Sunday, 27 April 2014

TLFG: 28 April - 4 May 2014

Hi there and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

I'm writing this from deep in the West Country on the Somerset/Devon border. I'm visiting relatives and being at a fairly remote location and being without a car I've not been able to see any football.

Instead I joined my Dad at a local stamp auction on Saturday - quite an experience and a great intro to the world of hardcore philately. He parted with over £400 to boost his Caymen Islands collection with four or five purchases in a what seemed like a matter of seconds. Hundreds of thousands must have changed hands over the course of the afternoon in what was a very provincial location. Stamp collectors don't have the coolest reputation but they're probably all multimillionaires!

Today wasn't quite as eye-opening but I did manage a 5km run up and down the challenging country lanes in this area. If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm trying to run 1,000km this year which isn't that much but is hard to squeeze in when you have a tight schedule.

Enough about my thrilling life, it's been another big week for London clubs. Although nothing's been decided in the Premier League yet, QPR have secured fourth spot and home advantage in the second leg of the Championship play-off semi-finals. There are also play-off spots in the Conference South for Sutton United and Bromley while Kingstonian and AFC Hornchurch will face each other in the Isthmian League Premier Division play-offs. VCD Athletic won the Isthmian League Division 1 North title and Sun Postal Sports also clinched the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 title so congratulations to them.

Elsewhere in the Isthmian League it wasn't all good news for London clubs. In the Premier Division, all four relegation places were filled by some of our local clubs. Cray Wanderers and Carshalton Athletic went a little while back but Thamesmead Town and Wingate & Finchley had a chance to survive going into the final day. They both managed fine victories but so did Enfield Town and East Thurrock United who were just above them. Thamesmead's chances were always slim but Wingate put on their performance of the season to beat Billericay 5-0 but still got relegated on goal difference. Truly gutting for all involved. In the division below, Waltham Forest and Erith & Belvedere both finished in the bottom three so they'll be off to pastures new next season.

This week's fixtures are greatly reduced in number given the end of several leagues' seasons but that means the games that are on are likely to be quite significant. There's also the chance of doing a groundhop double on Saturday thanks to the Middlesex FA pushing back their Senior Cup final by an hour to 4pm to allow people specifically from the early kick-off at Watford v Huddersfield to attend. You could also make it over to Wealdstone's ground for the game if you're going to Millwall v Bournemouth and at a push you might even be able to make it from West Ham v Spurs. As a result of engineering work on the Tube, the Central Line won't be serving Ruislip Gardens so make sure you take the Metropolitan or Piccadilly lines to Ruislip if you plan to travel to this game by Underground.

That's it from me. Don't forget, you can get all the latest ticket information for our local clubs and other big games taking place in the capital on the 'Match Ticket Info' page .

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.

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.


LATEST TICKET NEWS
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.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 40 matches in the London area over the next seven days 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).

MATCH MAP 28 APRIL-4 MAY
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 28 April - 4 May 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. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Chelsea v Atletico Madrid -  matches don't get much bigger than a Champions League semi-final second leg. Jose Mourinho, as usual, played a good tactical game in Spain in the first leg and earned a useful 0-0 draw. However, without an away goal, this match is about as wide open as it can get. The Blues are set to be missing several key players with injuries and suspension but still have a great chance of making it to Lisbon for the final. (Champions League, Wednesday 30 April, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - on Saturday we've got a nice juicy London derby to look forward to. The Hammers have lost four in a row meaning defeat in this could leave them only two points above the relegation zone with one game to go. Spurs, on the other hand, could mathematically (at the time of writing) still finish in the top four but pipping Everton for fifth is a more realistic target. Plenty to play for. (Premier League, Saturday 3 May, 1245pm. Ticket info)

3. Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion - if Spurs are to break into the top four then big rivals Arsenal will need to slip up quite spectacularly in their remaining fixtures. They play midtable Newcastle on Monday and if they win then fourth spot will be theirs. If they don't then they could still be caught and a West Brom side still needing points to avoid the drop could be awkward opponents. (Premier League, Sunday 4 May, 130pm. Ticket info)

4. Charlton Athletic v Watford - this game on Tuesday night is pretty massive for the Addicks. If they win and Birmingham don't defeat play-off chasing Wigan then they will beat the drop and remain in the Championship for another season. In Watford they face a team who don't need the points but one they've only beaten once in their last 10 meetings. It could be a nervy night at The Valley. (Championship, Tuesday 29 April, 745pm. Ticket info)

5. Millwall v AFC Bournemouth - until Saturday afternoon it looked as if this match was going to be huge for both clubs. Sadly for the visitors, results went against them and the play-offs are now beyond them. The Lions got a useful point at QPR meaning that they'll start this game at least one point and one place above the bottom three. Therefore although they should go all out to win, a draw or even loss could still be enough to secure their place in the division. (Championship, Saturday 3 May, 1215pm. Ticket info)

6. Sutton United v Dover Athletic - outside the Football League it's play-off time in many leagues including the Conference South. Sutton booked their spot a while back but only secured second place ahead of Bromley on the final day of the season with a draw at Whitehawk. They now face Dover, over two legs, after the Kent side beat Hayes & Yeading to relegate them and squeeze Havant & Waterlooville out of the top five. The first leg takes place on Wednesday before the sides return to Gander Green Lane for the decisive second leg on Saturday. (Conference South play-off semi-final second leg, Saturday 3 May, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Bromley v Ebbsfleet United - as already mentioned, Bromley are in the other semi-final. The Lilywhites were miles ahead at one point of the season but imploded in March and let Eastleigh and Sutton catch up and pass them. Thankfully they've got this second chance and have returned to form with 10 points from their last four games. Ebbsfleet's form isn't quite as good but a thumping 4-0 win over bottom club Dorchester in their final game will raise morale ahead of these crucial games. (Conference South, Saturday 3 May, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Kingstonian v AFC Hornchurch - in the Isthmian League it's play-off semi-final time too. The difference in this league is that there's only one leg with the higher placed team getting home advantage - a good system if you ask me. The K's finished runners-up after drawing at Dulwich, denying the Champion Hill club a play-off place in front of a bumper crowd of 1,388. The Urchins claimed the all important fifth place after edging to a 1-0 win over Metropolitan Police. Both games during the regular season ended in draws so this could go all the way to penalties. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Wednesday 30 April, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Wealdstone v Hampton & Richmond Borough - it's almost two weeks since the Stones finally wrapped up the Isthmian League title and results have wavered a bit as they've taken their feet off the gas. With all their league commitments fulfilled, they have the Middlesex Senior Cup final to look forward to. Hampton have had an average season and with the match being played at Wealdstone's ground they will start very much as second favourites. However, this might well make them the hungrier of the two sides. They will also take heart from the fact that they won 3-1 on their last visit to Grosvenor Vale in December. (Middlesex Senior Cup final, Saturday 3 May, 4pm. Ticket info)

10. Fulham v Chelsea - right at the start of the week we've got the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final at Craven Cottage. This is a great chance to see some of the potential stars of the future in what is also a big west London derby. Tickets are only £5 for adults and will be available on the gate. (FA Youth Cup final final first leg, Monday 28 April, 745pm. Ticket 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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