Monday, 20 July 2015

TLFG: 20-26 July 2015

First off apologies for the slightly later publication than usual.

It's been a busy old week and rather than gradually bring everything together over a few days, I didn't start compiling the map until Sunday morning.

With pre-season now fully underway, this took even longer than usual and we've got a bumper week to look forward to with over 100 games taking place in the Greater London area.

So what have you been up to? I've heard from a few of you including Kev from Sussex (thanks for the photo) who made it to Kingsmeadow for Kingstonian's game against Chelsea's U21s. I warned in my preview not to expect to see John Terry in action and although he didn't play, the Blues captain did still put in an appearance which was appreciated by many of near 1,000 crowd.

John Terry made it to Kingstonian on Monday to watch Chelsea's U21s
West Ham packed out the Boleyn Ground again as they took on Birkirkara in the Europa League. The Maltese underdogs almost pulled off a shock 0-0 draw but conceded a last-minute goal as they gave new Hammers boss Slaven Bilic an uncomfortable evening.

The east London side are back in action again this week while Arsenal also return to action in the capital with a couple of games at the weekend - see TLFG's Top 10 below for details of both.

The first batch of tickets for Premier League games at Tottenham and West Ham go on general sale over the next few days. With Arsenal, Chelsea and Crystal Palace pretty much members only, these two are likely to be the easiest source of tickets for matches at this level this season. If Watford really struggle then you might get some there too.

As previously mentioned, there's loads on offer so have a great week.

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
Red 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. 


1. The Emirates Cup - not to be confused with the Emirates FA Cup, this annual tournament at Arsenal is one of the highlights of the pre-season in London. It brings together four decent European clubs and puts them on show in arguably the city's best club stadium and tickets are reasonably easy to come by - something that is not the case for most Gunners games. Played over a weekend, this year the visiting teams are Lyon (France), Villarreal (Spain) and Wolfsburg (Germany). The format is a little odd as it's played as a league, however, each side only gets two games so Arsenal, for example, won't be playing Villarreal. Why they don't just make it semi-finals on Saturday and a third-place play-off/final on Sunday I don't know. Nonetheless, it gives you a great chance to see some good sides and the vast majority of tickets are under £30. (The Emirates Cup, Saturday & Sunday 25/26 July, from 2pm. Ticket info)

2. Charlton Athletic v West Ham United - on paper this friendly leaps off the page. A London derby between two sides from the east side of town, one south and one north of the river. Despite the geographical closeness and similar stature, the clubs have only played competitively on 40 occasions in their history with last game as long ago as 2007 when the Addicks enjoyed a resounding 4-0 win in a Premier League game at The Valley. Despite that result, Charlton got relegated that year and fell all the way down to England's third tier. Happily they're a Championship side again and will hope to give the Hammers a good workout. The other brilliant thing about this match is that adult tickets are just £10 so it's a bargain too!  (Friendly, Saturday 25 July, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Brentford v Stoke City - we have another Championship v Premier League clash at Griffin Park a little earlier the same day. The Bees made a fantastic return to life in England's second division last season, outdoing all expectations to claim a play-off place. However, things went sour between owner and manager so now a new person is in charge. Dutchman Marinus Dijkhuizen joined from Eredivisie minnows Excelsior whom he did well to keep up in 2014/15. He is still a bit of an unknown quantity for many fans so he has a lot to prove. The Potters remain one of the top flight's 'unfashionable' clubs despite solid progress. Mark Hughes took them to an impressive ninth-place finish last year and should be tough to beat again. (Friendly, Saturday 25 July, 130pm. Ticket info)

4. Queens Park Rangers v Dundee United - back from a slightly chaotic tour of Italy, QPR's first pre-season game in London will be against this famous Scottish club. As a child I developed quite a soft spot for the Terrors as they went on their amazing run to the Uefa Cup final in 1987 and have kept an eye on their results ever since. Last season they came fifth in the Premiership which, to me at least, should make them about the same standard as a Championship team. If you do fancy this England v Scotland clash, please note that it is being played at Barnet's ground in north London and not at QPR's Loftus Road. (Friendly, Wednesday 22 July, 730pm. Ticket info)

5. Barnet v MK Dons - it's going to be a really busy week at The Hive as the Bees have two friendlies of their own going on too. After welcoming League One side Peterborough United on Tuesday, Championship newcomers MK Dons roll into town at the weekend. The Buckinghamshire club are highly controversial having been formed out of the original Wimbledon football club in 2004. Unofficially seen as a franchise side, they are disliked by many. On the pitch, though, they've done well in recent seasons and find themselves at this level for the first time. Barnet also enjoyed promotion last season after Martin Allen guided them to the Conference title and he will want to do well against one of his former clubs. (Friendly, Saturday 25 July, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United - although the Daggers have arguably a more prestigious friendly against Charlton in midweek, this derby against Essex neighbours Southend appeals more. As mentioned it is a derby and the sides have played regularly in recent seasons building a decent rivalry. This match is happening in pre-season as the Shrimpers hauled themselves up to League One via the play-offs in May and will no doubt want to laud that over their hosts for the afternoon. (Friendly, Saturday 25 July, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Bromley v Gillingham - talking of county derbies, we have one of the Kent variety down at Hayes Lane on Tuesday. The Ravens claimed the Conference South title in April and are now playing at national level for the first time - quite an achievement. Expected by the bookies to consolidate their position, it will be an interesting time for the club whose supporter base could grow considerably. The Gills recorded a very respectable midtable finish in League One last year and weren't a million miles away from gaining a play-off place. Bromley held Millwall to a 2-2 draw last week and I think the honours could well be even again here. (Friendly, Tuesday 21 July, 745pm. Ticket info)

8. Wealdstone v Wycombe Wanderers - the Stones more than held their own in the Conference South last season and will hope for at least more of the same this time round. Pre-season began with an emphatic 7-2 drubbing of local Southern League club Hanwell Town a couple of weeks ago but that's been followed with three straight defeats against somewhat stiffer opposition. Former non-league rivals Wycombe, who only play a short drive away up the A40, missed automatic promotion to League One by a point in 2014/15 and then suffered the heartbreak of losing the play-off final to the aforementioned Southend on penalties. Boss Gareth Ainsworth, a man not lacking passion, will hope his side go one better this time. (Friendly, Tuesday 21 July, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Thurrock v Luton Town - eighth-tier club Thurrock have a habit of bringing in a biggish name in pre-season. Last year it was Portsmouth, this time it's the Hatters. The fact they have former Gillingham boss Mark Stimson in charge probably helps. The Essex side were another to make it to play-offs in their division (Isthmian League Division 1 North) last season but rather than experience penalty woe, got completely gubbed by Brentwood Town. Given they were a Conference South side not that long ago, they should really be playing at a higher level and should look to be among the title contenders again. Luton are also playing at a lower level than they should be. A Championship side until as recently as 2007, financial disaster saw them plummet down to the Conference in quick time but now they're moving back up. Achieving a top-eight finish in League Two last season, they'll be expecting at least a play-off place. (Friendly, Wednesday 22 July, 745pm. Ticket info)

10. Millers Invitational Tournament - just up the road at Mill Field, Isthmian League club Aveley are hosting a three side mini tournament on Saturday afternoon. Eastenders Clapton and Kent outfit Faversham Town are the guests with three one-hour, instead of 90-minute, games taking place from 1pm. Adult tickets are just £5 and with the Clapton Ultras no doubt putting in an appearance, it should be a fun afternoon. (Saturday 25 July, from 1pm. Tournament 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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