Sunday, 9 November 2014

TLFG: 10-16 November 2014

When I put this together last week I cautioned that there might be a delay in getting this up as I might be away, well it never happened and I decided to stay here in Blighty.

I am a little disappointed but I took the decision that dragging a toddler and Mum around Europe watching football probably wasn't going to work and I chose to stay put.

One option I had strongly considered was a trip to Turkey to see a game - one of my long term football ambitions. I've been to the country several times but never seen one of the local sides in action.

Istanbul looked particularly tempting this weekend with Fenerbahce and Kasimpasa both at home and Istanbul BB hosting Besiktas in a derby - all three games were nicely spread over the weekend so I could have seen them all. But how to get tickets? Usually info was quite easy to come by but this year it strangely wasn't.

Then I discovered this thing called passolig - in essence, a new fan card which every supporter has to have in order to get into games. You simply by your ticket online or in a participating shop and it gets loaded on to your card and it's scanned on arrival. Apparently it's all fairly easy, even for tourists.

However, the locals don't like it one bit. They feel spied on and there are other political objections which make the whole thing even more murky. As a result, fan groups are boycotting games so I felt uncomfortable about getting involved and decided not to go.

I also considered going to Ankara and seeing a lower division match where such a scheme isn't in place but in the end lethargy got the better of me.

One day it will happen...

Aside from that, I'd like to give a special mention to Bromley and Dartford who put on a great show in the FA Cup first round on Saturday. I picked it as one of the ties of the round, unlike London's very own Evening Standard newspaper which studiously ignores non-league football as much as possible, and it didn't disappoint. Congratulations to the Darts who edged to a thrilling 4-3 win in front of over 4,000 fans - the seventh highest first-round crowd nationwide.

It's also international week in London which means no Premier League or Championship football. To make up for it, not only do we have England in Euro 2016 action but also two very interesting friendlies between Argentina and Croatia and USA and Colombia. There's also a great selection of non-league games too so there's plenty to choose from.

One last point - Google Maps migrated to a new system this week so the match map below might look a bit different and not work quite as well. I prefer the old set-up but sadly I have no choice and this new one should suffice.

Anyway, that's it from me. Enjoy your week and don't forget that 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 80 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
Claret pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures

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. England v Slovenia - as already mentioned, it's international week and topping the bill we have the Three Lions' latest Euro 2016 qualifier at Wembley. So far it's gone really rather well for Roy Hodgson's side as they've won all three of their previous Group E matches. Next up are Slovenia who are currently second in the group after wins over Switzerland and Lithuania. The sides have only met twice before with England winning both but only by a one-goal margin so it should be close. (Euro 2016 qualifier, Saturday 15 November, 5pm. Ticket info)

2. Argentina v Croatia - very little seems to have been made of the fact that two of the world's best teams are playing at West Ham's Boleyn Ground on Wednesday night - I found out about it almost by accident. The last I heard, Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was in La Albiceleste's squad so with tickets starting at £25 it could be well worth a watch. Their head-to-head record from three games is one win each and a draw. (International friendly, Wednesday 12 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

3. USA v Colombia - London's mini World Cup also includes this intriguing match-up on Friday at Craven Cottage. Both sides had a better time in Brazil than many had predicted, playing some gutsy and attractive football. The star names are mainly in the South Americans' squad and if fit, we should get to see the likes of Radamel Falcao (unlikely) and James Rodriguez. Apparently tickets are selling well and at £20 I'm not surprised. (International friendly, Friday 14 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. AFC Wimbledon v Dagenham & Redbridge - all that international football means there's no action in the top two tiers of the domestic game so next up we have this London derby in League Two. These two have met six times over the last three seasons and it's the Dons who hold the upper hand, having only lost once. That was, however, the last time they played back in January. Wimbledon are having a better season than the Daggers thus far but both have only won one of their last five league games. I can't see the hosts losing. (League Two, Saturday 15 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Dartford v Welling United - after their thrilling FA Cup win over Bromley on Saturday, the Darts are thrown straight back into action on Tuesday night with this crucial league match against fellow strugglers and massive local rivals Welling. For some reason, the Conference decided to schedule both league matches between these two before Christmas and in midweek which is weird to say the least. The last one, at the end of September, produced an entertaining 2-2 draw and I hope we'll get an equally good game here. (Conference Premier, Tuesday 11 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

6. Boreham Wood v Maidenhead United - the Wood moved to the top of the Conference South on Saturday after stealing a dramatic late win over Wealdstone in their derby match. Just two days later they host Maidenhead who are pushing for a play-off spot themselves after a five-game unbeaten run. The most notable thing about the visitors so far this season has been their ability to field striker DJ Campbell who was the second highest English goalscorer, after Wayne Rooney, in the Premier League in the 2010-11 season when he played for Blackpool. Injury and involvement in a match-fixing scandal (he has since been fully exonerated) have derailed things for him of late but hopefully he'll bounce back soon. (Conference South, Monday 10 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. Metropolitan Police v Dulwich Hamlet - there seems to be an FA competition taking place every weekend at the moment and this Saturday we've got the FA Trophy. The draw has produced this interesting looking tie between the sides currently ranked sixth and fifth in the Isthmian League. The Met have become a decent side since their promotion in 2011 and have enjoyed good league and cup performances which is impressive given their fairly low average attendance of 195. Dulwich on the other hand are one of the fastest growing clubs in the capital with their crowds up nearly 40% on last season to nearly 1,000. They met in the league three weeks ago and ground out a 0-0 draw. (FA Trophy second qualifying round, Saturday 15 November, 3pm. Club info)

8. Thurrock v AFC Hornchurch - it's derby time in the Isthmian League Cup on Tuesday as these Essex rivals meet at Ship Lane. It's been a turbulent few seasons for these two with two relegations for Thurrock and one promotion and a relegation for the Urchins. Both look set for more upheaval this year with Mark Stimson's side among the frontrunners in the Isthmian League Division 1 North and Hornchurch bottom of the Premier Division. Despite being in different divisions, only three places separate them so there's little in it. (Isthmian League Cup second round, Tuesday 11 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Barking v FC Romania - east London club Barking are one of the first sides I can remember seeing play when I started to watch Harrow Borough in the late '80s. Indeed, the town have had a team in place in one form or other since 1880 so are one of the oldest in the area. Following the death of their chairman in 2006, the club had to start again in the Essex Senior League where they sit third in the table today. On Wednesday they welcome relative non-league newcomers FC Romania who are making rapid strides up the pyramid since their formation from scratch in 2006. Made up primarily of Romanian migrants they play good technical football and are second in the league. (Essex Senior League, Wednesday 12 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

10. AFC Croydon Athletic v Banstead Athletic - another two sides to have experienced more despair than joy in recent years meet on Saturday. The Rams rose as high as the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2010/11 but the whole Mazhar Majeed affair led to their club falling apart and eventually going out of existence midway through the following season. The fans reformed the club and entered it in the Combined Counties League some three divisions below. They had to groundshare at local rivals Croydon during their first season but have now moved back to their old home in Thornton Heath for this campaign where it's going quite well. At present they are fourth, just two points behind leaders Banstead who they play here. (Combined Counties League Division 1, Saturday 15 November, 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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