Friday, 8 June 2018

TLFG: Saturday 9 June 2018

Ten days since getting underway, the CONIFA World Football Cup has reached its final day.

Conducted at a breathless pace, the tournament has been a joy to watch as teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' have put themselves firmly on the football map, certainly in the minds of all those watching.

With an average of over four goals per game, a number penalties, red and green cards - entertainment has been in rich supply.

There was drama too in the form of the Ellan Vannin/Barawa 'ineligible' player row which threatened to derail the tournament at the end of the group stage and the effects will still be felt on Saturday as the 15th/16th Placement Match has been turned into a dead rubber.

The form book has also gone out the window with a number of shocks and upsets along the way. Neither the current leaders in the rankings nor the reigning world champions made it to the semi-finals and a team who filled in at short notice have gone all the way to the last two and could well win the whole thing.

Northern Cyprus make it 2-2 against  Padania shortly before scoring the winner which sent them to Saturday's final
The fans of various nations have also made their mark on the tournament - be it the music and colourful clothing of Matabeleland and Tibet, the pyro of Szekely Land or simply the large numbers of vocal fans from Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia.

If you haven't been to a game yet, Saturday is your last chance and Enfield is the place to be. If you want, you can get tickets to watch the Third Place Play-Off (3pm) and Grand Final (6pm) played back-to-back and then watch the Closing Ceremony afterwards. We should get the biggest crowd of the tournament by some distance and the atmosphere should be great.

You can buy tickets in advance here or you can take a chance and pay on the gate.

There is also a range of merchandise you can order online or buy at the stadium - CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a difference.


For a flavour of what to expect from a Northern Cyprus game at Enfield Town watch this fine piece by
 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game

My tournament so far has seen me watch Northern Cyprus draw 2-2 with Abkhazia, Matabeleland beat Tuvalu 3-1 and on Thursday I went to the thrilling semi-final between Northern Cyprus and Padania where I took the photo above.

I've got my ticket for the final and am genuinely rather excited. The buzz around the tournament has been great and I believe CONIFA are set to announce who will host next year's European Football Cup before the end of the tournament - the last I heard was that County of Nice and Nagorno-Karabakh were the two main contenders.

Don't forget that individual membership of CONIFA is available to anyone for 25 euros giving you the chance to vote on all kinds of things at the AGM - I got mine a couple of months ago.


Copies of the official programme are available at grounds and a rather good

There are eight matches in the tournament on Saturday with several grounds hosting two games so a double or triple, at a push, is possible. The only realistic possibility of this is if you shuttle between Fisher, Haringey and Enfield but a car or bike will be required to see all three games. Please note, that a significant part of the London Overground network is shut on Saturday making travel to games at Haringey and Enfield less straightforward than normal but more on that below.

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 day'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.

MATCH MAP 9 JUNE





Saturday 9 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Final Day

If you've come late to this, you might not be aware that after the group stage no-one gets entirely eliminated. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th.

With the quarter-finals completed, all the losers from those games move into the placement competition for 5th-8th, while the losers of the first round of placement games move into a new contest for 13th-16th. After the semis, we get to see who will contest the third place play-off too. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 adults, £6 U18s per game on the gate. Seeing two games at two different grounds is possible on Saturday with matches at taking place at 12pm, 3pm and 6pm. If you're prepared to shave off a few minutes at the end or start of a game, squeezing in a third could be done as well if you go to the 12pm game at Fisher, the 3pm one at Haringey and the final at Enfield at 6pm but you will need your own transport to have any chance.

Please be aware that a large chunk of London Overground is shut on Saturday so there will be no train service to White Hart Lane, Southbury or Enfield Town. Therefore if you are travelling to the games at Haringey Borough or Enfield Town by train you are advised to catch a Piccadilly Line train to Wood Green for the former or a Great Northern service from Moorgate to Enfield Chase for the latter.

Here is a rundown of what's on:

Grand Final and Closing Ceremony

Karpatalya v Northern Cyprus @6pm - after 10 days of international competition, the CONIFA World Football Cup comes to an end with this intriguing contest at Enfield Town's Queen Elizabeth II Stadium. These two started the tournament by playing each other in Group B on the opening day. Karpatalya, made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Ukraine, came in as late replacements for Felvidek so not many knew what to expect of them. When they held one of the favourites to a 1-1 draw, people started to take notice. Two games later, they had won the group after beating reigning champions Abkhazia and Tibet. They notched up further victories over Cascadia and Szekely Land to make the final, meaning the only team they failed to beat were Northern Cyprus.

Mustafa Boratas's side look the stronger on paper and are one of the big boys of CONIFA. Runners-up in last year's European Football Cup, they arrived in London at number three in the rankings. The draw against Karpatalya was followed up by a win over Tibet and another draw against Abkhazia. However, with this less than stunning group stage performance behind them they then thrashed Barawa 8-0 and came from behind to beat Padania, who looked like champions up until that point, 3-2 in the semi-finals.

This game will undoubtedly be close again but that doesn't mean there won't be goals - this tournament has produced loads with 157 from 38 games (excluding the two friendlies following the exit of Ellan Vannin) which is an average of over four per match. With a large Turkish Cypriot community based in north London and all the other squads and many of their fans present for the Closing Ceremony after the game, there should be a very decent attendance and fantastic atmosphere. Don't miss out - book your ticket online now and print it out before you set off.

Third Place Play-Off

Padania v Szekely Land @3pm - the pre-tournament rankings suggested that Panjab or Padania, the top two, would make it to the final. As it turns out neither of them did. Panjab never got going but more on them later. Padania, on the other hand, came flying out of the blocks and crushed Matabeleland 6-1 in their opening game. They then put eight past Tuvalu before beating Szekely Land 3-1 in a more challenging fixture to win the group. In the quarter-finals they put an end to Panjab's title hopes before meeting Northern Cyprus in the semis. They led twice in the match before conceding two late goals to lose 3-2. On reflection it looks as if Padania had a considerably easier group than Northern Cyprus and perhaps their huge wins distorted my and many others views of just how good they were. Szekely Land are by all accounts a very competent side and play some good stuff but, as already mentioned, they lost pretty comfortably to the Italians on Sunday so might struggle here. However, the disappointment of their semi-final defeat could weigh heavily on the Padania squad and they might struggle to motivate themselves for this one

5th-6th Placement Game

Cascadia v Panjab @3pm - Cascadia, the sole representatives from North America, had never played a game before arriving at this tournament so it was no surprise when they lost 4-1 to Ellan Vannin in their opening game. However, they bounced back superbly with back-to-back wins over hosts Barawa and Tamil Eelam. They thrashed the latter 6-0 to edge ahead of Ellan Vannin on goal difference and make the quarter-finals.Sadly, their progress ended there when they came up against eventual finalists Karpatalya but they still gave a good account of themselves in a 3-1 defeat. They returned to winning ways in their first placement match, thrashing a previously impressive Western Armenia side 4-0 so come into this game in good form. As mentioned above, Panjab arrived in London as CONIFA's top ranked team so a possible fifth-place finish must be seen as a disappointment. With only two wins from five games they certainly don't deserve any more but when they click they really click - the two wins came against Kabylia (8-0) and Barawa (5-0). This could be one of the games of the day

7th-8th Placement Game

Barawa v Western Armenia @3pm - despite being tournament hosts, Barawa weren't expected to do too much with some of their warm-up games ending in heavy defeats. However, with two wins over Tamil Eelam and Ellan Vannin they ended up topping Group A. Unfortunately, the 'ineligible' player complaint by Ellan Vannin then kicked off and although exonerated by CONIFA , the side have never been the same again and have since been heavily beaten by Northern Cyprus and Panjab. It's been a similar tale for Western Armenia who won Group D, beating Panjab in the process. The two games since the group stage have both ended in 4-0 defeats as ill discipline, among other things, has taken its toll. When you get to this part of the placement competition, it's quite hard to predict what will happen as all the teams are in bad form and losing games - hopefully this will lead to an open game

9th-10th Placement Game

Abkhazia v Kabylia @3pm - Beslan Adzhinzhal's side began the competition as reigning World Football Cup champions having won the event two years ago when they hosted it. After a solid 3-0 win over Tibet on the opening day, it looked like they could mount a challenge again. However it turned out that they'd ended up in what will probably be seen with hindsight as the group of death alongside the two eventual finalists Karpatalya and Northern Cyprus both of whom they failed to beat. Going out in the group stage was not what they'd planned and the deflation among the players was obvious at full-time after the 2-2 draw with Northern Cyprus. Thankfully they haven't let their heads drop and have comfortably won both their placement matches. Kabylia, on the other hand, had a poor group stage but have come alive in the placement competition. Accruing just one point from their first three games, they've since beaten Matabeleland (on penalties) and thrashed Tibet 8-1. For me Abkhazia's extra bit of class should win out

11th-12th Placement Game

United Koreans in Japan v Tibet @12pm - UKIJ haven't done a lot wrong in this tournament, playing some technically good football and defending well so they'll probably feel a little hard done by that 11th is the best they can hope for. Having lost only one of their five matches they have proven to be tough to beat but their weakness has been scoring goals. They drew all three group matches but only scored one - this was enough to knock them out. They thrashed Tuvalu heavily in the first placement game but then drew a blank again against Abkhazia on Thursday. They should get to end the competition on a high though as Tibet, like Tuvalu, have been pretty bad with their best result so far being a 3-1 loss to Northern Cyprus. For Tibet, though, taking part has been a huge success in itself. Pressure has been exerted by China and various sponsors to block them playing matches in recent years so to make it to London and not come last is a big achievement. They and their supporters have brought a lot of colour and pageantry to games and will no doubt put on a good show here at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe where you could begin a three-game groundhop

13th-14th Placement Game

Matabeleland v Tamil Eelam @12pm - African side Matabeleland have been one of the cult sides of the tournament thanks in part to an engaging crowdfunding campaign before and during the tournament. With some great merchandise available, many locals were turning up in their replica shirts to cheer on their adopted team. Manager Justin Walley has got his team playing with a good spirit and although a bit raw at times, the players' heads never seemed to drop. With one win from four they certainly don't deserve to be finishing last. They even managed to beat Chagos Islands in a hastily arranged friendly on Thursday so it's kind of two from five. Tamil Eelam were having a wretched campaign, losing four and scoring none, until Thursday when they came form 3-1 down to beat Tuvalu 4-3 with a performance that will ensure they avoid the ignominy of finishing last

15th/16th Placement Game

Chagos Islands v Tuvalu @12pm - if Ellan Vannin hadn't quit the tournament over the 'ineligible' player row earlier in the week then this match would have quite a bit riding on it. Sadly, though, they did and left a big gap in the fixture list for the second half of the competition - something which could see them expelled from CONIFA at the organisation's next AGM. In their place have come a Turkish All-Stars XI on Tuesday and since then the Chagos Islands have filled in. Having lost every single game, Tuvalu are good value for a last-placed finish but it's a shame they won't get to test themselves against Tibet who have also lost every game but find themselves in the 11th/12th place game because they received a bye after the Manx side failed to turn up for their match against them. Technically this game is being classed as a friendly and Tuvalu will finish in 15th whether they win or lose

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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 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.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

TLFG: Thursday 7 June

This week TLFG is taking a slightly different format.

That's down to the fact that London is currently hosting the CONIFA World Football Cup and we only know what's going on at short notice so I'm going to aim to produce a fresh guide every other day for the rest of this week to reflect what's going on.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet with every continent bar South America represented.

There have been one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has officiated at some of the games.

Tuvalu will be hoping to avoid the dreaded 15th/16th place play-off
Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card has been introduced and is shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

So far, I've seen Abkhazia draw 2-2 with Northern Cyprus - a result which sent the reigning champions into the placement competition and Matabeleland's 3-1 win over Tuvalu. Next up for me is one of the semis on Thursday and the final on Saturday.

'Two Men In Search Of The Beautifual Game' take in a group game at Enfield Town

The big news since I last wrote is the unholy row which blew up after Ellan Vannin got knocked out in the final group game by Barawa who they then accused of having fielded and ineligible player.

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, CONIFA rejected their appeal and ultimately Ellan Vannin quit the tournament in protest. As a result, a couple of sides have been drafted in at short notice to play friendlies and fill the gaps in the fixture list.

I know many of you have made it to games too and there have been some great photos appearing on social media. We're also lucky enough to have a video piece from our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' too which I've attached above.

The atmosphere at these games has been great with singing, dancing, flag waving, drum beating and even some naughty smoke bombs which we all, not so secretly, love.


Copies of the official programme can be ordered now

There are eight matches in the tournament on Thursday with several grounds hosting two games so a double, triple or even quadruple header is possible. The only realistic possibility of this is if you stay in south London and shuttle between Bromley, Sutton and Carshalton but a car or bike will probably be required to see four games.

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.

MATCH MAP 7 JUNE





Thursday 7 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Semi-Final Stage

If you've come late to this, you might not be aware that after the group stage no-one gets entirely eliminated. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th.

With the quarter-finals completed, all the losers from those games move into the placement competition for 5th-8th, while the losers of the first round of placement games move into a new contest for 13th-16th. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 adults, £6 U18s per game on the gate. Seeing three games at up to three different grounds should be possible on Thursday with matches at Bromley, Sutton and Carshalton taking place at 12pm, 3pm, 5pm and 8pm. If you're prepared to shave off a few minutes at the end or start of a game, squeezing in a fourth could be done as well if you go to the 3pm game at Sutton and the 5pm one at Carshalton. Here is a rundown of what's on:

Semi-Finals

Northern Cyprus v Padania @5pm - after a few mismatches in the earlier rounds, the semis have thrown up a couple of really heavyweight fixtures. The first sees the big two from Europe go head-to-head for what should be an intriguing game. Having already knocked out CONIFA's top ranked side Panjab, Padania would now appear to be the tournament favourites. The Italian side have scored 19 goals and conceded just two from their four games so far and are looking formidable. Northern Cyprus sit just behind Padania in the rankings and have a score to settle after losing to them in the European Football Cup Final last year on home turf. That game went to penalties and although the island side have only won two of their four games so far, it's likely to be tight again

Karpatalya v Szekely Land @8pm - the other game is a derby between ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine and Romania respectively. The former only came into the tournament as late replacements for Felvidek but have more than held their own, coming top of a group containing Northern Cyprus and reigning champions Abkhazia. On Tuesday they beat Cascadia 3-1 to make it to the last four. Szekely Land finished second to Padania in the group stage meaning they had to face a tough match against Group D winners Western Armenia. The side from the Caucasus region had a quarter-final to forget and got thrashed 4-0 setting up this mouthwatering tie where the support should be loud and colourful

Placement Semi-Finals for 5th-8th place

Barawa v Panjab @3pm - having been involved in the 'ineligible' player row with Ellan Vannin the day before, Barawa probably went into their quarter-final with Northern Cyprus in unsettled mood. The performance was way below par for the team who had won Group A and they got demolished 8-0. For the top-ranked side, Panjab have had a disappointing campaign. Stuttering through the group phase with one win, one draw and one defeat, it was no real shock when Padania knocked them out on Tuesday. They should still have too much for Barawa

Cascadia v Western Armenia @3pm - little was really expected of either of these two ahead of the tournament, certainly not by the bookmakers, so both have done really well to have got this far. Reports suggest this could produce a real clash of styles with Cascadia playing some good football at times whilst Western Armenia are, shall we say, a little more disruptive in the way they go about things

Placement Semi-Finals 9-12th place

Tibet v Kabylia @12pm - after a pretty horrific group stage, it's a credit to both teams that they've avoided the 15th/16th place play-off. In Tibet's case that's because Ellan Vannin decided to pull out over the 'ineligible' player row, giving the Asian side a bye to this stage. However, the North African side managed to squeak past Matabeleland on penalties to guarantee they won't finish last. Both sides have had strong support in previous games so there could be a reasonable attendance for this early kick-off

Abkhazia v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - these sides were somewhat unlucky not to make the quarter-finals after coming third in what turned out to be very competitive groups. Put up against two of the leakiest defences in the tournament in the opening round of the placement competition, Abkhazia and UKIJ lashed in 11 goals between them on Tuesday as they set up this match. Technically they are both decent sides and this should produce an entertaining game

Placement Semi-Finals 13th-16th place

Tamil Eelam v Tuvalu @12pm - having scored just one and conceded a whopping 38 goals between them, these two really have been the whipping boys of the tournament. However, one of them will avoid playing in the 15th/16th place play-off. I watched Tuvalu play on Sunday and they weren't that bad, taking the one goal they have scored very well. I'm backing them them to progress

Matabeleland v Chagos Islands @12pm - with Ellan Vannin having pulled out of the tournament on Tuesday, CONIFA managed to hastily arrange a Turkish All-Stars XI to play Tibet in a friendly and on Thursday they've managed to get Chagos Islands, a CONIFA member, to fill in here. This is officially being classed as a friendly and is being staged so that ticket holders have a game to watch. Presumably, win or lose, Matabeleland will progress to the 13th/14th place play-off. UPDATE (07/06/18): it was announced on Wednesday that Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar will start in goal for Matabeleland in this game

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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 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, 4 June 2018

TLFG: Tuesday 5 June 2018

This week TLFG is taking a slightly different format.

That's down to the fact that London is currently hosting the CONIFA World Football Cup and we only know what's going on at short notice so I'm going to aim to produce a fresh guide every other day for the rest of this week to reflect what's going on.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet with every continent bar South America represented.
The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more
There have been one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has officiated at some of the games.

Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card has been introduced and is shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Northern Cyprus frantically defend as Abkhazia push for a late winner
Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

So far, I've seen Abkhazia draw 2-2 with Northern Cyprus - a result which sent the reigning champions into the placement competition and Matabeleland's 3-1 win over Tuvalu. Next up for me is one of the semis on Thursday and the final on Saturday.

I know many of you made it to games too and there have been some great photos appearing on social media.

The atmosphere at these games has been great with singing, dancing, flag waving, drum beating and even some naughty smoke bombs which we all, not so secretly, love.


Copies of the official programme can be ordered now

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are eight matches in the tournament on Tuesday with several grounds hosting two games so a doubleheader is very possible but jumping between grounds will be tough as they're too far apart. The only realistic possibility of this will be between Bromley and Sutton but a car or bike will be required to have any chance.

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.

MATCH MAP 5 JUNE





Tuesday 5 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Quarter-Final Stage

With the group stage complete, the competition effectively splits into two parts. Those who finished in the top two in their groups move forward to the quarter-finals in the traditional sense while the remaining eight, rather than go home, move into a placement competition to see who finishes in 9th-16th. This guarantees that each team which makes the journey to London plays six games and gets their money's worth.

Tickets are £12 per adult per game on the gate. Seeing two games in a day is still very easy to do but you'll probably have to stay in one ground to watch them as the distances between grounds, especially if extra-time is needed, should be too far. Here is a rundown of what's on, including a brief profile of each team:

Quarter-Finals

Barawa v Northern Cyprus @3pm - as hosts and probably the best supported side respectively, for the sake of the tournament it was good to see these two make it through. Barawa caused a bit of an upset by beating Ellan Vannin on Sunday to top the group so will come into this with some confidence. Northern Cyprus were runners-up in what turned out to be a tough group and should start as favourites here

Padania v Panjab @3pm - with the only 100% record left in the competition, Italian side Padania are looking like strong favourites for the title. With 19 scored and just two conceded from their three group games, they're going to take some beating. Panjab came into the tournament at the top of CONIFA's rankings and were runners-up in the last WFC and after thrashing Kabilya 8-0 in their first game it looked like they were going to challenge again. However, they followed this up with a loss and a draw to squeak through ahead of United Koreans in Japan. They're going to have to raise their game considerably to make the semis

Cascadia v Karpatalya @6pm - representing a region in the Pacific North West of North America, Cascadia have done incredibly well to get this far. With little experience of playing together prior to the tournament, it was no surprise that they lost comfortably to Ellan Vannin in their opener. However, come the end of the weekend, they'd won back-to-back games including a 6-0 trouncing of Tamil Eelam to dramatically edge out Ellan Vannin on goal difference. As late replacements for Felvidek, no-one knew what to expect of Karpatalya. Made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Ukraine, they surprised quite a few by storming through Group B to finish above Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia dropping only two points in the process - the smart money would appear to be on them

Szekely Land v Western Armenia @6pm- I really like the look of this match partly because it features Western Armenia who I tipped last week to be dark horses for the title at 25/1. Harutyun Vardanyan's side impressed in Group D with some 'professional' performances to thwart the likes of Panjab who struggled to get to grips with them. I also noted that Szekely Lane were 'a team on the up' and they played some good stuff in their first two games before easing off and losing quite comfortably to Padania on Sunday. They also have some great ultras who were out in force on Saturday with their smoke bombs and drums - hopefully they do midweek games too

Placement Quarter-Finals for 9th-16th place

Ellan Vannin v Tibet @3pm - at the start of play on Sunday Ellan Vannin (aka Isle of Man) were one of only three teams with a 100% record so looked like certs to make the quarter-finals. However, they lost to Barawa and Cascadia thrashed Tamil Eelam 6-0 to achieve a huge swing in goal difference to edge them out by a tiny margin. The disappointment for all connected with the Manx team must have been huge as many had them as pre-tournament favourites. Finishing ninth is now the best they can hope for but they'll need to win three games to secure it. The first match is against Tibet who, despite huge support, have been one of the whipping boys of the tournament and they'll do well to avoid finishing last. UPDATE (05/06/18) - Ellan Vannin have withdrawn from the tournament because of a dispute over an 'ineligible' player fielded against them by Barawa earlier in the competition

Matabeleland v Kabylia @3pm - these two conceded goals by the bucket load in the group stage (12 each) but still managed to pick up four points between them. Matabeleland have won a lot of friends and generated a lot of media interest with their crowdfunding campaign to get them to the tournament and the joyous way they've played their games and celebrated afterwards despite some heavy defeats. They also include Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar among their squad and although he's primarily a coach, he almost made it on as a sub on Sunday. Their supporters also sing and dance their way through games adding that bit extra to the experience. Fellow African side Kabylia managed only a point from their three games but had arguably a tougher group - it will be interesting to see how this goes

Tamil Eelam v Abkhazia @6pm - like Tibet, Tamil Eelam have really struggled at this tournament. Another team to have conceded 12 goals, they are one of three teams to end the group stage with zero points. To say another defeat here looks certain is an understatement. Abkhazia are the reigning WFC champions and it's a surprise to see them having to play placement football at such an early stage. I can only see this going one way

Tuvalu v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - with the worst record in the tournament, Tuvalu are living up to their rank outsider status very well indeed. Scoring one and conceding 15, the Pacific Islanders have found life tough in London. Having watched them on Sunday against Matabeleland they didn't seem that bad although a number of their players looked far more suited to rugby which the region is far more famous for. UKIJ on the other hand were the only side in the group stage who drew every game and from what I hear were technically good and well disciplined but struggled to create chances (scoring only one) - this looks  likes being the game when they get to cut loose

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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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

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

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

Monday, 21 May 2018

TLFG: 21 May - 3 June 2018

In most years, this piece would probably be the last one of the season but not so this time round.

That's largely down to the fact that for the first time ever, London has been chosen to host the CONIFA World Football Cup.

Kicking off in 10 days time, the event will pick up where the EFL play-offs leave off and extend the live action in the capital until 9 June - unusual in most years and exceptional in a FIFA World Cup one.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet - every continent bar South America is represented.
The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more
There will be one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg is set to officiate at some of the games.

Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card is also set to be introduced and will be shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the opening ceremony at Bromley on 31 May and final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

As it stands, I'm hoping to go to Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus and Tuvalu v Matabeleland on 3 June, the semis on 7 June and the final on 9 June. How about you?

If you are going to a game at the CONIFA World Football Cup, a documentary maker from the Netherlands would like to hear from you and film you at a game. Please get in touch with us if this interests you and we'll put you in touch.

But before all that gets underway, we have the EFL play-off weekend at Wembley. Apart from the Championship game between Aston Villa and Fulham, tickets for the League One and League Two games should be pretty easy to get.

Copies of the official programme can be ordered now
With so much to play for, these games are usually highly charged and have a great atmosphere - try and get to at least one if you can. More details can be found in the Daily Digest below.

Over the last few days, I made my third visit to Wembley in six weeks - this time for Non-League Finals Day.

As usual it provided a feast of football and some great entertainment over the course of nearly seven hours - courtesy of the FA Trophy final going to penalties.

Congratulations to Thatcham Town and Brackley Town for winning the FA Vase and Trophy respectively and my commiserations particularly to local side Bromley who were on the verge of winning the Trophy until a 95th-minute equaliser took the match to extra-time and ultimately penalties.

The one sour note of the day for me was provided by a group of 20-30 young Thatcham fans right in front of our group who spent most of the game abusing and goading the Stockton Town supporters sat a few feet away across a handful of rows of seats.

It was totally out of the spirit of the day and shamed their club. Thankfully their targets didn't rise to it and for the most part kept their dignity.

So disinterested in the action were said group of 'supporters' that the abuse continued after the final whistle while their players were receiving the cup - very poor.

Aside from all that, I also launched this year's Non-League Day last night with the announcement that this year's event will be on Saturday 13 October so put the date in your diary.

Finally, it's nice to report some more good interactions with you dear readers.

Here's your chance to get on the telly with a group of friends

Regular correspondent Chris H was at Wembley on Sunday but also headed out to Greenford on Tuesday to watch PFC Victoria London clinch the Middlesex County League Division 1 West crown by virtue of goal difference alone! Congratulations to coach Emil and the team on your second consecutive promotion.

Lastly, do you fancy yourself as a bit of a Football Genius?

If so then a new ITV quiz show is being launched by the same production company behind 'Have I Got News For You'.

They are looking for teams of five who all support the same club to go head-to-head with supporters of other teams. If you're interested get in touch with the production team via email (footballgenius@hattrick.com).

Thanks this week goes to reader Markus U who gave a generous donation to the TLFG coffee-drinking fund. Thank you sir, much appreciated.

I think that's about it from me for this week - as always, enjoy your football watching and let me know what you've been up to.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 30 matches in the London area over the next two weeks. The highlights include an England international, the EFL play-offs and the group stage of the CONIFA World Football Cup. It is possible that some CONIFA warm-up games could be added too - there is supposed to be a tournament at Enfield Town on 26 May but the details are proving hard to come by.

With games pretty thin on the ground, I've also included a few from the 11th, 12th and 13th tiers whose seasons are continuing for another week or so. These games are often played at fairly rudimentary grounds, with few facilities and can be particularly susceptible to a change of venue or kick-off time.

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 21-27 MAY
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




MATCH MAP 28 MAY - 1 JUNE
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin




MATCH MAP 2-3 JUNE
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.

Saturday 26 May

Championship play-off final
Aston Villa v Fulham @5pm - after a very quiet midweek period, things get very tasty on Saturday when the Cottagers head to Wembley to play Villa in what has been dubbed the richest game in football. As a result of the multi-billion pound deal the Premier League has struck with the satellite and cable TV broadcasters, victory in this match is said to be worth at least £200m to the winner so there is a huge amount at stake. Fulham finished third, five points ahead of Villa and beat them 2-0 when they last met in February at Craven Cottage. As it stands, you need a previous booking history with Fulham to be able to get a ticket from them whilst tickets for the Villa end of the stadium go on general sale on Tuesday at 5pm if any are left

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Sunday 27 May

League One play-off final
Rotherham United v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - the second instalment of the EFL's play-off weekend takes place at Wembley at 3pm. As with the match above, it's another fourth versus third battle so you could argue that the 'right' teams have made the final. Rotherham are a proper yo-yo club who have been up and down all three of the EFL's divisions over the course of their history. Prior to this season, they spent three years in the Championship so are looking for an instant return. The Shrews were expected to struggle this year but this is their second visit to the national stadium this season after also finishing as runners-up in the EFL Trophy. Promotion would be a huge achievement for the Shropshire side as they haven't played in the second tier since 1989. Tickets are on general sale now from both clubs

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Monday 28 May

League Two play-off final
Coventry City v Exeter City @3pm - the Sky Blues were a fixture of the top flight between 1967-2001 so it's fair to say that they are way too big a club to playing at this level. Sadly off-pitch problems have seen them fall down the divisions since then but things are turning around with this play-off final absolutely massive for the club who are looking to get out of the fourth tier at the first attempt. They also have a decent record at Wembley having famously won the FA Cup in a thrilling game against Spurs in 1987 and far more recently the EFL Trophy last season. However, although Exeter are a much smaller club they've had a better season than Coventry up until this point with the Grecians winning 1-0 when they last played in January. Tickets for the Exeter fans' section are on general sale now whilst those for Coventry will become available on Tuesday at 9am

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Thursday 31 May

CONIFA World Football Cup Group Stage

After several months of waiting, the CONIFA World Football Cup finally gets underway in London. There are a mouthwatering eight group games taking place on Thursday as all 16 competing teams begin their campaigns. With matches taking place at non-league grounds all over the city and kick-offs staggered throughout the day, it will be possible to do a triple and see three matches at different grounds or you could just camp at one stadium and see two matches back-to-back. Tickets are £12 per adult per game on the gate and if you decide to stay at one stadium you will need a separate ticket for each game. Here is a rundown of what's on, including a brief profile of each team:

Abkhazia v Tibet @12pm - hailing from the Caucasus, Abkhazia hosted the last World Football Cup and won it after squeaking past Panjab on penalties in the final. Tibet are arguably the most high profile team in the tournament but are also one of the most inexperienced and are one of the rank outsiders - they are likely to draw quite a few people through the turnstiles though

Ellan Vannin v Cascadia @12pm - more commonly known as the Isle of Man, Ellan Vannin are effectively the local interest in this tournament and are highly fancied by the bookies to do well. Runners-up at the inaugural tournament in 2014, this experienced Manx team should beat North American side Cascadia who have only recently formed but they have a number of players and a coach with English non-league experience so should be able to compete

Szekely Land v Tuvalu @12pm - representing ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Szekely Land are a team on the up. Finishing ninth at the last WFC, they then came third at the European Football Cup in 2017 enjoying notable wins over Ellan Vannin and Abkhazia during the campaign. Lying in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Hawaii, Tuvalu are probably the most remote of all the teams taking part. Replacements for Kiribati, who dropped out two months ago, Tuvalu are the rank outsiders. Their last match saw them beat Tonga 4-3 back in December

United Koreans in Japan v Western Armenia @12pm- quarter-finalists at the last World Football Cup, UKIJ are one of the top challengers from Asia. With a squad based almost entirely in Japan, tournament sponsors Paddy Power have them at 6/1 to win the title. Western Armenia finished seventh at the last WFC but had some very close games with eventual finalists Abkhazia and Panjab. With players at a number of top division clubs in Armenia, Kazakhstan and Slovakia they could be dark horses at 25/1. 

Northern Cyprus v Karpatalya @3pm - moving on to the mid-afternoon kick-offs we get the chance to take a first look at Northern Cyprus who were runners-up in last year's European Football Cup which they hosted. With this game also being played at Enfield Town, there's likely to be a good attendance as a large Turkish Cypriot community live nearby. Young striker Ahmet Sivri of Galatasaray is said to be the man to watch in their squad. Karpatalya have come in as late replacements for Felvidek. Made up of ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine, they have a couple of players with experience of top-tier football in Hungary and Romania

Padania v Matabeleland @3pm - originating from northern Italy, Padania are among the favourites. Having won both of the European Football Cup tournaments since CONIFA's foundation and coming fourth at the last World Football Cup they should provide formidable opposition for anyone. Their star player is veteran defender Marius Stankevicius who has had a fine career at clubs including Brescia, Lazio, Sampdoria, Sevilla and Valencia. Matabeleland is a region of Zimbabwe and are one of three African sides in the competition. Coached by Englishman Justin Walley, they are another one of the most inexperienced sides in the tournament so could struggle here. Also of note, Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar is set to act as their goalkeeping coach and brand ambassador. Of all the teams in the tournament, they have some great merchandise so buy your shirts and scarves in advance and help fund their trip

Panjab v Kabilya @3pm - a little outside London in Slough, CONIFA world number ones Panjab will take to the field for the first time. With a large south Asian community on the west side of London, all their group games will be played at Arbour Park to try and attract good crowds. Runners-up at the last World Football Cup, Panjab are real contenders and have played a number of warm-up games in recent weeks, most notably against Liverpool U23s. Made up primarily of English based non-league players, they should have enough to win here. Kabilya represent a Berber people based in what is now northern Algeria. They are another one of the more inexperienced sides in the tournament and could struggle

CONIFA World Football Cup Opening Ceremony @7pm
followed by Barawa v Tamil Eelam @8pm - the day comes to an end with a bit of pageantry at Bromley's Hayes Lane ground. Barawa, from Somalia, are the nominal hosts of the tournament. Their young side are almost all from London and play for local clubs with a couple on the books at QPR and Millwall. Like Panjab, they have played a number of warm-up games of late so should be well prepared. Sitting just above Barawa in the rankings, Tamil Eelam are side that tend to blow hot and cold with a hefty win often followed by a heavy defeat. Their last match saw them lose 4-1 to South Korea U23 in Nottingham

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Saturday 2 June

International friendly
England v Nigeria @515pm - the Three Lions play their penultimate World Cup warm-up game at Wembley as Gareth Southgate gets a better of idea of who to start against Tunisia in their opening group match in Volgograd

CONIFA World Football Cup Group Stage
With only one day off, all 16 sides return to action again on Saturday. This time it's only possible to see two games in a day with four matches kicking off at 2pm and four at 5pm. Based on the brief profiles above, I would recommend Northern Cyprus v Tibet as the game of the day which I believe had the highest ticket sales of any game the last time I heard. It takes place at Enfield Town at 5pm. All other games can be found of the match map

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Sunday 3 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Group Stage
A breathless group stage comes to an end on Sunday when all 16 teams return to action after less than 24 hours. This time four games will kick off at 3pm and four at 6pm. The top two in each group progress to the quarter-finals while the rest go into a separate placement 'tournament' to see who finishes in 9th-16th place - in other words no-one goes home early and each team has something to play for right until the final day.

Padania v Szekely Land @6pm - the standout game pits two teams together who have a 100% record at this stage. Padania, hailing from northern Italy, have scored a staggering 14 goals in their two opening games and look like very serious contenders indeed. Szekely Land have scored nine themselves and have yet to concede. Made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Romania, Szekely have also been backed by some very colourful and vocal ultras who should create a great atmosphere. Both sides are already through to the next round but this will decided who wins the group. This match is being played at Bedfont Sports whose ground is worth visiting as it's based right next to the runway of Heathrow Airport so if you like football and planes it doesn't get much better than this!

Barawa v Ellan Vannin @3pm - the only other team with a 100% record are Ellan Vannin (a.k.a. the Isle of Man) and are geographically the closest thing to a home nations team. With solid wins over Cascadia and Tamil Eelam, the Manx side are pretty much there but need a point to be mathematically sure of progress. Barawa are the 'host' nation for this tournament. Despite originating from Somalia, most of the players and officials are based here. After crushing Tamil Eelam 4-0 in their first match, they came unstuck against Cascadia and either themselves or the North American side could still make it through. This is being played at Haringey Borough

Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus @3pm - one of the biggest crowds of the day should be found at Enfield Town where the reigning champions take on one of the pre-tournament favourites. Group B is far from decided with all teams in it having dropped points so far. Currently Karpatalya, who came in for Felvidek at short notice, top the group on goals scored from Northern Cyprus with Abkhazia a point behind. With Karpatalya playing Tibet, who have lost both games, it would look like only one of these will go through so it's all to play for down at Donkey Lane

Panjab v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - my final pick of the day sees CONIFA's top ranked team Panjab return to Slough Town's ground to take on the only side who have yet to score or concede a goal. Panjab demonstrated their class by trouncing Kabilya 8-0 in their opening game and a place in the next round looked a certainty. However, they came unstuck against Western Armenia in their second game and will go out if they lose this one. Despite that sensational opening result, if things go really badly on Sunday they could even finish last in their group

There are four other games to enjoy on Sunday and with the staggered kick-off times, it would be rude not to combine one of the above with one of the less eye-catching games. The easiest double would appear to be Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus at 3pm (Enfield Town) and then Matabeleland v Tuvalu at 6pm (Haringey Borough) - it's a pretty straightforward journey by train from Southbury or Enfield Town to White Hart Lane and then a brisk walk or bus ride to the ground - I'm going to be attempting this. Alternatively you could do it the other way around and watch Barawa v Ellan Vannin at 3pm (Haringey Borough) and Kabilya v Western Armenia at 6pm (Enfield Town). If you have a car then Karpatalya v Tibet at 3pm in Bracknell should be combinable with the Panjab game in Slough at 6pm or maybe the Padania match at Bedfont but it will be tight. The one game that would appear to be out on its own is Cascadia v Tamil Eelam over in Rotherhithe at 3pm.

With the tournament developing every day, I will aim to update the guide as the competition progresses.

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, 14 May 2018

TLFG: 14-20 May 2018

Well what a dramatic weekend it's been.

Maybe not so much for our local Premier League clubs where everything was pretty much settled going into the final round of games, but lower down in the EFL and among the non-league ranks.

Earlier this evening we saw Charlton Athletic succumb to Shrewsbury Town in the League One play-offs after two narrow 1-0 defeats, meaning the Addicks will have to spend another year in the third tier.

Fulham lost the first leg of their Championship semi-final by a similar scoreline and now have it all to do against Derby in the home leg on Monday.

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There was also play-off heartbreak for Boreham Wood who made it to Wembley for the National League play-off final where they faced the very challenging prospect of former EFL side Tranmere Rovers.

Things got off to a bizarre start when Tranmere had a man sent off after 40 seconds but then took the lead minutes later. The Wood managed an equaliser but couldn't take advantage of the extra man and let another one in shortly before the end to lose 2-1.

The other big disappointment about the day was the poor attendance of 16,306. I wasn't predicting many from Boreham Wood but given Tranmere's stature, I would've expected at least 20-25,000 from them alone but it wasn't to be.

It's great that non-league sides are getting the chance to play at Wembley but is it worth it for so few? The atmosphere would've been a lot better in a ground like Loftus Road, The Den or Vicarage Road which would have been nearly full to capacity.

On Sunday in the National League South play-off final, Hampton & Richmond Borough hosted Braintree Town and opted to make the match all-ticket.

Such was the demand for the game that all tickets sold out in advance meaning a 3,000+ crowd, similar to that achieved by Dulwich and Hendon last week.

Tickets are on sale now and will also be available on the day
Like the Bostik Premier final, Hampton and Braintree also produced a 1-1 draw which saw penalties ensue - sadly for the hosts, it was the Essex club who prevailed and they duly returned to the fifth tier after only one season away.

Also I'd like to give a quick mention to Corinthian Casuals who, despite losing in their play-off final to Walton Casuals last weekend, have still been promoted as a kind of lucky loser because they had the best record of all the other teams who had come equally close in parallel leagues.

The other talking point at non-league level this week, was the release of new look divisions at Steps 1-4 (fifth to eighth tiers of the national game) by the FA.

An extra fourth division has been inserted at Step 3 causing my beloved Harrow Borough as well as Hendon, Metropolitan Police and Staines Town to be shunted out of the Isthmian League and into the Southern League.

This ends years of association and tradition for Harrow and Hendon who will now be expected to travel frequently to clubs in Devon, Dorset, Somerset and even Wales! 

Don't get me wrong, this prospect is exciting as there are some great clubs and destinations in the Southern League but the financial implications from all the extra travelling could be significant - it's as if we'd been promoted to the National League South rather than moved sideways!

The decision has already had a big impact on Metropolitan Police whose manager of 15 seasons Jim Cooper resigned pretty much on the spot citing the increased travel as the reason for his exit.

Harrow had an excellent end to their season and finished in the top half for the first time in a while but despite this, still only managed to attract an average of 177 fans to games which is way below where it needs to be. I'm hoping to try and do my bit to up that with plans afoot to discuss things among fellow supporters over the summer. Watch this space...


The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more

Don't forget that the CONIFA World Football Cup is coming to London in just over two weeks!

The tournament which runs from 31 May - 9 June is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by Fifa.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Ealam and Tibet.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

Finally, it's nice to report some more good interactions with you dear readers.

Thanks this week goes to long-time reader Daniel R from Sutton who gave a generous donation to the TLFG coffee-drinking fund. Thanks again sir!

I think that's about it from me for this week - as always, enjoy your football watching and let me know what you've been up to.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 30 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include the FA Cup Final, an EFL play-off and Non-League Finals Day.

With games pretty thin on the ground, I've also included a few from the 11th and 12th tiers whose seasons are continuing for another week or so. These games are often played at fairly rudimentary grounds, with few facilities and can be particularly susceptible to a change of venue or kick-off time.

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
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 14 May

Championship play-off semi-final second leg
Fulham v Derby County @745pm - the Cottagers were on a very impressive run of form coming into the final day of the season but they lost at relegation-threatened Birmingham to miss out on automatic promotion. As a result, they ended up in the play-offs and began by losing the first leg of their semi-final to Derby 1-0. Although the deficit is only small, they've now lost two in a row and the pressure is really on. Both clubs have a history of choking in recent years so it's anyone's
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Tuesday 15 May

Middlesex County League Division 1 West
New Hanford v PFC Victoria London @630pm - quite simply, if the visitors win then they will be crowned champions of the division on goal difference. Anything else and the honours will go to Larkspur Rovers. If PFC succeed, it will be their second title in a row after winning the Second Division last season - a team to watch

Essex Olympian League Division 1
Sungate v Buckhurst Hill @630pm - elsewhere in the 12th tier, you've got the chance to run the rule over a Buckhurst Hill side who have already won the title. They're currently seven points clear and have two or three games in hand on all those immediately below them
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Wednesday 16 May

Combined Counties League Division 1
Farleigh Rovers v Worcester Park @7pm - the visitors have already won the title with relative ease and will look to extend their margin of victory to 12 points on Wednesday evening. Farleigh aren't a patch on the side which claimed the Division 1 crown back in 2014/15 so should be beaten

FA Women's Premier League Southern
Charlton Athletic v Gillingham @745pm - the Addicks' women's team secured the Southern title with a 4-0 drubbing of local rivals Crystal Palace on Sunday. This means they will face off against Blackburn Rovers, who won the Northern title, in two weeks time. In the meantime they need to complete their remaining league fixtures, the first of which is against the lower midtable Gills

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Thursday 17 May

Southern Combination Cup Final

CB Hounslow United v Staines Lammas @745pm - the first bit of silverware for the week comes up for grabs at Bedfont Sports' ground near Heathrow where these two relatively local rivals will meet to try and win it. CB Hounslow play a division above Staines so will start as favourites

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Friday 18 May

Ray Wilkins Memorial Game
Chelsea Legends v Inter Forever @745pm - a selection of former Chelsea, Inter and a few from some of Ray Wilkins' other former clubs will take to the Stamford Bridge pitch to raise funds for the Chelsea Foundation and Crohn's and Colitis UK. Tickets are £20 for adults and £10 concessions

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Saturday 19 May

FA Cup Final
Chelsea v Manchester United @515pm - the match of the week is to be found at Wembley where two of the country's biggest clubs go toe-to-toe for one of the most famous cups in world football. Although both sides will be disappointed with their league performances this year, they did still both finish in the top five. The two also have great FA Cup pedigree with 19 wins between them from a total of 31 appearances in the final. With Manchester City having hoovered up all the other domestic prizes this season, these clubs will be desperate not to miss out

A bit further afield
With the CONIFA World Football Cup heading to London in just over two weeks, one of the favourites will be playing a warm-up game at Slough Town's Arbour Park ground which is also one of the host venues. Panjab were runners-up at the last tournament and are currently top of the organisation's rankings. On Saturday they take on Jersey at 3pm - adult tickets are £5

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Sunday 20 May

Non-League Finals Day
One of the highlights of my year sees the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals played back-to-back at Wembley. The two premier non-league cup competitions used to be played separately, sometimes in front of very sparse crowds. This will be the third year that the FA has decided to play them on the same day and hopefully a decent crowd will turn up. Stockton Town play Thatcham Town in the Vase final at 1215pm before Brackley Town take on Bromley at 415pm. The latter have sold over 15,000 tickets so we should get at least 20,000 for the Trophy final alone. I'm predicting wins for Stockton and Bromley but I'll be sitting with the Thatcham fans. Tickets are available now and will also be on sale from the Wembley box office on the day at a cost of £25 for adults, £10 concessions and £1 for U16s - remember, one ticket gets you in for both games



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