Monday 30 March 2015

TLFG: 30 March - 6 April 2015

What a day! 

If you're a regular reader of this blog then you'll know I've been helping the Football Association promote this season's FA Trophy Final.

Said match was on Sunday at Wembley and featured Conference National side Wrexham from Wales and Conference North club North Ferriby United from Humberside.

Wrexham, as the more senior club, started as favourites and breezed into a 2-0 lead which they held until 14 minutes from the end - then it all went a bit bonkers.

In the space of 10 minutes, the Villagers had drawn level and forced extra-time.

The part-timers then had the audacity to go 3-2 up but with only two minutes of the game remaining the Dragons drew level to salvage a shoot-out.

The teams line up for the national anthems
This also went on and on as several players missed their kicks before North Ferriby finally prevailed 5-4 on penalties

I took a number of friends - some of whom had never been to a football match and some who had no non-league experience but they all left the stadium buzzing. 

One of the newbies, primarily there to escort her kids, was all but pulling her hair out during the shoot-out.

Another claimed that he wasn't usually that bothered about football because most people he knew only watched it on TV and he couldn't get into it at all but the live experience was so much more engaging and would definitely return. There must be many more like him, we've just got to get them into the grounds.

It must surely be a contender for best FA Trophy Final of all time and one of the best of any kind of final that Wembley has hosted, it was that good. The only downside was that only 14,585 turned out to watch it.

This wasn't a great shock though - most neutrals have probably never heard of North Ferriby, the club itself come from a village of less than 4,000 inhabitants, Brazil were playing Chile over at Arsenal and the weather was pretty abysmal. Adult tickets were also £30 which if you're not interested in either team is highly likely to put you off - it was a reason I heard many times from supporters who told me they would not be going.

If that can be addressed and a couple of other tweaks can be made here and there, I genuinely believe the FA Trophy could become a much bigger event which the whole non-league and wider football community could embrace. If the FA invite us (the Non-League Day team) to participate again, which I hope they do, then I believe we could make it a really great day out.

On the subject of Non-League Day, we also announced the date of this year's event today. We've gone for Saturday 10 October.

We've switched from September because England have a Euro qualifier on the Saturday which we don't want to clash with. Now it's just a case of waiting for those fixtures to come out to see who's hosting and whether it's an FA Cup, Trophy or Vase day. 

Talking of the Vase, its final is on Saturday 9 May at Wembley between Glossop North End and North Shields. Tickets go on sale at 10am today (Monday) and I'd highly recommend it after today's fantastic match.

The fun looks set to continue over the next week or so as we hit the Easter period.

Aside from Christmas, this is the best time to be in London to watch football as there is so much on. Most clubs will play twice between Friday and next Monday and more often than not it will be a derby. There are a few potential title deciders and a couple of minor cup finals too. Clubs could also get relegated during this time so it's a huge few days.

I've done two match maps this week to make sure things don't get too crowded and given you a special Easter weekend one which includes next Monday too. 

On the Monday it will also be possible to see two games in a day with all Combined Counties League games kicking off at 1130am, allowing you plenty of time to get to a 3pm kick-off somewhere else.

As a result of the huge amount of great games and partly due to a lack of time, there won't be a Top 10 this week. However, if I do get a bit of breathing space then I may revisit this decision before the weekend. UPDATE (01/04/15) - I have now put together a list of recommended games towards the bottom of the 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 100 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 - Good Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Easter Saturday fixtures
Yellow pin - Easter Monday fixtures

In this section I recommend a few games which I think are worth a special mention. Given it's Easter and there are so many good games taking place, I've listed more than the normal 10.

Good Friday
Fulham v Brentford - huge west London derby which has a bearing on both ends of the Championship table.
Millwall v Charlton Athletic - big south-east London derby in the Championship which could see the Lions all but down if they lose.

Easter Saturday
Arsenal v Liverpool - two of the biggest teams in the land battle to secure a Champions League spot.
Barnet v Nuneaton Town - massive game for both Conference clubs as they fight for the title and against relegation respectively.
Bromley v Boreham Wood - top two clash in the Conference South
Hendon v Maidstone United - top two clash in the Isthmian Premier
Enfield Town v Bognor Regis Town - battle for a play-off place in the Isthmian Premier
Metropolitan Police v East Thurrock United - another match between two play-off contenders in the Isthmian Premier and also only £1 to get in
Haringey Borough v Barking - top two clash in the Essex Senior League

Easter Monday
Crystal Palace v Manchester City - the Eagles welcome the reigning Premier League champions and title contenders
Watford v Middlesbrough - second versus third in the Championship
Dagenham & Redbridge v AFC Wimbledon - London derby in League Two
Dartford v Barnet - London derby in the Conference with both sides desperate for points at opposite ends of the table.
Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town - two teams scrapping for a play-off place in the Isthmian Premier
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Kingstonian - south-west London derby featuring teams who both have plenty to play for.
Wingate & Finchley v Hendon - north London derby between two teams chasing promotion and the title in the latter's case.
Thurrock v Romford - the hosts take on their tenants as they look to sneak into the Isthmian Division 1 North play-offs.
Barkingside v Redbridge - Ilford area derby between teams who used to groundshare but the original owners (Barkingside) were the ones that ended up moving out.
Walton Casuals v Walton & Hersham - local derby in Surrey, little to play for in terms of promotion or relegation though.

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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