Sunday, 26 January 2014

TLFG: 27 January - 2 February 2014

Hello there one and all and welcome to TLFG.

Not a lot to mention on my part this week as it's been work, work, work so there's been little time for football. 

However, I have once again been happy to help a few readers who have got in touch with a few queries so keep the questions coming if you have any.

That's about it from me - enjoy your football watching.

GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.


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 5 March, 8pm - Denmark, international friendly, Wembley

Nothing currently available

CHELSEA
Nothing currently available

Tickets are only available to season-ticket holders, members and their guests

Saturday 1 February, 3pm - Southampton, Premier League

Thursday 27 February, 805pm - FC Dnipro, Europa League

Saturday 1 February, 1245pm - Swansea City, Premier League
Tuesday 11 February, 745pm - Norwich City, Premier League
Saturday 22 February, 3pm - Southampton, Premier League
Saturday 22 March, 3pm - Manchester United, Premier League
Saturday 5 April, 3pm - Liverpool, Premier League
Saturday 3 May, 3pm - Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League


TICKET DEALS
This week's main deal is to be had on Tuesday where there's another 'We Are Wimbledon' night taking place at Kingsmeadow which means it's only £10 to watch the League Two match between AFC Wimbledon and Hartlepool United.

Watching the big clubs' youth and reserve teams often provides pretty good value too. On Thursday Tottenham's U18's entertain Fulham in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. Sadly the match isn't being played at White Hart Lane - instead you'll have to head to Dagenham & Redbridge's Victoria Road ground over on the far east side of town. I don't have the precise admission details but it should be no more than £5 for adults.

Looking ahead - Hartlepool obviously aren't seen as much of a draw by our local clubs as Dagenham & Redbridge are holding their 'Daggers Against Racism Day' against the Monkey Hangers on Saturday 8 February, cutting seat tickets to just £9.99 and standing to £2.50.

At the end of February, tickets for Tottenham's Europa League tie against FC Dnipro have been reduced to £20 for adults, a significant saving.

Also way into the future, the annual football Varsity match between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge will be taking place at Craven Cottage on Sunday 6 April. It takes place on the same day as the more famous televised boat race which begins shortly after the match on the Thames which passes the ground. For £15 you'll get to see one of the oldest football fixtures in the world (this will be the 130th meeting) and then be able to watch the opening mile of the boat race from the vantage point of Craven Cottage's Riverside Terrace - your £15 also gets you some free food and drink!

If you know of any other deals I may have missed or your club is running a promotion let me know.

SOLD OUT MATCHES/CHEAP TICKETS
I often receive emails from readers asking how to get tickets for matches which have sold out. The only official way to do this is to go through a ticket re-sale site like StubHub or viagogo which are fully endorsed by the clubs involved. 

These sites work by letting season-ticket holders re-sell their unwanted tickets on a match-by-match basis and it is the ticket holder who sets the price. For a sold out match they will often be able to command a large premium but conversely you'll often be able to pick up tickets for less popular matches at a significant discount. 

I know some football supporters find these sites totally abhorrent and I understand their reasons but I guess it's better to have an official way of performing transactions like this rather than risk buying a counterfeit or even non-existent ticket from a less trustworthy or even criminal source.

FOOTBALL ON A BUDGET
Apart from the ticket deals mentioned above, if you're on a tight budget and still want to see some football then check out some non-league football.

The vast majority of the clubs TLFG covers play at this level and provide good entertainment week-in-week-out at great prices. The overwhelming amount of sides charge £10 or less to get in, with many no more than a fiver. 

Several also offer half-price admission for season-ticket holders and members of Premier League and Football League clubs all year round.

Non-league football is also a great way to get kids into watching the sport live with many clubs letting them in for free. 

Check your local club's website to see what they have to offer.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next week so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, with bad weather frequent at the moment, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games 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 map page to make sure you get all the information.

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

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


View London match map 27 January - 2 February 2014 in a larger map


Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. There are often many more games that are worthy of a mention but I simply don't have the time or space to squeeze them all in so add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10
1. Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - the biggest match the week takes place at White Hart Lane on Wednesday and sees two of the Premier League's top five go head-to-head. If Arsenal slip up at Southampton on Tuesday then top spot will be City's for the taking. At the same time, if Liverpool drop points against Everton then Spurs could move into the Champions League places with a win here - in other words, there's plenty at stake. Both sides are in cracking form at the moment so it should be decent although it should be noted that when they last played back in November, City won 6-0! (Premier League, Wednesday 29 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Arsenal v Crystal Palace - it's derby time at the Emirates on Sunday. Both sides badly need the points but for very different reasons. You'd have to have been living under a rock not to know that the Gunners are top of the Premier League and hopeful of landing their first title since 2003/04. They had a bit of a wobble before Christmas but have beaten everyone since. However, with only a one point advantage over Man City and two points over Chelsea their lead is precarious. If they do struggle in midweek they could be down to third by the time this one kicks-off. The Eagles, on the other hand, are scrapping to avoid the drop and could be a bit of a handful. If the south London club do win, it will be quite an achievement as they haven't got the better of the Gunners since 1994. (Premier League, Sunday 2 February, 4pm. Ticket info)

3. Chelsea v West Ham United - earlier in the week we have another very similar derby match between title and relegation contenders. As alluded to above, if results go the Blues' way they could go top of the Premier League with a win here. It's highly likely they will take all three points because the Hammers are struggling at the moment and haven't won at Stamford Bridge for 10 years. They were also comfortably beaten by Jose Mourinho's side at Upton Park earlier in the season. (Premier League, Wednesday 29 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Queens Park Rangers v Burnley - the game of the weekend in the Football League pits two of the Championship title contenders against each other at Loftus Road. At the time of writing the clubs are second and third but midweek fixtures could see this change. With only two teams getting promoted automatically and Leicester already eight points clear at the top, the battle for second is likely to become intense especially when you also factor in the close proximity in the table of Derby County and to a lesser extent Nottingham Forest. If Rangers manage back-to-back home wins over Bolton and Burnley then it could give them a considerable cushion over the chasing pack. Having already lost to the Clarets and Leicester earlier in the season, another defeat here would make the hosts look little more than play-off contenders. (Championship, Saturday 1 February, 1215pm. Ticket info)

5. Leyton Orient v Coventry City - from a London point of view it's been an exciting season in League One. At the moment the lead seems to change hands between Leyton Orient and Brentford on an almost weekly basis. Currently the Bees are top by two points but have played a game more than the O's. They're both in action on Tuesday with Brentford hosting struggling Bristol City while Orient take on former Premier League side Coventry. It's been a while since the Sky Blues were at their peak and rocky finances have been a real problem as they have fallen down the leagues and lost access to their own ground. On the pitch though, this has been a quite positive season and if it wasn't for the 10-point deduction for going into administration they'd be eighth and well in with a shout of the play-offs. They are therefore likely to present quite a challenge as evidenced by the fact that the O's have only beaten them once in the three games they have already played against them this season. (League One, Tuesday 28 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

6. Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United - in League Two we've got an Essex derby to look forward to on Tuesday. The Shrimpers made a few headlines on Saturday as they took on Premier League Hull City in the FA Cup and didn't disgrace themselves in a 2-0 defeat. Phil Brown's side will start as favourites here as they are one of the top seven clubs who already seem to have the play-off spots sewn up. Although the Daggers are tenth they are 10 points adrift of the all-important seventh spot and have only won one of their last eight. However, they have beaten Southend in two previous games this season scoring six goals so they should take heart from this. (League Two, Tuesday 28 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. Dartford v Luton Town - it's been quite a week for the Darts. This time last week I was telling you what a dreadful season they'd had and how the week ahead was looking bleak with two tough matches to get through. Well they somehow landed four points and could've had the full six if they hadn't let a 3-2 lead slip against title-chasing Cambridge. Be under no illusions, they are still in a very worrying position some five points from safety but they are showing signs of life. They'll need to be in good form for this game too as Luton are top and will bring a big partisan following. Expect a crowd of at least 2,000 for this one. (Conference Premier, Saturday 1 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Bromley v Eastleigh - in the Conference South we've got a huge game as the top two meet at Hayes Lane for a long-awaited fixture. As it stands Bromley are 11-points clear at the top but Eastleigh have three games in hand. Crucially they lost a fourth one at Weston-Super-Mare in midweek which means if the Hampshire club lose this one too it could be all over as far as the title is concerned. (Conference South, Tuesday 28 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. AFC Hornchurch v Dulwich Hamlet - we finish off this week with an Isthmian League double header. Only six points separate the top six clubs in the Premier Division meaning it's an exciting time to be watching football at this level. At the time of writing Dulwich are top and the Urchins are fifth. The last time they played back in August they served up a five-goal thriller which Hornchurch edged 3-2. Hopefully we'll get another cracker here. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 1 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Kingstonian v Maidstone United - there's likely to be a big crowd at Kingsmeadow too where former leaders Kingstonian welcome Kent giants Maidstone. The Stones' average attendance of over 1,800 for their home games makes them the biggest club in the division by a country mile and consequently they are second and well in with a chance of earning back-to-back promotions like Dulwich who they came up with last year. In contrast to this, the K's success has only been rewarded with average crowds of 340 showing what a gulf there is. Maidstone notched a comfortable 2-0 win in their last league meeting so you'd probably expect them to edge this one too. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 1 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

HONOURABLE MENTIONS
There are so many big games on this week that I couldn't squeeze them all into the top 10 so here's three more that are well worth a go. The Isthmian League Division 1 North's top two VCD Athletic and Soham Town Rangers do battle on Saturday. In the FA Vase fourth round, after two postponements, Hanwell Town and Ashford United will try and get a little further down the road to Wembley and finally Essex Senior League leaders Tower Hamlets entertain Sporting Bengal United, who they groundshare with, in the Mile End derby.

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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