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:

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


WEEKEND MAP
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:

TLFG TOP 10

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.

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