Sunday, 30 March 2014

TLFG: 31 March - 6 April 2014

Summer is finally here, well at least when it comes to the time. Yes the clocks changed overnight meaning we have sunset at 730pm this evening.

But it's better than that, the weather is actually pretty good too. On Saturday I went to QPR v Blackpool and didn't need to wear a jacket for the first time in a while. The forecast for the next few days in London is pretty decent too so, fingers crossed, we shouldn't have to worry about postponements.

Going back to Saturday, it was interesting how many foreign visitors were sat around me at Loftus Road and I often wonder if any are there as a direct result of reading this blog. I know some definitely have gone after getting in touch and have, so they've told me, even enjoyed themselves!

Over the last few weeks it's been interesting to see a number of non-league clubs experimenting with 'Pay What You Want' deals. Sutton United got a whopping crowd of over 2,000 and other Conference South clubs Bath City and Gosport Borough both exceeded 1,000 which were well over double or nearly triple their normal attendance.

On Saturday it was the turn of Isthmian League club Wingate & Finchley. They are a much smaller club than three mentioned above so the crowd of 203 for the visit of AFC Hornchurch doesn't look that special but it was still about 30% up on their normal gate so should very much be seen as a success. Please let me know if your club are running a similar promotion and I will gladly help promote it.

Talking of big crowds, it was also noticeable how the Isthmian League top-two duel between Wealdstone and Dulwich Hamlet drew a bumper attendance of 1,151 without any special ticket incentive (although the Stones do allow all Premier League and Football League season-ticket holders in for half price at every game). The teams played out a 2-2 draw in what reports say was the Ruislip-based club's biggest league attendance since 1988. Hats off to all involved.

Lastly this week, you may have noticed another new tab has appeared at the top of the page. 'A bit further afield' gives some basic information on Premier League and Football League clubs which are within easy reach of London in case you want an excursion or can't find any games in the capital to fit your schedule. Here's a map of where such teams are located.

View A bit further afield in a larger map

Don't forget, you can get all the latest ticket information for our local clubs on the 'Match Ticket Info' page and there's also news about some availability for one of the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

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.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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

Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.

There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next week so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, in case of bad weather, 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).

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 31 March - 6 April 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.

1. Chelsea v Stoke City - the Blues suffered a shock defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday which re-opened the title race again. Midtable Stoke are enjoying a good run at the moment and beat Jose Mourinho's side in the reverse fixture back in December. It could be another tricky afternoon for the Special One.  (Premier League, Saturday 5 April, 530pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Liverpool - we've got another very similar looking match-up over at Upton Park the day after. The Hammers start as underdogs and will probably lose given Liverpool's fine form and great football. To stand any chance, West Ham's fans will have to get right behind their team and stop the booing that has marred even recent victories. (Premier League, Sunday 6 April, 4pm Ticket info)

3. Charlton Athletic v Reading - a game of great importance at either end of the table. Only goal difference is currently keeping the Addicks out of the relegation zone while Reading are clinging on to the final play-off place. Given the Royals' close proximity to London, there will also be a bit of a derby feel to this game.  (Championship, Saturday 5 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Brentford v Notts County - it's been a disappointing week for the Bees. Although they've maintained second place in League One, they only managed to collect one point from their trips to Rotherham and Oldham. Consequently Wolves have moved six points clear at the top but Leyton Orient have fallen four points behind after their four-game winless wobble. Notts County are next to visit and need the points just as badly but to avoid the drop. They arrive on the back of three straight wins so could be dangerous. (League One, Saturday 5 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. AFC Wimbledon v Bristol Rovers - the Dons had a slim chance of making the play-offs but with only one win in seven, avoiding relegation is now more of a priority. Although eight points above the bottom two and under no immediate threat, they could get drawn in if they lose games like this one. Rovers are down in 20th but are only two points behind so it's important that they're beaten. (League Two, Saturday 5 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Dartford v Luton Town - the Darts looked like certs for relegation earlier in the season but turned things round. They then lost two crucial games to fellow strugglers and things looked gloomy again. However, another three-game unbeaten run has seen them catch up again and if they win this game in hand they'll climb out of the bottom four. Sadly it's against top club Luton who have all but won the title already. A big crowd is expected and the match, unusually for a non-league game, has been made all-ticket so tickets must be purchased in advance. (Tuesday 1 April, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. Sutton United v Havant & Waterlooville - if Sutton had won and not drawn their last three then they'd be top of the Conference South right now. As it is they are still third, six points off top spot. With the clubs above them far from invincible though, they shouldn't give up hope of automatic promotion just yet. This match pits them against a team who will also almost certainly join them in the play-offs so it should be close. (Conference South, Thursday 3 April, 745pm. Ticket info)

8. VCD Athletic v Witham Town - there are no standout games in the Isthmian Premier this week but in the division below we've got a top-two clash to look forward to. VCD have been the surprise package of the season having come up from the Kent League. They've pretty much topped the table from day one and are still there. Witham, however, have kept up with the pace and will go top if they win here. In fact the roles could well be reversed by the time this game kicks off as both have midweek games beforehand. (Isthmian League Division 1 North, Saturday 5 April, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Tower Hamlets v Great Wakering Rovers - we've got another top-two battle in the Essex Senior League. It's been a busy week for Hamlets who played three times and picked up seven points. Such results have left them five points behind the top club. Rovers have been in devastating form of late, winning their last five and scoring 23 goals in the process. The hosts really must win to keep their title hopes alive. (Essex Senior League, Saturday 5 April, 3pm. Club info)

10. Epsom & Ewell v Camberley Town - over in the Combined Counties League it's third versus second. The top four in this division seem to have remained largely unchanged for months. With games running out it appears top club South Park will not be caught leaving these two to fight it out for the runners-up spot. Epsom are in better form but lost the reverse fixture 2-0 back in August. (Combined Counties League Premier Division, Saturday 5 April, 3pm. Club info)

UPDATE (05/04/14): Metropolitan Police v Wealdstone - midweek results mean this game could see Wealdstone clinch the Isthmian League title. The crown has seemingly been theirs to win for months and as they've played and won their games in hand, their lead has become almost insurmountable. A win today will only guarantee the title and promotion to the Conference South if AFC Hornchurch and Bognor Regis Town both lose. Even if this doesn't happen, it will surely only be delaying the inevitable. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 5 April, 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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