Sunday, 13 May 2012

TLFG: 14-20 May 2012

Well what a day!

As a QPR fan it's been an emotional one.

The very minute the fixtures came out back in June we all knew we'd be in for a tough last couple of months of the season given we had to play six of the top eight in our final eight games.

January to March was seen as the time where we really had to get results and build up enough of a points reserve that we could hold on for the remainder of the season.

Perversely it turned out that we lost most of the 'easy' games and took maximum points off the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs as we won our last five home games to move to the brink of safety.

Although QPR did eventually lose at Manchester City today, the previous good work proved to be enough and the dream continues for another year.

I'm still not sure which gave me a greater sense of elation - surviving today or winning promotion last year?

Currently I think it has to be survival - partly because last year's achievements were tainted by an FA enquiry which I still feel we were lucky to get through relatively unscathed. If we had gone down, there would've been a feeling of karma about it.

Anyway, when Gabby Logan and the Final Score team had digested all the day's action I thought I'd stroll down to Loftus Road to join the throng of happy fans who would have congregated at the stadium to celebrate.

Admittedly nearly an hour had passed since the final whistle but there were no signs of life at all when I arrived - I was the only one there. Even the nearby Springbok pub was showing few signs of activity.

A very quiet Loftus Road an hour after the final whistle at Eastlands
Then I remembered I was living in London not Madrid or Istanbul - British people just don't do this sort of thing. Maybe when the supporters' coaches get back later tonight things could get a bit more lively.

Putting that slight disappointment aside, I can now look forward to what I expect to be a big summer - the first under Tony Fernandes and Mark Hughes.

I doubt there'll be mega signings - top top players won't move to clubs with 19,000 capacity stadiums but there will be some quality coming through the door. If you've not been before, put Loftus Road on your list of grounds to visit next year and let me know if you want any help doing it.

By contrast my Saturday afternoon was a far more relaxed affair.

With most football in the top 10 levels of the national system finished, I tried out some level 11 action for the first time.

After a short tube ride from Shepherd's Bush to Perivale I ended up at Hanwell Town's Reynolds Field - the temporary home of Middlesex County Football League club Southall.

The west London club dropped to this level in 2006 after over 30 years in the Isthmian (now Ryman) and Combined Counties leagues. Probably their most famous player during this time was Les Ferdinand who of course went on to play for QPR and England in the '90s.

Significant investment of late has seen their fortunes start to improve and now they're actually competing with QPR for a bit of land that they want for a new ground and the Premier League side want for a training complex.

On the pitch they're not doing too badly either. At the beginning of play they were third in the table having won 17 of their 27 games.

Reynolds Field on a sunny day isn't a bad place to be. One can visit the clubhouse for some reasonably priced refreshment and then sit on the veranda and watch the game from a raised position or you can just go pitch side where there are also plenty of seats.

The match itself was possibly the most one-sided I've seen so far this season with the hosts sweeping visitors Springfield aside 5-1, a result which I think relegated them.

A Springfiled striker takes a breather on an afternoon to forget at Southall
Generally I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of Southall's play so I would thoroughly recommend a trip to see one of this league's top clubs (e.g. Interwood, FC Romania, Southall or Willesden Constantine) before the end of the season.

It was also a pleasure to meet Bryan from the Hendon FC Supporters Trust who was without a game and came along after consulting the TLFG match map.

In the week ahead, at the same level, there are also a few Essex Olympian League games so if you're on the east side of town they might be better for you.

Apart from these level 11 games and a bit of FA Women's Super League action, the only other matches are the two play-off finals at Wembley over the weekend. Tickets for both are available directly from the clubs involved - unless you're a season-ticket holder or member, your chances of getting anything for Blackpool v West Ham in the Championship game are pretty slim. While the Conference play-off between Luton and York should have some availability.

I'll leave you this week with the match maps. I'm still chasing the kick-off times for a couple of games but will add them when I get them - please get in touch if you have the info.

MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

View London match map 14-20 May 2012 in a larger map 

If you have any questions or want help or advice about watching football in London you can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via Facebook, Twitter or email.

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