Sunday, 24 July 2016

TLFG: 25-31 July 2016

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

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

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

Did you make it to any games? 

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

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

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

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

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



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

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed - something which often happens at this time of year. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

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

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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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




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

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

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

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

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

Friday 29 July
Reading v Bournemouth @8pm - Jaap Stam's Royals welcome Premier League Bournemouth for a game that could kick-off a great weekend of football watching
Hayes & Yeading United v Hendon @730pm - it is possible that this game could be the first to be played at Hayes' much delayed new ground, check with the club before you travel to confirm this
Chipstead v Crystal Palace U21 @745pm - a friend of mine's 16-year-old has recently broken into the Chips' first team and is also training with the Eagles so I've got a personal interest in this one
Greenwich Borough v Millwall XI @745pm - managed by former Lion Gary Alexander, ambitious Greenwich welcome a side from the Den to their new home

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 17 July 2016

TLFG: 18-24 July 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed - something which often happens at this time of year. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

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

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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 10 July 2016

TLFG: 11-17 July 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League: Watford*

Championship: Ipswich Town

League One: Charlton Athletic, Millwall, Peterborough United

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed - something which often happens at this time of year. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

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

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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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



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

Monday 11 July
Boreham Wood v Peterborough United @730pm - having beaten Brentford and lost to Reading, the Wood welcome their third EFL opponent of the summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 3 July 2016

TLFG: 4-10 July 2016

Well, well, well it's been quite a week. 

Forget all the political turmoil, it's been a terrible time for England football fans too. 

Not only were they humbled by an industrious and hardworking Iceland side in the second round of the Euros, they were then further shown up by Wales who made it all the way to the semi-finals after a superb win over Belgium. 

Both of these 'minnows' are dwarfed by the population and resources that the English FA has at its disposal and yet it made absolutely no difference. The players and manager are paid absolute fortunes and have been for years but things are going backwards.

I actually have a lot of time for Roy Hodgson, believing him to be sincere, honest and hardworking - he's achieved some great things particularly with Fulham and West Brom but it seems big clubs and players don't respond well to his methods when he's been given the chance.
Who will come in next is unclear. I was, rather randomly, told by an old woman on a train yesterday that Gareth Southgate was the man for her because he'd hit the post with a penalty in Euro 96 (it was actually saved but I didn't like to tell her) and most of her family had worked for the Post Office. Seems as good a reason as any right now!

Aside from all that, the summer's domestic pre-season action got underway.

As mentioned last week, it was pretty much all about QPR as far as the pro teams were concerned. The first-team squad picked up a 3-2 win at Aldershot on Friday with the mercurial Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, back from a disappointing loan spell at MK Dons, scoring twice. The U21s also recorded a 2-1 win at Wealdstone the following day.

This week sees the action pick up considerably with lots more clubs taking to the field including Premier League outfit Watford who play their first friendly at Woking on Sunday. Like QPR's game at Aldershot, this match is outside London but only just so I thought it was well worth including.

There are also games in the London area for Brentford, Charlton Athletic and Reading, while Fulham U21s are also in action.

We've also got a couple of mini tournaments involving some of our local non-league sides. One of my highlights of pre-season is the now well established Geoff Harvey Memorial Trophy at Corinthian Casuals. This year it's also being dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Hill who passed away recently. The format sees four teams play a semi-final each on the Saturday before a third place play-off and final on Sunday. Aside from the hosts, the entrants include Hampton & Richmond Borough, Hayes & Yeading United and Tonbridge Angels. The matches are at 11am and 3pm on both days and you can pay by day or get a weekend ticket.

On the east side of town, Clapton are hosting the inaugural Walter Tull Cup to honour the memory of the man who became the first black professional outfield footballer in England. This three-team tournament takes a round robin format with points awarded for wins, draws etc. The matches are also only 30 minutes each way so they can all be condensed into one afternoon. The other competitors are AC London and Hackney Wick with the first game at 1230pm.

There is also a fine selection of Women's Super League action on Sunday with Arsenal, Chelsea and London Bees all playing at home.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 40 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to get into full swing.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed - something which often happens at this time of year. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

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

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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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



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

Monday 4 July
Waltham Forest v Brentwood Town @745pm - our first Monday night game of pre-season as clubs from the Essex Senior League and Isthmian League meet at Wadham Lodge

Tuesday 5 July
Bedfont & Feltham v Harefield United @7pm  - if you've never been, The Orchard is one of the most unusual grounds in London as it is located at the end of Heathrow airport's runway - paradise if you're a groundhopper/plane spotter

Friday 8 July
Boreham Wood v Brentford @730pm - the hosts always put together an impressive pre-season schedule at Meadow Park with this year's first opponents being Championship side Brentford

Saturday 9 July
Boreham Wood v Reading @3pm - the following afternoon they welcome the Royals, also of the second tier, as new boss Jaap Stam takes charge for the first time
Welling United v Charlton Athletic @3pm - these two south-east London clubs meet for what has become a regular pre-season game
Sutton United v Fulham XI @3pm - the U's prepare for life in the top tier of non-league football with this friendly against the Cottagers' youngsters and reserves
Dulwich Hamlet v Bromley @12pm - another south-east London derby with the early kick-off allowing you to do a double with another game
Jimmy Hill/Geoff Harvey Memorial Trophy from 11am - semi-finals day of the annual four-team tournament at Corinthian Casuals also featuring Hampton & Richmond, Hayes & Yeading and Tonbridge Angels
Walter Tull Cup from 1230pm - new three-team tournament at Clapton also featuring AC London and Hackney Wick

Sunday 10 July
Woking v Watford @5pm - the Premier League Hornets begin pre-season just outside London against the Cards
Jimmy Hill/Geoff Harvey Memorial Trophy from 11am - finals day of the annual four-team tournament at Corinthian Casuals also featuring Hampton & Richmond, Hayes & Yeading and Tonbridge Angels
Chelsea Ladies v Birmingham City Ladies @3pm - second play third at Staines Town in the FA Women's Super League

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

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

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

Sunday, 26 June 2016

TLFG: 27 June - 3 July 2016

It's only been five weeks since TLFG broke for the summer but here we are back again.

One of the main reasons being that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink brought his QPR side back for pre-season a week ago and he's throwing them straight back into action.

With very little on, I've taken the bold move of including QPR's first friendly at Aldershot Town even though it's outside London. It's only a 45-minute train ride from Waterloo and the ground is just metres from the station. Tickets are £10 and are available on the gate.

There's just over two months to go
The following day, a QPR XI of youngsters and reserves will travel to Ruislip to take on National League South club Wealdstone which should attract a reasonable crowd to Grosvenor Vale.

So what else has been going on over the last month?

For the first time in 20 years I've missed out on going to a European Championship as the timing hasn't been good for me. I did, however, warm-up for it by going to the England C v Slovakia U21 game at Sutton United.

It was the first time I'd been to see England's non-league XI in action and they produced a seven-goal thriller which they sadly lost to a hotly disputed 97th minute free-kick.

The following day I announced that this year's Non-League Day will take place on Saturday 3 September so a hectic couple of months of build-up now ensues.

The controversial rebrand of the Football League to become the EFL has now taken effect and the fixtures for it and the Premier League have now all been published for the season ahead.

A number of new clubs have joined at Step 6 so there will be some unfamiliar names on the match map over the coming months. 

As mentioned above, there's not a lot on over the next few days but things start to pick up next week and get into full swing the week after that.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only nine matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season gradually gets underway.

However, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed - something which often happens at this time of year. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

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

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

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

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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



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

Tuesday 28 June
Debden Sports v Ilford @7pm  - one for hardcore football junkies who simply can't wait to see a live game as a Step 10 side host an Ilford side made up of trialists

Wednesday 29 June
Millwall Lionesses v London Bees @745pm - a London derby in the FA Women's Super League taking place on Sutton United's increasingly popular 3G pitch

Friday 1 July
Aldershot Town v Queens Park Rangers @745pm - the first friendly of the season involving a London pro-club's first XI. It's not in London but only just outside and very close to Aldershot station so easy to get to.

Saturday 2 July
Wealdstone v Queens Park Rangers U21 @3pm - the R's youngsters and reserves are in action the following day at west London's top non-league club
FA Women's Super League Cup doubleheader from 2pm - the Hive, home of Barnet, plays host to back-to-back games in this competition. London Bees play Chelsea at 2pm while Arsenal take on Reading at 5pm - one ticket, priced at £4, gets you in for both.

Sunday 3 July
AFC Wimbledon promotion parade @11am - the Dons will be taking over Wimbledon town centre as they celebrate their play-off win which saw them move up to League One


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

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

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

Monday, 23 May 2016

TLFG: 23 May - 5 June 2016

And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain...

A bit of a melodramatic start I grant you but this is it for another season. 

We finish with a two week special edition to get us to that final game at Sutton United on 5 June and will then take a month or so off before coming back for pre-season friendlies at the start of July.

So how was your week?

The highlight for me, unsurprisingly, was spending Sunday at Wembley for the first ever Non-League Finals Day.

The action began at 1215pm with the FA Vase final between Hereford and Morpeth Town. The Bulls were a League Two side until fairly recently but financial disaster had seen them go bust and reform as a ninth-tier team. Consequently they brought an awesome following of 20,000 which comfortably filled their quarter of the stadium. Morpeth play in the parallel Northern League but are a much smaller club and brought a more normal 4,000 fans.

The match looked as if it would go to form when Hereford raced into an early lead but a slightly fortuitous equaliser brought the Highwaymen level at half-time. The second half saw an almost total reversal of fortunes as Morpeth scored early and then comfortably accelerated away to a comprehensive 4-1 win to totally upset the applecart. 

Tickets are now available for England's final warm-up match before Euro 2016
To be fair to Hereford and their hordes of fans, most of them took defeat very graciously and were a credit to the spirit of the day.

In match two, the FA Trophy final, another two former Football League clubs faced each other after very contrasting seasons.

Grimsby were playing their second match at Wembley in a week after winning the all-important National League play-off final against Forest Green Rovers last Sunday, while Halifax had suffered the disappointment of relegation meaning the two will be two divisions apart next season.

The first half was pretty cagey with few chances but the second became interesting pretty quickly when a fine goal by the Shaymen's left-back gave the underdogs the lead. 

The Mariners, with the prospect of a rare double slipping away, threw everything at their Yorkshire opponents but they remained resolute and repelled everything to end their otherwise disappointing season on a high.

With a crowd of over 46,000 enjoying proceedings, Non-League Finals Day actually outsold England's curiously scheduled friendly against Turkey up in Manchester which took place at the same time. A huge achievement for the non-league community who clearly saw the value of the event. There were a few minor issues that irked myself and others but they can definitely be rectified and hopefully we'll have an even better day next year.

A fine way to end the season and get ready for the Euros
Although there isn't much going on over the next two weeks, the games are pretty significant. Not least the three Football League play-off games over the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Two London clubs will be competing for promotion - Millwall in the League One final and AFC Wimbledon in the League Two one.

Some tickets may well make it to general sale, in fact they already have for Wimbledon, so check the clubs' websites for the latest information. Tickets for the Championship game between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday will probably be restricted to members only but check with them too just in case some do become available.

To finish off the season in the capital there's an England friendly against Portugal at Wembley on Thursday week and an England C (non-league players) game against Slovakia U21 at Sutton United's ground where it's free to get in.

It's been another fun season and I hope you've found this blog useful. Get in touch if there's anything else you'd like to see.

That's about it from me, thanks once again for reading. Have a great summer and enjoy the Euros.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are only 7 matches in the London area over the next two weeks as the season finally comes to an end.

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 Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



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

Wednesday 25 May
Chelsea Ladies v Sunderland Ladies @745pm  - the hosts, playing at Staines Town, need to win to close the gap on leaders Manchester City

Saturday 28 May
Championship play-off final @5pm - Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday do battle at Wembley for the £100m+ prize of a place in next season's Premier League

Sunday 29 May
League One play-off final @3pm - Millwall look for an instant return to the Championship but will have to get the better of former Premier League club Barnsley

Monday 30 May
League Two play-off final @3pm - there's more London interest in the final match of the Wembley play-off trilogy as AFC Wimbledon face the mighty Plymouth Argyle

Thursday 2 June
England v Portugal @745pm - the Three Lions play their final warm-up game at Wembley before heading off to France for Euro 2016

Sunday 5 June
England C v Slovakia U21 @2pm - it's free entry at Sutton United to watch the cream of England's non-league players in this final match of the season


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

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

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

Sunday, 15 May 2016

TLFG: 16-22 May 2016

For the first time in what seems like a while, we came into the final round of Premier League games with most of the big issues settled.

Leicester had won the title nearly two weeks ago while Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich had already been relegated. 

Even the Champions League places were pretty much decided with Manchester City needing a point to pip rivals United to the last spot which they duly got. The Red Devils, on the other hand, had their game against Bournemouth abandoned before kick off for security reasons so when it is eventually played it will ultimately only decide whether they finish fifth or sixth (only a win by a 19-goal margin will see them claim fourth).

The only major issue left to be decided was who would finish second. The two candidates were arch north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.

Tickets will be on sale from the box office at Wembley on the day
Spurs were the only team to end up challenging Leicester for the title but faltered at the end, allowing the Gunners to catch up.

Going into the final game, Tottenham simply needed to draw at relegated Newcastle to get that second spot while Arsenal needed them to lose and beat Aston Villa themselves. 

What happened at St James' Park will probably haunt Spurs fans for many years to come.

Routed 5-1 by a previously poor team who played most of the final 30 minutes with 10 men, they capitulated spectacularly while Arsenal thrashed Villa with ease to overtake them at the death.

Despite a top three finish and a place in the Champions League, a massive achievement by Tottenham's standards, most of their fans will be understandably devastated this evening.

To rub salt in the wounds, a significant section of Arsenal's fanbase will still be asking for Arsene Wenger's head as he has 'failed to deliver again' this season. 

I kind of get where they're coming from but when you step back and look at the facts, you wonder what they're moaning about. The last three seasons alone have delivered two FA Cup wins and a runners-up spot in the Premier League. They are one of the most financially stable clubs around and will be playing Champions League football for the 99th year in a row or whatever ludicrous figure it is. How many fans can boast that?

Clubs like Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd may have won more titles recently but they've grossly overspent and all three, on the basis of this year's performances, are going backwards - drastically so in Chelsea's case.

I guess the grass is always greener...

Anyway, it's now all about the FA Cup Final which takes place at Wembley on Saturday. London is represented by underdogs Crystal Palace who meet Manchester United in a repeat of the 1990 final which produced a thrilling 3-3 draw, before United won the replay 1-0. Hopefully we'll get more of the same.

The following day, it's Non-League Finals Day (NLFD) at Wembley which I've been spending the last three or four months helping the FA to promote.

For the first time ever, the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals will be played back-to-back on the same day with one ticket getting you in for both. It's £25 for adults, £10 concessions and just £1 for U16s.

Hereford play Morpeth Town in the former while FC Halifax Town take on Grimsby Town in the latter. 

One of our challenges for the day was to try and outsell England's friendly against Turkey which is going on in Manchester the same afternoon. So far over 40,000 tickets have been sold for NLFD. I don't know how many England have sold but it's in a 50,000 capacity stadium and there are still tickets available so it must be close. Keep buying people!

Aside from these two magnificent Wembley occasions, the rest of the week is all about women's football and a few eleventh tier games several of which have plenty riding on them so check 'em out.

Hope to see you at Wembley.

UPDATE (16/05/16): This morning I found out that sales for NLFD are marginally ahead of those for the England game so outselling it is a real possibility. Go on, you know you want to be part of it.

Also, I forgot to mention that our friends at 'Two Men In Search...' paid a visit to Metropolitan Police's Imber Court for the London Senior Cup Final a couple of weeks ago. Read what they got up to here.

UPDATE (22/05/16): Heading off to Wembley shortly in the knowledge that we're close to reaching 50,000 sales. If you haven't got a ticket yet, you will be able to buy one at the stadium so come along and help us make history. The matches are at 1215pm and 415pm.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are nearly 20 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

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 Conference South).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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



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

Monday 16 May
Watford Ladies v London Bees @745pm - get your week under way with some Women's Super League action at Vicarage Road, tickets are only £3

Tuesday 17 May
Essex Olympian League Cup Final @730pm - eleventh tier sides Kelvedon Hatch and Manford Way battle for silverware at AFC Hornchurch's ground

Wednesday 18 May
West Essex v FC Assyria @745pm  - the hosts, playing at Barking, can still win the Middlesex County League but they have to win one of their final two games to do it

Thursday 19 May
Chelsea Ladies v Manchester City Women @730pm - the top two in the Women's Super League go head-to-head at Staines Town
Millwall Lionesses v Oxford United Women @745pm - in the WSL2, Millwall's women welcome Oxford to the New Den

Friday 20 May 
Millwall v Bradford City @745pm - the following night, the men's team grace the New Den as the Bantams visit for the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final with Millwall 3-1 up from the first leg

Saturday 21 May
FA Cup Final @530pm - Crystal Palace and Manchester United contest the annual showpiece of the English football season at Wembley
West Essex v CB Hounslow United Reserves @TBC - if they don't win it on Wednesday, the hosts can seal the Middlesex County League title with victory here

Sunday 22 May
Non-League Finals Day - Wembley provides the stage for the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals which are being played back-to-back for the first time ever. Hereford play Morpeth Town in the former at 1215pm while FC Halifax Town meet Grimsby Town in the latter at 415pm. One ticket, costing £25 adults and just £1 for U16s, will get you in for both. Bargain!


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

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

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