Sunday 29 July 2012

TLFG: 30 July - 5 August 2012

After seven years of waiting the Olympics are finally here. As someone who is passionate about London, I couldn't be more proud.

Seeing people with Games accreditation wandering around my neighbourhood on their way to or from events is exciting.

I hope a few of them and the thousands of ticket holders who are new to the capital will have a great time and will also make use of this blog as they build in a trip to one or two of our local clubs.

If you fall into that category - thanks for reading and welcome to London!

The amount of pre-season games has been growing by the week so there's been plenty to see. Personally, I've once again been pre-occupied with training for the new job, volunteering on my local parkrun, attending the men's cycling road race and continuing with preparations for Non-League Day (NLD).

It's mainly been about securing partnerships and sponsors at NLD Towers this week. My colleague Mike has been doing a great job bringing on board the likes of the Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct whose backing will be invaluable.

UK Soccer Shop have now also joined in and I'll have more about their involvement in future weeks.

There haven't been any new additions to the NLD match map this week but it is proving popular with a healthy amount of users having perused it already.

If you would like to help promote this year's Non-League Day on 13 October then you can download one of our banners to put on your website or blog. Thanks if you do.

Each week at TLFG we attempt to compile a list of what is on general sale to non-members at London's Premier League clubs and for other notable matches (click on the team name for details).

Nothing currently available

(on sale 30 July if any remaining)
Wednesday 22 August, 745pm - Reading, Premier League
Saturday 25 August, 530pm - Newcastle United, Premier League

(all on sale now)
Saturday 18 August, 3pm - Norwich City, Premier League
Saturday 15 September, 3pm - West Bromwich Albion, Premier League
Saturday 29 September, 3pm - Manchester City, Premier League
Saturday 20 October, 3pm - Aston Villa, Premier League
Saturday 3 November, 3pm - Everton, Premier League
Sunday 18 November, 4pm - Sunderland, Premier League

Nothing currently available

Saturday 25 August, 3pm - West Bromwich Albion, Premier League (on sale now)
Saturday 1 September, 3pm - Norwich City, Premier League (on sale 2 August)

(both on sale now)
Saturday 18 August, 3pm - Aston Villa, Premier League
Saturday 1 September, 1245pm - Fulham, Premier League

Aside from these there are still tickets for some Olympic football matches at Wembley Stadium and also England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at the same venue in September.

The week ahead is bursting at the seams with games with 85 to choose from. Not only do we have lots of freindlies taking place but several of the leagues TLFG covers also get their seasons fully under way.

Last season I used to break things down into a midweek and weekend match map but I had a lot more time on my hands so there's still only one this week. 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 miss out. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the left side of the page to make sure you get all the information.

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

As always, please check with the host club whether a match is still taking place and also confirm the venue as this can change at short notice where pre-season games are involved. Please also let me know if any of the details are wrong or missing. 

If you don't know the difference between what's hot and what's not, here's a few suggestions of games that could be worth watching:


GREAT BRITAIN v BRAZIL (Tuesday 31 July, 745pm)
It's not often that women's football makes it into our top 10 let alone leads it but the Olympics have changed everything. Back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Cameroon have left Hope Powell's GB side level on points with Brazil at the top of Group E so this match will decide who wins it. The South Americans should start as favourites but good support from a large and lively Wembley crowd could swing it for the hosts. Tickets are officially sold out but check the Olympics ticket site for any late availability.

WATFORD v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Sunday 5 August, 3pm)
After playing local sides Boreham Wood and Wealdstone in their early warm-ups, the Hornets dramatically raise the stakes with a home game against Premier League Spurs. Both clubs have new managers at the helm who will be looking to get their systems drilled into the players as quickly as possible. Whether Gianfranco Zola or Andre Villas-Boas will succeed is yet to be seen but this should be a decent enough game. The match is also  being used as a testimonial for the long serving Lloyd Doyley and there will also be a Watford Legends v Spurs Legends match beforehand at 1215pm. TICKET INFO

AFC WIMBLEDON v PRESTON NORTH END (Tuesday 31 July, 745pm)
League Two take on League One in this pre-season game at Kingsmeadow. Since being hammered 7-0 by Reading two weeks ago, things have gone a bit better for the Dons. In the four games since, they've only lost once. Preston have also had a rather mixed build up but did enjoy a 1-0 win over Greek giants AEK Athens at Deepdale on Saturday. Both sides had rather underwhelming seasons last time so they'll be hoping for better this time round. The Dons also a West Ham XI on Saturday for Simon Bassey's testimonial. TICKET INFO

WELLING UNITED v CRYSTAL PALACE (Saturday 4 August, 3pm)
The Wings missed out to neighbours Dartford in the Conference South play-off final last season so are unsurprisingly listed among the favourites for the title this year. Since losing their opening friendly to Charlton two weeks ago, Welling have gone on the rampage winning five consecutive games and scoring 17 goals in the process. The Eagles, by contrast, have seen their XIs play three times with defeat in only one at Margate on Friday. According to the Welling website, Palace should be including 'several first team players' for this match between two teams from the south-east quadrant of London. As pre-season games go, this looks a like a good one. TICKET INFO

BOREHAM WOOD v BARNET (Saturday 4 August, 3pm)
Ian Allinson, the former Arsenal winger, has done rather well in his four years as manager of The Wood having elevated them to the Conference South and comfortably kept them there. On Saturday they play the last of their six home friendlies against near neighbours Barnet. The League Two club are set to bring a very strong if not full team to Meadow Park for this so expect an above average crowd. Given that the Bees only just avoided relegation to the Conference Premier last year, there shouldn't be much to choose between them. TICKET INFO

Following on from Staines Town v Warta Poznan on Monday, the leftfield match of the week sees Dulwich of the Ryman South play host to this exotically named Belgian club. I think it's fair to describe 'Les Aviateurs' as a non-league club too, playing as they do at level eight of their respective pyramid (although I think they may be at level seven now). With the game on a Sunday hopefully a few more groundhoppers and casual football observers will take the opportunity to pop down to Champion Hill for this. Dulwich have also cut adult admission to £5. CLUB INFO

If you've had enough of friendlies and only meaningful combat appeals to you, the real stuff gets under way in the Combined Counties League on Saturday. Newly promoted Guernsey have been touted as Premier Division favourites by many but another team who will want to do well are Hanworth Villa. Last season was a good one for the Villans as they finished third in the league and reached the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Manager Bobby Dawson will hope to get the new campaign off to a great start against Chessington who struggled last year and only avoided relegation by virtue of a reprieve. CLUB INFO

BARKINGSIDE v TAKELEY (Saturday 4 August, 3pm)
Competitive football is also the order of the day at Oakside where one of the favourites for the Essex Senior League title pay a visit. Although they were well off the pace, Takeley did manage to finish third last season. Talk on forums suggest the club have spent a bit of money recently and are going for promotion. The hosts, meanwhile, didn't do too badly themselves managing a top eight finish. On Saturday they also held landlords Redbridge of the Ryman North to a 1-1 draw so don't expect Takeley to have it all their own way. Personally, I'm rather fond of Oakside. It's only a short hop from the Olympic Park on the Central Line and is located right next to Barkingside tube so is very easy to get to. TICKET INFO

VCD ATHLETIC v BECKENHAM TOWN (Saturday 4 August, 3pm)
Given all the publicity Dartford got last season you could be excused for thinking they were the only club in town. Well they're not. VCD (originally short for Vickers, Crayford and Dartford) also gave a rather good account of themselves in the Kent League which kicks-off this weekend too. Although Herne Bay won the title by a comfortable margin, the 'Vickers' managed a creditable third-place finish with only goal difference separating them from Erith & Belvedere. Beckenham also made it into the top six so this is probably the game of the opening day. CLUB INFO

After the turmoil of last season which saw the demise of Croydon Athletic, supporters of the Rams have reformed their club and got them a place in the Combined Counties League Division One (Step 6 or Level 10 of the national system). They now groundshare with Croydon at the town's sports arena and host their first ever competitive match against Woking-based club Westfield (no relation to the shopping centre people) on Saturday. So if you want to be part of history, get yourself along to SE25. TICKET INFO

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

Sunday 22 July 2012

TLFG: 23-29 July 2012

With the weather finally starting to improve, the opportunities to catch a pre-season friendly are increasing. Personally I've still not managed it as work and Non-League Day (NLD) preparations continue.

It's been another positive week on the NLD front with a number of sponsors beginning to approach us. Mike and I are also in the process of setting up a 'community' account with Metro Bank (whose staff have been brilliant) to really formalise the process.

On Wednesday the Southern League fixtures were released so we now know all Step 1-4 matches that will be taking place on the weekend of 13 October. Ashford Town (Middlesex), Northwood and Uxbridge join the other previously announced TLFG clubs in hosting this year.

If you're interested in seeing a club from Step 5 or 6, their fixtures won't be fully confirmed until the middle of September following the completion of the early rounds of the FA Vase.

Here's a look at the updated national NLD match map:

View Non-League Day 2012 match locations in a larger map 

If you would like to help promote NLD then you can download one of our banners to put on your website or blog. Thanks in advance if you do.


As the new season approaches more Premier League clubs are starting to make tickets available. Here's what's currently on general sale to non-members (click on team name for details):

(all on sale now)
Saturday 18 August, 3pm - Norwich City, Premier League
Saturday 15 September, 3pm - West Bromwich Albion, Premier League
Saturday 29 September, 3pm - Manchester City, Premier League
Saturday 20 October, 3pm - Aston Villa, Premier League
Saturday 3 November, 3pm - Everton, Premier League
Sunday 18 November, 4pm - Sunderland, Premier League

(on sale 26 July if any remaining)
Saturday 25 August, 3pm - West Bromwich Albion, Premier League

(both on sale 24 July if any remaining)
Saturday 18 August, 3pm - Aston Villa, Premier League
Saturday 1 September, 1245pm - Fulham, Premier League

Aside from these there are still tickets for some Olympic football matches at Wembley Stadium and also England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at the same venue in September.

Have you been to any pre-season games yet? Checked out some unusual venues that clubs don't usually use? Well there are plenty more opportunities this week with over 70 matches to choose from and a decent weather forecast to boot.

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures

View London match map 23-29 July 2012 in a larger map

As always, please check with the host club whether a match is still taking place and also confirm the venue as this can change at short notice at this time of year. Please also let me know if any of the details are wrong or missing.

With so many matches to select from this week, here are a few recommendations:


BARNET v CHARLTON ATHLETIC (Thursday 26 July, 8pm)
Brought forward a couple of days to avoid a clash with the Olympics, this is the only match in London this week featuring two of 'the 92'. Both sides have it listed as a first-team friendly so you should get to see a few decent players. As is becoming customary, the Bees managed to avoid relegation from League Two on the final day of last season while the Addicks swept all before them as they cruised to the League One title and a place in the Championship. If you haven't been to Underhill before then this is the season to go as the club confirmed this week that it will be moving to a new ground for the 2013/14 campaign. Tickets: £10 adults, £5 concessions.

DARTFORD v LEYTON ORIENT (Saturday 28 July, 3pm)
There was a temptation this week to just list all the games where non-league sides are hosting Premier or Football League opponents but I've decided against it as only a tiny percentage of the 'big' clubs will come anywhere close to fielding first-team players. One match where this could happen takes place at Princes Park on Saturday. Conference Premier new boys Dartford face the League One O's in what could be an entertaining game. Russell Slade's side travelled to Sutton on Wednesday and played their part in an eight-goal thriller (the O's winning 5-3). Tickets: £12 adults, £6 concessions, £2 children.

DULWICH HAMLET v CRYSTAL PALACE (Tuesday 24 July, 745pm)
Another match to show promise is this south-east London derby at Champion Hill. Although a whopping six divisions separate the two sides, the Eagles do have this listed as part of their first-team programme and took a fairly strong side to Lewes, another Ryman League club, on Friday. The hosts came unstuck in the play-offs last season as they missed a great a chance to go up. They will be keen to go a step further this year and will look to give their Championship opponents plenty to think about. Tickets: not sure of exact prices but the normal price at Dulwich is £9 adults, £4 concessions, free for accompanied under-12s.

STAINES TOWN v WARTA POZNAN (Monday 23 July, 730pm)
Possibly the most eye-catching or curious fixture of the week, if not the summer, takes place at Wheatsheaf Park on Monday night. Former Wimbledon player Marcus Gayle, recently installed as manager, pits his Staines players against a side who play in the Polish equivalent of our Championship. Warta have won the Polish title on two occasions but the last time was over 60 years ago. Last season they finished in midtable. Watertight research (i.e. Wikipedia) has also discovered that they are managed by former Poland international Jaroslaw Araszkiewicz and that their squad includes Piotr Reiss, now 40, the winner of four full caps for his country. Tickets: £8 adults, £4 concessions/children.

CARSHALTON ATHLETIC v WOKING (Saturday 28 July, 3pm)
Despite big ambitions Carshalton struggled to get going in the Ryman League last season and will hope to put that right this time round. Their opponents on Saturday cantered to the Conference South title last season and are a bit of a regional non-league superpower with a strong following. Both narrowly lost 2-1 on Saturday but to superior opposition (Havant & Waterlooville and QPR respectively) so they should feel fairly encouraged. I expect a competitive match and a decent crowd. Tickets: £5 adults, £3 concessions, £1 children.

HAMPTON & RICHMOND v SUTTON UNITED (Tuesday 24 July, 745pm)
Last season these two were both in the Conference South and this would've been seen as a derby. Sadly for Tuesday's hosts they got relegated and now find themselves in the Ryman Premier. Sutton on the other hand made it to the play-offs and were unlucky to miss out on their second consecutive promotion. Consequently they are one of the bookies' favourites for promotion this time. The Beveree is regularly listed as being one of the best non-league grounds around and with the weather set fair, there could be worse places to spend the evening. Tickets: usual price for league games is £11 adults, £6 concessions, £3 children (although two kids get in free with a paying adult).

Ryman Premier also take on Conference South at Earlsmead but it could have been very different. Both sides flirted dangerously with relegation last season with Boro leaving it late while Maidenhead actually finished in the relegation places only for a reprieve to save them from the drop. Both are again fancied to struggle but consequently this should be a pretty even game between two sides with a lot to prove. Tickets: no details - usual admission is around £9 adults.

HAYES & YEADING UNITED v BURNHAM (Tuesday 24 July, 730pm)
Hayes should be a club this blog covers every week but they are currently groundsharing with Woking, outside TLFG's catchment area. This is because they are developing a new ground on the site of Yeading's old stadium. On Tuesday they play this friendly on the 3G pitch alongside their new home. Although it's not yet ready, this match provides a chance to have peek at what's going on and how far they've got to go until completion. Tickets: FREE 

WEALDSTONE v BRAINTREE TOWN (Saturday 28 July, 3pm)
The Stones start the season as one of the favourites for promotion from the Ryman Premier after a successful campaign last year. Manager Gordon Bartlett seems to have created a strong team ethic which is heartily backed up by strong support on the terraces. On Saturday they hosted Gianfranco Zola's Watford and held them to a 1-1 draw in front of a bumper crowd of 1,335. The Iron, managed by Alan Devonshire, enjoyed a solid start to life in the Conference Premier last year finishing comfortably in midtable. Although it's still very early, the Essex side should provide a decent test of Wealdstone's ambitions. Tickets: £10 adults, £5 concessions, £2 children.

WEMBLEY v HENDON (Saturday 28 July, 3pm)
The Lions have recently spent an unusual amount of time in the national football headlines for a Combined Counties League club. This is primarily down to their sponsorship by a large beer company who have decided to pump in a few quid and provide/saddle them with a load of former international players who are well past their prime for their FA Cup games. None of them will therefore be on playing duty on Saturday when Wembley take on tenants Hendon. The Greens are the more senior club, playing two divisions above in the Ryman Premier, and were one of the better sides in the division last season. Come and see if they have a squad to challenge for promotion again. Tickets: no information as yet, unlikely to be more than a fiver.

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

Sunday 15 July 2012

TLFG: 16-22 July 2012

It's been a fairly hectic week at TLFG towers - the new job has begun, Non-League Day (NLD) preparations have continued and efforts have been made for this blog to try and keep up with all the friendlies that have, haven't or are taking place. Phew!

The main concrete bit of news regarding NLD this week has been the release of the Ryman League fixtures, which turned out to be a process shrouded in mystery and confusion.

After some doubt, the league announced that the details would be announced on Friday. However, nothing appeared on their official website and there's still nothing there now.

Apparently each member club was emailed their fixtures and published them themselves on their own sites over the course of Friday and Saturday (a handful still hadn't last night).

In order to figure out who was playing on 13 October I had to go club-by-club and piece together the details.

As a result we now know the identity of many more host clubs from the London area and they are: Aveley, Carshalton Athletic, Chipstead, Corinthian Casuals, Enfield Town, Hampton & Richmond Borough, Hendon, Metropolitan Police, Romford, Thamesmead Town, Tooting & Mitcham United, Walton & Hersham, Wealdstone, Waltham Forest and Wingate & Finchley.

I mentioned in the Non-League Paper last week that we're trying to encourage clubs to stagger kick-offs to enable people to see two or three games in a day so hopefully some of those listed above will start talking to each other and their opponents to see what can be achieved.

In the week ahead we expect the delayed release of the Southern League fixtures so hopefully we'll have a few more hosts to report this time next week. Here's a map of the games we know about around the country so far:

If you're reading this and would like to help promote Non-League Day then you can download one of our banners and add it to your website or blog. Thanks in advance if you do.


On Tuesday (17 July) the first batch of Premier League tickets for the new season are put on sale by Fulham. Their first six home matches of the season against Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Everton and Sunderland will all go on general sale to non-members at 0900.

There are also still a few tickets for a handful of Olympic football matches being played at Wembley Stadium.

The same venue also hosts England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in September and there's still availability for that too.

With the new campaign getting closer, the amount of pre-season games has almost doubled this week. As it stands I'm aware of 60 games over the next seven days with some clubs playing at home three times between now and Saturday!

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

View London match map 16-22 July 2012 in a larger map

As always, please check with the host club whether a match is still taking place and also confirm the venue as this can change at short notice at this time of year. Please also let me know if I've got anything wrong or am missing anything.

If you can't decide where to watch your football this week here are a few recommendations:


BOREHAM WOOD v WATFORD (Tuesday 17 July, 730pm)
As mentioned last week The Wood have a mouthwatering pre-season schedule that sees them play host to six of 'the 92' in preparation for another season in the Conference South. After creditable 1-1 draws against West Ham United and Stevenage over the last few days, they next welcome Championship club Watford who play only five or so miles to the west. The Hornets have this listed as a first team game on their website so should put out a reasonable side and bring a good amount of fans. It is also the first match for new manager Gianfranco Zola following the dismissal of Sean Dyche by the club's new owners. An Arsenal XI are also at Meadow Park on Saturday 21 July. TICKET INFO

GRAYS ATHLETIC v WEST HAM UNITED (Friday 20 July, 745pm)
After a couple of years groundsharing with East Thurrock United, Grays have moved to the Rush Green Stadium near Romford for the 2012/13 season bringing them within the M25 and into the TLFG family. After a lot of hard work by supporters, this match is being seen as the ground's official opening with Hammers co-chairman David Sullivan set to be the guest of honour. TICKET INFO

Following Reading's visit to Kingsmeadow to play AFC Wimbledon on Saturday (they won 7-0), the good denizens of Norbiton will get a visit from another Premier League side just over 48 hours later when Tottenham Hotspur roll into town. The Ks, who groundshare with the Dons, finished slap bang in the middle of the Ryman League Premier Division table last season and will hope to do better this time round. How much they will learn from this outing remains to be seen but the Spurs players on show are likely to be youngsters and reserves at best. TICKET INFO

THURROCK v WEST HAM UNITED (Saturday 21 July, 3pm)
West Ham continue to do their bit for non-league clubs to the east of London by visiting Ship Lane on Saturday. Unlike the Grays game above, this isn't listed as a first-team match so youngsters and reserves are more likely to make the starting line-up. The hosts suffered relegation from the Conference South last season and are about to start their first full campaign under former Gillingham and Barnet boss Mark Stimson, so he'll be hoping for a good showing here. TICKET INFO

WEALDSTONE v WATFORD (Saturday 21 July, 3pm)
Over the last year or so, the Stones have cultivated a good working relationship with the Hornets which has seen a number of the latter's players head to Grosvenor Vale on loan. Whether such a bond continues under the new set up at Vicarage Road remains to be seen but this game should be worth going to. Like Boreham Wood, the two clubs are only a matter of miles apart so there should be a decent turnout. It is also listed as a first-team game on Watford's website. You should give Gordon Bartlett's side a watch as they made it to the Ryman Premier play-offs and FA Trophy semi-finals last year and are among the promotion favourites for the season ahead. TICKET INFO

SUTTON UNITED v LEYTON ORIENT (Wednesday 18 July, 745pm)
Another side who had a fruitful season last year were Sutton who went from winning the Ryman Premier title to making the Conference South play-offs. They are consequently fancied to be among the promotion contenders again this season. On Wednesday they welcome east London club Leyton Orient who just about managed to avoid relegation from League One last season. Russell Slade is likely to take a fairly strong squad to Gander Green Lane for this game so I expect a decent contest. TICKET INFO

DARTFORD v GILLINGHAM (Saturday 21 July, 3pm)
It's an all Kentish affair at Princes Park on Saturday where newly promoted Dartford of the Conference Premier host local League Two rivals Gillingham. With only a division separating the two sides this is likely to be taken pretty seriously by both as they look for a good pre-season workout. As already mentioned, the Darts won promotion last year via the Conference South play-offs while the Gills narrowly missed out on a place in the League Two play-offs themselves. The bookies expect Gillingham to be competitive again this year but don't hold out much hope for Tony Burman's men who are listed among the favourites for the drop. If you've yet to visit, Princes Park is one of the finest non-league stadiums in the London area so give it a go. TICKET INFO

After a resounding 4-1 win over local rivals Staines Lammas on Saturday, the Swans' new manager Marcus Gayle (the former Wimbledon player) will next see his players face a much stiffer test in the form of League Two side Wycombe Wanderers. With both sides struggling last season (the Chairboys got relegated), not much is expected of either this time round. Despite this, I expect another decent game and attendance as this does have a touch of the local derbies about it. TICKET INFO

FISHER v MILLWALL (Wednesday 18 July, 745pm)
Another side to have fostered good relations with their local Football League club over the last couple of years are Kent League side Fisher who play at Dulwich Hamlet's Champion Hill. The Lions played them in a pre-season game a couple of years ago and have also sent a good contingent of supporters on past Non-League Days. This match is the jewel in the crown of their pre-season campaign and will hope it attracts interest in the local community. Although the Millwall XI will be largely devoid of first team regulars (who will be on a tour of Ireland) it should still be worth a watch. TICKET INFO

THE GEOFF HARVEY VASE (Saturday & Sunday 21/22 July, 11am & 3pm)
For those wanting to gorge on non-league football with a south London flavour, King George's Field in Tolworth is the place for you this weekend. Corinthian Casuals play host to this four club mini-tournament which also features Dulwich Hamlet, Kingstonian and Tooting & Mitcham United. The Casuals play Tooting for a place in Sunday's final in the opening game at 11am on Saturday before the Ks meet Dulwich for the other berth at 3pm. The following day there is a third place play-off at 11am and final at 3pm. UPDATE (19/07/12) - according to the Corinthian Casuals website, both fixtures on Sunday 22 July have now been cancelled. TICKET INFO

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.

Sunday 8 July 2012

TLFG: 9-15 July 2012

Almost a year ago I opted to take redundancy when my department at the BBC moved to its new base in Salford.

About three months later I decided to set up this blog. It's kept me going and given me a sense of purpose during some dark times when another job never looked like materialising.

Tomorrow I begin a new role in a completely different industry and getting back into the routine of regular work will probably be a shock to the system. Despite this I'll continue to try and keep this blog going, especially if it continues to get readers.

My last week of freedom has be spent preparing this blog and also starting the labour-intensive process of promoting this year's Non-League Day on 13 October.

The big news this week has been the launch of our new website, naming the Free Kicks Foundation as our official charity and getting the backing of Greenways Media who produce the likes of The Non-League Paper and The Football League Paper.

Yesterday was spent further promoting the day at the Fans' Weekend hosted by the Football Supporters' Federation and Supporters Direct, which went well.

As with the previous two campaigns, it's all about spreading the word which you can help to do by adding a banner to your blog or website.

The announcement of the Conference and FA Vase fixtures has also given us the identities of some of the clubs who will be hosting.

In London area so far we have: Bromley, Egham Town, Erith Town, Hanworth Villa, Staines Town, VCD Athletic and Whyteleafe.

With the Isthmian and Southern League fixtures out this Friday we'll get a load more.


Apart from season-ticket renewals and applications, there's nothing available at any of our six Premier League clubs yet.

With the Olympics now less than three weeks away there are still tickets left for some of the football matches being played at Wembley Stadium in both the men's and women's events.

There is also still availability for England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at the same venue on the 11 September.

After last week's gentle start, pre-season really gets going this week with Premier and Football League clubs starting to send sides into action. These matches are really important to non-league sides as they often generate some of their biggest crowds of the season and with it some well-needed revenue so go along if you can.

At the last count, we had 38 matches to look forward to. Given the nature of pre-season friendlies this number could change with last-minute additions and cancellations quite possible but here's a map of what I'm aware of:

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures

View London match map 9-15 July 2012 in a larger map

As always, please check with the host club whether a match is still going ahead and also double check the venue as this can change at short notice. Please also let me know if I've got any of the details wrong or am missing anything.

With a few more to choose from than last week, here's a short list of the games which stand out for me and could be worth your time:

AFC WIMBLEDON v READING (Saturday 14 July, 3pm)
The only match in London this week featuring two of 'the 92' takes place at Kingsmeadow. The Dons are preparing for their second season in League Two after graduating from the non-league ranks while the Royals are getting ready for their first game back in the Premier League after winning promotion. Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak have both recently joined the Berkshire club while the hosts have brought in a few new players of their own. TICKET INFO

BOREHAM WOOD v WEST HAM UNITED (Tuesday 10 July, 730pm)
I've received a number of tweets from some very excited people at Boreham Wood to help them play a small part in promoting this match. The Blue Square Bet South side have arguably the best pre-season programme of any non-league club with sides being sent by six professional clubs, three of them from the Premier League. While some of them may only send their reserves and youth teams, the Hammers have this listed on their website as a first XI game so expect to see some of their best players in action. Their new signings include goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and Mohamed Diame. The Wood also host League One Stevenage on Saturday. TICKET INFO

The Wings ended last season by losing to local rivals Dartford in the Blue Square Bet South play-off final and will hope for another strong campaign this time. The Addicks, having just been promoted to the Championship, provide the opposition on Saturday. If you're new to the capital or don't know the geography this is a derby and should generate a decent crowd so get yourself along to Park View Road if you're in south-east London. TICKET INFO

The Beavers ended last season with the disappointment of relegation. After five seasons in the Blue Square Bet South they slipped back into the Ryman League on the final day. On Wednesday, Uwe Rosler's Bees make the short trip to the Beveree ahead of a campaign where they will hope to secure at least a place in the League One play-offs. TICKET INFO

BROMLEY v CRAWLEY TOWN (Saturday 14 July, 3pm)
Like Hampton, Bromley struggled in the Blue Square Bet South last season but they did manage to keep their heads above water and avoid the drop. On Saturday they face former non-league side Crawley who have gone from the Blue Square Bet Premier to League One in consecutive seasons and will be looking to push on again. TICKET INFO

NORTHWOOD v CHELSEA U-21 (Saturday 14 July, 3pm)
The Woods, from north-west London, had a good season last time and narrowly missed out on the play-offs and a place in the Evostik League Southern Premier. Their first home pre-season game sees them welcome a representative side from the reigning European champions, albeit one that will be without its biggest names. It should still be worth going along to see some of the potential stars of the future though. TICKET INFO

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.

Sunday 1 July 2012

TLFG: 2-8 July 2012

After five weeks away TLFG is back as this summer's pre-season friendlies begin to get under way.

I hope you've had some good time off and are refreshed and ready to start football watching again.

Did you go to Euro 2012? I managed to get out for a group game a couple of weeks ago.

Having bought my tickets back in the autumn, well before the draw, I had no idea what game I'd end up with. I selected my match purely on venue, as I usually do with tournaments, as I'd heard good things about Kiev and had wanted to go for some time.

When it came to the draw, I found myself with tickets for a match in England's group - exciting. France came out of the hat - further excitement. The next ball out would determine whether they would face the Three Lions or Sweden - sadly it was the latter.

So Sweden v France in Kiev it was. Although buying a long time in advance can sometimes give you a game you might otherwise not choose, it does allow you to get the pick of the flights and hotels and usually the lowest prices (e.g. my flight had doubled in price the week before I left and the apartment I rented had ratcheted up its prices too).

The Olympic Stadium, Kiev
The months leading up to the tournament saw me rebuff several attempts to cancel my trip, mainly by my fraught wife, as report after report came out about what a dreadful place the former Soviet country was.

I even let a job on the Olympics go because they wouldn't give me a couple of days off to travel, but that's another story I won't bore you with here.

As it turned out, everything went very smoothly. After passing (or failing?) Sussex police's short hooligan interview at Gatwick, I flew with the national airline which was fine except for the lack of vegetarian option (there was no option at all in fact - chicken for everyone).

Borispol airport, in Kiev, was surprisingly small for a city of 3.5 million inhabitants but modern and the immigration queues virtually non-existent as young volunteers helped us through.

Once at the apartment, I met up with my old university friend Greg - a Dinamo Tbilisi fan who had flown in from Georgia that morning. His knowledge of the city from previous business trips and ability to speak Russian proved invaluable during our stay (although quite a few people spoke English, particularly in restaurants and tourist places).

Getting to the Olympic Stadium was easy as it's pretty much in the centre of town. However, you're not really aware of its existence until it's on you as it's set in a bowl with the pitch below road level and is surrounded by buildings.

Inside it's modern and smart but there is a running track around it like its namesakes in Berlin and Rome. Despite this the atmosphere was good.

The game itself was ok and we did get one of the goals of the tournament when Zlatan Ibrahimovic swept Sweden into a 1-0 lead. I've never rated him from performances on TV so it seemed only right that he should pull out all the stops to try and impress me live!

Overall, the city with its numerous parks, fine hill views, riverside location and grand buildings was a pleasure to visit. No doubt there are problems in Ukraine but visitors for this tournament were looked after well and given a good 'show'.

That's enough about my trip, you came here to find out about what's on in London.

For the really dedicated amongst you, you will have noticed there were a couple of games this weekend. Fisher won 2-1 at London Lions while Molesey beat Knaphill 2-0.

In the week ahead there are a further 16 matches to choose from:

Magenta pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

View London match map 2-8 July 2012 in a larger map

When selecting which match to go to, please check the details carefully and double check with the club in question as these matches can often change venue, be played at an unusual venue or get cancelled at short notice.

Probably the pick of the action this week takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in Enfield on Sunday  where for £9 you'll get to see two matches as Fisher play Lewes in the Supporters Direct Shield at 1pm and Enfield Town take on Wrexham in the Supporters Direct Cup at 330pm.

Aside from that, the newly formed AFC Croydon Athletic also meet Fisher on Friday night at Bacon's College in Rotherhithe while Beckenham Town host Cray Wanderers on Saturday lunchtime.

Waltham Forest against Billericay Town at Wadham Lodge on Saturday also seems worth a mention as does Feltham's game against the much spoken about Wembley down near Heathrow.

Please let me know if I've got any of the details wrong or if games have been added, cancelled or moved.

Also, looking ahead, tickets are still on general sale for England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday 11 September. Prices range from £35-£65 for adults.

You can get in touch with TLFG via Facebook, Twitter or email.