Sunday 20 December 2015

TLFG: 21 December 2015 - 3 January 2016

Greetings one and all and welcome to the Christmas/New Year special of TLFG.

Like a footballing edition of the festive Radio Times, it should have all you need to keep abreast of what's going on in the capital over the next two weeks.

Whether you want to see a Premier League blockbuster, an off-beat Football League thriller or a gritty non-league drama there should be something to suit you.

The usual TLFG Top 10 recommendations section has become a daily guide with lots more matches but in briefer detail - this is because there are so many good games at this time of year, particularly derbies.

Personally I'm hoping for some thrills at QPR and a bit of drama at Harrow Borough but it largely depends on my work schedule which is a bit unpredictable at this time of year.

On Tuesday I did finally get to see a game as my beloved R's played host to title chasing Brighton from Sussex.

Given Albion's close proximity to London, any match against opposition from the capital is pretty much seen as a derby. 

With a journey time of less than 75 minutes from the south coast to Shepherd's Bush by train, it was no surprise to see the visitors bring the best part of 3,000 fans to fill up the away end.

This was particularly notable as no away side, including all the big Premier League clubs, over the last couple of years had been given any more than the upper tier rather than the whole lot.

Anyway, the game was a good one. Rangers shaded a competitive goalless first half before two goals in a minute shortly after the interval put Brighton in total control.

Unfazed, QPR fought back and with the aid of a late red card and superman Charlie Austin's brace of goals, grabbed a share of the spoils. In fact, it could even have been all three points as the hosts came close to scoring again in the seven minutes of injury time which came at the end.

I know one or two TLFG readers were planning to see this game too, so let me know if you made it.

Aside from this, the biggest talking point of the week was undoubtedly the sacking of Jose Mourinho by Chelsea

I've said before that I'm actually quite a big fan of the guy but the results have been appalling so it comes as no great shock - if Garry Monk had to go at Swansea, then the Portuguese had no chance.

It's also been interesting to see how much support Chelsea's fans have given Mourinho, laying the blame for their current predicament firmly at the players' feet - not many supporters would've been so sad to see the manager of a failing team go.

I'm sure they'll forget about him soon enough if the results pick up and life without the Special One began well. First-team coaches Eddie Newton and Steve Holland guided them to a 3-1 win over Sunderland while new boss Guus Hiddink watched from the stands alongside Roman Abramovich.

TLFG fact - Eddie Newton was a witness at my wedding. Not many QPR fans can 'boast' of a Chelsea legend playing an important role in their lives!!!

Right, I think that's it from me for a couple of weeks. I hope the holiday season is restful and fun for you and you get to see as much football as possible - with staggered kick-offs, it's possible to see more than one game on some days so check the match maps closely for the details.

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 130 matches in the London area over the next two weeks 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 on the following match maps. If you've never used them 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 drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.

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

Blue pin - Boxing Day fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Black pin - New Year's Day 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.


Monday 21 December
Arsenal v Manchester City - battle of second versus third in the Premier League
Sutton United v Concord Rangers - FA Trophy replay with reduced admission prices

Tuesday 22 December
Metropolitan Police v Molesey - local derby in Surrey Senior Cup
Corinthian Casuals v Dulwich Hamlet - all Isthmian League tie in London Senior Cup

Saturday 26 December
Chelsea v Watford - Guus Hiddink takes charge of the Blues for this derby against tricky opponents
Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City - Spurs look to consolidate top four place 
Brentford v Brighton & Hove Albion - Championship play-off contenders meet for a derby of sorts
Millwall v Walsall - as above but in League One and not a derby
Leyton Orient v Portsmouth - as above but in League Two and kind of a derby
Bromley v Eastleigh - the Ravens welcome National League title chasers from Hampshire
Welling United v Dover Athletic - important for clubs at both ends of National League
Dulwich Hamlet v Kingstonian - top-five clash in Isthmian League Premier Division and also derby of a kind
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Staines Town - a win could put Boro top of the Isthmian League
Harrow Borough v Hendon - groundshare derby in Isthmian League between old, friendly, rivals
North Greenford United v Hanwell Town - derby between very local rivals in the Southern League
Phoenix Sports v Cray Wanderers - Cray look to hold on to top spot in Isthmian 1 North and a south-east London derby
Barking v FC Romania - third versus first in the Essex Senior League
Croydon v AFC Croydon Athletic - Croydon derby, 'nuff said

Sunday 27 December
Wadham Lodge v Ilford - Essex Senior League clash up in E17 
Glebe v Lewisham Borough - top versus bottom in the Kent Invicta League

Monday 28 December
Arsenal v Bournemouth - the Gunners' push for top spot continues against the slayers of Chelsea and Manchester United
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur - derby between teams who both have European ambitions
Charlton Athletic v Wolverhampton Wanderers - the Addicks fight for survival against former Premier League club Wolves
Queens Park Rangers v Huddersfield Town - Rangers go in search of first home win under JFH
Dartford v Margate - Kent derby in National League South
CB Hounslow United v Bedfont & Feltham - groundshare derby between CCL1 title contenders

Tuesday 29 December
Fulham v Rotherham United - fairly uninspiring Championship clash but the best there is on this day
Wingate & Finchley v Enfield Town - north London derby in Isthmian League
Thurrock v Romford - groundshare derby in Isthmian League 1 North

Friday 1 January
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City - QPR entertain Championship title contenders Hull on TV

Saturday 2 January
Watford v Manchester City - another big game for the Hornets as title chasing City come to town
West Ham United v Liverpool - interesting clash in battle for Europa League spots
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday - best of the rest, worth a go
Dartford v Chelmsford City - the Darts could move into the NLS play-off places with a win here
Hendon v Wingate & Finchley - derby match and 'Pay What You Want' to get in - what a bargain!
Cray Wanderers v Thurrock - top-four clash in Isthmian 1 North
Clapton v London Bari - groundshare derby and a chance to see the Clapton Ultras in festive action

Sunday 3 January
Crystal Palace v Chelsea - London derby featuring a side more than capable of humbling the Blues

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.

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