Sunday, 21 January 2018

TLFG: 22-28 January 2018

Welcome one and all to this week's guide.

As usual there's plenty going on but at the top end, very few of our local Premier League or Championship teams are playing at home because of the next round of the FA Cup.

However, don't let that put you off as several of the ones that are in town are offering cheaper tickets than normal (Chelsea in particular) and there are a few other great deals around too.

For me, the most eye-catching prices are to be found at Dagenham & Redbridge who are hosting their annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day'. 

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Tickets for the National League match against Solihull Moors are just £2.50 if you want to stand or £9.99 if you'd prefer a seat. They're even cheaper for concessions and kids - however, you must buy them in advance to get those prices.

The club deserve a lot of credit for putting on this event in area which (in)famously elected 12 BNP councillors back in 2006 to make them the official opposition to the Labour Party. There was also some minor disorder at a previous anti-racism game back in 2012 but that, thankfully, that doesn't seem to have been repeated.

Looking ahead a couple of months, if the England v Italy game at Wembley isn't for you then you might prefer another international friendly which was announced this week (thanks a lot to TLFG reader Colin W for the tip-off).

Don't forget - prices increase on the day so BOOK NOW!

It has been the custom for many years now for Australia to play mid-season friendlies in London as most of their players are based in Europe and there's a large community of supporters based in the capital.

They started off using QPR's Loftus Road but now more frequently use Fulham's Craven Cottage which is where they'll be entertaining fellow World Cup qualifiers Colombia on 27 March at 8pm. Tickets go on sale for £25 on 29 January.

I'm a bit of a sucker for games like this and last went to the Nigeria v Senegal game at Barnet's ground back in March. It's quite possible other friendlies could be announced in London before the World Cup so let me know if you hear of anything.

Despite another hectic work schedule, I can actually say that I've got a game booked for this Saturday with my ticket already purchased for QPR's away game at Bristol City.

The main reason I'm going is to visit family and friends but thought I might as well look in on this too while I'm down there.

I've been to Ashton Gate quite a few times over the years but it's been a while and the ground has been developed a lot so it'll be interesting to see what it's like. Hopefully City will still be feeling the effects of their midweek EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City otherwise we could be in for a hiding!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include an EFL Cup Semi-Final and the next round of the FA Cup.

As always, 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 (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



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




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

Monday 22 January

Premier League Cup
Watford v Southampton @7pm - a decent looking U23 game being played at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip gets the week underway. Tickets for adults are only £5 so it's pretty good value too

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Potters Bar Town @745pm - the best of the day's non-league action should be found at Coles Park where the clubs in seventh and sixth meet for a chance to break into the top five

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Tuesday 23 January

EFL Trophy Quarter-Final
Chelsea U21 v Oxford United @730pm - if you didn't already know, this competition pits U21 sides from a selection of Premier League and Championship clubs against first team squads from clubs in League One and League Two in an attempt to give the best youngsters the chance of some 'proper' football against some hardened pros. The concept hasn't really been embraced by anyone involved, particularly the lower league clubs and their fans, and crowds have been poor as a result. The best thing about this match is that it will give you the chance to see a match at Stamford Bridge for just £5

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v Bayern Munich @7pm - if you want to take a look at some of the best up and coming talent in Europe then you'll probably do much better to make your way up to Boreham Wood to watch this U23 match - as always, check with Arsenal before you travel to make sure of all the details

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - Gavin Rose's side suffered an unexpected loss at home to Merstham on Saturday as they failed to take the opportunity to extend their lead over Billericay who had their game called off. Their five-point lead at the top looks good until you notice their Essex rivals have a whopping seven games in hand and it looks even more flimsy when you also bear in mind Glenn Tamplin's team have only lost one league game all season. On paper, Wingate are a better side than Merstham so could make life hard again

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Barking @745pm - the Urchins' four-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow promotion hopefuls Dereham. On Tuesday the leaders next welcome local rivals Barking who are also in with a chance of going up

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont Sports v Westfield @745pm - one of the games of the week at non-league level sees the top two in the CCL battle for supremacy. The visitors have been top for ages and seemed to be coasting to the title. However, with three of their last six games getting postponed, Bedfont have won eight of their last 10 to draw level. Although Westfield have far superior goal difference and four games in hand, it's made the title race interesting again and if the hosts win who knows what might happen?
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Wednesday 24 January

EFL Cup Semi-Final second leg
Arsenal v Chelsea @8pm - the match of the week is this big London derby where a place in a Wembley cup final is up for grabs. After the first leg ended goalless, the Gunners should start as marginal favourites. Both sides enjoyed emphatic victories in the league on Saturday but given this is Arsenal's only realistic chance of silverware this season, you'd hope Arsene Wenger will pick a full-strength side

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
London Lions v Baldock Town @8pm - if you can't get a ticket for the match above, then this one elsewhere in north London could be your next best alternative. Although way down in the 10th tier, this match between two of the division's top three also has plenty riding on it
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Friday 26 January

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Barkingside @745pm - there's not a huge amount riding on this game, although being down in 17th the visitors could do with the points, but it's a game and it should keep you entertained. The ground is a few minutes walk from Mile End Tube station so is pretty easy to get to

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Saturday 27 January

Championship
Brentford v Norwich City @3pm - it's FA Cup Fourth Round which means all our local Premier League clubs are either playing away on or not playing at all on Saturday. As a result, this second-tier game becomes the best one on offer. The Bees, as one of the smallest clubs in the division, are defying all the odds again and pushing for a play-off place. With four wins from five they've moved to within touching distance of the top six - if they win this and results go their way then they'll be in it. Norwich have been inconsistent and are sitting snugly in midtable which will almost certainly be seen as disappointing by their fans. Brentford are winless in three against the Canaries at Griffin Park so they'll want to put that right

FA Cup Fourth Round
Millwall v Rochdale @3pm - given some of the ties that could have come out of the FA's velvet bag of fate, this is possibly one of the most uninspiring possible. With all due respect, a match between a midtable Championship side and one towards the bottom of League One doesn't get the pulse racing (a bit like QPR v MK Dons in the previous round). It also seems ambitious to be charging £15 for a ticket but that's the going rate

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Solihull Moors @3pm - if it's value you're after then the deal of the day is to be found way out east where it's the annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day' and tickets to stand are only £2.50 while seats are just £9.99 - however these prices only apply if you buy in advance. As for the game itself, Dagenham seem to be losing their mojo and have slipped to 10th but the table is tight and a win over a struggling but resurgent Moors side could put them right back among the leading pack
Leyton Orient v Aldershot Town @3pm - a bigger crowd will almost certainly be found at Brisbane Road where two of the biggest clubs in the division do battle. The O's are fighting relegation and with only one loss in five games they seem to be turning things around. The Shots, on the other hand, could go top if they win

National League South
Dartford v Whitehawk @3pm - top plays bottom at Princes Park but the game might not be as one sided as the league table suggests. The visitors are one of the form teams of the division who are showing good signs of recovery after a dreadful start. Still a whopping 12 points adrift of safety, they've got an almost impossible task to avoid the drop but a win here could work wonders

Bostik League Premier Divsion
Hendon v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - two of the top five meet at Silver Jubilee Park for what will hopefully be an entertaining encounter chock full of goals. As two of the division's highest scoring clubs with 60 goals apiece, the clubs produced a five-goal thriller the last time they met back in September
Tooting & Mitcham United v Billericay Town @3pm - a match of big importance at either end of the table as the relegation threatened hosts look to fend off a powerful raiding party from the east

Evo-Stik League East Division
Hayes & Yeading United v AFC Dunstable @3pm - six wins on the trot, culminating in a 9-1 win over Arlesey Town on Saturday, have powered United to fourth in the table. Only four points behind third placed AFC Dunstable and with two games in hand, a crack at the title is still very much on the cards if they win here

FA Women's Super League 2
London Bees v Watford @2pm - with many of the local men's pro clubs away from home or without a game, the hosts will be hoping for a decent turnout for this derby match being played at The Hive which is close to Canons Park Tube station. Tickets for the match are also only £4
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Sunday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Newcastle United @130pm - one of the best ties of the round is being held over until Sunday lunchtime. Tickets for the all-Premier League match-up are also on sale to non-members at a flat rate of £30 so fill your boots as there probably won't be many other opportunities this season

FA Women's Super League 1

Chelsea v Everton @1230pm - in an unfortunate bit of scheduling, the best of the day's women's action is taking place at Kingsmeadow where the Blues host the struggling Toffees knowing a win could put them top


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

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

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

Sunday, 14 January 2018

TLFG: 15-21 January 2018

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

How has the week been for you?

After the bonanza of festive football we all enjoyed in recent weeks, things have calmed down a bit but there's still been plenty going on.

Personally my own football watching has been hampered by having a sick child whose vomiting bug will almost certainly emerge in my system in the near future so brace yourselves! 

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However, I know that's not been the case for many readers with regular contributor Chris H and many other hoppers making it out to watch Altis FC at their new ground next to West Ham's home at the London Stadium. Check out pictures from his and other readers' visits to games on our Facebook page.

Interestingly that particular game had been thought up and partly staged by football journalist and groundhop supremo Tony Incenzo to allow people the chance to see a game at that ground. Last week we had the chance to enjoy a one-off at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre so where else would you like to see a game played?

Several amateur teams have unusual grounds not least the Honorable Artillery Company who occasionally play at their grounds in Moorgate right in the centre of the City of London on what must be one of the most valuable football pitches in the country if not the world!

Send in your suggestions or get them over to Tony and see what can be arranged.


'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' pay a visit to Aveley's fine new stadium

If you're really keen to visit one of the capital's biggest clubs but can't get a ticket or have been put off by the cost then there are some good opportunities to do it on the cheap this week with both Chelsea and West Ham hosting FA Cup replays and Crystal Palace playing an FA Youth Cup match at Selhurst Park. All these games are on sale to non-members and tickets are much cheaper than normal.

Also this week, I've included an 'A bit further afield' section on Sunday because there's not a lot going on in London and a few tickets are still available for a Premier League game not all that far away - scroll down to find out where.

Once again we're very lucky to have another ground/club/match review from our good friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who headed out to the TLFG border town of Aveley to see their highly regarded new facilities.

Finally this week, many thanks to Dutch reader Benjamin D who very generously donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund  - it is very much appreciated and everyone knows Feyenoord are vastly superior to Ajax :-)


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some matches in the Premier League and EFL and some FA Cup replays.

As always, 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 (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



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




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

Monday 15 January

Premier League 2
There are a several games at U23 level on Monday with the standout one being Arsenal v Manchester United. The game is being played at Boreham Wood's ground at 7pm. Entry always used to be free to games like this but getting the details has been hard so check the Arsenal website on the day for the latest. Earlier in the day at 12pm, Tottenham Hotspur host Everton at their training ground which should also be worth seeing but, as above, check all the details before you travel just in case something has changed

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - the best of the day's non-league action should be found at Coles Park where Haringey play the latest of their games in hand. The last week has been a good one for the north London side who have enjoyed back-to-back wins over Aveley and Bury Town to keep themselves well in with the promotion-chasing pack. Next up is the visit of the division's top side. The Urchins have been top for a while now and although only three points clear, have three games in hand on their nearest rivals - a big game for both teams

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Tuesday 16 January

FA Cup Third Round Replay
West Ham United v Shrewsbury Town @745pm - if you've not been to see the Hammers at the London Stadium yet then now's your chance. Most tickets to watch them take on the League One title contenders are only £10 and they're in plentiful supply. Consequently the atmosphere is likely to be a bit lacking but it's a chance to tick off one of the big grounds at a fraction of the normal cost

FA Trophy Second Round Replay
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @745pm - after fighting out an entertaining 3-3 draw on Saturday, these two National League sides will have to do it all again on Tuesday. Sadly this is unlikely to draw a big crowd as the hosts have the lowest attendances in the division and the visitors have the best part of a 500 mile round trip to undertake

Middlesex Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Wealdstone v Hampton & Richmond Borough @745pm - these two have dominated this competition over the last 10 years with Hampton winning it four times, beating Wealdstone in three of those finals. The Beavers edged to a 1-0 win in last year's final and on paper should win again. However, given their current title bid, Hampton will almost certainly rotate their squad

Velocity Trophy Quarter-Final
Wingate & Finchley v Billericay Town @745pm - as we approach the business end of what is more commonly known as the Isthmian League Cup, Wingate welcome the current league leaders and reigning cup holders. The big spending Essex club will no doubt be prioritising their league games so might rest one or two players

Evo-Stik League East Division
Egham Town v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - from a TLFG perspective it's been all about the Sarnies in this division over the last couple of years as they've challenged for promotion. A similar push looks unlikely this year but in the case of Hayes, it's still all to play for. After several seasons of struggle, the west London club are finally in their new ground and are playing some good stuff. Up in fourth, they could cut the gap on the top three to just three points with a win here
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Wednesday 17 January

FA Cup Third Round Replay
Chelsea v Norwich City @745pm - as with West Ham's game above, tickets to see the Blues take on the Canaries in this unwanted FA Cup replay are cheaper than normal and readily available. Although they're not as cheap, £30 to watch Chelsea take on a Championship side still represents pretty good value if you've never been to Stamford Bridge

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Ashford United @745pm - the hosts' long unbeaten run continued on Saturday with their 1-0 win at Guernsey keeping them in second just a point behind leaders Lewes. A win over struggling Ashford looks likely and with the Rooks not playing, they should go top
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Friday 19 January

Friendly
Brentford B v Reading U23 @1pm - the closest you'll get to see some professional footballers in action on Friday will be this friendly for Brentford's second string at their training ground. As always, check all details with the Bees before you travel UPDATE:18/01/17 - this match has now been moved to Sunday 21 January at 1pm

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @7pm - if you want to see some of the stars of the future then get yourself along to Selhurst Park which is hosting this cup match for U18s. Tickets are £5 if bought in advance but jump to £10 if you buy on the day

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Barkingside @745pm - probably the most meaningful match of the day will take place at Oakside. These clubs used to groundshare but it was one-time owners Barkingside who ultimately ended up moving out after they sold the stadium lease to Redbridge (then Ford United) who, several years later, put the rent up and effectively forced them out meaning this derby has a bit extra to it. From a purely footballing perspective, Redbridge are currently top and looking to get back into the Bostik League

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Saturday 20 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @3pm - the game of the week must surely be this derby at the Emirates. Although the Gunners are up in sixth, it's their manager Arsene Wenger who is under far more pressure following their cup upset at Nottingham Forest last week and their Premier League humbling at Bournemouth this weekend. Rumours abound that Carlo Ancelotti could be coming in to replace him if the Frenchman leaves in the summer but it could come a lot sooner if results continue to flounder. Contrast this to the mood at Palace where despite their relatively lowly position, things are well and truly on the up. The appointment of former England boss Roy Hodgson seems to have been an inspired one as they have climbed from rock bottom to the heady heights of 12th following a 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday. Despite this, the Gunners should still start as favourites - especially when you consider the Eagles have only beaten them twice on their travels since 1934
West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - without membership it will be very hard or expensive to get tickets for the Arsenal game but there are still a few available to non-members for this one. Like Palace, the Hammers have turned things round since bringing in a new manager and although they're up in 11th they're still only five points above the relegation zone so things could still go south quickly, especially if they lose to the Cherries who are one of the teams below them

Championship
Fulham v Burton Albion @3pm - the Cottagers made the play-offs last season and are the top ranked London club in the division again following a five-game unbeaten run. On Saturday they picked up an impressive win at fellow promotion contenders Middlesbrough to move into eighth just one point adrift of the play-off places. With average crowds of under 5,000 Burton are the smallest club in the division by a long way and it's no surprise that they find themselves in the bottom three but they have spirit and can beat most clubs in the division on their day
Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough @3pm - after all the despondency following their loss to MK Dons in the FA Cup, Rangers responded well with a 3-1 at Burton on Saturday. With only one defeat in five league games, things seem to be stabilising. Boro, freshly relegated from the Premier League and with new boss Tony Pulis in charge pose a significant threat. There are often quite a few goals when these two play with the last two matches alone producing 10 goals

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Blackpool @3pm - the Dons could only manage a draw at arch rivals MK Dons on Saturday, a result which saw them slide down to 22nd. Despite this there is still cause for hope as it's tight down there with four teams all within a win's reach. Blackpool are just beyond this group so are definitely beatable
Charlton Athletic v Walsall @3pm - just when it looked like the Addicks could be slipping out of the promotion race they picked up two crucial wins over struggling Oldham and Bury to stay in the top six. The Saddlers should be tougher opponents than either of those two so we'll get a better idea of how significant Charlton's resurgence is

League Two
Barnet v Lincoln City @3pm - defeat at Crawley on Saturday saw the Bees remain bottom and their losing run extended to five games. It's looking pretty gloomy for all connected with the north London club right now and it's not likely to get any easier when the Imps pay a visit on Saturday. The newly promoted side, who enjoyed a famous run in the FA Cup last season, are up in sixth and beat them earlier in the season

National League
Boreham Wood v Dover Athletic @3pm - the NL fixture computer has thrown up a couple of very decent looking games in this division on Saturday. Firstly we have this match between sides occupying the last two play-off places. Despite being the smaller club, the Wood have become a bit of bogey team for their Kentish opponents having won four of the five games played against them since joining the fifth tier in 2015. Current form would also suggest they win this one too
Sutton United v Dagenham & Redbridge @1230pm - down at Gander Green Lane we've got this derby between teams in the top eight which will generate a far bigger crowd. Former leaders Sutton's form has become a bit patchy of late allowing current leaders Macclesfield to move six points clear of them in third. The Daggers were also among the pacesetters but only one win in five has seen them drop down to eighth and they could conceivably drop another two or three places with defeat here. Also, given the early kick-off you can easily combine this with the game at nearby Carshalton Athletic which kicks-off at 3pm

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hungerford Town @3pm - back at Christmas something like one point separated the top six but since then things have become more stretched. It's great to see one of our local sides Dartford still leading the way and nice to see Hampton tucked in just behind them. The Beavers could go top themselves if they win against midtable Hungerford

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Merstham @3pm - the Hamlet currently top the Bostik League but you feel it's only a matter of time before Billericay catch them. Having lost at Margate on Saturday, Dulwich are only five points clear of their Essex rivals who now have six games in hand. Merstham are one of the division's strugglers and got thrashed here last season so simply must be beaten

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Lewes @3pm - one of the matches of the day at non-league level sees the top two in this division do battle at Hayes Lane. Who is first and who is second at the start of the game depends on how Cray do in their midweek game against Ashford but it should hopefully be a humdinger whatever

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Welwyn Garden City @3pm - for me the pick of the games in the ninth tier is this one at Brickfield Lane where midtable Hadley welcome the league leaders. WGC are currently two points clear at the top and have three games in hand. They also made it to the FA Vase third round and are in the SSML Premier Division Cup final so should be formidable opponents

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v Brimsdown @3pm - up in north London it's derby time at the QEII Stadium. Although Brimsdown currently ground share at Haringey Borough, the Enfield area is their heartland so hopefully we'll get a game with a bit of passion

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Sunday 21 January

Friendly
Brentford B v Reading U23 @1pm - the closest you'll get to see some professional footballers in action on Sunday in London will be this friendly for Brentford's second string at their training ground. As always, check all details with the Bees before you travel

Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Final

Erith Town v Whitstable Town @3pm - two SCEFL Premier Division clubs meet for a place in the semis in the only men's game on Sunday

FA Women's Premier League Southern
Queens Park Rangers v Crystal Palace @2pm - the best of the women's action is this third tier game being played at Uxbridge FC

A bit further afield - given it's a pretty quiet day in London, you might be interested to know that the last few tickets are currently available to non-members for Southampton's Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur at 4pm. Trains from London Waterloo take less than 90 minutes to reach Southampton so it's a very doable day trip. UPDATE:(16/01/18) - a handful of tickets are still available but engineering work on the rail line to Southampton means journey times will be a lot longer than normal so factor this is in if you plan to go

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

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

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

Sunday, 7 January 2018

TLFG: 8-14 January 2018

Welcome one and all to the first TLFG of 2018!

I hope you're well and the festive break was a good one for you. Happy Christmas to anyone celebrating the Orthodox version today (Sunday).

So how was it for you? How many games did you get to see?

Personally I managed two. I could've done at least four but decided to stick with just a couple to conserve my funds and energy (I did a lot of running during this period including five parkruns all over London).

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Both took place at the recently re-named Rogers Family Stadium as I went to watch a couple of Harrow Borough games.

Sadly there wasn't much to celebrate as they lost the derby match against Hendon 4-0 and then went down 2-1 against Leatherhead.

Despite the results, it was good to get back there and see some games and I even took a couple of friends to boost the attendance.

Harrow (in red) successfully defend a corner during the Boxing Day derby against Hendon

I also had the chance to watch QPR a couple of times but I found myself making excuses again and passed up the opportunity. It was a shame to miss the win over Cardiff but the MK Dons defeat in the FA Cup is one I'm sure all R's fans will want to erase from their memories ASAP.

So what else has been going on?

Regular readers will know that the Conifa World Football Cup is coming to London at the end of May and the draw took place on Saturday in Northern Cyprus. Local interests Ellan Vannin (a.k.a. the Isle of Man) are in Group 1 alongside Barawa (Africa), Tamil Eelam (Asia) and Cascadia (North America).

More details about venues and tickets are set to be announced later this month so keep your eyes peeled for further updates.

So what have you been to see over the last couple of weeks?

A hastily arranged friendly at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre between two non-league sides caused a flurry of activity among the groundhopper community earlier in the week. Primarily an athletics stadium, and a decaying one at that, the chance to watch a game there for free drew a few committed hoppers to that corner of south-east London. Built on the site of the stadium that used to host FA Cup finals before Wembley, it is historically quite a significant place.

This Saturday sees a bumper crop of four Premier League games in the capital and the last time I looked, the ones at Crystal Palace, Tottenham and Watford were on sale to non-members - a rare thing indeed!

Finally this week, many thanks to American reader John B who very generously donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund it is very much appreciated.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some matches in the Premier League, the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and the next round of the FA Trophy.

As always, 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 (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



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




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

Monday 8 January

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace and QPR have U23 games at their respective training grounds. Both games kick-off at 1pm. Palace entertain Ipswich while QPR welcome London rivals Charlton. If you're interested in going to either, make sure you double check all the details before you travel as venues and whether or not the public will be admitted can be changed at short notice

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Aveley @745pm - there are other non-league matches taking place on Monday but this is probably the most meaningful. Haringey had a number of games in hand after a couple of decent cup runs but three defeats from their last five has probably knocked them out of a title race being dominated by AFC Hornchurch. However, a place in the play-offs looks like theirs for the taking - provided they don't mess up too much more

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Tuesday 9 January

EFL Trophy Third Round
Charlton Athletic v Oxford United @745pm - the much maligned EFL Trophy is down to its last 16 teams. It's straight knockout from this point onwards. Fans and some participating clubs aren't really into this and attendances have been small - consequently adult tickets are only £10

Friendly
Brentford B v Exeter City U23 @1pm - the Bees' have arranged another friendly for their second string at their training ground on Tuesday. Again, double check all the details before you travel

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Boreham Wood @745pm - this match has a lot going for it: a derby, two of the top eight and only a point between them in the table. Both recorded decent results on Saturday so this should be close

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Leiston @745pm - a couple of levels below, we've got another top eight clash. Although the quality of football might be quite decent, don't expect a huge crowd - Wingate have the smallest attendances in the division and Leiston hail from Suffolk so won't bring many

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Great Wakering Rovers @745pm - the Motormen saw their match against Stansted postponed on Saturday allowing FC Romania and Basildon United to close the gap on the leaders. Next up for Redbridge are two-time former champions GWR. Rovers are currently fifth and are by no means out of the title race themselves
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Wednesday 10 January

EFL Cup Semi-Final first leg
Chelsea v Arsenal @8pm - London's two biggest clubs meet as the EFL Cup nears its climax. Normally this competition would be well down the list of priorities for both but with the league title almost certainly beyond both of them then maybe they'll give it a good go. With five wins from seven appearances in the final, the Blues have by far the more impressive record and should be favourites to prevail over the two legs

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v VCD Athletic @745pm - currently third and with games in hand on the top two, this is an important game for Cray. VCD should be beaten and the points will lift them to second
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Friday 12 January

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Leicester City @7pm - the Hammers' U23 side face a tough match against Leicester who are currently second in this league for the best academy sides in the country. This match will be played at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground but, as always, double check the details before you set off
Fulham v Reading @7pm - two of the top sides from the division below meet in the other U23 game of the night and this might end up being your preference as it's being played in the comfortable surrounds of Craven Cottage. However, please check this before you depart as some sources are suggesting it might be at Motspur Park instead

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Saturday 13 January

Premier League
Chelsea v Leicester City @3pm - both sides found themselves held by lower league teams in the FA Cup on Saturday in what must be seen as slightly disappointing performances. Chelsea come into this on the back of their big cup semi against Arsenal so might need to rotate their squad a bit. If the Foxes do get something out of this it will be some achievement as they've only managed one win in 14 attempts against the Blues and that came two seasons ago when they won the title
Crystal Palace v Burnley @3pm - after their horrific start to the season, new manager Roy Hodgson has done a superb job to turn Palace's fortunes around lifting them from the bottom right up to 14th. They have an FA Cup game against big rivals Brighton on Monday but will no doubt view this tricky game against an outstanding Burnley team as more important. A lot has been made of how well Sean Dyche's side have done this season but it's worth pointing out that they are now winless in six in all competitions so things aren't quite as rosy as they might appear
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton @530pm - the day's late game looks like a good one. These two have seemingly been in England's top flight forever (Everton hold the record for the most seasons spent in the country's highest division) and both come into this game in the top 10. Both had excellent season's last time out and have fallen a bit behind those high standards. New manager Sam Allardyce has done really well to lift the Toffees who were really floundering under Ronald Koeman but Spurs are still in far better form and should have the edge at Wembley
Watford v Southampton @3pm - this match completes what is a bumper programme of Premier League games in London on Saturday. Aside from the Chelsea game, all the others should have tickets available in fairly decent supply to non-members including this one. On paper this is probably the least attractive game as it features two sides in pretty dodgy form but that suggests to me that it could be pretty close

Championship
Brentford v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - the Bees suffered the humiliation of losing at home to League Two side Notts County in the FA Cup on Saturday. They'll want to put that behind them as soon as possible and concentrate on keeping their good run in the league going instead. Bolton have been pretty poor this season but are showing signs of improvement with three wins from four lifting them out of the relegation zone
Millwall v Preston North End @3pm - the Lions are one of the smaller teams in the division but are more than holding their own. Currently 15th, they come into this on the back of a solid 4-1 FA Cup win over Barnsley. Preston, on the other hand, are well in the hunt for a play-off place and crushed League Two promotion contenders Wycombe 5-1 at Adams Park as they enjoyed a fruitful afternoon in the cup too

FA Trophy Second Round - with all our other EFL teams playing away, the focus next switches to the FA Trophy. This knockout competition is for clubs which play in the fifth to eighth tiers of English football with the final at Wembley in May. At this stage we are down to the last 32 teams. The draw is completely open (not regionalised or seeded) and the winners of each tie receive £7,000 prize money
Sutton United v Hendon @3pm - we've got a derby at Gander Green Lane where a team from London's deep south host one from the north-west. As recently as 2011, these two were playing each other in what is now the Bostik League but two promotions in seven years has left the U's in a far superior position. Hendon are having a fine season and should be able to challenge Sutton but avoiding defeat will take some doing
Wealdstone v Hereford @3pm - for me one of the games of the day at any level will be this one at Grosvenor Vale. Back in 1985 the Stones were the best team in the fifth tier and became the first club to do the non-league double, winning both the Conference and FA Trophy. They've had a tumultuous ride since then, losing their ground, losing loads of money and plummeting down the divisions but 33 years on they've made it back up to the sixth tier and on paper they should start as favourites against Hereford from the division below. Well that would be the case under normal circumstances but the Bulls are no ordinary seventh tier club. Founded from the ashes of former EFL club Hereford United in 2014, the club have made rapid progress through the divisions and made the FA Vase final in 2016. Still comfortably generating crowds of 2,500+, the Vale is likely to be packed and segregation will be in place. However, tickets will be available on the day - just make sure you get there early to avoid disappointment

National League South
Dartford v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - with the title race so desperately tight almost every game is of significance to someone. As it stands, this will see the leaders play host to the side in fourth. Havant are three points behind but crucially have two games in hand on all those above them so are effectively the leaders in waiting

Bostik League South Division
Chipstead v Lewes @3pm - this game gives you the chance to take the measure of Lewes who are the current leaders. The Sussex club are way too big to be in this division and it seems as if they've got a side together who are capable of getting them out of it

Evo-Stik League East Division
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v AFC Dunstable @3pm - the hosts sit just outside the top six and will need to beat sides like second-placed Dunstable if they are to progress

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Hanworth Villa v Walton & Hersham @3pm - two of the top six meet at Rectory Meadow on Saturday. Hanworth's title challenge is all but over but there's still a chance the Swans could claim the title if Westfield fall apart in the second half of the season

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Bridon Ropes v Punjab United @3pm - fourth plays second at the Meridian Sports Ground. The Ropes are having a great season by their standards but welcome a club who are new to the division and doing even better

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Sunday 14 January

FA Women's Super League Cup Semi-Final
Chelsea v Manchester City @2pm - the pick of the day's games sees the top two sides in women's football meet in the semi-final of the League Cup for what should be a great game at AFC Wimbledon's ground



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

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

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

Monday, 25 December 2017

TLFG: 25 December 2017 - 7 January 2018

It's finally here - TLFG's Christmas and New Year Special.

I had hoped to get this out on Saturday evening but loads of other stuff has cropped up this week and it's arriving now so apologies if you've been clicking fruitlessly for 36 hours or so.

Despite beginning work on this around three weeks ago, I'd still like to include more - particularly a review of the year but I simply haven't found the time.

I'd like to know what your football highlights have been.

Subscribe to The London Football Guide

My personal highlights have been executing another successful Non-League Day, keeping this blog ticking over and getting involved in Non-League Finals Day again.

I've visited a handful of new grounds to take my tally to 136 and most importantly I've had lots of positive feedback from you lot which I really really appreciate. Some of you have even donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund which was very humbling.

The low points included Harrow Borough's relegation but the subsequent unexpected reprieve was almost as sweet as a promotion! 

A few non-league clubs have gone by the wayside and more are under threat. One of the most troubling stories appeared earlier this week and involved a trademark dispute between Wembley FC and the FA. I don't want to try and explain it in case I get some of the legal details wrong but suffice to say it's been yet another PR disaster for the FA and a petition has been set up to try and get them to back down.

'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' pay a visit to Bromley

The next couple of weeks are action packed as always with loads of derbies and I've actually got quite a bit of time off so will hope to get to at least two or three games.

Some matches have unusual kick-off times so make sure you check with clubs in case I've missed one or put in the wrong time. The good thing about this is that it will be easy to see a couple of games on at least one day if that's what you're looking to do.

TLFG's Premier League ticket page has also been updated. The biggest news is that tickets for Tottenham's forthcoming games against Manchester United and Arsenal at Wembley are both on general sale so get in quick before they sell out.


If you fancy a trip to watch National League side Bromley at some point then take a look at the latest from our good friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' whose latest piece is all about their visit to Hayes Lane.

Right, I think that's about it from me. Have a truly cracking few days, enjoy the food and the football and keep me informed of what you've been up to.

Thanks again for all your support in 2017 and here's to a great 2018!

TRAVEL ADVISORY

Please be aware that at this time of year large sections of London's public transport system shut down, particularly on Boxing Day - here are some the most high profile games that will be affected:

Chelsea v Brighton - a large section of the District Line and all of London Overground will be shut on Boxing Day meaning the Piccadilly Line to Earls Court and then a walk or replacement bus
Watford v Leicester - no London Overground, West Midlands Trains or Virgin Trains services will be operating so the Metropolitan Line is your best option
Brentford v Aston Villa - no South Western Railway service so you'll need to get the Piccadilly Line to South Ealing
Millwall v Wolverhampton Wanderers - no Southeastern or London Overground services so the Jubilee Line to Canada Water is probably your best option or a bus from central London

With no national rail services running on Boxing Day, many non-league games out in the suburbs will also be affected so check all details before you travel.

Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Paddington are all closed until 1 January so this could also affect you significantly. Most trains that would normally run from Charing Cross and Cannon Street will now leave from Victoria and the closure of Paddington means trains to Heathrow are not running and you'll have to get the Tube instead which is much slower.

THE WEEKS AHEAD
There are over 160 matches in the London area over the next two weeks. The highlights include some big matches in the Premier League and EFL, the third round of the FA Cup and loads of derbies at all levels.

As always, 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 (orange pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.
Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

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

MATCH MAP 25-29 DECEMBER
Tuesday (Boxing Day) fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



MATCH MAP 30-31 DECEMBER
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday (New Year's Eve) fixtures - orange pin




MATCH MAP 1-5 JANUARY
Monday (New Year's Day) fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin



MATCH MAP 6-7 JANUARY
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin



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

Tuesday 26 December

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton @1230pm - football on Boxing Day at Wembley seems a very strange idea but that's what's happening for perhaps the first time ever. Southampton isn't a million miles from London so there's a derby flavour to this one. However, despite this, tickets are still readily available
Chelsea v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - of the three Premier League games taking place in London on Boxing Day this is the one that most resembles a derby, given Brighton's close proximity to the capital. The Blues, as reigning champions, will see being third and 16 points off the pace as a disappointing season while for the Albion, 12th at Christmas must be seen as a fine achievement
Watford v Leicester City @3pm - the Hornets are doing well to be in the top 10 at Christmas but their form has dipped badly and they need a win. The Foxes lost to Manchester City in the EFL Cup in midweek but only on penalties so it's likely to be tough

Championship
Millwall v Wolverhampton Wanderers @1pm - there's a really good chance of doing a 'double' on Boxing Day thanks to the staggered kick-offs. If the Tottenham game isn't for you, then you could begin proceedings with this game at the Den where the Lions welcome the leaders
Brentford v Aston Villa @730pm - you can then finish off your day with this decent looking game at Griffin Park where the Bees welcome promotion chasing Villa. The one drawback to this is that you must have a previous purchasing history with Brentford or a membership to have any chance of being able to buy a ticket

National League
Leyton Orient v Dagenham & Redbridge @1pm - with no local games in League One or League Two the focus switches to the fifth tier where this east London derby is the standout fixture. Both of these clubs were EFL sides not that long ago so are well used to playing each other. Many thought they would both challenge for honours this season but the O's have had a terrible start. However, back-to-back wins in their last two games has got fans believing again
Boreham Wood v Sutton United @3pm - the other match in the division is a north versus south London derby. Both are in the top seven and only three points apart so it should be a well contested game

National League South
Welling United v Dartford @1pm - the big two in south-east London, in non-league terms, meet for what should be another very interesting derby. Normally these games are important, but with Dartford top in a very tight title race and Welling firmly in promotion contention themselves, this could be a corker
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Wealdstone @3pm - the Darts might be top but it's only thanks to goal difference. They're actually level on points with FOUR, yes four, other teams in what must be the most exciting title battle in the country. Hampton are one of the others and they welcome fellow west Londoners Wealdstone who, like Welling, still have plenty to play for themselves

Bostik League Premier Division
Tooting & Mitcham United v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - the game of the day at this level is undoubtedly this south London derby at Imperial Fields. These old rivals haven't been in the same division for a few seasons so excitement and build up around this fixture has been building for months. With one down near the bottom and the other right up near the top, there's a lot riding on it too
Harrow Borough v Hendon @1pm - it's derbies all the way at non-league level as these two old rivals who were groundsharing until a couple of seasons ago meet for what will hopefully be another goalfest. The last two Boxing Day games between tended 5-4 to Harrow in 2016 and 5-5 in 2015. At the beginning of this season in the reverse fixture, Hendon won 6-0

Bostik League South Division
Carshalton Athletic v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - a south London derby and third versus fourth, in other words a big game. With the two sides above them both having games in hand, both sides need to win

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Wednesday 27 December

Bostik League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Leatherhead @745pm - although the Met are in the top seven and the Tanners could get to that level if they win their games in hand, it's not the most enticing fixture but on paper it's the best there is on Wednesday

Bostik League North Division
Romford v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - if you live on the east side of town you might actually argue that this is far more of a draw and you might well be right even though it's from the level below. Very much a derby, Romford have sadly been exiled from their home town for several years but still play relatively close by at Thurrock. The Urchins are currently top of the league and must start as favourites as the hosts are bottom

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Thursday 28 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Arsenal @8pm - at last we have our first genuine Premier League London derby of the festive period. Given Palace's recent resurgence, which has seen them go eight games without defeat, this is quite a hard one to call. Although the Gunners are well above in them table, their defence is dodgy and I can very easily see the Eagles getting at least a draw
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Friday 29 December

Championship
Millwall v Queens Park Rangers @745pm - the weekend gets underway with another derby in the second tier. Games between these two have a had a bit of an edge to them in recent seasons with the worst crowd disturbances I have seen at Loftus Road in many years coming when the Lions pay a visit. Suffice to say that although I'm free, I'm not in a hurry to go to this one. Apart from that, QPR's record against Millwall is pretty poor with only two wins from the last 10, both coming at home. The last time Rangers won at Millwall was in 1990 at their old ground 

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Saturday 30 December

Premier League
Chelsea v Stoke City @3pm - although there's a fair bit of Premier League football going on in London over Christmas and New Year, with all due respect, not much of it is big box office stuff. Sadly, this clash against an ailing Potters side doesn't really get my pulse racing but saying that, it has still sold out
Watford v Swansea City @3pm - again another fairly nondescript match between two of the division's smaller teams one of whom is really struggling. You shouldn't struggle getting a ticket for this one

Championship
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - with Millwall and QPR playing the night before, this is all there is in the EFL on Saturday. Given Griffin Park's relatively small size, it should be close to capacity for the visit of one of the division's biggest clubs 

National League
Leyton Orient v Bromley @3pm - the O's continue their festive programme with another tough derby against a side pushing for promotion

Bostik League North Division
Barking v AFC Hornchurch @3pm - there are a few games in the Bostik Premier on Saturday but none are particularly significant instead I've dropped a division for this one. As mentioned above, the Urchins are top at the time of writing and after playing near neighbours Romford on Wednesday they next have to play Barking who are also from just down the road. However, the hosts are a much better side than Romford so it could be close

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Croydon v AFC Croydon Athletic @3pm - the Croydon derby, 'nuff said

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Hillingdon Borough @3pm - with both sides having seen very much better days, bragging rights is pretty much all that's up for grabs in this derby

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Sunday 31 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Manchester City @12pm - the Eagles' tough Christmas period continues with the visit of the runaway league leaders. Beating most people at will at the moment, City are currently 13 points clear at the top and it could be even more by the time this kicks off. When they met earlier in the season, Palace got crushed 5-0

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Monday 1 January

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City @3pm - these two have had some big games over the last 15 or so years as they have gone head-to-head in promotion battles in the second and third tiers. The last time this rivalry really came to the fore was when QPR won the Championship in 2010/11 with Neil Warnock as boss. He's now in charge of Cardiff and seemingly working his magic again as they are second at the time of writing. The much-travelled Yorkshireman is held in high esteem by many Rangers fans thanks to that title success and many believe he was dispensed with far too soon by the current regime. His status was further boosted a couple of years ago when he came back in a caretaker capacity for a few games and turned a struggling side into relative worldbeaters overnight before leaving again - the side has never been the same since

League One
Charlton Athletic v Gillingham @3pm - the game of the day in the third tier is this one at the Valley. The Gills are located just outside London on Charlton's side of town so this is effectively a derby. The Addicks, despite being in the top six, haven't won for a while and Gillingham are showing signs of improvement so they'll need to avoid complacency at all costs
AFC Wimbledon v Southend United @3pm - the Dons recorded a hugely impressive and very important victory over Bradford on Saturday but stayed in the bottom four. Escape from it is within touching distance though and victory over a midtable Southend side could lift them up a couple of places

League Two
Barnet v Swindon Town @3pm - it's been a season of struggle for the Bees who got to Christmas with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom two. Former Premier League club Swindon are the next to visit the Hive and Barnet know they can beat them - the reverse fixture in September saw them pull off a stunning 4-1 win

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Leyton Orient @3pm - at this time of year, the National League get local sides to play their home and away fixtures a week apart so we've got a mirror image of the Boxing Day games taking place here. Therefore if you missed the initial derby between these two or fancy a bit more then you've got your chance here
Sutton United v Boreham Wood @3pm - likewise you've got the second instalment of this south versus north London clash
Bromley v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - and you can combine any of the above with this Kent derby which kicks-off in the evening

National League South
Dartford v Welling United @3pm - the same formula is in place in the NLS so we have a reprise of the Darts against the Wings
Wealdstone v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - the Stones host the Beavers as well

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Kingstonian @3pm - after massive games at Tooting and Billericay earlier in the festive period, the Hamlet get the chance to play a home match against the K's who have been among their challengers in recent seasons. Without a ground of their own for the first time in many years, the K's have had to so far settle for a place in midtable. There should still be a crowd in excess of 1,000
Hendon v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - there's a north London derby at Silver Jubilee Park where two of the division's top 10 sides will try and entertain you but the attendance will probably in the 200-250 range

Bostik League South Division
Corinthian Casuals v Walton Casuals @3pm - a lot could change by the time this gets underway but at the moment it's a case of third against fifth
Greenwich Borough v Cray Wanderers @3pm - two more of the current top six meet in Eltham for a game that could send Cray top if they're not there already
VCD Athletic v Phoenix Sports @3pm - the visitors will be targeting a place in the top six over the next couple of weeks and they could get there by winning this derby. These two play about 200m apart and you can hear what's going on in one game while you're at the other

Evo-Stik League East Division
Hanwell Town v Hayes & Yeading United @3pm - there's a west London derby to be enjoyed at Reynolds Field. Hanwell have had a poor season whilst Hayes are the best team from TLFG's catchment area in this division. Currently sixth, they have an excellent chance of doing well this season
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Tuesday 2 January

Premier League
West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion @745pm - two of the division's strugglers meet for a crucial game at the London Stadium. Both have recently installed new managers with the Hammers' David Moyes so far having the most success. Former West Ham boss Alan Pardew is yet to record a win since taking over at the Hawthorns

Championship
Fulham v Ipswich Town @745pm - sitting within striking distance of the play-off places, this is kind of a best of the rest match as far as the Championship is concerned. Not consistent enough to be up with the main contenders, these two former Premier League teams are tough to separate in terms of quality so it could well be a draw

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Waltham Abbey @745pm - after great runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, Haringey have several games in hand on those above them which could easily put them in the top three if they won them. Waltham are one of those sides so a win is a must
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Wednesday 3 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Chelsea @745pm - the biggest match of the entire festive period must be this one at the Emirates. Currently both in the top six, the two fought out a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge in September and current form could well see another draw here

UPDATE (03/01/18): a friendly featuring Bermondsey Town and AFC Kumazi Strikers is being played at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre at 8pm. Although these teams play at a very low level, this is more about getting to see a game at a famous old venue that is most notable for hosting athletics. With the creation of the London Stadium over in Stratford, this place has lost out in a big way and has seen very much better days. Entrance is free and it seems to have generated a huge amount of interest amongst the groundhopper community so don't miss the opportunity if that's your kind of thing. Please note that because of the bad weather the game could get called off so follow the Bermondsey Town twitter feed for the latest
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Thursday 4 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United @8pm - the big derbies continue on Thursday with this match at Wembley. Although not quite as big as the game above, these two sets of fans really don't like each other and even though the Hammers are struggling they beat Spurs here in the EFL Cup two months ago
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Saturday 6 January

FA Cup Third Round - the nation's premier knockout cup competition is down to its last 64 teams. Premier League and Championship sides have joined the draw at this stage and there are usually a lot of discounted tickets available to watch some of London's top clubs as a result. The winners of each tie receive £67,500 in prize money

Watford v Bristol City @3pm - the Hornets are the only local Premier League side in action in the cup on Saturday and they face very dangerous opponents. The Robins made headlines just before Christmas by sensationally beating Manchester United in the EFL Cup quarter-finals and are among the frontrunners  in the Championship. Given how poorly Watford have been doing recently, they could be very vulnerable indeed. Tickets are readily available to non-members and are only £10
Fulham v Southampton @3pm - you can also catch a top-flight side in action at Craven Cottage where the Saints travel up to from Hampshire. Tickets for this are £25 in advance, £30 on matchday

There are also ties at Brentford, Millwall and QPR but none of them are particularly exciting so stick with one of the two above unless you have a particular reason you want to visit one of these three

National League
Leyton Orient v Boreham Wood @3pm - the O's end the festive period with yet another derby against another tough opponent

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Hemel Hempstead Town @3pm - two of the top six at the time of writing but either could be top or well out of it by the time this kicks-off

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - two of the top six at the time of writing, both sides have a decent following so this should draw the biggest crowd of the day at this level

Essex Senior League
Waltham Forest v Clapton @3pm - after having had a two-week break, the ESL returns with this for me being the pick of the games. Regular readers will know that Forest are struggling financially and are trying to woo new fans and groundhoppers to Wadham Lodge in an attempt to fill up their coffers. The Clapton Ultras have openly supported this campaign and have gone to games in recent weeks while the boycott of their own home games has continued. Now that it's the turn of their team to play there, we should get to see them in full force with the hosts probably getting their biggest crowd of the season

Combined Counties League Division 1
Worcester Park v Sheerwater @2pm - at the time of writing these two are first and second in the table so it doesn't get much bigger than this

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
London Lions v Wodson Park @3pm - the hosts have made a very impressive return to life at this level and are currently up in third just one place behind their visitors
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Sunday 7 January

FA Cup Third Round
Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Wimbledon @3pm - a huge occasion for Dons fans as they travel back to Wembley, the site of their most famous victory - the FA Cup final of 1988. Their entire allocation of 7,700 tickets sold out in no time but there are still plenty more available in home areas of the ground if you want to go - prices start at just £10

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Walton Casuals @3pm - two of the division's top clubs meet for what could be a very important game come the end of the season

FA Women's Super League 1
Chelsea v Arsenal @2pm - women's football makes its return from a short Christmas break with this big London derby at Kingsmeadow

UPDATE (03/01/18): an FA Youth Cup Third Round match is now also taking place on Sunday 7th with Watford U18's hosting their counterparts from Sunderland. The match takes place at Vicarage Road and kicks off at 2pm - tickets are available in advance


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