Sunday 27 November 2011

TLFG: 28 November - 4 December 2011

For the first time since launching this blog I had a totally football-free week. I'm not proud of it, actually a little bit ashamed but these things happen once in a while.

Before I go any further I'd like to pay my respects to Wales manager Gary Speed who very sadly was found dead earlier today. Things seemed to be going really well for him, at least professionally, so this news came as a big shock to most football fans. RIP.

Over the last few days some of you may have noticed that I've added a map which sits at the top of my sidebar giving the location of the 107 clubs which TLFG covers. It's also occurred to me that I often list Premier League games in the TLFG Top 10 which are sold out by the time I publish so I've decided to try and give you advance information of what is currently on general sale so you don't miss out - hopefully visitors to London will find this particularly useful. So here's the current list that I know of:

Nothing available

6 December - Valencia 745pm, Champions League
26 December - Fulham 1pm, Premier League (on sale 28 Nov)

14 December - Odense BK 805pm, Europa League
17 December - Bolton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League

3 December - West Bromwich Albion 3pm, Premier League
21 December - Sunderland 8pm, Premier League (on sale 2 Dec)

30 November - PAOK Salonika 805pm, Europa League
3 January - West Bromwich Albion 745pm, Premier League
11 January - Everton 745pm, Premier League

At the time of writing this is all correct as far as I'm aware - feel free to add anything in the comments section below if any of this is wrong. Of the above, the QPR v West Brom game is as good as sold out so don't hang around if you want to go to that one.

Back to the week ahead and it's another seven days which are crammed with cup football be it the FA Cup, FA Trophy, FA Vase or one of the many local county cups. There's also more Friday night football and some interesting local derbies - in all there are 80 matches taking place.

Here are this week's match maps:

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

With a whopping 80 to choose from, here's a few games I've cherry picked for your consideration:


As mentioned above, the biggest games are often sold out by the time this blog goes up and this is no exception. The Gunners often have a few tickets knocking around for Carling Cup games like this but not this time, a sign perhaps of how important these two clubs' fans are taking the competition this season. The hosts have been without a trophy for several years now and after defeat in last season's final (possibly as a result of complacency) should want to go one better this time. City are flying at the top of the Premier League so might see this as a distraction but their squad is so strong that they will field a decent team by default. Expect goals.

London will be heaving with fans of some of the biggest clubs in the country on Tuesday night as another sold out Carling Cup match takes place at Stamford Bridge. This game comes just 9 days after the Premier League meeting between the two which the Reds won with a goal shortly before the end so with that battle still fresh in the players' minds it should be quite lively. With both sides' league chances looking slim already, you'd hope they'd be taking this trophy pretty seriously.

Admittedly this isn't the biggest European tie to be taking place in London over the coming weeks but Spurs are an attractive team to watch and with qualification for the next stage of the Europa League by no means a foregone conclusion this could be worth a watch. As my research suggests, it is still on general sale so if you've always wanted to see Spurs or are just in town for a few days this could be one for you. For the record, PAOK are currently top of this group and lie fifth in the Greek Super League.

On the rare occasion there's some Friday night football in London I like to highlight it whether it's Barnet, Colliers Wood United or Crystal Palace. From memory both sides started this season pretty strongly but have fallen away a bit in recent weeks although to be fair the table is really tight (just 3 points separate 6th from 15th) so a win here for either could put them into the top six. Category B prices apply for this match which means the cheapest adult tickets are £20.

Although only in League One, this is arguably the most significant game in London this week as first play third at The Valley. The visitors set a Football League record of going 43 games without defeat by beating Notts County 2-1 last weekend while the Addicks have only last one match themselves this season and that was away from home. Chris Powell's side have averaged 2.6 goals in home games so far while Huddersfield are getting two of their own on their travels. Tickets are still available from £18 and if you know a Charlton season-ticket holder they can get you in for a tenner if they buy by midday on Monday. 

This Saturday sees the staging of the second round proper of the FA Cup where some of football's minnows get to within touching distance of a dream draw against one of the big boys. The Bees are still at the wrong end of League Two but appear to be turning the corner and have now gone five games without defeat in all competitions. Their biggest test for some weeks comes in the form of the visiting MK Dons who are fourth in League One and come into this having won their last five, scoring a daunting 20 goals in the process. Notably Lawrie Sanchez, who scored Wimbledon's winner in the 1988 FA Cup final, is Barnet manager. Will he be part of another upset?

This is the archetypal FA Cup second round tie and ESPN have noticed this too selecting it for live broadcast on Sunday evening. The U's play three divisions below the Magpies but have a fine pedigree in the FA Cup having beaten several professional sides including then top flight Coventry City in 1989. This will also be the third meeting between these two in the FA Cup since 1994 with the League One side having won the previous two encounters. The two teams are both in good form in their respective leagues so morale shouldn't be an issue, it will probably all come down to who wants it more. All seats have sold out but there are plenty of standing tickets still available.

Since officially opening their new ground against Spurs 11 days ago, things have gone well for Enfield Town having recorded back-to-back wins over Chatham and Soham to climb to third in the Ryman League Division One North just one point and one place behind their opponents in this match (although they could swap places if Enfield beat Waltham Forest in midweek). If you don't know, Grays were in the Blue Square Bet Premier, or whatever it was then, as recently as 2009/10 but for various off-field reasons had to drop down and are now looking to climb the leagues again.

As regular readers of this blog will know, Hanworth are enjoying a decent season having made the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup - no mean feat for a side playing at Level 9 of England's football pyramid structure. They would also be at least Combined Counties League joint leaders if they won their games in hand so they should be reasonably confident of doing well in this FA Vase tie. However, Herne Bay are in awesome form in the parallel Kent League. They are yet to lose a game, are seven points clear and have played two games less than their nearest rivals. Both sides are averaging close to three goals a game too so this could be quite a contest.

(Wednesday 30 November, 745pm & Saturday 3 December, 3pm)
As someone who has a bit of a soft spot for the hosts (a friend's friend set them up), I've been waiting for this all season. Why I hear you ask? Well mainly because it's a massive derby as the clubs share the Mile End Stadium. It's also the first season they've both played in the Essex Senior League (the latter were in the Kent League previously). Why the two dates? Well quite by chance the two were drawn to play each other in the FA Vase just three days after the long awaited league encounter so if you miss it you won't have to wait long for another opportunity. The sides are very evenly matched too, sitting eighth and ninth in the table respectively. Miss it, miss out!

Finally, all the best to Redbridge of the Ryman League Division One North who travel to League Two high flyers Crawley Town for an FA Cup tie on Saturday. It's a huge day for the East London club who are the lowest ranked side remaining in the competition. Keep an eye out for their result.

Make sure you check the match maps to see what other games are on because there are some crackers.

Please share your stories and photos of football in London either in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. You can also contact TLFG through Twitter or email if you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London. I'd also like to hear from anyone regarding reciprocal links as I look to raise the profile of the blog.

Sunday 20 November 2011

TLFG: 21-27 November 2011

In a momentous week when England scored their 2,000th international goal and Enfield Town officially opened their new ground against Spurs, my big football experience of the last seven days was a first visit to Vale Farm Sports Centre to watch South Kilburn play Bedfont Sports in the Combined Counties League Division One.

You may have noticed that I went to Vale Farm last Saturday to watch Hendon but they play at Wembley FC's ground on the other side of the complex, so it's not a case of three teams sharing one pitch as I once thought.

Vale Farm Sports Centre - home of South Kilburn FC
South Kilburn use a ringed off pitch behind the sports centre in far more rudimentary conditions, which is to be expected given they play three divisions below the Greens.

You get the feeling things are going to be a bit different the moment you realise that you don't have to pay to get in. Clubs at this level usually charge four of five pounds and there's usually some kind of turnstile to get through - neither was the case here. I looked around sheepishly for someone selling tickets, programmes or anything for that matter but nobody was.

In fact, it seemed no-one was in attendance either. With a little over five minutes to kick-off there was a maximum of five people there. Had I arrived too early? After a lap of the dirt track (former running track) around the pitch, to my relief the teams emerged.

The hosts started well and even took the lead but as the match wore on their promotion-chasing opponents gradually asserted themselves and comfortably won 4-1 to stay second in the table.

Bedfont Sports (blue) go close to equalising after going 1-0 down
I've been to hundreds of non-league matches over the years but there were two new sights for me at this game. Firstly, as the action progressed, a number of Japanese joggers made their way into the stadium area and proceeded to jog round the track oblivious to the entertainment on offer while shortly before the end of the game I noticed that the pitch had a decent little mushroom farm growing on it on the wing nearest to me!

Anyway, get yourself down to South Kilburn if you want to see some free football. Also keep an eye of their fixtures in relation to Hendon, Wembley or even England's because they occasionally stagger kick-offs and a double or even triple could be possible.

As for the week ahead, you have 65 games to choose from including some Friday night football, more London derbies and some FA Trophy action but more on that below.

Here are this week's match maps:

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

If the thought of trying to choose a game out of 60-odd fixtures is a bit daunting here's my recommendations to make it a bit easier:


It was quite hard to choose between recommending this or the Gunners' midweek Champions League game against German champions Borussia Dortmund. I plumped for the Fulham game because it's a London derby and this blog is about the capital. On paper this has home banker written all over it with (if my quick research is correct) the Cottagers never having beaten Arsenal away from home. The current league form of both sides would suggest that record isn't set to change but you never know. Go to this one and you could witness football history.

A sizeable gulf between the top six or seven clubs in the Premier League and the rest has already opened up and if eighth placed Villa are to do anything about it they will need to win here. However, they have only won two of their last five while Spurs have picked up maximum points in four of their last five league games. You would expect Harry Redknapp's team to edge this one and if they do they'll climb into the top four.

Aside from the respective sides' matches against West Ham, this is the biggest league match of the season for these two. Just over six miles (10km) of south-east London lie between The Den and Palace's Selhurst Park. Last season the newly promoted Lions came close to securing a play-off spot while the Eagles just avoided the drop. This season the positions are reversed meaning both will have plenty to play for. It goes without saying that this one won't be for the fainthearted!

I've gone for this League Two game primarily because it's on Friday night and allows football addicts and fans of other clubs a chance to see some live action when they otherwise wouldn't. The Bees have also noticed this and are actively trying to target such people by offering admission for just £10. With the hosts coming into the game on the back of three straight away wins, there could be more joy for Lawrie Sanchez and his players here.

The U's make my top 10 again as their fine season continues. They've only lost three league matches this season and have made it to the second round of the FA Cup. They are also still in the FA Trophy and meet the Dragons in this third round qualifying tie. Like Sutton, they too are doing well in the Blue Square Bet South and only bowed out of the FA Cup last week after narrowly losing 1-0 at League One Brentford. In the league meeting between the two at The Camrose in August, it was the U's who came out on top with a 2-1 win. Will they repeat the feat? Get along to Gander Green Lane and find out.

By the time this all-Essex FA Trophy tie kicks off on Saturday, the visiting Urchins could be top of the Ryman League meaning they'll be just two places below their Blue Square Bet South opponents. Robbie Garvey's team look prime candidates for an upset but having won their big 'six-pointer' at Hampton on Saturday, they'll come into this with renewed confidence.

The Mead of Ryman League Division One North have never been as far as the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy and they've been rewarded with a derby against the in-form Wings. Only three miles separate these two clubs but there's a sizeable gap of two divisions. To make things even tougher for the underdogs, Welling have only lost three league games this season to sit second in the Blue Square Bet South. However, Thamesmead haven't been doing too badly themselves and have won six of their last eight at the time of writing. This could well be the hosts' biggest match this season so get yourself along to Bayliss Avenue if you're in the area.

The 11th staging of the George Ruffell Memorial Shield pits Middlesex Senior Cup winners Staines against Middlesex Charity Cup winners Wealdstone. The hosts lie rock bottom of the Blue Square Bet South so the Stones of the Ryman League Premier Division will fancy their chances. How seriously the two clubs take this match remains to be seen but with admission at just £5 for adults and £3 concessions with all proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support you can't go too far wrong.

The Fish have been hard to predict this season and almost always provide entertainment having scored four or more goals on a whopping nine occasions already this season. Despite this they have lost four of their 13 league games to lie only fifth in the Kent League Premier Division. Herne Bay, however, are unbeaten and will arrive at Champion Hill as league leaders. It will undoubtedly be tough for the home team but they managed to put 11 goals past second placed Canterbury City over two legs in the League Cup recently so should provide a decent challenge. 

Finally this week I recommend a visit to the Recreation Ground to watch this derby match in the Combined Counties League Division One. If you read my blog from three weeks ago you would know that Feltham groundshare with Bedfont Town who reside right next Bedfont Sports. Not only are these two playing each other on Saturday, Bedfont Town are at home as well so expect parking to be at a premium! On the playing side of things, the Eagles should triumph. They are second in the table and Feltham have picked up 23 points less than their hosts and have played a game more.

Like last week I found it hard to compile a top 10 this time and had to leave several decent games out so make sure you check the match maps to find them.

Please share your stories and photos of football in London either on here or on our Facebook page. You can also contact TLFG through Twitter or email if you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London.

Sunday 13 November 2011

TLFG: 14-20 November 2011

This weekend's international break ensured that conditions similar to that of Non-League Day (NLD) returned to the country. With some overseas visitors in town I had booked tickets for England v Spain some weeks ago so when I heard that Hendon had moved their Ryman League game against Canvey Island to 1pm and brought admission down to £5 for people heading to the England game, a day trip to Wembley was arranged.

For those who don't know, the Greens play their home games at Vale Farm the home of Wembley FC and it was here that I arrived shortly before 1pm. At NLD we'd heard about Hendon's ticket offer and had tried to push it to as many England fans groups as we could in an effort to try and beat the club's record attendance of 528. It would've taken less than 1% of the international crowd to do this so it was with some interest that I approached the turnstiles. The car park appeared to be full, which was a good sign, and there was also a camera crew from Sky Sports News who had also picked up on the story and appeared to be interviewing England ticket holders as they entered the ground.

Sadly though, it appeared that news of the deal hadn't got out in time with the official crowd given as only 198. I had feedback from some groups telling me that it was a fine idea but their travel plans had already been made. To be fair, I only became aware of the offer earlier this week so I would urge Hendon to give this another go if the situation arises and get the publicity out there much sooner.

Vale Farm - the Wembley arch can be seen above the left end of the stand
The game itself was a tight affair but was notable for the fact that Hendon gave debuts to two former professionals - Frank Sinclair who won the FA Cup with Chelsea and Darren Currie whose career peaked with Championship side Ipswich Town. Both looked very comfortable for their new side who recorded a 1-0 win courtesy of a goal by ex-Barnsley striker Isaiah Rankin.

With a little over two hours to go until the second match of the afternoon I strolled into Wembley town centre and headed down Ealing Road for a chicken biryani. With that on board I ventured to the national stadium where I met my friends (American and Dutch) to watch England beat Spain 1-0. Much has been written about the game and Wembley Stadium itself so I won't bore you with any more about that - but suffice to say it is one of the best stadiums in the world and all football fans should go there once.

The week ahead includes further England action at Wembley, a 'Big Four' clash in the Premier League, a London derby, an official ground opening and some FA Vase action too. This week's match maps also include a note as to the level a league match is taking place at in regards to the pyramid.

Here are this week's match maps:

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

In total there are 71 matches taking place in the London area over the next seven days. It was quite hard to choose a top 10 this week but here are some I recommend:


The second international in three days at Wembley sees Fabio Capello's team lock horns with the side which finished runner-up in Group E behind the Netherlands to qualify automatically for the Euro 2012 finals. If you've not been to the national stadium before now's your chance as tickets are still available - click on the link above to secure some.

Two of the top six clubs in England go head-to-head at Stamford Bridge in the day's televised game. After a bit of a rocky time in the last few weeks, the Blues will hope to build on their win over Blackburn with a morale boosting victory here. The Reds, however, are on an eight-game unbeaten run and did the double over Chelsea last season so will provide stern opposition.

If you can't get into the above, which you almost certainly won't, you could do a lot worse then head to Griffin Park the day before to take in this London derby. The Addicks head to the west side of town as League One leaders having won their last five games, scoring 19 goals in the process. A win could see them go eight points clear but the Bees have promotion ambitions of their own and will move into the top six if results go their way.

The only way is Essex at Victoria Road at the weekend where these two county rivals meet in this League Two fixture. On the pitch their fortunes couldn't be much more different so far this season with the Daggers sitting just above the relegation zone while the Shrimpers lead the pack after a flying start which has seen them win 12 of their 17 league fixtures to sit two points clear. With plenty to play for and a big crowd almost certain, this could be a cracker.

At the time of writing, these two sides fill the bottom two spots in the Blue Square Bet South so if you're a fan of watching teams scrap for every point they can get, then this could be one for you. Both teams have only recorded two league wins this season and the latter have probably made more headlines for signing reality star Mark Wright of the aforementioned TOWIE but he'll presumably be otherwise engaged in the 'Jungle' when this happens.

Buoyed by Saturday's win over Canvey, the Greens will hope to get another three points when they host league leaders Billericay. The Essex club have won five of their last seven games and will provide a tough test for Hendon who topped the table themselves earlier in the season. Should the Middlesex side win, they could move to within a point of the current pacesetters.

This is the first of only two FA Vase second round ties that are taking place within the M25 this weekend. The hosts have recently displaced Guildford City at the top of the Combined Counties League and are therefore one of the strongest teams left in the competition. The Yachtsmen will travel up from the Isle of Wight as underdogs playing as they do in Division One of the Wessex League - a level below Egham.

After their impressive run to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, the Villans will fancy their chances in this FA Vase match too. Like Egham they are doing well in the Combined Counties League and would actually top it if they won their four games in hand. By contrast Deal are having a pretty forgettable season sitting just above bottom spot in the Kent League Premier Division so a home win looks likely.

Despite being without a ground of their own (they play at Whyteleafe) the Wars have had a fine start to their campaign and lie third in the Combined Counties League Division One. This weekend they become the next team to try and stop the seemingly all powerful Green Lions. Tony Vance's team head to Church Road having lost only one league match all season and have won their last six in all competitions. Second placed Bedfont Sports were one of those vanquished in recent weeks - will Warlingham fare any better? Be there and find out.

Although the Towners will have played a couple of games at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium by the time this takes place, this match will mark its official opening. Les Ferdinand and Tim Sherwood will be in charge of the visiting Spurs XI and you can be part of this special occasion for £10 (concessions £5).

As I mentioned above this list is by no means exhaustive and there are some other fine games going on so please check the match maps to make sure you don't miss out.

Please share your stories or photos of football in London either on here or on our Facebook page. You can also contact TLFG through Twitter or email if you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London.

Sunday 6 November 2011

TLFG: 7-13 November 2011

After making the intention to see at least one non-league game this week I didn't make it to any. I did, however, get to Loftus Road to watch QPR take on the seemingly unstoppable Manchester City. What unfolded was one of the best games I've seen for some time and despite losing 3-2 most Rangers fans left the stadium on a high after watching their side give a really good account of themselves.

For those of you who haven't been to a game in Shepherd's Bush I recommend that you do. Loftus Road is the smallest stadium in the Premier League but when it's full (18,439) the crowd generate an amazing and quite intimidating atmosphere given their really close proximity to the pitch. Getting a ticket for a game against one of the 'Big Four' could be tricky without membership but for more run-of-the-mill games you should be able to get something.

A packed Loftus Road for QPR v Manchester City
Back to this week and things are shaping up a little differently to normal because of the international break. With England playing Spain in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday, there's no Premier League or Championship action. So aside from the big game, the spotlight this week falls on some of the capital's less famous clubs many of whom are competing in the First Round proper of this season's FA Cup. If you are a fan of one the big clubs I implore you to go and check out one of these games instead.

Here are this week's match maps:

Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

If the lack of Premier League and Championship football has left you with a gap in your diary, try one of these games instead:


The biggest game in town this week takes place at Wembley where Fabio Capello's side play host to the reigning world champions in this international friendly. The match is officially a sell out but I'm sure you'll find the odd ticket somewhere if you really want one. The later kick-off time also makes it possible to do a 'double' with the Brentford v Basingstoke FA Cup game (more below) or the Ryman League match between Hendon and Canvey Island (at Wembley FC) which both kick-off at 1pm. In fact, Hendon are actively promoting this by offering ticket holders for the England game reduced admission of just £5.

The first of my recommended FA Cup ties pits the Bees against the non-league side from Hampshire. On paper the hosts should see off their guests fairly comfortably with three divisions separating them. However, they say the cup is a great leveller and Basingstoke come into this match having lost only one match since August to sit among the pacesetters in the Blue Square Bet South. League One Brentford should win but you never know.

A very similar proposition lies in store for anyone making their way to Brisbane Road where representatives of League One and the Blue Square Bet South meet again. Both sides lie in midtable in their respective divisions but the O's come into the game in better form than their opponents so should definitely have the edge. Don't discount Bromley though - they're looking to bring 3,000 fans the 12 miles from Hayes Lane as they try to apply a bit of extra pressure to Russell Slade's team.

The chance to see a former non-league team who have won the FA Cup within living memory doesn't happen that often but that's exactly what you'll be able to do if you decide to spend your afternoon here. The Dons memorably beat the mighty Liverpool 1-0 to win the cup back in 1988. Since then there's been a lot of upheaval which has been well documented and on Saturday they'll play their first game in the competition since regaining their Football League status. League One Scunthorpe provide the opposition and could be there for the taking.

Although a division apart, this match could go either way as both sides have been pretty dreadful so far this season. The Daggers' meagre record of four league wins has left them just above the relegation zone in League Two while City prop up the Blue Square Bet Premier having won only one league game all season. The visitors could nick this as they have virtually nothing to lose and all the pressure will be on the hosts.

Probably most famous for their 1989 FA Cup third round win over the then top flight Coventry City, Sutton appear to have the momentum to do well again this year. Although they needed a replay to get past Leatherhead in the last round, they've been on fire in the Blue Square Bet South and I fancy them to get the better of the Poppies who despite playing in the division above, lie only two points above the relegation zone. 

The Motormen are one of the lowest ranked teams remaining in the FA Cup, playing as they do in the Ryman League Division One North (step 4). Their league form has been pretty underwhelming this season but in the cup competitions they've been a different proposition making progress in both this and the FA Trophy. Oxford City are one of the better teams in the Evostik League Southern Premier Division (step 3) so should win on paper but Blue Square Bet Premier side Ebbsfleet came unstuck here in the last round so they won't be able to take anything for granted.

Away from the FA Cup we have this Ryman League Premier Division south-west London derby. With landlords AFC Wimbledon playing on Saturday, the K's see their match moved to Sunday afternoon. Only two places, three points and five miles separate these two sides so it should be a well contested and attended match. If you've got nothing to do on Sunday afternoon, it should be well worth a couple of hours of your time.

At first glance this Middlesex Senior Cup tie doesn't look particularly remarkable but it's actually very significant - it will be Enfield Town's first match at their new ground the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. They've been playing all their home matches at Cheshunt so far this season and come back to Enfield with this move. Head to Donkey Lane on Wednesday and become part of history.

My final recommendation this week takes place in the Evostik League Southern Division One Central (step 4). The Rebels head to West London as league leaders where they will play sixth-placed AFC Hayes. It's a big season for the hosts who following Hayes & Yeading United's temporary move to Woking are now the biggest team in town and will want to have a good season to try and gain some new fans. With plenty to play for and Slough only a little over seven miles from Hayes, expect a decent crowd.

As always please share your stories and photos on here or Facebook. You can also contact TLFG through Twitter or email if you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London.