Sunday 31 August 2014

TLFG: 1-7 September 2014

Hello there and welcome to this special edition of TLFG.

After 11 months of preparation we're almost there - Saturday is Non-League Day 2014.

When I tentatively set up the event back in the summer of 2010 as a bit of fun on Facebook, I never dreamed I'd be here getting ready for a fifth edition.

The 'chatter' on the interweb is certainly starting to hot up with lots of clubs coming out of the woodwork at the last moment with some great deals to tempt new fans through the gates.

If you didn't know, Non-League Day (NLD) always takes place on an international weekend when there's a break in the Premier League and Championship fixtures. This means there's a good chance to elevate the semi-professional and grassroots game into the limelight.

It's the final countdown!
There are League One and Two games on as well but in London there is only one at Dagenham & Redbridge so the clash is minimal.

Unsurprisingly, I'm going to devote the rest of this week's offering entirely to NLD and some of the offers and events that are taking place. There are a few matches happening before Saturday in various cups and leagues and they're all on the match map as usual but I won't be highlighting them.

Personally I'll be off to the Isthmian League match between Dulwich Hamlet and Hampton & Richmond Borough. More details of this can be found in the round-up towards the bottom of this piece but I think it's fair to say that this is effectively NLD's showpiece game in London for a whole host of reasons. Apart from anything else, it's the most centrally located match in the capital on Saturday and is really easy to get to with East Dulwich station just a couple of minutes walk from the ground.

It's all going on at Dulwich Hamlet
Don't forget, we (at NLD) still want to receive fan photos so if you're going to a game, heading off on holiday or just relaxing at home we'd love to get a picture of you in either one of our t-shirts or holding up one of these.

There's still plenty to do over the final few days but ultimately it's all about gaining publicity so make sure you tell your friends or if you've got your own website or blog and would like to support us by displaying one of our banners then I'd really appreciate it.

UPDATE (4 Sept) - earlier in the week Conference sponsors Vanarama joined the Non-League Day campaign by pledging to donate 10p to our charity partner Prostate Cancer UK for every person who attends a game in either the Conference Premier, Conference North or Conference South. Usually around 35,000-40,000 people turn up meaning they would donate around £4,000. This year they're targeting 50,000 - if they do achieve this then they'll double their contribution to £10,000. Clubs in our local area who are hosting games and are thus included in this charity drive are Barnet, Bromley, Staines Town and Sutton United. All except Barnet have got special offers and events lined up so if you live in those areas then please make an extra effort to attend.

Anyway, that's enough about what I've been up to. Remember to let me know what you've been up to and if you're interested in reviewing a ground within the London area for this blog then get in touch. Also keep the general correspondence coming, I enjoy answering your questions and offering advice if I can.

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

There are over 70 matches in the London area this week, with over 40 on NLD itself so there's every opportunity to take part.

As always, 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.

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

View London match map 1-7 September 2014 in a larger map

Next up is a list of clubs, in alphabetical order, where I know of special deals or events that are being offered on Non-League Day. This is not an exhaustive compilation as I know some clubs have plans but have yet to declare them so I will add more as the week goes along, make sure you check back for updates.

Over on the far east side of our catchment area, Aveley have brought forward their Isthmian League match against Heybridge Swifts to 1245pm meaning you will then just have enough time to make it down the road to Thurrock's ground where Romford host Tilbury in the same division. I'm unaware of any special deals on admission but it's a great chance to see two games in a day. UPDATE - Aveley are now offering half-price admission to season-ticket holders of other clubs. AVELEY INFO / ROMFORD INFO

Elsewhere in the same division Barkingside play Ware. This will be the first NLD that the hosts will have played at their new home in Ilford and to mark the day they are the only team I know of who are offering what amount to coulpes' tickets with two getting in for the price of one. This is another easy one to get to with Cricklefields being a short walk from Seven Kings station. CLUB INFO

Conference South club Bromley have enjoyed big crowds on NLD before and have a home match against Chelmsford City this year. This time they're laying on a Family Fun Day with bouncy castles, the chance to meet Disney characters, beat the goalie competitions and there's even a pre-match carvery for only £8. Apparently there's still more to be revealed so watch this space. UPDATE - season-ticket holders at Premier League and Football League clubs will get in for half price and don't forget this match is included in Vanarama's charity drive. CLUB INFO

The Robins take on Hythe in the Isthmian League Division 1 South and are hoping their special deal will appeal to fans more used to being at Premier League or Football League grounds. If you are a season-ticket holder at any of 'the 92' then you'll get in FOR FREE. Not only that but the Carshalton U11s will be put in charge of the club for the day as they take on roles including press officer, match day secretary and physio! DEAL INFO

The Chips are going one better by offering FREE ENTRY to season-ticket holders of any other club whether they play in the professional leagues or not. Three Bridges are the visitors for this Isthmian League Division 1 South game. It's worth checking out Chipstead because they're currently joint top of the league. DEAL INFO

In the Southern Counties East League, Cray Valley are offering a reduced admission price of £5 for season-ticket holders of other clubs and anyone presenting a copy of SEnine magazine. All U16s accompanied by a paying adult will also get in for free. There will also be a half-time penalty competition and a collection for MNDA and Macmillan. I'm told details will appear on their website this week. CLUB INFO

As far as I'm concerned this is the showpiece NLD game in London and it's where I intend to spend my afternoon. Dulwich have never had a home game on NLD and have always said they'd throw everything at it when they finally did. This year they've been given a match against Hampton & Richmond Borough and they haven't let us down. First and foremost they're running a Pay What You Want scheme so you could potentially get in for free but we know you're not that tight (£10 is the going rate for adults). Kick It Out are holding special events at four featured games across the country on NLD and this is one of them, giving the fixture further prestige. Dulwich also have one of the most multicultural bunch of supporters and consequently everyone is being encouraged to bring a flag of their country, wear fancy dress, put on face paint, bring banners or whatever else to brighten up the ground as they try to create a carnival atmosphere. After the match, the whole first-team squad will be subjected to the dreaded ice-bucket challenge on the pitch with supporters donating to charity for the chance to douse them. They're hoping all this will prove so tempting to so many that they'll break the club's attendance record of 1,835 - help them do it.  DEAL INFO

History is being made on Non-League Day as Edgware Town play their first home game since folding in 2008. They reformed in March with a new home at Silver Jubilee Park (former home of Kingsbury Town). It's not quite fit for duty yet so their first game is being held Underhill, Barnet's old ground. If you missed out on visiting this ground while the Bees called it home, now you've got another chance. Saturday's game is also a derby against London Lions in the Spartan South Midlands League. Prices have been reduced to £3 with various deals for kids. DEAL INFO

Hanwell were superb last season as they won the Spartan South Midlands League title. That success saw them promoted to the Southern League Division 1 Central where they've made a fantastic start, winning four of their opening six games to lie second ahead of this Saturday's match against perennial NLD supporters Rugby Town. Hanwell, like many other clubs, are offering reduced admission to season-ticket holders of Premier League and Championship teams. DEAL INFO

Possibly the deal of the day is to be found in north London where the currently all-conquering Haringey are throwing their doors open for FREE TO EVERYONE! I can't remember the precise figure but I think they've won something bonkers like 19 games on the trot stretching back to last season and are consequently joint top of the Essex Senior League. Based on White Hart Lane, just down the road from Tottenham Hotspur, they get much smaller crowds than they deserve. I recorded a piece for BT Sport at their Coles Park ground on Wednesday and they are really up for it so, especially if you're a Spurs fan, get on down there and reward them for their genorosity. Newham are their opponents and kick-off is at 3pm. DEAL INFO

Harrow are my favourite non-league team so I feel guilty that I won't be heading to Earlsmead this year but as MR NLD I have to spread myself around. After enjoying a very successful day last year, Boro have landed a game against Grays Athletic and are repeating their offer of half-price admission (£5) to Premier and Football League season-ticket holders and members. It's also £1 for unaccompanied U16s and free season tickets for U12s. I hope a lot of my fellow QPR fans will take them up on this offer. DEAL INFO

Another Isthmian League club hoping to tempt new fans through their turnstiles are the K's. Kingstonian among the favourites for promotion this season and they host Hendon who are also in the early hunt for the play-off places. There's a half price (£5) for season-ticket holders deal in place here too but it's open to fans of any team from any sport at any level! It's also free for U16s. To top it all, Phil Parry will be hosting BBC London 94.9's main Saturday afternoon football show live from Kingsmeadow as the station gets fully behind NLD. DEAL INFO

Another Southern League side to be taking part are Northwood who host Marlow. They're offering a discount but they've been a bit more inventive putting tickets on sale in local shops for just £2. If you live in the area take a stroll down 'Joel Street or Green Lane and you should see posters in the windows of shops'. All U16s will also get in FREE. DEAL INFO

It's better late than never from the Swans who join the NLD party late but it's with some superb offers. Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, QPR, Reading and Wycombe season-ticket holders will all get in for FREE. It's also FREE for service personnel, anyone in fancy dress and U16s. To top it all they're playing Maidenhead United in a big local derby. This game will be included in Vanarama's push to get 50,000 people through Conference turnstiles so just by turning up you'll be generating 10p for Prostate Cancer UK. DEAL INFO

The U's have always been big supporters of NLD and are backing us again as they host Concord Rangers in the Conference South. One of the biggest non-league clubs in south London, they are among the bookies' favourites to challenge for the title this season and you can get in for only £5 if you're a season-ticket holder at any Premier League or Football League club. As above this will be included in Vanarama's push for 50,000 fans. DEAL INFO

Another Isthmian League club to be getting in on the act are the Mead. They suffered relegation from the Premier Division last season but are among the early frontrunners in Division 1 North as they look to bounce back at the first attempt. On Saturday they host current leaders Needham Market who have won all of their first six fixtures. Throughout the season, Thamesmead are offering half-price admission (£4) to season-ticket holders at all 'local professional and semi-professional clubs'. Which clubs are covered and which ones aren't might need clarification before you travel but I'm sure they won't turn you away. CLUB INFO

The last club to confirm their deal for Non-League Day (I think), the Stags are entertaining Sittingbourne in the Isthmian League Division 1 South. Chaired by former Fulham player Tony Gale, all Cottagers season-ticket holders will get in FOR FREE. There will also be a special edition programme and 'expected ice bucket challenges'. CLUB INFO

Down on the far south of town there's another good deal to be had in the Isthmian League Division 1 South where the Leafe are offering FREE ENTRY to all season-ticket holders from Premier League and Football League clubs and also all U16s. Promotion chasing Kent club Whitstable Town are the opponents. This is another easy ground to get to with Whyteleafe South station a short walk away, although it is uphill. DEAL INFO

PLEASE NOTE - there are many other teams playing at home on Non-League Day who are competing in the FA Vase. Rules in this competition make it very hard for clubs to offer discounts on admission so please don't think that your local club isn't making an effort as they may be constrained in what they can do. It is also worth noting that lots of clubs who play in the FA Vase charge around £5 to get in anyway, whoever you are, so make sure you have a good look through the match map before you make your final decision. If you're not a season-ticket holder or member at another club and don't qualify for many of the discounts above, such a match could be your best option.

A special mention should be given to Fisher. They are playing in the FA Vase but will offer reduced admission of £5 to anyone who brings along a donation to the locally based Pecan Foodbank. This deal is happening because opponents Woodstock Sports have kindly agreed to allow Fisher to do this - gate receipts are shared between the sides in FA competitions so hats off to them. The match will be played on Sunday (because they groundshare with Dulwich) so hopefully they'll get a great attendance.

Well I think that's it, for now. I'm pretty confident one or two more clubs will come forward with something before Saturday so do check back as I said before. 

Finally, please do try and get to a non-league game this Saturday. Every individual who attends matches at this level makes a real difference and our game needs to be strong from top to bottom to survive and thrive. Thanks.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Anyone going to Fisher on Sunday...please note: It's an earlier ONE O'CLOCK kick off.