Sunday, 3 March 2013

TLFG: 4-10 March 2013

I've been to some pretty lively games in Bosnia, Georgia and Turkey over the years but never have I been to one played to the backdrop of an almost constant crack of gunfire.

Where in London could I possibly be? Not one of the more troubled inner city estates but Farm Park the home of Southern League side AFC Hayes out in the western suburbs.

After a torturous eight-mile journey from Shepherd's Bush to Hayes on the 607 'express' bus through Acton, Ealing, Hanwell and Southall which took the best part of an hour, I walked the remaining mile to the ground arriving about five minutes late.

The hosts' keeper punches clear from a first-half corner
When I was boy, this club were known as Brook House and always played at a significantly lower level than Harrow Borough who I followed religiously at the time. Consequently, despite their close proximity, this was another club I'd never been to.

The ground is located down a track a little way from the road so it's that bit further than you expect - a final trial when you're behind schedule.

After being short-changed at the turnstile, something I let slide, I stepped into what was a pretty decent little stadium.

For those of you who read about my outing to London Tigers a couple of weeks ago, you'll know I wasn't impressed which is rare. Farm Park was far superior with a decent wood fence encircling it, good floodlights and PA system, covered terracing behind one goal and a general neatness to the place that was lacking at Avenue Park.

Don't get me wrong it wasn't five-star by any means but for the level and size of support the club have (average 70) it was decent.

Having ascertained it was still goalless I took my position on the far side of the ground and settled down to watch the action.

It was then I noticed the banging in the near distance which I realised were gunshots. What could be the cause? It was then I remembered we were just down the road from the West London Shooting School which put my mind at rest - it was still a strange way to watch a football match though.

The game itself, against Berkshire outfit Thatcham Town, was a pretty even one with both keepers pulling off some really fine saves. It ended 1-1 with both sides pushing for victory, basketball style, in the closing minutes.

AFC Hayes go close in the final seconds but it ends 1-1
With only one side going down and with bottom club Woodford United having LOST EVERY MATCH this season, neither of these midtable clubs had much to play for but they gave it a good go and created a pretty decent spectacle.

If you live in the general area I'd like to encourage you to get to a game while Hayes & Yeading United are still groundsharing at Woking. AFC Hayes aren't getting great crowds but what they do get my way well dwindle when the far more illustrious H&YU return to their spanking new ground hopefully next season.


Anyway that's enough about my football travels, let me know where you've been or where you're going either in the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter.


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

Wednesday 29 May, 8pm - Republic of Ireland, international friendly, Wembley

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY
Monday 25 March, 730pm - Brazil v Russia, Stamford Bridge

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Saturday 25 May - tbc v tbc, Wembley Stadium
Ticket ballot open until 15 March

UEFA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Thursday 23 May, 730pm - tbc v tbc, Stamford Bridge

FA TROPHY FINAL - GRIMSBY TOWN v WREXHAM
Sunday 24 March, 3pm - Wembley Stadium

ARSENAL
Nothing currently available

CHELSEA
Thursday 14 March, 805pm - Steaua Bucharest, Europa League

Monday 1 April, 8pm - Queens Park Rangers, Premier League

QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Saturday 9 March, 3pm - Sunderland, Premier League

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Saturday 16 March, 3pm - Fulham, Premier League
Sunday 7 April, 205pm - Everton, Premier League 

Saturday 9 March, 1245pm - Manchester United, Premier League
Saturday 30 March, 3pm - West Bromwich Albion, Premier League

Outside the Premier League, Millwall are charging between £20-25 for their FA Cup quarter-final against Blackburn Rovers on Sunday 10 March at 2pm, which is significantly less than normal.

Also, Watford have reduced prices for their upcoming Championship game against Burnley on Good Friday 29 March at 3pm. 

Over the next week there are over 80 matches taking place in the London area so there's plenty to choose from. We've got London derbies, top of the table clashes, relegation 'six-pointers' and an FA Cup quarter-final too.

Details on all of them can be found in the following match map. If you've never used it before, 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 might miss them. 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.

MATCH MAP
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 4-10 March 2013 in a larger map


Bad weather may cause a few postponements as the week progresses so, as always, check with clubs before you travel. Please also let me know if any of the details are wrong or missing.

Next up is this week's TLFG Top 10 match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan -  a lot of people view the Europa League as being very second rate when compared to the Champions League but then we get ties like this. Two of the bigger names in European football go head-to-head on Thursday in what should be a cracking game. Both occupy similar positions in their respective leagues and have some outstanding talents in their squads. At the time of writing, Spurs are in better form and therefore have the edge for me. (Europa League, 7 Mar, 805pm. Ticket info)

2. Millwall v Blackburn Rovers - the FA Cup reaches the quarter-final stage this weekend and there's only one tie taking place in the capital. Unusually it pits two Championship clubs against each other with the winner facing the prospect of a money-spinning trip to Wembley for the semi-final. Blackburn have spent most of the last few years in the Premier League but it is Millwall who were the last of the pair to make it to the final when they lost 3-0 to Manchester United in 2004. This was the highlight of the Lions' history in the competition whereas Blackburn have won it six times making them the eighth most successful side in the competition ever. Formwise there's very little to choose between them so it's anyone's.  (FA Cup, 10 Mar, 2pm. Ticket info)

3. Crystal Palace v Hull City - it's a massive week for Ian Holloway's Eagles as they host second-placed Hull on Tuesday before welcoming former manager Neil Warnock's Leeds United side to Selhurst Park at the weekend. I've ranked the match against the Tigers that bit higher as they are that bit higher in the table. Four wins in five for Steve Bruce's side has left them five points off top spot but only four points ahead of fourth-placed Palace. Hopefully it won't end in a stalemate but it's quite likely as three of their last five meetings have ended in 0-0 draws. (Championship, 5 Mar, 8pm. Ticket info)

4. Dartford v Wrexham - after the disappointment of their FA Trophy semi-final loss to Grimsby, Dartford come up against the team they would have played in the final. With only four points separating the top five clubs in the Conference, things can change quickly so while Grimsby were top when the Darts played them it's now Wrexham who lead the pack. Their impressive 12-game unbeaten run in the league will ensure a tough afternoon for the Kent club but the 2-2 draw they picked up in Wales earlier in the season should give them hope. (Conference Premier, 8 Mar, 745pm. Ticket info)

5. Hendon v Harrow Borough - it's derby time in north-west London on Tuesday night as these two old rivals meet at Vale Farm. When I was growing up, this was one of the fixtures I always used to look out for and they often produced memorable occasions - I can still clearly remember Iain Dowie soaring to head home for the Greens in one derby shortly before he turned pro with Luton in 1988. The vibe in these games has lost a bit of an edge in recent years as Hendon have lost their ground and Harrow have seen support ebb away too but it's a generally more sporting occasion than either side's derby with Wealdstone where things can get a little more heated. The hosts will start this game as favourites by virtue of their higher league placing and 10-game unbeaten run. Harrow are dangerously unpredictable though - in the last week they've shocked many by beating very good Whitehawk and Kingstonian sides while losing 3-0 on Saturday to then bottom club Thurrock. (Isthmian League Premier Division, 5 Mar, 745pm. Club info)

6. Wingate & Finchley v Thurrock - elsewhere in the Isthmian Premier we've got this relegation 'six-pointer'. Wingate have been hovering around lower midtable for most of the season but have got themselves stuck on a very dodgy run that has seen them lose four out of five leaving them just four points above the relegation zone. They've also played significantly more games than most of the teams around them which makes for bleak reading. Thurrock have seemingly been bottom all season but they've hardly played any games (seven less than Wingate) and their 3-0 win against fellow strugglers Harrow on Saturday has taken them up a place. Apart from there being a lot to play for, this game has been specially selected to take part in a 'Kick It Out' initiative which is taking place at three Isthmian League clubs across the weekend. A disability  tournament will take place beforehand, there will be kids coaching and with it being Mothers' Day, all Mums will get in for FREE. (Isthmian League Premier Division, 10 Mar, 1pm. Club info)

7. Aveley v Waltham Abbey - the 'Kick It Out' Isthmian League weekend will actually start on Friday night at Essex club Aveley. Details about what they're doing have proven hard to come by so I can't elaborate further here. However, it should be a decent game as the hosts look to continue their promotion push. Back-to-back wins over Ilford and Harlow Town followed by a creditable 0-0 draw at leaders Maldon & Tiptree mean Aveley come into this game occupying one of the Isthmian Division 1 North's play-off spots. The visitors are winless in six so it should be a good night for Justin Gardner's team. (Isthmian League Division 1 North, 8 Mar, 745pm. Club info)

8. Dulwich Hamlet v Sittingbourne - over in south London, there's also a promotion push going on at Dulwich. Having missed out in the play-offs for the last two seasons, they're hoping to go up automatically this time. Kent club Maidstone are currently five points ahead of them in the only automatic spot but the Champion Hill residents have three games in hand. This match sees the visit of another very decent Kent outfit who are currently well in the hunt for promotion too, sitting fifth at the time of writing. Hamlet should have the edge but they lost the reverse fixture 3-1 back in September. Update (7/3/13) - I'm reliably informed that this game is of such standing that around 60 fans of German club Altona, who have links to Dulwich, are travelling over specially for it. They can't all be wrong!  (Isthmian League Division 1 South, 9 Mar, 3pm. Club info)

9. Uxbridge v Burnham - these sides play either side of the M25 explaining why TLFG only usually cover the former. It is therefore a derby and one which takes on added meaning this time round as Burnham are currently top of the division having not lost a match since Boxing Day. Worryingly for Uxbridge, the Blues have netted a whopping 17 goals in their last four matches so they arrive at Honeycroft in extremely rude health. After a bit of a dip, the Reds have won their last two leaving them snugly in midtable with no realistic chance of promotion or relegation meaning the pressure is off. Will they be able to raise themselves for the big occasion or become another statistic in Burnham's quest for the title. (Southern League Division 1 Central, 9 Mar, 3pm. Club info)

10. Cockfosters v Hoddesdon Town - these two clubs have been among the leaders of the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 for a long time but it seemed there were a lot of inequalities in the amount of games played and that one or two clubs would drop away. After watching Cockfosters lose to local rivals London Lions back in November I feared that they could be one of them. However, that hasn't happened with the north London club now unbeaten for three months meaning they're second just a point behind Hoddesdon. The visitors really have to win this game if they are to retain their title hopes as they have played  four games more than Cockfosters and five more than the aforementioned Lions who lie third. In October, when the sides last met, Cockfosters won 3-2 so hopefully we'll get more of the same. (Spartan South Midlands League Division 1, 9 Mar, 3pm. Club info)


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

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