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.

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