Sunday, 27 July 2014

TLFG: 28 July-3 August 2014

Greetings sports fans and welcome to TLFG.

Pre-season is now well under way and this week sees three of our local top-flight sides return to the capital to play a varying quality of opposition.

It's also the opening weekend of the Combined Counties League as competitive football also makes its return.

I'm not sure I'm going to get to see a game until the opening day of the Premier League in about three weeks time when I've managed to get a ticket for QPR's season opener against Hull City.

Having decided to forego a season ticket this year, I only went for membership and feared I might miss out in the scramble for tickets as the Premier League brings loads more fans to games.

Luckily my friends and I were on the ball and got in quick for game one and got some fairly easily for a very decent price of £30 (including a members' discount of £5). Given the negative ticket pricing stories emanating from QPR in recent years, I was pleasantly surprised by this.

Not long now!

Here's hoping the game is a lot better than our last two first-day matches in the Premier League - both ended in heavy home defeats to Bolton and Swansea, sides like Hull, who we would've thought we'd have had a chance against.

The rest of my week has been spent continuing to work towards Non-League Day on 6 September.

My main task has been putting the match map together. If you consider that compiling the weekly one I do for this blog takes about four hours, then doing one which covers the whole country is a mammoth task but one I find ultimately very satisfying. It is afterall, the key feature of NLD's website.

Said website will hopefully launch in the next few days and then we'll be into the final phase when things start to get really interesting...

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 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures


View London match map 28 July-3 August 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. The Emirates Cup - Arsenal have been hosting four team pre-season tournaments on and off since the Makita International Tournament in 1991. In 2007 the popular Emirates Cup we have today got under way and has been contested every year since (bar 2012 because of the Olympics). This year's challengers to the Gunners are Benfica, Monaco and Valencia. There are two games a day over the weekend. As it stands, the Sunday has sold out and only a few are left for Saturday when it's Valencia v Monaco and Arsenal v Benfica.  (Saturday & Sunday 2-3 August from 2pm. Ticket info)

2. Brentford v Crystal Palace - the Bees have made a cracking start to pre-season with three consecutive wins over increasingly tougher opposition, scoring 11 goals in the process. On Tuesday they welcome Spanish club Osasuna before this London derby against the Eagles on Saturday. Tony Pulis guided Palace to a solid midtable finish in the Premier League last season and should be hard to beat again. I expect this to be quite a decent game and tickets are available from just £8. (Saturday 2 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Leyton Orient v Queens Park Rangers - this really should also have been a Championship v Premier League London derby but the O's blew a 2-0 half-time lead in the League One play-off final in May to miss out on promotion. Instead we've still got an attractive battle of east versus west on Tuesday night. Russel Slade's side are unbeaten in their three games so far while QPR have enjoyed one win and one defeat from a trip to Germany. This is a first-team game for the Premier League side but given they're also playing at Southend 24 hours later, there's likely to be a fair amount of squad rotation going on. (Tuesday 29 July, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Watford v Udinese - the fact that both clubs are owned by the Pozzo family is probably the main reason why this fixture has been arranged. It pits the Championship Hornets against the team from Italy's Serie A. Watford have crammed in seven games since the start of the month and are unbeaten but the Bianconeri are the highest calibre opponents they will have faced. The most notable thing about this match is that it's only £3 to get in with all profits going to charity. (Saturday 2 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Millwall v Real Mallorca - I can't think of many better ways to begin a weekend of football watching than a night in balmy Bermondsey watching the Lions take on former Copa del Rey winners Real Mallorca. Ian Holloway's side finished only four points above the relegation zone last season whilst the Los Bermellones avoided the drop into Spain's third tier by just one point as they also had a season to forget. Tickets are available at a flat price of £10. (Friday 1 August, 745pm. Ticket info)

6. Barnet v Wycombe Wanderers - these two looked almost certain to be playing each other in the Conference this season. Wycombe began the final day of the League Two campaign in the relegation zone, three points adrift of safety.However, they pulled off a 3-0 win at bottom club Torquay while Bristol Rovers lost 1-0 at Mansfield to go down in their place on goal difference. Although Barnet didn't struggle to stay up last season, they did miss out on promotion by a comfortable margin. They've also suffered some bruising defeats in pre-season, most recently a 5-1 drubbing by Brentford at home on Tuesday. This game could be quite tight. (Saturday 2 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Sutton United v Cambridge United - the hosts' pre-season campaign comes to a close with this game against League Two club Cambridge United. Paul Doswell's side have experienced a mixed bag of results over the last few weeks with three wins, a draw and two defeats. On Saturday they recorded a tidy 1-0 win at Isthmian League title contenders Maidstone United and next face Conference club Aldershot in another testing game. Cambridge have packed in seven games over the last two weeks suffering only one defeat to Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk so they should prove to be challenging opponents. (Saturday 2 August, 3pm. Club info)

8. Kingstonian v Dover Athletic - the K's had a fine season last time out, finishing second in the Isthmian League. Sadly they came unstuck in the play-offs, a result which saw long-serving manager Alan Dowson resign. Despite this disappointment, Kingstonian are fancied to do well again this year and are seen as London's best hope of winning the title. Dover are back in the Conference Premier after some fine late-season form guided them through the Conference South play-offs. The Whites should provide a good yardstick for the K's to measure themselves against as they also won the Isthmian League five years ago. (Saturday 2 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Thurrock v Ebbsfleet United - in the division below Kingstonian, Thurrock are seen as being the best that the Greater London area has to offer. Ebbsfleet who play just across the Thames in Kent have been installed as Conference South title favourites so in essence we have two teams who should be in positive spirits preparing for what I think is fair to call a derby. Although two divisions currently separate them, they were both Conference South clubs in 2010/11. Both games that season ended in a draw. (Tuesday 29 July, 745pm. Club info)

10. Greenwich Borough v Dartford - last up this week we have this groundshare derby. Southern Counties East League side Greenwich play four divisions below Dartford but began an eye-catching groundshare at the Conference Premier club's fine Princes Park last season. This was primarily due to some wealthy new owners taking over at Borough. This summer they have made further headlines by signing former Brentford and Millwall striker Gary Alexander whilst they also failed in an attempt to bring in former Dutch star Edgar Davids. The Darts only avoided relegation last season courtesy of a reprieve so perhaps they'll have to watch their backs!  (Sunday 3 August, 1pm. 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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