, it's quite likely they could finish in those positions as the three above them are all so strong. This will also see the conclusion of the Super League's 'Spring Series' in the capital - the women's game will now take a break for the European Championships in July before reconvening in September for a whole new season

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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. 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 May 2017

TLFG: 15-21 May 2017

It's been a big week for the London football scene with the top story undoubtedly being another Premier League title triumph for Chelsea, completed on Friday night at West Bromwich Albion.

After the humiliation of finishing 10th last year, it has been quite an achievement by new boss Antonio Conte to win it with relative ease.

Tottenham ended their time at White Hart Lane with a fine win over Manchester United on Sunday, a result which sees them guaranteed to finish second.

Non-League Finals Day takes place on Sunday at Wembley - get your tickets now!!! 

Arsenal are still outside the coveted top four places but go into their final two games with a fighting chance after stringing together three wins in seven days.

At the other end, Crystal Palace ensured their survival in the top flight with an emphatic 4-0 win over Hull City who they relegated in the process. With Watford and West Ham also keeping their heads above water, there will be no London relegations this season.

There is a chance there could be seven sides from the capital in the top flight next year as Fulham drew the first leg of their play-off with Reading 1-1 on Saturday. It's going to be tough at the Madejeski Stadium on Tuesday but it's wide open.


From a personal perspective, the huge thing for me was the news that Harrow Borough had been reprieved from relegation!

Having cruelly lost their Ryman League Premier Division status for the first time since the 1970s to a 98th-minute goal, it's a huge relief to know they'll be given another year in the seventh tier.

Sadly it's come about because Worcester City of the National League North (Level 6) have voluntarily decided to drop down three divisions for financial reasons. It's a shame this once great club have had to do this.

'Two Men In Search...' check out Thurrock in the Ryman League Division 1 North play-off final

Also this week, we see the London Festival of Football Writing. Several events with some top authors (including Michael Cox who has been known to peruse these pages) will be taking place at Waterstones bookshop on Tottenham Court Road between 16-20 May. Tickets and full information can be found on their website. I'm going to the session which is taking place on the final night.

After months of preparation and competition it's also time for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on Sunday. The FA Vase and FA Trophy finals are played back-to-back and tickets are just £25 for adults and £1 U16s which is great value so I hope to see you there. I think I'm going in the section for Cleethorpes Town supporters.

Lastly from me, I launched a new 'Books' section on TLFG during the week. There's a few relevant publications which I think are good and could be of interest to readers of this blog. It's not exhaustive by any means and I will add to it over the summer.

Before I sign off, there's also another fine piece this week from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'. Although not a visit to a London ground, it features local side Thurrock as they took on Maldon & Tiptree in the Ryman League Division 1 North play-off final - find out if they were successful...

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 12 matches, including two doubleheaders, in the London area over the next week with some crucial games in the Premier League, a play-off final and Non-League Finals Day among the highlights.

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

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


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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday 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 May

Premier League
Chelsea v Watford @8pm - with the Blues winning the title on Friday and the Hornets safe from relegation for another season, there's little to play for in this derby other than pride. As has been said several times in recent weeks, this could free both sides up to play a very entertaining game completely devoid of pressure. The atmosphere should be celebratory from both sets of fans but sadly the Premier League trophy presentation won't happen until the weekend

Friendly
Brentford B v Manchester City U23 @7pm - the Bees are unusual in that they don't enter their reserve side in a league. Instead they arrange their own friendlies and they've come up with some big opponents this season with the likes of Bayern Munich, Valencia, Hamburg and domestic giants like Manchester United all fielding sides against them. For their final game they've managed to get City to come to Griffin Park. To top it all, admission to most of these games is free and this is no exception

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Tuesday 16 May

Premier League
Arsenal v Sunderland @745pm - with the title race and relegation battle concluded, it's now all about the fight for Champions League places. Chelsea and Spurs have claimed two of the four places, meaning Arsenal now really need to win their final two games to have a chance of claiming one too. They're currently fifth, three points behind Manchester City so it's going to be tight. Sunderland are bottom with one win in 10 but with the pressure off, could be quite capable of embarrassing their hosts

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Wednesday 17 May

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Arsenal @735pm - these two have been among the superpowers of women's football in England in recent years but they face a growing threat from Manchester City who won the league last season, the league cup in October and this season's FA Cup on Saturday - comprehensively beating Birmingham City 4-1. Chelsea have won their opening two games this season while the Gunners are unbeaten after three. Tickets for this game at Staines Town are £6 adults and £3 for everyone else

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Saturday 20 May

League One Play-Off Final
Bradford City v Millwall @3pm - the first of the EFL play-off finals takes place at Wembley on Saturday as these two go head-to-head for a place in the Championship. Finishing fifth and sixth in the division, neither was supposed to make it this far but they have. Bradford are the bigger club and played in the Premier League as recently as 2001, they also sensationally made the League Cup final whilst still a League Two team in 2013. The Lions are no strangers to Wembley and this will be their fifth visit since the stadium re-opened in 2007. Three of those were also League One play-off finals including last year's which they lost to Barnsley. The last three games between Bradford and Millwall have ended in 1-1 draws so this could go to penalties. Tickets are available on general sale directly from each of the clubs

FA Women's Super League doubleheader
A short Tube ride to the north of Wembley, The Hive plays host to a couple of games from the FAWSL. Arsenal take on FA Cup finalists Birmingham City in a top-tier game at 1pm, before London Bees entertain second division leaders Everton at 4pm. Tickets are £9

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Sunday 21 May

Premier League
Arsenal v Everton @3pm - the Gunners conclude their season with what could be a make or break game against the Toffees. As explained above, they need all the points they can get to try and make it into the top four and a place in the Champions League. Everton have had another solid season and will finish seventh whatever happens here. The last game between them, just before Christmas, saw the team from Merseyside win 2-1
Chelsea v Sunderland @3pm - it's likely to be a case of top versus bottom on the final day at Stamford Bridge where the Blues could end their title winning campaign with a goalfeast. The highlight will be the official presentation of the Premier League trophy
Watford v Manchester City @3pm - the Hornets don't have much to play for but they could have a huge impact on what goes on towards the top of the table as City look to clinch one of the final two Champions League places. It doesn't look too bright for the hosts though who have lost their last five against City in all competitions

Non-League Finals Day
With tickets likely to be hard to get or expensive for all of the above, why not head to Wembley for the annual end-of-season non-league showpiece? Kicking off with the FA Vase final between Cleethorpes Town and South Shields at 1215pm and concluding with the FA Trophy final between Macclesfield Town and York City at 415pm it provides an action packed day of football at the national stadium. Plenty of entertainment is being laid on on the concourses between games so you shouldn't get bored. Tickets for the whole day are £25 adults, £10 concessions and £1 U16s and can be bought in advance or on the day from the ticket office


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. 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 May 2017

TLFG: 8-14 May 2017

The end of the 2016/17 season is almost upon us.

Aside from the play-offs, the EFL season ended earlier today as the Championship became the final division to complete its fixtures.

With safety secured last week, I made the decision to head up to Norfolk to watch QPR take on Norwich City in a game that was of little consequence to either team.

I hadn't been to the city itself for about 30 years and had never been to a game there which is surprising given how easy it is to get to from London. With direct trains from Liverpool Street leaving regularly and taking two hours and the ground pretty much next to the station, it really is a good place to consider visiting if you're looking for somewhere new or your London match options aren't great.

It was also a chance to catch up with my oldest friend who moved to the area about 10 years ago. I'd kept in touch throughout that time but we hadn't seen each other at all so it was kind of strange meeting up again.

This fine event takes place over several nights next week - more info
Thankfully, we both looked pretty much the same and the conversation flowed with ease had it always had. In the intervening years marriages and children had materialised and we'd both mellowed but essentially we were still the same.

Anyway, enough about my boring personal stuff and onto the action.

Carrow Road is a fine ground in a good location with a capacity of around 30,000 and it was largely full for this end of season send off.

Sadly, from my perspective, QPR appeared to have ended their season last week as Norwich ran riot in the opening stages with one shot being cleared off the line, another saved and another hitting the bar all in what seemed like the first five minutes!

The only surprise about Norwich's deflected opening goal was that it took over 20 minutes to come - they should have been out of sight by then.

It looked as if that profligacy might cost them when Rangers had a shot tipped onto the woodwork in the dying seconds of the half as it stayed 1-0 at the interval.

The second half seemed more open as substitutions shook things up a bit but ultimately it was the hosts who were far more clinical as they eased away to a 4-0 win which flattered QPR - it could easily have been double.

With seven defeats from their final eight games, Ian Holloway's side finished 18th just two points above the relegation zone. His overall win record in recent years with Crystal Palace, Millwall and now QPR is pretty poor and many fans are tonight calling for his head on forums all over the internet. I have to say I wouldn't miss him if he did go but I am, perhaps rashly, prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.


Elsewhere in the division, from a London perspective, Fulham made it into the play-offs and have what is effectively a derby against Reading in the semi-finals.

Also on Sunday, Millwall secured a place in the League One play-off final at Wembley with a thrilling 3-2 win at Scunthorpe.

Sadly for Dagenham & Redbridge, Forest Green Rovers got the better of them in the National League play-offs and in the National League South both Dartford and Hampton & Richmond Borough bowed out at the semi-final stage too.

Less than 2 weeks to go until Non-League Finals Day - get your tickets now!!!
I heard reports from readers that the charity match between Peckham Town and Somaliland on Saturday went well with over £600 being raised. This Saturday at 230pm, Peckham's U21 side will be hosting the U18s from QPR in another eye-catching fixture at the Menace Arena so get down to Dulwich Common if that appeals to you.

It also came to my attention the other day that the London Festival of Football Writing is coming up next week. Several events with some top authors (including Michael Cox who has been known to peruse these pages) will be taking place at Waterstones bookshop on Tottenham Court Road between 16-20 May. Tickets and full information can be found on their website.

I think that's about it from me. Once again, if you're around, please consider coming to Wembley for Non-League Finals Day on 21 May - two cup finals back-to-back for £25 is great value so I hope to see you there.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 17 matches in the London area over the next week with some crucial games in the Premier League and some play-off matches in the EFL and National League among the highlights.

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

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


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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday 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 May

Premier League
Chelsea v Middlesbrough @8pm - on paper it doesn't look like the most thrilling match up but the result could be huge for both teams. A win will give the Blues an almost unassailable seven-point lead at the top with three games to go and will relegate Boro in the process - hopefully that fact will make the visitors fight that bit harder but you feel it would be delaying the inevitable even if they did manage to win

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Manchester United @7pm - if you can't get a ticket for the above then why not head to the Emirates instead for this attractive looking U23 game? This is the last match of the season for the Gunners' youngsters and a win will see them finish fourth. United have had a poor campaign but have done enough to avoid relegation. Tickets are only £4 but must be bought online by 3pm on Monday - no tickets will be available on the night

Professional Development League play-off semi-final
Charlton Athletic v Hull City @7pm - the PDL effectively makes up the third tier of U23 football in England. It's split into a northern and southern division and the top two from each play-off before the winners meet in the final. Millwall or Sheffield Wednesday await the winners. Tickets for this match, at The Valley, are available on the gate and are only £3

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Saturday 13 May

Championship play-off final first leg
Fulham v Reading @530pm - the match of the day takes place at Craven Cottage and it has the potential to be a real humdinger. With Reading being located not far to the west of London, this is pretty much a derby so the atmosphere should be good. Although the Royals finished third, it is Fulham who are seen by many as favourites as they enter the post season with the best form of the four teams still standing. With five wins and a draw from their last six and with the knowledge they thrashed the Berkshire club 5-0 on their last visit back in December, it's looking pretty promising for Slavisa Jokanovic and his side

FA Women's Cup Final
Birmingham City v Manchester City @515pm - reigning Super League champions Man City should start as favourites in this showpiece match of the women's game at Wembley. The two clubs' league campaigns have only just begun and saw them draw 1-1 earlier this week. With tickets a snip at £15 for adults and free for kids, this represents a great value day out at the national stadium

Combined Counties Leaue Division 1 Cup Final
AC London v Redhill @3pm - there's another bit of silverware up for grabs over near Heathrow airport where these two 10th-tier teams look to end the season on a high at Bedfont & Feltham's ground

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Sunday 14 May

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Hull City @12pm - two clubs threatened with the drop meet for this relegation six-pointer at high noon. Big Sam looked to have done enough to have saved Palace a couple of weeks ago but three defeats in quick succession have left them four points clear with two games to go. Hull will start the game in the bottom three and could find themselves relegated if they fail to win and other results go against them
West Ham United v Liverpool @215pm - with that game out of the way, focus moves to Stratford where West Ham will look to dent Liverpool's hopes of a top-four finish. The Hammers' fine win over Spurs on Friday secured their place in the division for another year so they have little to play for other than pride
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United @430pm - a Super Sunday of London football comes to a close at White Hart Lane with what could be Tottenham's last throw of the dice in this year's title race. If Chelsea beat West Brom the night before then they will win the league but anything else will keep Spurs in it - just. The visitors will badly need to win to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place

National League Promotion Final
Forest Green Rovers v Tranmere Rovers @3pm - after overcoming Dagenham & Redbridge in the semi-finals, FGR head to Wembley for the second year running as they look to claim a place in the EFL for the very first time. The Gloucestershire club have been among the contenders to go up for several years but always miss out. Tranmere, the former League Cup finalists and second-tier side not that long ago, should provide formidable opposition though and will be expected to bring thousands more spectators. The Merseyside club are also in better form, notably stuffing midtable Solihull Moors 9-0 a month ago!



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. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

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

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

Monday, 1 May 2017

TLFG: 2-7 May 2017

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

With the regular season in League One and National League complete and all the main non-league competitions finished as well, the season is well and truly winding down.

As is customary at this time of year, I've padded the match map out with a few games from the 11th tier but even they are few and far between.

Apart from some huge games in the Premier League, the highlights this week are the National League play-offs, a couple of county cup finals and some U23 football at clubs' main stadiums.


During the week just gone, many of you got to enjoy the Ryman League play-offs which produced some epic games. Dorking Wanderers, who had finished joint top of the Ryman League Division 1 South with a whopping 105 points, were the first to go up on Saturday but they were taken to penalties in the semi-finals by Hastings and Corinthian Casuals in the final.

Thurrock caused a bit of an upset by beating Maldon & Tiptree in the Division 1 North final and at the time of writing, we're still waiting for the Premier Division final between Bognor and Dulwich to get underway - good luck to all involved at the Hamlet.

Egham Town made the Southern League play-offs but fell at the first hurdle against Farnborough - nevertheless, it was still a fine achievement by the Sarnies to get there for a second consecutive season.

Less than 3 weeks to go until Non-League Finals Day - get your tickets now!!!

From a personal point of view, after the disappointment of seeing Harrow Borough get relegated last week, it was a huge relief to see QPR avoid the drop by beating Nottingham Forest 2-0. This means we have an end-of-season dead rubber to enjoy at Norwich next Sunday which I am currently planning to attend. Despite Carrow Road being a very easy ground to get to, I've never previously been so I'm looking forward to ticking it off the list.

Before I forget, there's a special fundraiser taking place in south London on Saturday where Peckham Town take on Somaliland in a friendly. Entry is by donation with all proceeds going to good causes. See the club's website for more detials.

I think that's about it from me. Once again, if you're around, please consider coming to Wembley for Non-League Finals Day on 21 May - two cup finals back-to-back for £25 is great value so I hope to see you there.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 27 matches in the London area over the next week with games in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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

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


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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
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




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

Tuesday 2 May

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Bristol City @1pm - the pick of the day's action is this U23 match at Selhust Park which provides you with a great opportunity to visit a Premier League ground for only £5

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Wednesday 3 May

Professional Development League
Watford v Cardiff City @2pm - start the day with a bit of U23 football at Vicarage Road, you can then move on to one of the far more significant games listed below in the evening

National League South play-off semi-final first leg
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - the hosts finished the campaign in seventh but still managed to qualify for the play-offs as the two teams above them were found to have grounds that weren't suitable for promotion. In Ebbsfleet they face a team who missed out on the title by only two points so should provide formidable opposition. However, the two meetings between them during the regular season ended in 1-1 draws so it should be close again

London Senior Cup Final
Cray Valley PM v Metropolitan Police @745pm - Cray come into this match very much as underdogs as they play two levels below the Met. However, the SCEFL side have seen off the likes of Welling United, AFC Wimbledon and Dulwich Hamlet in previous rounds so this match shouldn't faze them at all. The game is being played at Dulwich Hamlet

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Thursday 4 May

League One play-off semi-final first leg
Millwall v Scunthorpe United @745pm - the Lions put their fans through the wringer on the final day of the season with their rollercoaster 4-3 win over Bristol Rovers but it was enough to see off Southend to claim the final play-off place. In Scunthorpe they face a team who were top for a while and who come into the play-offs on the back of five straight wins. It's going to be tough

National League play-off semi-final first leg
Dagenham & Redbridge v Forest Green Rovers @7pm - the Daggers disappointingly dropped out of the Football League last season but have responded well to life back in non-league. They topped the National League for a while but although fading a bit, still held on for a play-off place. FGR finished just ahead of them and have never played in the EFL despite having been title challengers for a few seasons now

Premier League 2
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City @7pm - this match is being played at White Hart Lane and has become a benefit match for the family of Spurs youth coach Ugo Ehiogu who sadly died last week. This is also Leicester's last match of the season and they need to win to try and avoid relegation

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Liverpool @730pm - the Hive plays host to this match as the Gunners welcome the league's early leaders who have flown out of the traps with two straight wins

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Friday 5 May

Premier League
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - the weekend gets underway with this important derby at the London Stadium. A three-game winless run has left the Hammers still needing a point or two to absolutely guarantee Premier League survival while Spurs need the win to keep their title hopes alive. If they do triumph then the gap between themselves and leaders Chelsea will be temporarily cut to just one point

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Saturday 6 May

London Senior Trophy Final
Balham v Glebe @3pm - you can really see how much the season has wound down when a cup final between two 10th-tier teams takes top billing on a Saturday afternoon. Balham have enjoyed a decent debut season at this level, coming third in the CCL Division 1. Glebe, on the other hand, arrive as SCEFL Division 1 champions having finished 12 points ahead of their nearest rivals. Two good teams from parallel leagues - it's a hard one to call. This match is being played at the home of Corinthian Casuals

Middlesex County Football League Premier Division Cup Final
Deportivo Galicia v FC Assyria @745pm - the teams which finished one and two in the league meet in this cup final at Uxbridge's ground. Both sides are interesting in that they represent minority communities and yet with a limited crop of players to pick from have had great seasons

Friendly
Peckham Town v Somaliland @3pm - the hosts are pushing hard for the Kent County League title but have managed to squeeze in this charity match against Somaliland. Entry will be by donation with all proceeds going to good causes

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Sunday 7 May

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester United @4pm - defeat to Spurs left Arsenal's already slim hopes of a top-four finish hanging by a thread. Six points adrift with five games to go, this match against the team just above them is absolutely crucial. Consequently, United need the win too to make sure they're not edged out by old foes Manchester City

Championship
Brentford v Blackburn Rovers @12pm - the Bees' season comes to an end on Sunday and although a win could see them finish in a very respectable eighth position, it could and probably will also condemn Rovers to relegation. Only one relegation spot still remains to be claimed with Blackburn, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City all trying to avoid it. Although Blackburn are the lowest ranked at the moment, they are in the best form and only one goal (not point) behind Forest. Therefore, even if they narrowly lose, a heavy defeat for Forest could see them stay up

National League South play-off semi-final second leg
Dartford v Chelmsford City @3pm - the Darts missed the play-offs by five points last season so they'll be pretty pleased to have made it this time round. They've had a solid year, finished third and confirmed their place with games to spare. Aside from Ebbsfleet, they have the best form of anyone in the division so we should get a final between the two of them which would be enormous as they are neighbouring towns - I'm sure Chelmsford will do their best to ruin things though


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. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

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

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

TLFG: 24 April - 1 May 2017

At this time of year, with the season drawing to a close, emotions can run high.

Saturday was a turbulent one for mine which were put through the wringer as I followed the progress of Harrow Borough via a mobile phone as I spent the afternoon visiting relatives in Bristol.

As regular readers may know, I've been going to watch the Boro on and off since 1988 and although they've spent most of that time flirting with relegation, they've somehow always avoided it - some escapes have been truly miraculous with a 5-1 away win on the final day at a decent Windsor & Eton side in the early '90s being one of the most notable.

As recently as the 18 March, Harrow were sitting snugly in midtable after a solid 3-1 win at AFC Sudbury and another season in the Ryman League Premier Division looked certain. But then it all went wrong as Steve Baker's side failed to win any of the following eight fixtures meaning they found themselves two points above the relegation zone going into the final game - a very tough and long trip to Lowestoft Town.


This week 'Two Men In Search...' review the Ryman League Cup Final

There were eight teams in the relegation mixer at the start of the day and only two places in the bottom four still 'up for grabs' with Sudbury and Grays already down. There were several teams between us and the dotted line of doom who would surely slip up and go down instead of us.

When I logged on shortly before 5pm I noticed we had unsurprisingly lost 2-0 but were 'safe'. However, two crucial games at Burgess Hill and Hendon were still in progress.

At that point Canvey Island had been confirmed as relegation casualties and Burgess Hill were filling the final relegation spot after conceding a late equaliser against Merstham. Hendon were trailing to Staines but their game had kicked off 75 minutes late after the referee had been held up in traffic!!!

With just seconds to go, old rivals but very much friends, Harrow and Hendon were safe no matter what happened in their games and then it came... a 98th-minute winner for Burgess Hill. What the time was added on for I don't know but its significance was massive for two sides from north-west London.

Hendon dropped down into the relegation zone and Harrow stayed above them by virtue of having a goal difference that was just one better. Now we just had to hope and pray that Staines could hold out for the entire second half as a solitary goal and a draw would be enough for Hendon to stay up at Harrow's expense. Sadly the Swans' second half resistance lasted all of a few seconds as the Greens equalised almost from the kick-off.

Nothing further happened and with the game ending 1-1, Harrow Borough were relegated for the first time since the 1970s.

For a season which had included the highs of reaching the FA Cup First Round and playing Northampton Town, beating eventual Ryman League champions Havant & Waterlooville, stuffing Dulwich Hamlet 4-1 at Champion Hill and seeing our star player turn pro with Cardiff City, it ended on the darkest note I've experienced in nearly 30 years of following the club.

Tickets for the FA Vase and FA Trophy doubleheader at Wembley on 21 May are on sale now
With crowds struggling to break the 200 barrier for several years now, I fear for the future of a club which hasn't been hugely proactive in trying to build its supporter base. I know there are good reasons for this but it is an acute problem that needs to be addressed.

What happens to Steve Baker is an interesting question. He pulled off one of the great escapes when he came in two years ago and the football his side were playing less than six weeks ago was more than good enough for this level but can he really be kept on after presiding over this?

I personally hope Harrow transfer across to the Southern League next season so they can make a completely fresh start and play derbies against the likes of Hayes & Yeading, Hanwell, Northwood and Uxbridge rather than face long journeys to Essex and Suffolk every other week in the Ryman North.

Ho hum. In other news, QPR did their best to destroy my love for football too by losing 3-1 at Brentford to keep themselves firmly in the competition to win a relegation spot from the Championship!

Being five points clear with two games to play, their chances of survival look reasonable but a lot could hinge on their next match against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest.

There was also sad news at Brisbane Road where Leyton Orient confirmed their inevitable relegation from the EFL after a 112-year stint. Sadly there are more problems facing the club than just those on the pitch so the future doesn't look great in that part of east London.

On the bright side, Tooting & Mitcham United finally got their hands on the Ryman League Division 1 South title despite losing at main challengers Dorking Wanderers on the final day. That result meant they finished first on goal difference alone as both sides amassed a staggering 105 points each. I hope for Wanderers' sake that they don't ultimately end up losing to Hastings who finished 23 points behind them in fifth!


The coming week doesn't have as many matches as normal but we've got lots of play-off games and a few cup finals at non-league, amateur, women's and youth level.

The Ryman League play-offs start on Tuesday and conclude on Bank Holiday Monday and include some great games all of which are played over only one leg. The semi-final between Dulwich and Enfield on Thursday should be a cracker.

Also this week we've got another piece from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who made their now customary trip to the Ryman League Cup Final a couple of weeks ago. The match between Billericay and Tonbridge was played at Carshalton Athletic's ground and produced quite a scoreline!

Right, enough of my whinging, it's late and we've all got much better things to do. Enjoy your week and I hope it doesn't end like mine did.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 50 matches in the London area over the next week with games in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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

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


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

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top (e.g. clubs in the National League 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 24 April

Premier League 2
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - the Cottagers' U23 side play their last match of the season against Wolves. There's actually quite a bit riding on this as they are both in the top five and headed for the Division 2 play-offs. Wolves have already guaranteed a second-placed finish but Fulham could conceivably miss out if they lose this

Professional Development League
Charlton Athletic v Millwall @630pm - elsewhere in London's U23 world, there's a derby between two south-east London clubs taking place at The Valley. These two are the top two in the southern division of the league and also heading for the play-offs

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Tuesday 25 April

Premier League

Chelsea v Southampton @745pm - after last week's setback at Manchester United, the Blues will look to return to winning ways in the league and extend their lead back to seven points. Having seen off nearest rivals Spurs in the FA Cup on Saturday, the midtable Saints should be beaten too

Ryman League Division 1 South play-off semi-final
Greenwich Borough v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - Tuesday brings us our first play-off game of the season as big spending Greenwich welcome CC's whose players, I was recently told, are paid nothing or next to nothing. Borough finished third in the division so have home advantage for this one-legged fixture

Middlesex Charity Cup semi-final
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - the hosts play two divisions below their opponents, who make the relatively short journey up from the Beveree, so will start as underdogs. Wealdstone await the winners

Capital Women's Cup Final
Charlton Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur @730pm - I'm not an expert on the women's game as yet but this cup seems to be for all senior women's teams in the London area who are not in the FA Women's Super League (i.e. third tier and below). Spurs have already won the FA Women's Premier League Southern title so will want to scoop up another piece of silverware here. With the match taking place at Wingate & Finchley it's on their north London patch too

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Wednesday 26 April

Premier League
Arsenal v Leicester City @745pm - after all the acrimony shown to him in recent weeks, Arsene Wenger has managed to produce back-to-back victories in the league and cup - the latter taking the Gunners past Manchester City into the FA Cup Final. The run to Wembley has given them games in hand on all the teams above them so the top four is still within reach. League champions Leicester were reborn following the departure of Claudio Ranieri and went on a five-game winning run. However, that has now ended and four games have gone by without a victory. Nevertheless, I expect a very spirited Foxes side to turn up and push Arsenal hard
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - investing in Big Sam seems to have reaped its rewards as the Eagles managed a fine away win at Liverpool on Sunday to take them to 12th and the all-important 38-point mark which usually sees teams survive in the top division. Spurs will have been left disappointed by their cup defeat to Chelsea - it will be interesting to see if they can raise themselves and produce the kind of performance that has seen them win their last seven league games

FA Youth Cup Final second leg
Chelsea v Manchester City @745pm - Stamford Bridge plays host to this decisive match in the most prestigious U18 competition in the land. The Blues have completely dominated this event in recent years, making the last five finals and winning four of them - only Manchester United have been more successful since it started in 1952. Interestingly Chelsea have beaten Manchester City in the last two and will probably prevail again having drawn the first leg 1-1. Tickets must be bought in advance and are only available until 4pm (in person) on the day of the match so don't turn up without one

Ryman League Division 1 North play-off final
Thurrock v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - if you want a big non-league match instead then get yourself down to Ship Lane for this Essex derby against near neighbours who finished third and fourth in the RLD1N. In the respective league matches, each side won their home game 2-0 so there is very little to choose between them. Remember, these games are played over one leg so a place in the final awaits the winners

Middlesex Premier Cup Final
Broadfields United v Hillingdon Borough @730pm - there's another piece of silverware up for grabs at Northwood's ground where these two local rivals from the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 do battle in the final of this cup which is primarily for teams in the 10th tier

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Thursday 27 April

Ryman League Premier Division play-off semi-final
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town @745pm - for non-league fans, this tie was made to make your mouth water. Dulwich and Enfield are two of the best supported clubs in the division and finished third and fourth respectively. It's also a case of south London versus north and both sides are in decent form. Both have had some big disappointments associated with the play-offs in recent seasons but only one of them can succeed in this one-legged tie. Tickets are available in advance but will also be available on the night - be prepared to queue, though, as a close to 3,000 capacity crowd will almost certainly turn up

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Friday 28 April

Surrey Premier Cup Final
Banstead Athletic v Worcester Park @745pm - Combined Counties League Division 1 winners Banstead go after some more silverware against possible third-place finishers Worcester Park in this county cup final at Sutton United

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Saturday 29 April

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Burnley @530pm - prior to their win at Liverpool, this looked like being an absolutely crucial game for Palace but a bit of the pressure has now been taken off. Nevertheless, they won't want to take any chances and will want to make certain of their place in the top flight against a Burnley side whose position has become a little unsure after a weekend of bad results

Championship
Fulham v Brentford @3pm - with Chelsea in a league of their own, three other teams are left to battle for runners up spot in the unofficial west London league with QPR and these two vying for supremacy. For many years it was QPR, Fulham and Brentford in that order, then it became Fulham, QPR and Brentford, currently it's Fulham, Brentford, QPR - a position confirmed by the Bees' comfortable 3-1 win over Rangers on Saturday. Buoyed by that victory, they head straight to Craven Cottage to try and throw a spanner in the Cottagers' play-off plans which are still very vulnerable despite a great four-game winning run. Cheered on by a large away following and with nothing whatsoever to lose, I really fancy Brentford who are remarkably unbeaten in their last seven at Craven Cottage
Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest @3pm - if you're a neutral and for some crazy reason don't want to go to the game above, then you'll be very welcome in Shepherd's Bush for this game of some importance towards the foot of the table. QPR have completely collapsed in recent weeks as Ian Holloway has experimented with players and formations perhaps a little earlier in the campaign than he should have. Six straight defeats have seen them slide down the table to sit five points above the relegation zone with two games to go. Probability suggests that should be enough to survive but a defeat to Forest, who are below them, and a win for Blackburn could make the final day very tense indeed

League Two
Leyton Orient v Colchester United @3pm - the O's have been in a sorry state for most of the season and sadly saw their relegation out of the EFL confirmed on Saturday after losing at Crewe. This will therefore be their last home game as a member of 'the 92' - a club they have been members of for 112 years. A dark day for football in east London
Barnet v Grimsby Town @3pm - the other game of the day in the fourth tier is a totally meaningless midtable clash. With the pressure off you could get to see two sides throw caution to the wind and produce a really entertaining game or it could end up turning into a friendly. Really only worth going to if you're a fan of one of the sides or a groundhopper looking to tick The Hive off your list

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Woking @1215pm - if you're looking for a match with a bit of meaning then this game way out east has a fair bit going for it. Saturday is the final day of the regular season in this division - the Daggers have already guaranteed a play-off semi-final against Forest Green Rovers but a win here could see them finish third which would give them home advantage for the all-important second leg. The Cards, on the other hand, are still fighting to avoid relegation and need a draw to make sure of it

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Concord Rangers @3pm - over the last couple of weeks the play-off picture in this division has changed drastically with fifth placed Poole Town and sixth placed Hungerford Town denied the right to compete because their grounds were deemed unsuitable for promotion. As a result, Hampton in seventh now suddenly find themselves eligible to take part in the 'post-season'. To make sure of it, they need to win this game or match Wealdstone's result who are just below them.

Essex Senior League
Barking v Stansted @3pm - the Blues bring their title-winning season to a close with this home game against the Airportmen. The match is of little significance but a win would take Barking's points tally for the season to an impressive 103. This match could very easily be combined with the early game at Dagenham & Redbridge if you wanted to see two games in quick succession on Saturday

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v London Colney @3pm - this could effectively become another exhibition match on the final day of the SSML season as third place Cockfosters entertain the league champions in what is also a bit of a derby

The Arthur Dunn Challenge Cup Final
Old Reptonians v Old Carthusians @3pm - as the season winds down it's become a TLFG tradition to fill things out with some amateur football. On Saturday at Merchant Taylors' School near Watford we see the final of this historic cup which was first contested way back in 1903. Named after the FA Cup winning Old Etonian who proposed it and then died shortly after, it features teams of former pupils or 'old boys' of all the poshest schools in the land. Saturday's game features teams from Repton (Derbyshire) and Charterhouse (Surrey). Why should you be interested in this? Well former pupils of these schools were instrumental in setting up the FA and organising football as we know it. Some of these amateur clubs are among the oldest in the world. Old Carthusians have been in existence since 1876, won the FA Cup back in 1881 and have dominated this competition for most of the 21st century. To top it all, because it's strictly amateur, it's free to get in

Southern Amateur League Senior Cup Final
Crouch End Vampires v Polytechnic @3pm - two more ancient amateur clubs from north and west London battle for honours at the HSBC Sports Ground in Beckenham in the other final of the day. The Vampires were formed in 1883 whilst Polytechnic (originally known as Hanover United) date back possibly all the way to 1873. Polytechnic have already won the SAL title and will be going for the double here

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Sunday 30 April

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @430pm - the biggest game of the week is almost certainly the North London derby at White Hart Lane. As always bragging rights are at stake but so are Spurs' title aspirations and the Gunners' hopes of making the top four. I needn't write much more as you know just how important this match is

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Oldham Athletic @12pm - I think something to do with the availability of Wembley for the play-offs means the League One season is finishing a week earlier than the Championship and League Two. As a result we've got a couple of bonus EFL games on Sunday lunchtime to look forward to. The downside is that both are of little consequence. The Dons could break into the top 12 with a win here
Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town @12pm - in the other game, the Addicks welcome freshly relegated Swindon. A win for the hosts will see them finish just ahead of Wimbledon - exciting stuff!

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Yeovil Town @2pm - the Blues get their season underway with this fixture at Staines Town in what is the pick of several women's games on Sunday

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Monday 1 May

Premier League
Watford v Liverpool @8pm - the Hornets moved to the magical 40-point mark last weekend and should be able to coast to the end of the season now. The Reds suffered their first reverse in eight league games on Sunday and will need to win to maintain their hopes of a top-four finish as the teams below them all have games in hand. When they last met in November at Anfield, Liverpool won 6-1

Essex Senior League Challenge Cup Final
Sawbridgeworth Town v Takeley @3pm - there are three cup finals to choose from in the London area on Monday. This one initially escaped my attention because it features two clubs from outside TLFG's catchment area but the game is being played at Redbridge FC which is really easy to get to as it's next to Barkingside station

Southern Combination Challenge Cup Final
Camberley Town v Sutton Common Rovers @3pm - this cup tends to primarily feature sides from the ninth and tenth tiers who come from Surrey and Middlesex, although teams from a higher level can enter too. Running since 1958, Hampton & Richmond are the most successful club in the competition's history. Camberley have had a better season than their opponents but this is being played at Sutton United which is also SCR's home ground

Middlesex Charity Cup Final
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Wealdstone @730pm - another piece of county cup silverware comes up for grabs at Hanwell Town's ground on Monday night. The Stones will start as strong favourites as they play two levels above their opponents. Wealdstone are also in the Senior Cup Final so will be going after the Middlesex double. The later kick-off means this game can easily be combined with either of the earlier matches so you can watch two cup finals in a day


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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. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

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