Sunday, 23 July 2017

TLFG: 24-30 July 2017

Hello one and all and welcome to TLFG.

With July drawing to a close, pre-season is really hotting up with a number of our biggest clubs in action in the capital.

As a result, the amount of matches outside London which are covered has reduced to ones featuring Premier League, European or EFL sides which this blog normally covers.

With the quality of teams and matches improving, TLFG's Daily Digest is also back instead of the Top 10.

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Readers last week may remember my aspiration to go and watch Carshalton Athletic take on QPR but it didn't happen as childcare intervened.

However, I engaged in something far more rewarding on Wednesday when I joined a work party at Earlsmead Stadium cleaning up the ground ahead of the forthcoming friendly between Harrow Borough and a Cardiff City XI (Saturday 29 July, 2pm).


For any German readers planning a trip to watch a game in London - this is the book for you

Having seen an advert for volunteers on the club's website, I headed down there on my day off and introduced myself to the team leader Noel who put me to work with a fellow vice-president Michael.

Our first task was to head to the main stand and reach down into the gap between the back row of seats and the wall and retrieve all the rubbish that had been dumped there over the previous season or two. We brought up all kinds of stuff including many polystyrene cups and chip holders, bottles, cans, crisp packets and even a couple of old Hendon programmes from when they were groundsharing.

Next up we de-mossed the terrace behind one of the goals and then finished up by weeding one of the car parks. It all took about two-and-half hours.

Although not glamorous work, I'd done my bit for a club I'd supported pretty much remotely for the best part of 25 years but most importantly I'd got to meet some of the people who make the club tick - something I'd been meaning to do for a while.

A bin full of weeds - the product of a fine morning's graft

Non-league clubs up and down the country are always looking for volunteers to do all kinds of jobs and can offer great work experience opportunities if you're trying to build up your CV so contact your local one if this is something that could be of interest to you.

The other thing to note this week is that aside from all the friendlies, we have some competitive football too. The Essex Senior League season starts on Saturday, we've got a couple of games in the opening round of the Herts Charity Shield and we've also got the final of the Middlesex Senior Cup which could be a cracker.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with several Premier League sides, a number of top European clubs and EFL teams playing friendlies.

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

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


This comprehensive guide is currently one of the UK's best selling football books

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
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 24 July
Edgware Town v FC Deportivo Galicia @730pm - the pick of the friendlies sees the Wares host up and coming side FCDG. Promoted from the Middlesex County Football League into the 10th tier at the end of last season, the club who are primarily made up of players with Spanish heritage, will look to test themselves against a team from the level above
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Tuesday 25 July
Charlton Athletic v Norwich City @745pm - the biggest game in London on Tuesday is this friendly between the League One Addicks and Norwich who are fancied to do well in the Championship
Middlesex Senior Cup Final @730pm - there's some real silverware at stake over at the Beveree where Hampton & Richmond Borough host Wealdstone. This game has been held over from last season after Hampton's qualification for the National League South play-offs
Hayes & Yeading United v Harrow Borough @745pm - the hosts have been given permission to host this friendly against local rivals Harrow at their newly built stadium, however, only part of the ground will be open

Outside London
Southend United v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - a short journey east of London will take you to the Essex seaside town of Southend where the local League One side have landed this friendly against Premier League newcomers Brighton
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Wednesday 26 July
Thurrock v Southend United XI @745pm - the hosts won promotion back to the seventh tier last season and welcome a Shrimpers squad for an Essex derby

Outside London
Luton Town v Leicester City @745pm - the Hatters are favourites for the League Two title and they've managed to arrange this high profile friendly against the 2015/16 Premier League champions
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Thursday 27 July
Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI @730pm - the Wood have very strong links with the Gunners and a pre-season game between the two has become an annual event. The Premier League side will probably only field members of their U23 side but there could be one or two recognisable faces
CB Hounslow United v Walton Casuals @730pm - the Combined Counties League side played the first match at their new ground on Saturday. If you're a groundhopper who didn't make it to that and would like to tick it off your list, this is your chance
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Friday 28 July
Sutton United v Norwich City XI @745pm - the U's penultimate pre-season game sees them take on a side from the Canaries. Sutton have been recreating their famous FA Cup run of the late '80s this summer by playing Coventry who they famously beat and now Norwich who eventually knocked them out
Greenwich Borough v Millwall XI @745pm - with former Millwall player Gary Alexander now manager at Greenwich, a pre-season game against the Lions is becoming an annual fixture. The hosts should be among the favourites for the Bostik South title this season

Outside London
MK Dons v Leicester City @745pm - the Foxes play their second friendly of the week just to the north of the capital with this match against League One opposition
Aldershot Town v AFC Wimbledon @730pm - if the thought of attending a game at Stadium:MK is too much, head down to Hampshire where two phoenix clubs meet at the Recreation Ground
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Saturday 29 July
The Emirates Cup - this annual tournament hosted by Arsenal is one of the highlights of the pre-season period in London. The opening day this year features games between Red Bull Leipzig and Sevilla (2pm) and Arsenal and Benfica (420pm)
Brentford v Celta Vigo @3pm - the Bees end their pre-season campaign against Spanish top flight side Vigo. The Galician club finished finished 13th in La Liga last season so should provide a decent test for Dean Smith's team
Fulham v Wolfsburg @3pm - there's a European flavour to proceedings at Craven Cottage too where German outfit Wolfsburg provide the opposition
Queens Park Rangers v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - it seems west London is the place to be for football on Saturday with QPR playing at home too. This fixture against the Cherries is being used as a benefit match for Stan Bowles, arguably the club's best ever player. One of the biggest characters of English football in the '70s, the Mancunian is now suffering from Alzheimer's so proceeds from the game will go to him
Millwall v Granada @3pm - now back in the Championship, the Lions welcome Granada from the parallel second tier in Spain. The Chinese owned club suffered relegation last season and will no doubt be wanting to bounceback straight away
Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town @3pm - having started the week playing against Norwich, the Addicks end it with a game against the Canaries' biggest rivals Ipswich. The Tractor Boys are usually among the contenders in the Championship but had a disappointing 2016/17 campaign 
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Salford City @3pm - the Beavers have lined up this game against one of the most famous non-league clubs in the country. Part-owned and run by former Manchester United stars Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes, Salford have found themselves the subject of a prime time TV documentary series. Since the takeover, the Ammies have also enjoyed a couple of promotions and an excellent FA Cup run. Proceeds from this match will be going to Bliss who help premature and sick babies

Outside London
Derby County v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim @3pm - although quite a way north of London, Derby can be reached by train from St Pancras in less than 90 minutes and the stadium is close to the station. Hoffenheim finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season to qualify for the Champions League
Reading v Vitesse Arnhem @3pm - the Royals, managed by Jaap Stam, made the Championship play-off final last season but were beaten by Huddersfield. On Saturday they welcome the Dutch Cup winners to the Madejski Stadium (Correction: this match is being played at Wycombe Wanderers' ground)
Slough Town v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the Rebels play host to the Baggies at their new Arbour Park ground for the testimonial of long serving physio Kevin McGoldrick. This match is ALL TICKET so you must purchase in advance
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Sunday 30 July
The Emirates Cup - day two of the tournament at the Emirates Stadium sees RB Leipzig play Benfica (2pm) and Arsenal take on Sevilla (420pm)

Outside London
AFC Bournemouth v Valencia @3pm - end your weekend with a trip to the Dorset coast and the chance to see one of the biggest names in Spanish football. Bournemouth has one of the best sandy beaches in southern England and is a direct train ride from Waterloo or Clapham Junction
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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, 17 July 2017

TLFG:17-23 July 2017

Hi there and welcome to third edition of TLFG for the 2017/18 pre-season.

UPDATE (18/07/17): After the rather threadbare offering I produced on Sunday night, here's the re-booted, fleshed out version.

If you didn't see the original, I fell behind schedule because I spent last week on holiday in the central Turkish city of Konya.

If you haven't been, it's packed with culture, history and lots of great food. One of the most striking things is that the overwhelming amount of visitors are Turkish meaning on the downside not many people speak English but conversely everything is really cheap.

A proud moment - getting my hands on the Turkish Cup

Not only was my flight and hotel package ridiculously good value (£285 for a week's B&B in a 5-star spa hotel with flight included) but all of the main attractions charged under £2 entrance for adults with some of them completely free. Kids never paid anything and playgrounds of really high quality were everywhere.

My personal highlight was of course football related and came in the form of getting my hands on the Turkish Cup which local side Konyaspor won for the first time last season and were parading in a local shopping centre. I also bought one of their third choice shirts for under £20 in the club shop where my daughter was fussed over and given not one but two club balloons to keep her entertained. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on their progress in this season's Europa League.

Subscribe to The London Football Guide

This week the preparations for Non-League Day will start to hot up. I've got a meeting with Kick It Out on Thursday and need to upload lots of fixtures on to the event's match map so people can see what's on.

I also hope to get to a game myself on Saturday with Carshalton Athletic v QPR U23s looking quite likely - a friend's teenage son has just signed for the host's first team so it could be a big afternoon for him.

On my way back from Stansted airport yesterday I passed Tottenham's new ground which is going up impressively fast. If you're a Spurs fan or like a bit of football nostalgia, BBC reporter Chris Slegg has written a book all about White Hart Lane and included some great stories and anecdotes associated with the old ground which was one of my favourites.

 
A great read for football historians, particularly the Spurs fans amongst them

I've also been made aware that there are some websites out there charging people for advice on how to visit football matches here in England. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, please be aware that I offer a very similar service for free so you could easily save yourself $50 for even the most basic information.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with three Premier League and several EFL sides playing friendlies.

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

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

A fine summer read if football tactics are your thing

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
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin




TLFG TOP 10
In the following section I list 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.

1. BRENTFORD v SOUTHAMPTON
The Bees' first pre-season home game sees them welcome the Saints. The Premier League side got their preparations underway on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against St Gallen in Switzerland and should bring a strong side to Griffin Park. If the chance to see a top-flight side in action wasn't already enough, all profits from the game are going to the Grenfell Tower fire appeal. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

2. PORTSMOUTH v BOURNEMOUTH
If you fancy a trip to the coast on Saturday, this is the game for you. The train from Waterloo to Fratton leaves every half an hour and takes just under 90 minutes. If you leave London early, you can also take in Portsmouth's historic dockyard or take a boat trip around the naval base - last time I went, one of the US Navy's nuclear submarines had just arrived after a two-day voyage from New York. I digress - this game is a south-coast derby and fans are being urged to buy in advance to avoid disappointment on the day. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

3. CRAWLEY TOWN v BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
A little to the south of Gatwick Airport you've got the chance to see another Premier League side in a Sussex derby. Harry Kewell's team welcome the Seagulls who returned to the top division for the first time since 1983 when they finished runners-up to Newcastle in the Championship. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

4. BARNET v MILLWALL
Up at The Hive we've got a London derby to look forward to with the Bees of League Two hosting the Championship's Lions. These two have only ever met three times in competition with Millwall winning 4-0 in north London last August. Barnet shouldn't be too overawed though, pre-season has seen them win all three of their games including victories over sides from Swansea and West Ham. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

5. AFC WIMBLEDON v BURTON ALBION
Get your weekend off to a good start with some Friday night football at Kingsmeadow. The Dons began their pre-season with an entertaining 3-2 win over Watford on Saturday and next face the challenge of Burton. As one of the smallest clubs in the division, the Brewers did extremely well to survive their first season in the Championship under boss Nigel Clough. (Friday 21 July, 745pm. Club info)

6. OXFORD UNITED v BRENTFORD
Got some time off or visiting London for a few days? A midweek away day to Oxford to see the sights of the historic city with a bit of football thrown in could be for you. The U's narrowly missed out on a League One play-off place last season and have a shot at going one better this time. This will be the Bees' first game after returning from their training camp in France. (Wednesday 19 July, 745pm. Club info)

7. STEVENAGE v CHARLTON ATHLETIC
The Addicks head just beyond the northern fringes of London for this game against League Two opposition after enjoying back-to-back wins over Welling and Greenwich on Saturday afternoon/evening. The Hertfordshire side held Norwich to a draw last week so should provide a decent test. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

8. EBBSFLEET  UNITED v SOUTHEND UNITED
The hosts won the National League South play-offs last season to return to the fifth tier. Pre-season has so far produced defeats against Shrewsbury Town and Tonbridge Angels and tough fixtures against Tottenham and Cambridge are scheduled before this one. League One side Southend hail from Essex, a few miles downstream on the other side of the Thames. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

9. BOREHAM WOOD v LUTON TOWN
The Wood are one of the minnows of the National League so it's great credit to the team running the side that they're preparing for another season in the fifth tier. On Saturday they welcome former top-flight side Luton who are now one of this season's favourites for the League Two title. The Hatters should bring a significant following as only a short train ride separates the two towns. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

10. ALDERSHOT TOWN v CHELSEA U23
The Shots have a busy pre-season and this is likely to draw a decent crowd. Chelsea's U23 team is packed with talent and they often use Aldershot's ground for their Premier League 2 games. On Saturday the development squad played two games against EFL opposition back-to-back, a 1-1 draw with Crawley and a 5-1 win over Southend. Gary Waddock's Aldershot side have struggled in the games they've played so far, so this could be really tough. (Wednesday 19 July, 7pm. Club info)


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

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, 9 July 2017

TLFG: 10-16 July 2017

Greetings and welcome to this week's TLFG.

First up can I say thank you to all those who sent kind comments on the blog's return last week and to everyone in general for continuing to read - it got some of its best traffic ever last week. It goes without saying that without the positivity you send me I wouldn't bother so cheers!

I was working all kinds of anti-social hours this week so didn't get to see any live football but I know some of you did and it was good to see your pictures and comments on Facebook and Twitter.

One of the biggest football related stories of the week was the sad passing of young Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery from neuroblastoma, a form of cancer. 

Alerted by his and Newcastle fan Frankie Sherwood's plight a few months ago, I looked into becoming a blood platelet donor and after several failed attempts at getting through the screening process (administrative errors rather than health), I went for my first donation session on Wednesday.

Find out more - one donation can help up to 3 adults or 12 children with cancer

Tucked away at the back of St George's Hospital in Tooting is a special permanent blood donation centre where you can do regular blood donation, platelets, plasma and quite possibly other things too.

After a health screening, members of the team tell you what to expect, explain the process and show you the machine that will carry it out.

Unlike blood donation where they take about a pint out, with this process they take out the blood, filter off the platelets and put the rest back into you.

In total I was wired up to the machine for a little over an hour but was supplied with regular cups of tea and had live tennis from Wimbledon on a large TV to keep me entertained. You can bring a tablet, phone or other entertainment equipment if you wish.

In all honesty I did feel a bit spaced out during the procedure and for up to an hour afterwards but I was back to normal after that.

Apparently platelets don't last as long as blood so they have to be used quickly, but donors can give platelets far more frequently than blood - every two weeks in some cases, though most people leave it a month.

If you've never given blood or would like to try donating platelets I urge you to look into it. It really doesn't take that much effort and literally keeps people alive whether they've been in an accident, are going through chemotherapy or had a tough time giving birth. I even read about one person whose rare condition meant that fresh blood would stop her going blind. The list is of people you could help is long.
Right that's enough of tugging at your heartstrings - in other football news this week...

As we all know, Tottenham are temporarily moving to Wembley for the 2017/18 season while their new stadium is built. 

Earlier this week they announced that they will play a friendly against Champions League finalists Juventus there on Saturday 5 August at 530pm. Tickets for the game are on general sale now

Aside from all the friendlies taking place this week, we also have the Star Sixes at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich. I'm not really into 'Legends' matches or tournaments and don't usually cover them but this does look like quite a big deal with some pretty decent names so if that's your thing check out the event's website for more information.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with three Premier League and several EFL sides playing friendlies.

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

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

A fine summer read if football tactics are your thing

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
Friday fixtures - black pin



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




TLFG TOP 10
In the following section I list 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.

1. AFC WIMBLEDON v WATFORD
The Dons get their pre-season underway with a visit from the Premier League Hornets. The south-west Londoners had a better than expected campaign last year and were within touching distance of the League One play-off places until the latter stages when they fell away. Watford did really well just to avoid relegation and a third consecutive season in the top flight is some achievement. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

2. BARNET v SWANSEA CITY
The Bees recorded an impressive 5-0 win at Maidstone on Saturday as their preparations for the new season got off to a flying start. Next up they've managed to land a prestigious friendly against Premier League opposition which should be a lot tougher. How strong a side the Swans field is unsure but it is listed as a first-team game on their website. (Wednesday 12 July, 745pm. Club info)

3. MAIDSTONE UNITED v CRYSTAL PALACE
One of the hottest tickets of the week is for this match in Kent. To celebrate five years at the Gallagher Stadium, the Stones have lined up a visit from the Eagles and it has completely sold out. If their performance against League Two outfit Barnet is anything to go by, we could get a cricket score! (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

4. PETERBOROUGH UNITED v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
This game is quite a way north of London and wouldn't normally make the cut but it does because it features a London club and the train ride from Kings Cross takes only 45 minutes - the stadium is then walkable from the station. League One club Peterborough drew 0-0 at non-league St Albans on Saturday whilst QPR played two and lost two squad games against Reading behind closed doors. Games between these two are rarely classics but it gives you the chance to get out of London and explore what is a cathedral city. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

5. CAMBRIDGE UNITED v NORWICH CITY
Like Peterborough, Cambridge is a fair distance outside London but it too can be reached in 45 minutes from Kings Cross. The city is also a fine destination in its own right, with its world famous university and museums, so could make for a good summer day trip with a bit of football thrown in. The U's missed out on the League Two play-offs by just four points last season and are 4-1 to get promoted this time. Norwich finished eighth in the Championship and will hope for at least a top-six place this year. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

6. WELLING UNITED v CHARLTON ATHLETIC
The annual pre-season clash between these two south-east London neighbours takes place on Saturday. Both sides have had a rocky couple of years but both consolidated their respective positions in the National League South and League One. With only a few weeks to go until the big kick-off, the bookies think it could be a good year for the Addicks with most offering odds of 5-1 on them getting promoted. If you can't make it to this game or want a double helping, Charlton are also playing another game against Greenwich Borough, a short journey away, later the same day at 730pm. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

7. DARTFORD v GILLINGHAM
Tony Burman's side held Millwall to a 1-1 draw on Saturday and next face a derby against fellow Kent club Gillingham. The Darts will be hoping for at least a play-off place in the National League South this season while the Gills will probably be more than happy with a midtable finish after finishing just above the League One relegation places last time. (Tuesday 11 July, 730pm. Club info)

8. CRAWLEY TOWN v CHELSEA XI
Harry Kewell's side thrashed East Grinstead on Saturday but should face much stiffer opposition from whichever squad the Blues send to Sussex for this one. With none of the big stars likely to play, we should get an opportunity to take a look at some of the young talent that Chelsea usually have stockpiled behind closed doors at their Cobham training ground. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

9. EBBSFLEET UNITED v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR XI
The Fleet won the National League South play-offs last season to return to the fifth tier after four years away. On Saturday they welcome a squad from Spurs and are hoping for a big crowd as all profits will be donated to the Paul McCarthy Memorial Fund - the previous Ebbsfleet captain and assistant manager died suddenly at the age of 45. (Saturday 15 July, 3pm. Club info)

10. SJP COMMUNITY CUP
Taking place over Saturday and Sunday we have a four-team competition being hosted by Hendon at their Silver Jubilee Park ground. Alongside the Greens, you'll get to see sides from Hayes & Yeading United, Hemel Hempstead Town and Hitchin Town. The semi-finals get underway at 1pm on Saturday with a third-place play-off and final from 1pm the following day. To top it all it's only £5 a day to attend. (Saturday & Sunday 15/16 July, from 1pm. Club info)

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

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

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

Sunday, 2 July 2017

TLFG: 3-9 July 2017

Hi there and welcome to the first TLFG of the 2017/18 season - the last six weeks have really flown by!

How was your off-season? Did you get to see any of the impressive England youth sides in action, head to Russia for the Confederations Cup or maybe you were in the States to see some MLS games?

What have I been up to? Well I've launched this year's Non-League Day (7 October), worked on a polling station during the General Election, had a job interview (result pending) and ran a 10km near the Olympic Stadium getting my second fastest time.

However, the biggest thing to affect me was undoubtedly the Grenfell Tower fire. This block is exactly one mile from where I live so I got woken by the helicopters circling it in the early hours of 14 June.

With mainstream news sources not covering the disaster in its early stages, I gathered there was a problem developing via the Metropolitan Police's Twitter feed but it still wasn't clear how bad it was.
On getting up for work, the news channels were broadcasting nothing else with the images of the block engulfed in flames horrifying all who watched.

As I headed out to work, the smell of the burning building immediately hit my nostrils and the otherwise brilliantly blue sky was tainted by a large thick cloud of smoke drifting out to the west of London.

As the day unfolded, it was clear a terrible tragedy had taken place - although far smaller in scale it will probably become West London's 9/11 with everyone in the area affected in some way.

With the Hammersmith & City Tube line closed since the fire, I travelled into work on it for the first time since it reopened earlier this week. The tower is located very close to Latimer Road station and as you pass you get to see what's left of the totally devastated building.

Those couple of seconds spent looking out of the window at the large charred building provided possibly the most sobering sight of my life with the mountains of debris strewn all around its base providing some idea of what it must have been like on the night - men in white boiler suits, masks and hardhats were picking through it all when I went past a couple of days ago.

One of the few positives to come out of it all has been the community response which has been fantastic with donations of time, space and money pouring in from all quarters - London really outshone itself and reminded me once again why I'm proud and lucky enough to live here.



Right, now you came here for football information so lets make sure you get some.

The first handful of friendlies got underway this weekend so I know a few of you have already been out to the likes of Bedfont Sports and Colliers Wood United to get your first football fix of the summer.

Most of the action gets cracking this week though with Saturday particularly having a lot to offer.

Like last year, I've cast the net a bit wider than normal and have included a few interesting games from beyond the boundaries of the capital. These will all include Premier League or Football League clubs who have announced an intention to take a first-team squad to the game.

For groundhoppers there are new stadiums to look forward to in the coming season with the grounds at Aveley and CB Hounslow United immediately springing to mind.

It will also be interesting to see how Tottenham get on at Wembley. I'm sure longstanding hardcore supporters will have more than a few grumbles but for more casual fans, neutrals and tourists the move to the national stadium should almost guarantee a source of Premier League tickets at reasonable prices.

So I think that's it from me. It's great to be back. Enjoy your football watching and let me know what you've been up to.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 50 matches in the London area over the next seven days with one Premier League and several EFL sides playing friendlies in and around the capital.

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

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

A fine summer read if football tactics are your thing

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
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



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




TLFG TOP 10
In the following section I list 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.

1. WOKING v WATFORD
The game of the week takes place just outside London in the leafy Surrey suburbs. National League Woking play host to the Premier League Hornets - the only one of our local top flight sides in action this early. The match is listed as a first team game for Watford and will be the first in charge for new boss Marco Silva. It's pretty easy to get out to Woking with trains from Waterloo and Clapham Junction leaving frequently and taking only 20-30 minutes. (Saturday 8 July, 3pm. Club info)

2. ALDERSHOT TOWN v BRENTFORD
The night before just a few miles beyond Woking, we've got a decent looking game between another National League side and the Bees from the Championship. Again, this is listed as a first-team game for the visitors so they should field a decent line-up. Like Woking, Aldershot is also easy to get to from Waterloo and Clapham Junction and the stadium is very close to the station. (Friday 7 July, 730pm. Club info)

3. DARTFORD v MILLWALL
The Darts finished third in the National League South last season but sadly didn't get through the play-offs. They'll hope for another strong showing this time round and begin their pre-season with this match against the Lions who are back in the Championship for 2017/18 after winning the League One play-offs at Wembley back in May. Links between these two clubs are strong with the Lions playing a number of their U23 games at Princes Park last season. (Saturday 8 July, 3pm. Club info)

4. SUTTON UNITED v COVENTRY CITY
These two clubs created a bit of FA Cup history when they met way back in 1989. Sutton were a non-league side as they are today but Coventry were up in the top flight and had won the FA Cup in 1987. Against all the odds, Sutton won 2-1 to create huge headlines around the football world. Fast forward 28 years and Sutton are famous again after making it to the fifth round in last season's competition but sadly things are very different for the Sky Blues who suffered another relegation and come into this as a League Two side so it should be pretty close again. (Saturday 8 July, 3pm. Club info)

5. MAIDSTONE UNITED v BARNET
Back in the late '80s this would have been one of non-league's heavyweight contests with these two contesting the Conference title. They both made it up into the Football League but sadly for Maidstone they went bust pretty quickly and took a long time to recover. Now back in the fifth tier they have a fine ground and large fan base and will hope to improve on last season's disappointing showing. Barnet are in League Two and giving young coach Rossi Eames another go as manager this season after holding the post briefly as caretaker during the last campaign. Again, this is outside London with direct trains to Maidstone running from Victoria. (Saturday 8 July, 3pm. Club info)

6. ST ALBANS CITY v PETERBOROUGH UNITED
This Hertfordshire 'city' just beyond the M25 plays host to one of my favourite non-league grounds. The Saints' Clarence Park is packed with charm and sits within the confines of the public park of the same name. It's leafy, green and has an old stand which harks back to yesteryear. It's also very close to St Albans station which is quickly reached on the Thameslink service from Blackfriars and St Pancras. Former Arsenal player Ian Allinson is currently in charge and he'll be looking for a play-off spot in the National League South this season. Perennial League One play-off contenders Peterborough have recently installed former player Grant McCann as boss so he'll want to get off to a good start here. (Saturday 8 July, 3pm. Club info)

7. SLOUGH TOWN v WYCOMBE WANDERERS
As with the Maidstone game above, this used to be a huge non-league game between sides on either side of the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire county line. Both located just outside London and with significant followings these games often drew significant crowds. Since the '80s Wycombe have cemented their place in the Football League while Slough have suffered a period of great instability and have been without a stadium of their own since 2003. However, that has now been rectified and they start this season at the very fine Arbour Park back in the town centre and should be a club to watch. Please note that this match is expected to draw a big crowd again and has been made ALL TICKET which means you must buy in advance - no tickets will be available on the day. (Saturday 8 July, 130pm. Club info)

8. HITCHIN TOWN v LUTON TOWN
Just to the north of London, Southern League Hitchin have landed this friendly against near neighbours Luton who are one of the favourites for the League Two title. Both sides suffered play-off heartbreak in their respective divisions last season so will be hoping to put that right in 2017/18. The Hatters have confirmed that this will be a first-team fixture so will be sending a strong side. (Wednesday 5 July, 745pm. Club info)

9. HITCHIN TOWN v STEVENAGE
The Canaries follow up the Luton game with another derby against another League Two opponent. Stevenage finished 10th last season and are fancied to have an outside shot at the play-offs this time round. Again a first-team squad is expected to be sent to Top Field. (Saturday 8 July. 3pm. Club info)

10. EAST GRINSTEAD TOWN v CRAWLEY TOWN
My last recommendation this week takes place in the Sussex town of East Grinstead so provides a good option if you're located on the south side of London and want to get out of the city for the day. This is a derby with the Bostik League side welcoming Crawley from League Two. The visitors have recently appointed former Liverpool player Harry Kewell as manager. As a quirky side point, East Grinstead is probably most famous for being home to lots of different religious groups with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and The Church of Scientology both having a significant presence in the town.

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

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

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

TLFG: 22-31 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get your copy of Steve's book here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It brought a fine end to a generally fine day.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Saturday 27 May

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

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Sunday 28 May

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

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

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

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

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Monday 29 May

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

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Wednesday 31 May

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 14 May 2017

TLFG: 15-21 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures




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

Monday 15 May

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

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

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Tuesday 16 May

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

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Wednesday 17 May

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

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Saturday 20 May

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

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

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Sunday 21 May

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

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


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

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

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