Sunday, 3 August 2014

TLFG: 4-10 August 2014

After all the weeks of pre-season, the real action is almost upon us.

On Saturday we saw the Combined Counties League get under way while this weekend everything bar the Premier League kicks-off. Exciting times.

There are still a few last-minute friendlies but it's mainly all about Saturday and those crucial opening fixtures.


As some TLFG readers have pointed out, if you're in London that day and you want to do a 'groundhop double' it can be done in north London thanks to the two White Hart Lane clubs hosting games with staggered kick offs.

"The two White Hart Lane clubs?" I hear you ask. "Surely there's only one?" Technically you'd be right but guess what, it's not Spurs. In fact the main club on White Hart Lane are actually non-league side Haringey Borough. Spurs' stadium is located off Tottenham High Road at the junction with White Hart Lane but they chose that name for some reason.

Anyway I digress. At 3pm Haringey open their Essex Senior League campaign against Clapton in what should be an entertaining fixture. Over the last year or so, Clapton's fan base has grown massively thanks largely to their raucous bunch of ultras who create quite an atmosphere at games.

When this finishes you should have time to stroll down White Hart Lane to watch Spurs play German club Schalke in a friendly which kicks off at 530pm. If you've got tickets for this already and didn't know about this other earlier game please seriously consider giving it a go - it can't be easy running a non-league club in the shadow of such illustrious neighbours and a few extra people through the turnstiles could make a massive difference. In fact, if only 1% of the crowd going to Spurs went to this, it would probably provide them with their biggest crowd of the season.


On the point of boosting non-league crowds, it's time to mention Non-League Day again. We're now less than five weeks away and there still seems so much to do.

The main event this week was the launch of our refreshed website. Its most important feature is the match finder which is almost complete - we're just waiting on the Sussex County League to announce their fixtures.

We've also got a new range of t-shirts. A percentage of sales of these will go to our official charity Prostate Cancer UK. Most of them are colour customisable so get buying or enter the competition to win one.

The other thing we really need help with is publicity so if you run a website or blog and can put one of our banners on it then I'd greatly appreciate it.

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 .

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 70 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).

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

View London match map 4-10 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.


1. FA Community Shield - the biggest game of the week sees the FA Cup and Premier League winners go head-to-head in the annual season curtainraiser at Wembley. That means this year's fixture will be between Arsenal and Manchester City which isn't a bad match-up by anyone's standards. Although this is technically little more than a friendly, the combatants always seem to take it pretty seriously and we've seen some decent games and goals in recent years. Such is the popularity and prestige of this game that it's already sold out so you're probably best to try and find a TV if you want to watch this one. (Sunday 10 August, 3pm. SOLD OUT)

2. Tottenham Hotspur v Schalke 04 - Spurs have made a very solid start to life under new boss Mauricio Pochettino winning three and drawing one of their pre-season games. Their latest outing on Saturday saw them crush Celtic 6-1 in Helsinki. German giants Schalke provide the opposition for their only home friendly. They came third in the Bundesliga last season and have been concentrating on playing English opponents so far this summer having beaten Stoke and drawn with West Ham. Today (Sunday) they play Newcastle too. Tickets are £20 for adults. (Saturday 9 August, 530pm. Ticket info)

3. Queens Park Rangers v PAOK - the build-up to QPR's return to the Premier League culminates in this friendly against one of the biggest teams in Greece. Rangers have been a bit underwhelming in pre-season but showed a few touches of class as they beat Shamrock Rovers 4-0 in Dublin on Saturday. After a slow start to the summer, it seems a number of transfers could be on the cards this week so hopefully a few will get a run out in this. PAOK have been even more ordinary over the last few weeks winning just one of their six friendlies. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. West Ham United v Sampdoria - it's Premier League versus Serie A in our last friendly of the week. I know they are only friendlies but the Hammers results over the last few weeks have been pretty poor. The only win they've had came on Saturday when they beat Schalke on penalties - a fine result given the game was in Germany too. Their Genoese opponents have been far more impressive, winning six of their eight games including a 16-0 victory against Bardonecchia who I presume must be an Italian non-league side or equivalent. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Brentford v Charlton Athletic - there's a strong argument to say that this should be match of the week as it's an actual live, fully competitive fixture and a London derby. After over 20 years away, Brentford are finally back in England's second tier so this is a massive day for the club. They've had a good pre-season and will fancy their chances against the Addicks who struggled last season and are among the favourites for relegation. Tickets are almost gone with the remaining ones only available to people with a purchasing history so it could be tough to get one. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Millwall v Leeds United - elsewhere in the Championship we've got a game that's already being seen by many as a relegation six-pointer. The Lions were poor on the pitch last season, while Leeds were rubbish off it and what goes on in the boardroom could undermine them again. However, what most people think when they see this fixture come up is who will win the battle of the fans. In the 2012/13 football arrests league table (the most recent one I've found) both finished in the top eight. When it came to banning orders they were both in the top five. When you consider most clubs at the top of the list are the biggest ones with the most fans, then it puts into context how significant the problem is at Millwall who average gates of just over 10,000. Definitely go if you want a match with a bit of atmosphere. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Leyton Orient v Chesterfield - the O's kick-off their League One campaign against last season's League Two champions Chesterfield. Having lost in last season's play-off final, the east London club will want to get off to a good start and justify the bookies' faith in them as being one of the main contenders for promotion. Expect this match to be tight - four of the last six meetings between the two have ended in draws. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. AFC Wimbledon v Shrewsbury Town - much has been made of the Dons' small budget so their continued survival in League Two is impressive. They came mighty close to dropping out of the Football League last season but stayed up and open this campaign against the Shrews who got relegated from League One. Rather than being predicted to struggle again, they are seen as being one of the most likely sides to mount a title challenge so should be worth a watch. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Dartford v Wrexham - it's not looking too good for London's Conference Premier clubs with Dartford and Welling seen by the bookmakers as the two worst sides in the division. The Darts got relegated last season but financial problems at other clubs saw them reprieved. Welling didn't do too badly but their budget is tiny compared to the likes of new giants of the division Bristol Rovers and the many other full-time clubs they compete against. Wrexham are another big club and are unsurprisingly fancied to do well. Get down to Princes Park to see if Dartford can prove the doubters wrong. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Wealdstone v Eastbourne Borough - after a pretty traumatic couple of decades, the Stones are back in the sixth tier of English football for the first time since 1992. After two years of failure in the Isthmian League play-offs, they won the title with relative ease last season to get back to a level which their fans will probably they feel they deserve to be at. As I've mentioned many times before, Wealdstone were the best team in non-league football nationwide for part of the '80s and although the landscape has changed massively since, they'll look to acquit themselves well at this level. They're not expected to be pushing for promotion this time round but I'm sure they'll make things difficult for several clubs. (Saturday 9 August, 3pm. 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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