Monday, 7 December 2015

TLFG: 7-13 December 2015

Greetings one and all and Happy Hanukkah if you're celebrating.

This seems particularly relevant this week as I received thousands of page views from Israel on Saturday, something that's never happened before and is probably from some kind of bot that distorts blog readership figures but if not and TLFG was mentioned in an article or forum then welcome.

Personally it's been another busy week which has left no time for watching live football but I've kept abreast of things the best I can.

It's almost impossible to believe that Chelsea lost again and to Bournemouth of all teams. As a QPR fan it's hard not to enjoy their malaise but I'm not one to crow and I actually quite like Jose Mourinho so to see him struggle so much isn't something I relish - however, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. In fact, I even pondered whether I'd sacrifice promotion this year to see the Blues relegated - it would probably give me almost as much satisfaction! 

Anyway, that's a rare bit of partisan editorial from me - apologies.

Fancy a bargain? Get along to Barkingside
Thanks again for your emails this week. It's been great hearing how TLFG has helped people plan their football watching, visits to London and the UK as a whole. Keep them coming, it makes all the effort worthwhile.

It's also always great when clubs run special promotions to get new people in. Well on Monday (7 December), Barkingside are inviting you to 'Pay What You Want' for their Isthmian League match against Thamesmead Town. 

The Ilford club ran a similar promotion on Non-League Day back in October and should be commended for repeating what some may see as a risky scheme so soon after.

If you're free, and especially if you live on the east side of town, get yourself down to Cricklefields which is only a short walk from Seven Kings station on the line out of Liverpool Street.

Whatever the league, please let me know if you're club are offering any special deals and I'll do my best to promote them.

Have a great week. 

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 over 90 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 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).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
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 TOP 10

1. Chelsea v Porto - the disaster continued for the Blues on Saturday as they suffered another unthinkable defeat at home to newly promoted Bournemouth. The patience and faith owner Roman Abramovich is showing in Jose Mourinho right now is quite staggering and at the same time commendable. On Wednesday they face a big Champions League game against Porto, the club Mourinho originally made his name with. Thankfully for the Portuguese, things have gone relatively well in this competition so far and they're top going into this final group game. Given their goal difference, a draw should be enough to progress. (Champions League, Wednesday 9 December, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Tottenham Hotspur v Monaco - Spurs have already booked their place in the last 32 of the Europa League but they haven't made sure of top spot which Anderlecht could still pip them to. Monaco are third and have everything to play for. They aren't the side they once were and should be beatable but they bring an air of glamour and can still field a few familiar faces. They enjoyed a 2-1 win at struggling Bastia on Saturday to stay fourth in the French top flight but, as you may have seen, it's a pretty weak competition which PSG are totally dominating being already a whopping 15 points clear after only 17 games. Tottenham picked up a point at West Brom to stay fifth. All tickets have been reduced to £25 and are still available. (Europa League, Thursday 10 December, 805pm. Ticket info)

3. West Ham United v Stoke City - if it's a bit of domestic action you crave then get yourself to the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers are still up in the top six but I'm not quite sure how after extending their winless run to five games on Saturday. Although they picked up a fine point with a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United, it's been a disappointing six weeks for Slaven Bilic's side. When most fans look at their fixture list and see 'Stoke at home' they probably think they've got a good chance of winning but under Mark Hughes, and Tony Pulis before him, they have become tough, professional and generally hard to beat. On Saturday the Potters humbled Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium and are unbeaten on their last three visits to east London so will be dangerous opponents. Also, don't forget that the historic Boleyn Ground is closing at the end of the season so if you're an infrequent visitor to London this could be your last chance to see a game there. (Premier League, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Fulham v Brentford - we've got a mouthwatering west London derby to look forward to at Craven Cottage on Saturday in the Championship. These two were big rivals in the lower two divisions of the Football League for most of the 20th century but following Mohamed al-Fayed's investment in the Cottagers in the late '90s and their rise to the Premier League, games between the clubs became non-existent. Last season they were reunited in the second tier and played their first matches since 1998. Fulham picked up an early win in the League Cup but the honours in the league itself went resoundingly to Brentford. This season, both clubs have already sacked their managers. The Bees have just brought in Dean Smith from Walsall while Fulham have yet to appoint a full-time replacement. The Bees are in much better form and their fans will almost certainly be the more vocal so it's looking like an away win for me. (Championship, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Queens Park Rangers v Burnley - a short ride on the 220 bus to the north we have another important day in the never dull history of QPR. After defeating Reading on Thursday night, interim manager Neil Warnock stepped down to be replaced by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The former Dutch international striker who won the Premier League Golden Boot twice with Leeds United and Chelsea, joins from League One leaders Burton Albion with whom he won promotion with last season. Although his managerial career has begun well, he still seems to be a bit of a punt in my opinion and he could find the often chaotic goings on at Loftus Road too much to handle. Good luck to him though and he'll need to be focused to get a result against an impressive Burnley side. The Clarets got relegated from the Premier League with the R's in May but have begun this season much better than their hosts and boast outspoken former QPR captain Joey Barton in their squad. (Championship, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Boreham Wood v Woking - there's not a great deal going on in League One and League Two this week so next up we have a game from the FA Trophy which has reached the 'first round proper' stage. This means the big boys of the National League's top division join the draw and things start to get serious. With former Championship clubs like Grimsby Town and Tranmere Rovers now involved, this tie is between relative minnows despite being in the same division. As I've mentioned several times before, The Wood have never played at this level so are kind of living the dream and taking each game as it comes. On attendance alone, they are the smallest club in division averaging just over 600 a game (a 92% increase on last season such is the step up in opposition). They are struggling on the pitch but are keeping their heads above water - just. The Cards, on the other hand, are far more established at this level and have started to turn results around after a bit of a wobble. They also won this competition three times during the '90s and made it to the final again in 2006 so have a fantastic record. It's also a bit of derby too with only a relatively short journey around the western side of the M25 separating them. (FA Trophy First Round, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Corinthian Casuals v Hungerford Town - the other London-based tie is a much more humble affair between clubs from the eighth and seventh tiers respectively. CCs are a very historic club formed when two of the oldest amateur clubs in the world (Corinthian and Casuals) merged in 1939. Corinthian were the inspiration for the foundation of Brazilian giants Corinthians and the two clubs maintain strong links to this day with a friendly between the two in Sao Paulo taking place at the beginning of this year. In the league, CCs are having a pretty good time of things in the Isthmian League Division 1 South and with games in hand are well placed to have a crack at the play-offs. Hungerford, however, are in with a shot at the Southern League title and will definitely start as favourites. (FA Trophy First Round, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Club info)

8. Carshalton Athletic v Herne Bay - one of CCs south London and promotion rivals are Carshalton who after a turbulent time following relegation are mounting a serious promotion challenge to get back into the Isthmian Premier. Currently sitting in fourth, they welcome Herne Bay to Colston Avenue on Saturday for an important game. Just two points behind but with three games in hand, the Kent club represent the kind of strong opposition they'll need to beat to be considered as realistic contenders. (Isthmian League Division 1 South, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Colliers Wood United v Hartley Wintney - think you might prefer a bit of knockout cup football? Well it's also an FA Vase weekend too. This competition has reached its third round stage so we've still got 64 teams left. Not many from the London area remain but one who will be representing us proudly are CWU. Sadly I fear they won't get much further as the visitors are in fine form, topping the Combined Counties League with a seven-point lead. They last met back in August at the Wibbandune and Hartley won 3-1. (FA Vase Third Round, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Club info)

10. Edgware Town v Ipswich Wanderers - elsewhere in the Vase, the Wares will also be looking to cause an upset and in my book have the better chance. Although playing a level below their Suffolk opponents, Edgware have been doing really well losing only once in the Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 all season. Ipswich are in the lower half of the Eastern Counties Premier and have lost as many as they've won. (FA Vase Third Round, Saturday 12 December, 3pm. Club info)


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.

2 comments:

  1. I think you and Andy of Kent have wrong address for Croydon ATHLETIC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - got the location right on the map but Andy's written directions are out of date. I usually link to the club's location page on their site but didn't this week for some reason. Will get it changed. Cheers.

      Delete