Sunday, 22 February 2015

TLFG: 23 February - 1 March 2015

After last week's rather abridged version, I'm happy to say normal service is resumed this time so thanks for sticking with me.

After a restful trip to Ireland, I returned to Blighty in time for the Non-League Day team's next meeting with the FA at Wembley.

If you missed it, we're trying to create a big non-league get-together at the country's national stadium on Sunday 29 March for the FA Trophy Final - effectively the non-league cup final.

It coincides with the next international break and with it being on the Sunday, aside from a match at Fleetwood Town up near Blackpool, there won't be any Premier League or Football League action alongside it. Also, there will be virtually nothing happening lower down the pyramid either so I heartily invite you to join us in north-west London that afternoon.

The record crowd since the competition began in 1969 is 53,262 which was achieved back in 2007 shortly after the 'new' Wembley opened. It'll be a huge challenge to beat it and officially we're not trying to but to get close would be special and send out a strong message to the wider football community.

If you buy before the 4 March then you will qualify for early bird prices of:

Adults: £20
Senior citizens/Students: £10
U16s: £7.50

If you buy 15 or more tickets then you'll qualify for group rates (there is no deadline for this):

Adults: £15
Senior citizens/Students: £10
U16s: £5

Personally I think these are very fair prices, given it's a Wembley cup final. If you're visiting London and want to see a game at one of the best and most famous football stadiums in the world then you won't get a much better chance than this.

Saturday saw the playing of the semi-final first legs so we still don't know who will be entertaining you yet. We do know, however, that it will be Bath City/North Ferriby United v Wrexham/Torquay United.


Aside from this I did manage to grab a bit of live football action too. 

Regular readers will know that I face a bit of a Dad dilemma on Saturdays. My perfect day sees me take part in a parkrun in the morning and go to a match in the afternoon.

Recently it's becoming the case that I have to choose as childcare commitments have come into play.

This weekend I tried out the fine Burgess parkrun in Camberwell, posting one of my best times for months in the process. I then ran back to Shepherd's Bush to give some company to a friend who is training for the Stockholm Marathon.

With my wife having already shifted a hair appointment in order for me to do this, my match-watching hopes were pretty slim.

Then it came to me that Middlesex County Football League games often happen at weird and wonderful locations not too far from where I live but getting the details can be tricky.

After a bit of research I found that there was indeed a game taking place in the plush surrounds of Holland Park.

Said park lies within Kensington & Chelsea, the most expensive borough to buy property in throughout the UK - the average price is around £2m. 

It was quite weird pushing my daughter's buggy over a muddy playing field overlooked by multi-million pound houses to watch her first ever live match but here we found ourselves.

MCFL action on probably the most valuable sloping pitch in the world 
On offer was a game between the all-Japanese side J-Gaia and east Londoners Mile End Park Rangers in a Division One (Central & East) game. After a bit of arithmetic, I calculated that this was a Step 8 or 12th tier fixture.

With many far more senior sides in the London area calling off their matches because of waterlogged pitches, it was a miracle that this game had survived but it had and the two teams battled gamely in the boggy conditions.

With half-time looming, my two-year-old had seen enough and covered in mud herself after a game involving a stick, puddle and lots of stamping we decided to head off. It was 0-0 at this point but it hadn't been dull. Eventually J-Gaia prevailed 2-0.

The Middlesex County Football League always seems to throw up some decent games and is often free to watch. If you're a hopeless football addict or hardened groundhopper then see what's on near you, there might be a side on your doorstep. 

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
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 Tottenham Hotspur - this weekend it's League Cup Final time. The first big trophy of the season is up for grabs at Wembley and it's between two big London clubs. After Arsenal, Spurs' biggest rivals are probably Chelsea so the atmosphere should be great. This will also be a repeat of the 2008 final where the north London side, managed by Juande Ramos, came from behind to cause an upset and win 2-1 after extra-time. Once again, Chelsea will start as big favourites but neither will be travelling to the national stadium on the back of good results so it could go the distance again. (League Cup Final, Sunday 1 March, 4pm. Ticket info: SOLD OUT)

2. Arsenal v AS Monaco - with the group stage finishing in December, the Champions League now starts to get serious as the two-legged knockout rounds begin. The first batch of matches took place last week and now it is the Gunners' turn to try and make progress. Thirteen points was only enough for second place in their group but was actually more than Monaco managed in winning theirs which wasn't actually that strong. The French League side are also well off title pace domestically too so Arsene Wenger's side should feel confident. (Champions League, Wednesday 25 February, 745pm. Ticket info)

3. West Ham United v Crystal Palace - back in the Premier League we have another tasty looking London derby to look forward to on Saturday. After being robbed of victory by a very late penalty at Spurs on Sunday both the Hammers and Eagles will feel disappointed coming into a new week. The south-east Londoners came unstuck against Arsenal and have now only won one in four but shouldn't lack motivation ahead of this one. Although beaten in the reverse fixture 3-1 back in August, Palace have an excellent record against West Ham losing only three times against them over the last 20 years. (Premier League, Saturday 28 February, 1245pm. Ticket info)

4. Fulham v Derby County - at Craven Cottage we've got a game which affects both ends of the Championship table. After dropping out of the Premier League, Fulham have found life tough. They made a dreadful start and replaced their manager which had the desired effect as they climbed towards midtable safety. However, things are starting to reverse and, without a win in five, they sit just five points above the relegation zone. The Rams, on the other hand, are currently top and will be many neutrals' favourites to go up after being very unluckily defeated in last season's play-off final. It really doesn't look too good for the Cottagers when you also consider the sides have met twice already this season, in the league and cup, and the Rams scored five on each occasion. (Championship, Saturday 28 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town - to be fair, there's nothing hugely noteworthy about this game from a football point of view. Both sides are trundling along in midtable, locked together on 39 points from 32 games. The main reason this is notable is because Charlton are running their 'Football For A Fiver' promotion, meaning that all tickets for the match are just £5. If you're visiting London and want to see a live match but don't want to spend big bucks then this is a fantastic option. I would also advise booking in advance just to make sure you get a ticket. (Championship, Saturday 28 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Boreham Wood v Havant & Waterlooville - there seem to have been a lot of big matches in the Conference South of late and here we have another one. A couple of weeks ago, The Wood looked like they might be starting to lose their grip on top spot after back-to-back defeats against two of their promotion rivals. Bromley were breathing down their necks and with three games in hand, still are. However, they have now gone unbeaten in three and are still right up there following their 4-1 trouncing of Weston-Super-Mare on a day trip to the seaside. Next they welcome Havant, a talented top-five side with an outside chance of mounting a title challenge of their own. H&W edged to a 2-1 win last time out so it should be close. (Conference South, Saturday 28 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Kingstonian v Margate - the race for promotion is getting deliciously tight in the Isthmian League's top division. Following a big cash injection, Margate have become one of the big boys and are consequently the only realistic challengers to leaders Maidstone. If they don't catch them then a play-off spot is looking almost certain. Two other places will probably go to Dulwich and Hendon, given the latter's games in hand, meaning there is only one other place up for grabs. At the time of writing, the next five clubs are within two points of each other. Kingstonian are one of these sides and seem to be building a bit of momentum after recent wins over Leiston and Wingate & Finchley who are also in that group. A win over Margate would be a huge statement of intent but with two defeats in league and cup competitions against them so far this season, it's going to be a tough ask. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 28 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Walton & Hersham v Burgess Hill Town - the visiting Hillians have been making headlines as one of the toughest teams to beat in the country this season. Unbeaten in 31 league games, they are unsurprisingly seven points clear at the top of the Isthmian League Division 1 South with four games in hand. The Swans are having an unspectacular season in midtable but almost did the unthinkable in the reverse fixture less than two weeks ago. Amazingly 2-0 up at the interval, it looked like they might be the team to end that run but it wasn't to be as they eventually found themselves hanging on for a still impressive 2-2 draw. Burgess Hill do have another game before this, but could W&H go one better this time? Be there and find out. (Isthmian League Division 1 South, Saturday 28 February, 3pm. Club info)

9. Erith & Belvedere v North Shields - to many non-league fans this is arguably the match of the week. South-east Londoners E&B have had a great season after the disappointment of relegation from the Isthmian League. Still in with an outside chance of the Southern Counties East League title, they have also made it to the FA Vase quarter-finals where they have crucially landed a home tie. The Vase is a national cup competition for teams who primarily play in the ninth and tenth tiers of the English league system with its final at Wembley. For the last six years, the final has been won by or featured sides from the Northern League. This is made up largely of sides in the north-east of England in the region around Newcastle and Sunderland. North Shields are also from this league and are currently third. In the last round they saw off E&B's big local rivals Phoenix Sports 4-1 so it looks like they will start as favourites. However, the well over 500-mile round trip could be a leveller. (FA Vase quarter-final, Saturday 28 February, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Harefield United v Sun Sports - mention was made earlier of how 'deliciously tight' things were in the Isthmian League, well the same could be said for the title race in the Spartan South Midlands League. Given the varying amount of games played by each, any of the top five could win it. Harefield and Sun Sports, two of our local sides, are part of this pack and they clash at Preston Park on Saturday. Although Sun Sports currently trail Harefield by four points, they do have three games in hand. Many would see them as favourites, however, they lost comfortably in December when they last played and the Hare have won their last four so should be formidable opponents. (Combined Counties League Division 1, Saturday 14 February, 2pm. 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.


  1. My wife and I walked through Holland Park last weekend right as that match was being played, maybe walked right past you.

    I just moved to London from Toronto so I appreciate your coverage of non-league football and am looking to attend more matches. Wish I had have know that the FA Trophy final was the 29th earlier as I picked up tickets to Brazil-Chile with a friend this week.

    Thanks for the hard work!

  2. Wow, what are the chances of that? I do seem to remember being passed by a couple of people talking in North American accents and thinking how they were probably Canadians so maybe you did.

    Enjoy the Brazil game but don't tell too many people it's happening :-)

  3. I just looked at the ticket prices for that friendly... I think I'll be going to the Trophy final instead :-P! COME ON, YOU GULLS!

    1. That's great to hear. Make sure you buy before Wednesday or the prices will go up.