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.

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