Monday, 4 May 2015

TLFG: 5-10 May 2015

Hi there and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

Things really do seem to be coming to a rapid end with the matches on offer in the capital this week falling to below 30 for the first time in months.

Congratulations to Chelsea, much as it pains me to say it, for winning the Premier League. It might not have been pretty but they seem to have done it at a canter.

Over the weekend, the regular season in the Football League came to an end with the news that Brentford had made the Championship play-offs - a sensational achievement by one of the division's smallest clubs.

It wasn't quite such great news for Watford who blew the title by conceding a last-minute equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday which handed the crown to Bournemouth instead. Still, second place and promotion to the Premier League isn't a bad consolation prize.

Even as a QPR fan, I'm pretty chuffed for both of them. It'll just be a mighty shame if they both go up and we get relegated which is now almost certain following a 2-1 loss at Liverpool. The derbies would've been great and nearly every week as it would've taken the amount of London clubs in the top flight to eight - a quite staggering amount.

In the Conference South, Boreham Wood have made it to the play-off final where they will host Whitehawk. The match will represent the biggest day in both clubs' histories as neither have played in the Conference National before. How they will fare with crowds of 250-300 against some sides with 10 times that many remains to be seen but good luck to them both.

This week has also seen some interesting correspondence with TLFG readers which resulted in Erik from Sweden ending up appearing on a QPR podcast and Martin from the USA securing tickets for Arsenal v Swansea via the Swans' allocation. The Welsh club's staff were particularly helpful and prompt in helping him order them online. The home sections of the ground are sold out but tickets are still available via Swansea's website so take a look if you fancy a trip to the Emirates for what should be a decent game.

As a general principle, this is pretty much the best way to get tickets at face value for Arsenal, Chelsea and Crystal Palace as membership is usually required to get into their home games.

Elsewhere, we're still no closer to finding out when the Isthmian League Premier Division play-offs will take place.

After being found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in controversial circumstances and subsequently being docked three points, fifth-placed Enfield Town are preparing an appeal which has put the whole post-season on hold. The next few days should be interesting to say the least.

Elsewhere in the lower division Isthmian play-offs, our two local sides who did qualify, Thurrock and Whyteleafe, both came unstuck so will have to spend another year in the eighth tier.

I think that's it from me - I hope to make it to the Middlesex Senior Cup Final this weekend to finally get to see Harrow in action for the first time this season. Very poor by me.

Enjoy your week.

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 only 20-odd matches in the London area over the next seven days so things really are starting to wind down for the summer.

As has become customary at this time of year, the match map has been bulked out with games at Step 7/Level 11 and also some women's football. With the Step 7 games, venue and kick-off times can be hard to get hold of or be unreliable so please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time 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
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'S MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

1. Chelsea v Liverpool - with the Blues wrapping up their fourth Premier League title on Sunday this match between two of the country's football giants has lost a little bit of its edge. The rivalry between the two is significant though and the Reds still need points to try and break into the top four. Chelsea are unbeaten in seven against Liverpool and Jose Mourinho will want to make sure that run continues.  (Premier League, Sunday 10 May, 4pm. Ticket info)

2. Crystal Palace v Manchester United - Sunday's narrow defeat at Chelsea has left Palace on 42 points. Mathematically they can still be pulled into the relegation fight but realistically they seem to have comfortably secured another season in the top flight. Having almost made it through that crucial second season, the future looks bright under Alan Pardew and the board they have in place. They are to me a shining example of how QPR should've done things but didn't and consequently one or two of our better players could well end up there next season when we go down. Manchester United under Louis van Gaal have been unpredictable, with most teams capable of pushing them hard as West Brom demonstrated on Saturday. I'm quite happy to predict a win for the Eagles who, when motivated, can give anyone a game at Selhurst Park. (Premier League, Saturday 9 May, 530pm. Ticket info)

3. Brentford v Middlesbrough - no matter what the Bees did on Saturday, their fate was not in their own hands. Derby just needed a draw to keep them out of the play-off places. Sadly for the Rams, their form was poor and they ended up losing comfortably at home to Reading while Brentford strolled to a 3-0 win over Wigan to secure an impressive and unexpected fifth-place finish on their return to the second tier. Their reward is a two-legged semi-final against Middlesbrough. Boro were title contenders until last weekend but only one point from their last two games against struggling Fulham and Brighton sides saw them limp over the line in fourth. Brentford would therefore seem to have the momentum going into this but the Teesside club know how to beat the west Londoners having 'doubled' them during the regular campaign so it is really finely poised. (Championship semi-final play-off first leg, Friday 8 May, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Boreham Wood v Whitehawk - play-off fever also returns to Meadow Park for the second weekend running when The Wood look to complete what would be a remarkable promotion to the fifth tier of English football. By completing a 4-2 aggregate victory over Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday, the Hertfordshire club secured home advantage for the Conference South play-off final against another set of Hawks. The Sussex outfit's presence in the final is also notable as, like Boreham Wood, they are one of the least supported clubs in the division. In fact, if you added the two clubs' average crowds together (312 and 258) it would still come out as less than that of either of the beaten semi-finalists. Despite this, both sides have made solid progress through the divisions in recent seasons with Whitehawk climbing particularly swiftly. They've done this mainly through significant spending which hasn't made them over popular with other supporters but here they stand on the brink of games with the likes of Tranmere Rovers and maybe even Bristol Rovers if the play-offs don't work out. The Hawks took four points off Boreham Wood during the regular season so shouldn't be overawed.  (Conference South play-off final, Saturday 9 May, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. FA Vase Final - if you haven't made it up to Wembley Stadium yet this season, then this presents your next chance. After the drama of the FA Trophy Final back in March, we'll hopefully get more of the same in its sister tournament for clubs playing in the ninth and tenth tiers of the English game. Of the 536 teams which set out on the road to Wembley in September, Glossop North End and North Shields have made it to the final two. At this level, leagues are regionalised to relatively small areas so these clubs won't normally play each other so it's hard to judge who will start as favourite. GNE have had a great season, winning the North West Counties League while the Robins came fourth in the Northern League. Over the last few years, the Vase has been dominated by Northern League clubs which suggests the standard might be higher but it really is too close to call.  (FA Vase Final, Saturday 9 May, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. London Senior Cup Final - with most of the league action over, we've reached the point of the season where we get to enjoy a few local county cup finals. Although the Football Association run the game in this country, each county also has its own local FA with its own cups. Although the big clubs are allowed to enter sides in most of these tournaments, they often don't and consequently they provide a great opportunity for non-league sides to win some silverware. This year's London final is between Isthmian League clubs Hendon and Tooting & Mitcham United. As runners-up in the league and winners of the league cup, the Greens will start as big favourites over their Division 1 South opponents. The match will be played at Metropolitan Police's ground in Thames Ditton. No ticket details are currently available but it's likely to be £10 for adults, payable on the gate. (London Senior Cup Final, Thursday 7 May, 745pm.)

7. Middlesex Senior Cup Final - two days later, a short journey across the Thames will take us to Hampton & Richmond's ground for this final. Here we'll have a local derby between Hanwell Town and Harrow Borough. They come from the Southern League Division 1 Central (Level 8) and Isthmian League Premier Division (Level 7) respectively. Although Harrow are in the higher division, they struggled for most of the season while Hanwell were play-off contenders but fell just short. Despite their low finish in the Isthmian Premier, Harrow ended the season on a great streak of form under new boss Steve Baker and I can see this, dare I say it, being carried over into this. (Middlesex Senior Cup Final, Saturday 9 May, 3pm. 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.

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