Sunday, 25 January 2015

TLFG: 26 January - 1 February 2015

Is it that time again? It's amazing how a week can go so quickly.

How has it been for you? For me, not much happened until Friday when we held our first informal Non-League Day 2015 planning meeting.

A few interesting things came up and the day has the potential, once again, to grow even more. Our German and Swiss counterparts have already got their date announced and website up and running with their joint event 'Lokalrunde' being held over the weekend of 5/6 September. If you fancy trying some some non-league football over there then put the dates in your diary now - I have.

We've pretty much chosen our date too but have a couple of things to double check before we can officially announce it.

Dagenham & Redbridge is the place to be for cheap tickets this week
With that out of the way I faced a dilemma on Saturday. Since I began this blog I have become a father. My ideal Saturday starts with a parkrun in the morning and continues with a football match in the afternoon.

Since the arrival of my daughter I feel very lucky and guilty if I get to do both and now pretty much have to make a choice. If QPR are playing at home then it's easier as the ground is pretty much at the end of my road so attending only takes up about two hours which I can usually get away with. 

However, it has now been decreed that I can do both IF I take my daughter with me. 

It was a tantalising prospect so I put the feelers out on Friday night asking fellow fans where they recommended for the buggy users amongst us. 

I got some very helpful suggestions but some were immediately ruled out. I don't drive and travel by train to most places so step-free access was an issue for some destinations.

Others were also thought better of because the games were too big and the compact grounds likely to be too busy.

The strongest contender was ultimately Fisher, in the Southern Counties East League, whose chairman was swift to invite me to their game against Croydon. They groundshare with Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill - a ground easily reached by public transport with good access all the way along the route. I was even told by another fan that nappy changing could be undertaken in the boardroom!

Ultimately it proved to be just a fact-finding exercise as the timings went out the window - one of the challenges of having a small child. We ended up spending our afternoon at Battersea Park Children's Zoo instead.

Thanks again to all those that did respond and hopefully we'll start getting out and about to football soon.

Oh yes, just in case you were wondering, I did get to complete the parkrun part of my ideal day (my local event at Wormwood Scrubs). Next Saturday I hope to do the new one in South Oxhey near Watford. Give it a go if you're in the area or even if you're not.

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
White 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. Chelsea v Manchester City - it didn't take much to decide what should be match of the week. Quite simply these are the top two teams in the country right now, although you wouldn't have thought it on Saturday as both bowed out of the FA Cup at home to lower division opposition. This will be different, though. No players will be rested, no chances will be taken. The Blues were having a mini blip in the league at the start of the month which saw City catch them but now it's the Mancunians who are slipping up. The gap is currently five points so City really can't afford to lose. If fit and selected, this will also mark Chelsea legend Frank Lampard's return to Stamford Bridge with an opposing team. He famously scored a late equaliser in the reverse fixture back in September. (Premier League, Saturday 31 January, 530pm. Ticket info)

2. Brentford v Middlesbrough - we've got a mouthwatering clash in the Championship too as a couple of title contenders duel for top spot. The table is so tight at the moment, that anyone of the top five could be leading the pack come tea-time on Saturday. With the Bees being freshly promoted and Boro finishing 12th last season, both sides have come a bit from nowhere which is always pleasing to see. The Teesiders are of course former members of the Premier League so their challenge isn't a great shock but Brentford are a big surprise. They are one of the smallest clubs in the division and have rarely competed at this level so when they lost 4-0 at the Riverside earlier in the campaign, no-one would've expected them to regroup and keep up their amazing form. That said, Boro are a bogey team for the Bees who are winless against them since 1964. (Championship, Saturday 31 January, 1215pm. Ticket info)

3. Leyton Orient v Scunthorpe United - by the time you read this you might struggle to get a ticket for both of the above but that won't be a problem here. That's not to say this isn't a significant game, far from it. The O's have had a turbulent season and are currently languishing in League One's dreaded bottom four but they'll almost certainly move out of it if they beat fellow strugglers Scunthorpe who are just three points ahead. The Iron, however, are doing pretty well following the appointment of former Man Utd player Mark Robins as manager in October. With only three defeats in their last 17 games they will be tough to beat. They have, however, lost their last two so it could be a good time to play them. (League One, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Dagenham & Redbridge v Cheltenham Town - the Daggers didn't play on Saturday and duly remained in the League Two relegation zone. The Essex club have been flirting with a return to non-league football for a year or two now and they'll really need to get a good result here to keep spirits up. Cheltenham are actually in worse form than Dagenham, with only one win in 12, so should represent one of the softest targets they've been presented with for a while. It's also 'Daggers Against Racism Day' so ticket prices have been cut - standing will cost you just £2.50. However, you must buy in advance to get these prices. (League Two, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Dartford v Bristol Rovers - I'm still pinching myself that a club of the Pirates' stature are plying their trade in non-league football this season. The West Country club, in terms of attendance, are the giants of the Conference with average crowds of over 6,000 which is nearly double what nearest rivals Grimsby Town and Wrexham get. Despite their huge following, they aren't running away with the league. They actually had a bit of a shaky start but are now up in third and a shoe-in for a play-off spot at least. Dartford are almost the exact opposite - with only 1,000 fans attending games and only five wins under their belt, they are third from bottom. Dartford gave a decent account of themselves when they last met in October, narrowly losing 1-0 and they'll have to be at their best to avoid defeat here. (Conference National, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Bromley v Havant & Waterlooville - the Ravens have had a great campaign but suffered a bit of a dip in form recently as they took only one point from three games. On Saturday they got back on track with a morale boosting 2-1 win at promotion rivals Basingstoke Town to stay second. This Saturday they face another big challenge in the form of third placed H&W. The Hawks are only three points behind and ready to try and avenge the home defeat they suffered on the opening day of the season. Both sides have two games in hand on leaders Boreham Wood, so wins will put both in a strong position to challenge for the title. (Conference South, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Harrow Borough v Wingate & Finchley - as has been well documented, I like Harrow so find it hard to see them struggling. Manager Dave Anderson announced his resignation nearly two weeks ago but decided to stay on until a replacement was found. On Saturday they narrowly lost again at Grays as the gloom continued. This morning, however, his successor was finally announced - Steve Baker who was in charge at Chipstead. His first match is likely to be this one against neighbours W&F. Wingate have been superb this season and are another fine example to Harrow of how well a club with a small fanbase and limited resources can do. With five wins from their last six, they find themselves well in contention for a place in the Conference South, something that a club averaging crowds of 136 shouldn't be able to do. They are also in possession of the division's top scorer David Knight so he should be worth taking a look at too.  (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Club info)

8. Tooting & Mitcham United v Burgess Hill Town - the Terrors haven't really lived up to their nickname this season, coasting along comfortably in midtable where they will probably finish. You get the sense that with their fine facilities, if they got everything in place they could do something really impressive a bit like arch rivals Dulwich Hamlet (dare I say it). That all seems a long way off at the moment though, with the main reason for you going to see this game being the visitors. Sussex club Burgess Hill are, in terms of form, one of the best in country at any level. With 27 league games played this season, they are unbeaten. They are only three points clear at the top of the Isthmian League Division 1 South but they have a whopping four games in hand on their two nearest rivals so it's looking pretty good for them. (Isthmian League Division 1 South, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Club info)

9. Barking v Clapton - if you fancy a good old East End derby then get yourself down to Mayesbrook Park for one of the games of the day in the Essex Senior League. Both these sides are enjoying good times at the moment, sitting nicely in the top five. The Blues are second so will start as favourites but a large and lively away following will make sure the Tons feel at home. The last match between them ended in a 0-0 draw and it's likely to be close again this time. (Essex Senior League, Saturday 31 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Phoenix Sports v Tunbridge Wells - it's almost three years since I last went to see Phoenix in action. They were in the Kent Invicta League in those days and hoping for big things. Here we are in 2015 and they look well capable of repeating the meteoric rise of neighbours VCD Athletic who have climbed all the way up to the Isthmian Premier. Still a couple of years away from that level, Phoenix are hot favourites to win the Southern Counties East League this season and move up again. They have also done superbly well to make it to the last 16 of the FA Vase, a tournament that Tunbridge Wells made it to the final of two seasons ago. Along they way they grew their fanbase considerably making them one of the biggest clubs in this division. It should make for a lively Wednesday evening. (Southern Counties East League, Wednesday 28 January, 745pm. 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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