Monday, 27 July 2015

TLFG: 27 July - 2 August 2015

It's been quite a week for TLFG.

As you may have noticed we've got a new, themed look and our own website address.

I hope you like it and that you'll find a bit easier to use.

The traffic to this blog has soared over the last two weeks, nearly doubling, which has been really pleasing so thanks a lot for taking the time to read and for making it all worthwhile.

I'd also like to apologise again for the slightly delayed publication. Putting the map together has taken hours once more but that's because we've got even more matches to look forward to than last week - over 100.

A fine read about London football in German
If you're visiting London over the next few days, you've picked a great time to come with a really interesting selection of games to choose from. 

Personally, I'm all set to go to QPR v Atalanta on Sunday - if it happens (see TLFG Top 10 below). It'll be my first visit to Loftus Road since March when Tottenham were in town so it will be good to get back there. 

How well we do this season is unclear but optimism is fairly high and with my membership renewed once again I'm ready for the new campaign.

In other news, long-term readers may remember Dutch writer Paul Baaijens came to London at the back end of 2013 to research his book about London football called 'Matchdays'.

It's done well back in his homeland and it has now been translated and published in Germany by fellow TLFG reader Christoph Beutenmuller and his 'pretty good books' publishing company.

If you're a German speaker, give it a read. You'll probably learn more than you will from this blog! 

Have a good week and if you have any questions, send them my way.

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. FA Community Shield - the annual curtain-raiser between the Premier League champions and FA Cup winners takes place at Wembley on Sunday and this year it's between the two titans of London football - Chelsea and Arsenal. The Blues' pre-season has got off to a wobbly start in America with defeat to the New York Red Bulls and a 1-1 draw against Paris St Germain. The Gunners, on the other hand, have won all four of their matches and scored 14 goals in the process. This included winning the Emirates Cup, something they haven't achieved since 2010. Arsenal are the current holders of the Shield but their recent record against Chelsea is poor (winless in eight) so you still have to fancy the west Londoners. (FA Community Shield, Sunday 2 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

2. Women's FA Cup Final - unless you're a member of one of the participating clubs, getting tickets to the Community Shield will be hard or very expensive. A far more realistic chance of visiting Wembley presents itself the previous day when Chelsea and Notts County meet in the final of this prestigious competition. Following England's third-place finish in the World Cup, interest in the women's game is the highest it's been for a while so quite a lot of attention is being focused on this. With ticket sales at the 24,000 mark over 10 days ago, a record attendance is very much on the cards and with very reasonable prices (adults £15, kids £5) it's not hard to see why. Both sides are currently in the top four in the league so we should hopefully get a decent game. (Women's FA Cup Final, Saturday 1 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. West Ham United v FC Astra Giurgiu - after scraping past Maltese cup winners Birkirkara on penalties in the last round, the Hammers' Europa League adventure next pits them against one of the top teams in Romania. Slaven Bilic's side were expected to get to this stage but have made heavy weather of it and in the Black Devils they should face a significant step up in class. If they want to make the group stages, still two rounds away, they'll need to up their game. Tickets for this are once again only £10 for adults and £5 for kids and will probably come close to selling out so don't delay buying if you want to go. Remember, it's also West Ham's final season at the Boleyn Ground so don't miss your chance to visit. If you can't get to this game, they also have a friendly against German club Werder Bremen on Sunday. (Europa League, Thursday 30 July, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Watford v Sevilla - the Hornets' long awaited return to the Premier League is getting closer and this attractive friendly against the reigning Europa League champions will be their last warm-up match. On the pitch, preparations have been going well with four wins and a draw so far. Despite this they are still favourites to get relegated but I have a feeling they will give it a good go and win a few admirers along the way. Tickets for Watford's home games look likely to be restricted to members only for most of the season so take this chance while you can. (Friendly, Friday 31 July, 745pm. Ticket info)

5. Fulham v Crystal Palace - we've got a London derby at Craven Cottage the following day between sides possibly going in opposite directions. The Cottagers have spent most of the 21st century as a well established Premier League club but it well went pear-shaped in 2013/14 and they got relegated. Back in the Championship they found last season difficult and spent most of it trying to stay out of the bottom three. Eventually they survived and this time round no more than a midtable finish is expected. Following promotion in 2013, the Eagles are well on the way to cementing themselves into the top flight establishment with two top-11 finishes. With Alan Pardew in the dugout, a solid and well motivated squad in place and a passionate fan base behind them, the future looks bright for Palace. (Friendly, Saturday 1 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Queens Park Rangers v Atalanta - pre-season is becoming a bit of a joke at Rangers with plans often appearing at the very last minute or falling through completely. Their recent tour of Italy promised much with some decent opposition lined up but ultimately only one of the three games took place and that miles away from where originally scheduled. This friendly, the only one at Loftus Road before the big kick-off, was supposed to have been against Chievo Verona but it too mysteriously fell through last week and fellow Serie A side Atalanta have been drafted in at short notice. Aside from this shambles, QPR are fancied to do quite well this year and they've made a number of interesting signings so I'll be there to see what's what. (Friendly, Sunday 2 August, 1245pm. Ticket info)

7. Millwall v Tondela - after suffering the trauma of relegation, Neil Harris's Millwall side are being tipped to be among the frontrunners in League One this year. Pre-season has been unspectacular so far and they finish it with this match against Portuguese opposition. Tondela have enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last few years having only become a fully professional club as recently as 2012. Last season they won the Segunda Liga so will play in the top flight against the likes of Benfica and Porto for the first time this year. (Friendly, Saturday 1 August, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Hampton & Richmond Borough v Salford City - when the Beevers announced this fixture a few weeks ago it immediately caught people's attention. If you missed it, prior to last season, a consortium of Manchester United legends Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs took control of non-league Salford. They went on to win the Northern Premier League Division 1 North and now play at a parallel level to Hampton. They have since got further backing from Peter Lim, owner of Valencia and they have big plans to progress. Hampton have more modest ambitions and found things a little rocky last season but with former Kingstonian boss Alan Dowson in charge, they should be in safe hands.  (Friendly, Saturday 1 August, 3pm. Club info)

9. Middlesex Charity Cup Final the Women's FA Cup isn't the only piece of silverware up for grabs on Saturday. Four miles to the west, Harrow Borough go after the Middlesex double. Having beaten Hanwell Town to claim the Middlesex Senior Cup back in May, Boro have had to wait until now for the final of this competition because of the Enfield Town ineligible player saga. Enfield were supposed to have been Harrow's opponents and hosted the final at the end of last season but got disqualified. Consequently the final will now be played at Harrow but, at the time of writing, we don't know their opponents. Ashford Town and Cockfosters will contest the other semi-final on Tuesday so all will be revealed then. (Middlesex Charity Cup Final, Saturday 1 August, 3pm. Ticket info: TBC)

10. Thamesmead Town v Jersey - last up this week we see another unusual game with interesting opponents from overseas. Over the last few years, fellow Channel Islanders and big rivals Guernsey have been making all the football headlines as they turned semi-pro and climbed up to the eighth tier of English football. Jersey, the bigger island, have been somewhat left behind and are trying to redress the balance with some good pre-season games. Last week they welcomed Sutton United for a visit, this Saturday they travel to the capital to take on Thamesmead who play at the same level as Guernsey. Town representatives are very excited about the game which will be the focus of what is also the club's Community Fun Day so get down there if you're in the area. (Saturday 1 August, 3pm. 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.

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