Sunday, 1 March 2015

TLFG: 2-8 March 2015

For the first time in a long while I managed to do the double - take part in a parkrun and go to a match on the same day.

The trade off was babysitting for the whole of Sunday. It was a deal I took very little time to think about.

My run had a football theme to it this week as I ventured a couple of miles south to the leafy banks of the Thames and Bishops Park. For non-locals, this is right next to Fulham's Craven Cottage ground and the run takes you along the back of the Putney End.

With that done, I prepared for my afternoon entertainment which for once saw me take my own advice and head off to a game in TLFG's Top 10.

At long last I made my first visit to Park View Road the home of Welling United. However, it wasn't them I watched but groundsharers Erith & Belvedere who had a huge cup match against North Shields.

The cup in question was the FA Vase which had reached its quarter-final stage. This meant the teams were only two rounds from a very memorable trip to Wembley.

With leagues regionalised at this level, clubs like these would never play each other without the Vase so it was a big deal in every sense.

For overseas readers, North Shields is in the north-east near Newcastle. Consequently their players and fans would need to make a 500+ mile round trip to take part.

The opening exchanges were cagey and the first half ended goalless with few great chances for either.

Things opened up a bit for the visitors after the interval and two goals before the hour mark put them in total control. Two or three shots from distance late on were the best the Deres could really muster and they duly bowed out.

North Shields celebrate victory with their fans
As the only TLFG club left in, it would've been great to see them progress but it sadly wasn't to be.

Of the 503 crowd, the visitors must have brought about 150-200 but were by far the more vocal and created all the atmosphere. Their team played well and deserved a place in the semi-finals.

But before the Vase final, the Non-League Day team are still trying to promote another important day 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.

The record crowd since the competition began in 1969 is 53,262 which was achieved back in 2007 shortly after the 'new' Wembley opened and getting anywhere near that will be a huge challenge.

This year's final will see North Ferriby United play Wrexham.

Very well done to the aptly named Villagers from the Conference North. They come quite literally from a village near Hull with a population of only 3,893 (2011 Census) so filling Wembley might be tough.

I'm hoping the Dragons will bring a few though. They were a League One side not all that long ago so it will be a real David v Goliath contest which I'm looking forward to. 

Don't forget that the early bird deadline is this Wednesday 4 March so don't hang about or the prices will go up. Early bird prices are as follows:

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

If you buy 15 or more tickets 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. Hope to see you there.

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS

GET INVOLVED
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.


LATEST TICKET NEWS
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.


THE WEEK AHEAD
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).

MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Orange pin - Thursday fixtures
Claret pin - Friday 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. 

TLFG TOP 10

1. West Ham United v Chelsea - just three days after winning the League Cup at Wembley, the Blues travel to Upton Park to face the Hammers. The rivalry between these two from opposite sides of the capital is fairly intense. However, the east Londoners have a pretty poor record against the Stamford Bridge outfit and appear to be running out of steam. Winless in five in the league, Sam Allardyce's side come into this on the back of a comprehensive 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace who played the last 20-odd minutes with 10 men. Chelsea are five points clear at the top and start as big favourites. (Premier League, Wednesday 4 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Queens Park Rangers v Arsenal - there are some big derbies in London this week and QPR have two in three days against the north London clubs. First up are the Gunners who have, ominously, run into some good league form. Putting aside their Champions League humbling by Monaco, Arsene Wenger's team have won six of their last seven Premier League matches and now look capable of catching second placed Manchester City. Rangers are just above the relegation zone and usually lose but always push Arsenal hard with the winning margin never more than one goal on the last five occasions. (Premier League, Wednesday 4 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

3. Watford v Fulham - two more TLFG teams lock horns, no pun intended, on Tuesday night up at Vicarage Road. Watford have collected 15 points from their last six games to move up to fourth, only three points off top club Derby in what has become an incredibly tight division. The reason they are so close is partly down to the Cottagers' shock 2-0 win over the leaders on Saturday. Having already been thrashed on two previous occasions this season, Kit Symons' side did tremendously well to overturn the Rams and move eight points clear of the bottom three. They'll have to stay focused against the Hornets, though, as they lost the reverse fixture 5-0 shortly before Christmas. (Championship, Tuesday 3 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Leyton Orient v Bristol City - the O's looked like a lost cause a couple of weeks ago but suddenly it's all changed. Cramming in four games since then, the east London club have won three of them to climb to within a point of safety. On Tuesday night that could all end when the league leaders come to town. The Robins aren't in exceptional form at the moment but are eight points clear after squeaking past midtable Rochdale on Saturday. They shouldn't be complacent here either as Orient managed to hold them to a 0-0 draw at Ashton Gate back in August. (League One, Tuesday 3 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

5. AFC Wimbledon v Southend United - the Dons have had a good season and keep threatening to mount a play-off bid only to throw it away with a silly result or two. The latest aberration came at bottom club Hartlepool on Saturday where they lost 1-0. This result left them eight points short of a place in the top seven which will be tough to bridge. However, Southend are in that leading group so if they can beat them it should reignite their hopes. (League Two, Tuesday 3 March, 745pm. Ticket info)

6. Barnet v Forest Green Rovers - having been top pretty much all season it must have been really disappointing for Bees fans to see their team fritter away a sizeable lead and get caught by Bristol Rovers last week. Wins for both this weekend meant the status quo was maintained with the West Country side two points ahead. This week's challenge comes in the form of another team from way out west who look similarly impressive. With a record equal to that of the leaders over the last 10 games, Forest Green have earned a place in the top five but have to keep winning as they have played more games then all those around them. Barnet have won their last five against Forest Green so will still fancy their chances. (Conference National, Saturday 7 March, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Sutton United v Hayes & Yeading United - there are perhaps bigger games in the division this week but this will probably get the biggest crowd. Sutton are one of the larger non-league sides in London and usually challenge for promotion but this season has been a disappointment. They are thankfully on the up and shouldn't have to worry about relegation. Hayes and Yeading, however, will. A former Conference National side, H&Y should feature in this blog but don't have a ground of their own and have been playing at Woking and Maidenhead United's grounds over the last few seasons instead. Consequently they're struggling for support and are now just one point above the relegation zone - something that saw the club part company with manager Phil Babb last week. So why will this get such a monster crowd? Well it's 'Pay What You Want' day at Gander Green Lane. The U's always put on some good supplementary activities to make the day even better - comedian Tim Vine is the star turn this time. (Conference South, Saturday 7 March, 3pm. Ticket info: Pay What You Want)

8. Metropolitan Police v Wingate & Finchley - in contrast to the previous game, this may not get the biggest crowd in the Isthmian League this week but it should produce a good game. The fact that these two are among the smallest clubs in the division but are still well in the hunt for a play-off place is testament to the skills of the management teams in place. To make it to the 'post-season' you need to finish in the top five. The Met have fifth spot at the moment but Wingate are just a point behind and want to take it off them - the stage is set... (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 7 March, 3pm. Club info)

9. Sun Sports v AFC Dunstable - the big games are coming thick and fast at the top of the Spartan South Midlands League at the moment. On Saturday Sun Sports picked up a very tidy 2-0 win at title rivals and near neighbours Harefield to end the weekend in fourth. Realistically, though, it's all about Kings Langley at the moment. They are top and have three or more games in hand on all their challengers. The closest of these are Dunstable who are just one point behind but have played four games more. Simply put, both sides have to win to have any chance of the title. (Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, Saturday 7 March, 3pm. Club info)

10. Tottenham Hotspur U18s v Chelsea U18s - I don't often put youth or reserve games in this section but this one is quite a big deal. On Thursday night these two will contest the first leg of this season's FA Youth Cup semi-final. With it being a big occasion, the match is being played at White Hart Lane to showcase the youngsters' talents. Chelsea have been to the last three finals, winning two of them so should be favourites here. Several thousand fans are expected and with tickets at only £5 for adults it's no surprise. The club strongly advise you to book in advance if you want to go. (FA Youth Cup semi-final first leg, Thursday 5 March, 745pm. 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment