Sunday 23 November 2014

TLFG: 24-30 November 2014

Hi there and welcome to TLFG.

We're almost a third of the way through the season already and I guess you can tell as the weather in London this week has been poor to say the least.

Quite a few non-league games have fallen by the wayside over the last few days and we could lose some more over the next 72 hours.

One of those was one I was seriously considering going to - the east London derby between Clapton and Ilford. Despite the best efforts of volunteers the pitch remained unplayable and the game was called off not long after 1pm.

The closest I came to a game on Saturday was Arsenal's match against Manchester United as I spent part of morning taking part in the 5km parkrun event in Finsbury Park which the Emirates Stadium casts its shadow over - well it would've done if it wasn't so grey and drizzly.

I've mentioned parkrun here several times before and, if you're a runner, I can't encourage you enough to take part. With 35 events taking place at 9am every Saturday morning all over the London area alone, there's no real reason not to especially when it's also free to enter. You don't even have to pre-register but you get more out of it if you do. So far I've got a free running shirt for completing 50 runs and also won a free pair of running shoes for being a regular runner and volunteer at my local event.

If, like me, you like to football groundhop then you'll also enjoy the 'racehopping' nature of parkrun - the ultimate Saturday for me is to combine the two with a run in the morning and match in the afternoon. Do it!

On the subject of groundhopping, Charlton's 1215pm kick-off against Ipswich on Saturday means you could combine it with a number of other games. Meridian VP are just down the road while public transport should just about be able to get you to Dulwich Hamlet, Thamesmead Town, Erith & Belvedere or Erith Town.

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 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
Purple pin - Thursday 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. Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund - the main game in town this week pits two of the biggest names in English and German football against each other. Both have won league titles and made the Champions League final over the 10 years but at the time of writing both are struggling. For the last two decades, a place in the Premier League's top four has been pretty much a given as far as the Gunners are concerned so the fact that they're currently eighth 15 points off top spot is almost unthinkable. With that in mind, Dortmund's current malaise is even more shocking. Given all their recent achievements, they find themselves in the Bundesliga's bottom three with only three wins from 12 games. However, they have been invincible in Group D of the Champions League so far where they've won all four games including a 2-0 win over Arsenal back in September. (Champions League, Wednesday 26 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Newcastle United - both these sides are probably suffering nosebleeds right now, so high are they in the table. After the iffy starts they made, with fans demanding the heads of Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew respectively, the fact they are now both in the top six is quite an achievement. Since getting into the top four after an impressive win over Manchester City, the Hammers have run into a wall and are now winless in three against average opposition. The Magpies, on the other hand, are the league's form team with five wins on the bounce. The Geordies also tend to do rather well at the Boleyn Ground with only three defeats in their last 10 visits. (Premier League, Saturday 29 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Queens Park Rangers v Leicester City - promoted from the Championship last season, it's no surprise that these two find themselves in the bottom three going into this one. QPR began badly but have improved greatly over the last month. Sadly for them that has coincided with fixtures against some of the best sides in the country so only four points have been picked up when it would probably have been a lot more so they're still bottom. The Foxes had a much better start but haven't won for over two months so are exactly the type of team QPR need to be playing right now. Whoever loses this game will almost certainly go down. (Premier League, Saturday 29 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town - England's second tier is incredibly tight at the moment with only nine points separating the top 12 teams. The Addicks and Tractor Boys find themselves in this elite group at the moment so there's plenty to play for. Charlton, although down in eighth, are the hardest team to beat in the division with only two defeats from 18 while Ipswich's five-game unbeaten run has seen them climb to fourth. A good game looks highly likely between these two former Premier League clubs. (Championship, Saturday 29 November, 1215pm. Ticket info)

5. Barnet v Macclesfield Town - there's very little floating my boat in the lower two divisions of the Football League so I recommend this Conference blockbuster instead. Both desperate to return to League Two, the Bees and Silkmen had made their way into the top four. Barnet extended their lead at the top to nine points on Saturday as they drew at third placed Woking while Macclesfield climbed to fourth with a win over Alfreton. The Cheshire club should be further boosted by the knowledge that they've won their last three against Barnet including the reverse fixture last month.  (Championship, Saturday 22 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Staines Town v Poole Town - it's FA Trophy time again this weekend and strangely there's only one tie taking place in the whole London area. The Swans have had a torrid time in the Conference South this season and would have lost 10 league games in a row on Saturday if they hadn't got a morale boosting 1-0 win over Bishop's Stortford. On Saturday they run into a team champing at the bit to replace them should they be relegated. Poole are currently top of the Southern League and have won their last seven in all competitions. The sides also met last season in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie. On that occasion Staines came out on top but only after a replay. (FA Trophy third qualifying round, Saturday 29 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Dulwich Hamlet v Kingstonian - much has been written about Dulwich over the last year as they have grown both on and off the pitch. Having won promotion from the Isthmian League Division 1 South they recorded a top-six finish in the Premier Division last season. This year they look set to repeat it being fifth at the present time. They are also the second best supported club behind only former Football League club Maidstone United. If they could become the kind of club Kingstonian were 15 years ago then I'm sure they'd be overjoyed. The K's, at that time, were a Conference club who enjoyed back-to-back FA Trophy wins at Wembley in front of thousands of fans. Since then things have gone backwards and, although they were runners-up last season, they've become a midtable Isthmian Premier side. This is still a south-London derby though and should produce a competitive game - it ended 1-1 at Kingsmeadow earlier in the season. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 29 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Erith & Belvedere v Phoenix Sports - these two both enjoyed fine away wins in the FA Vase on Saturday as they continued their great seasons. At the time of writing they fill the top two spots in the Southern Counties East League and with games in hand on the teams below them could well turn the title battle into a two-horse-race. On Saturday they continue their cup exploits but at a more local level as they meet in the second round of the Kent Senior Trophy. E&B are eight points ahead in the league but Phoenix have played three fewer games and are unbeaten. Who will win? It's too close to call. (Kent Senior Trophy second round, Saturday 29 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Windsor - the Tangerines had a season to forget last year as they slipped out of the Southern League following some dismal performances which saw them finish bottom. This year they are having to rebuild in the Combined Counties League and they're doing a good job sitting second at the present time. Given they have two games in hand on top club Cove, they've got a real title shot. On Tuesday night they welcome Windsor who are a top five club themselves so we could have a decent game on our hands. (Combined Counties League Premier Division, Tuesday 25 November, 745pm. Club info)

10. Banstead Athletic v Farleigh Rovers - in the division below we have a game between two of the current pacesetters. Farleigh are top and Banstead are fourth but there's only five points between them and the hosts have two games in hand. In fact when you factor in games in hand, the top four might all as well be on level points it's that close. The strange thing about this division is that some of its top clubs (Farleigh and Worcester Park) don't, to my knowledge, have the facilities to get promoted so it always surprises me when they do so well. (Combined Counties League Division 1, Saturday 29 November, 3pm. 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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