Sunday, 17 January 2016

TLFG: 18-24 January 2016

Hello one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

As a QPR fan, Saturday was a momentous occasion. Not only did Rangers win their first match under new boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at the ninth time of asking but we also lost the services of talismanic striker Charlie Austin.

I don't think there will be many Rangers supporters who begrudge him his move back to Premier League and in Southampton he seems to have chosen a club well suited to progress his career.

The thing that wrankles with me is the paltry £4m fee the club is said to have received for undoubtedly one of the best strikers in English football.

Yes his contract was up in a few months but when I see other players going for so much more I really despair - Jonjo Shelvy £12m, Benik Afobe £9m, Lewis Grabban £7m to name just three from the current transfer window.

Edgware Town appear in the latest ground review by 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'
Austin scored 18 goals in the Premier League last season for the team which finished bottom and has averaged pretty much a goal every other game over the course of his 200+ game career - Southampton and their fans must be pinching themselves QPR parted with him for so little. I'd expect at least another player thrown in as makeweight in the deal but apparently not. 

Anyway, it's all about his replacement Sebastian Polter now. The big German, who has spent most of the season in the reserves following his summer signing, has been given a chance by Hasselbaink and has scored three in his last four games. The king is dead, long live the king!


On the subject of QPR, you can catch them as part of a west London Championship doubleheader on Saturday thanks to their home match against Wolves starting at 1230pm. With that finished, you'll realistically have about 35-40 minutes to dash the 2.5-3 miles south to see Fulham v Hull City at 3pm. Although it's not far, the traffic between Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith and Fulham is notorious on matchdays so you might have to miss the end of one or start of the other. Running, cycling, motorbike or scooter will probably be quickest.

On the east side of town, West Ham United have a 530pm kick-off against Manchester City which means you could begin the afternoon with a trip to London's oldest football ground (the Old Spotted Dog) for the Essex Senior League clash between Clapton and Bowers & Pitsea at 3pm (Update 22/01/16: this match has been called off and replaced with a friendly against Enfield Town U21s). The atmosphere at this relatively tiny venue is great thanks to the home club's Ultras. A brisk walk should get you to the Boleyn Ground in time for your second game.


Lastly I'd like to give another mention to our friends at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' who this week have done a ground review of Edgware Town. Having only recently been re-formed, they're having a great season in the Spartan South Midlands League and are well on course for promotion. With 71 goals from just 17 games, your chances of seeing a 0-0 are virtually nil. Give it a read.


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 80 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).

Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black 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. Arsenal v Chelsea - undoubtedly the game of the week sees London's two biggest clubs go head-to-head at the Emirates. In recent years, this fixture has usually seen the Gunners needing to beat Chelsea to stay in the title race - how times change. Now the hosts are the favourites ( they may be top by the time you read this), whilst the Blues are among those trying to avoid the drop having won only one of their last five. I suspect the form book will go out the window here as it did back in September when Chelsea won the reverse fixture 2-0. I'm not saying the visitors will win but it should be tighter than the league table suggests. (Premier League, Sunday 24 January, 4pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Manchester City - the Hammers' impressive eight-game unbeaten run came to a disappointing end at lowly Newcastle on Saturday leaving them four points adrift of the top four. If they are to maintain realistic hopes of breaking into the elite then they'll need to beat one of its most powerful members. City have won the title twice in recent seasons and are firmly in the race to win it again this time, crushing a decent Crystal Palace side 4-0 this weekend. They are far from invincible though and can be undone by almost anyone in the division on one of their off days. In fact, West Ham have won two of their last three against them so could give them a run for their money. (Premier League, Saturday 23 January, 530pm. Ticket info)

3. Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - elsewhere in south-east London we've got a decent looking derby between these two. Spurs responded well to losing the midweek game against Leicester by drubbing ailing Sunderland on Saturday, cementing their place in the top four. For a while, Palace were looking like surprise contenders for the top four too but they've hit a sticky patch which has surely killed those ambitions. Winless and scoreless in five, the Selhurst Park club have slipped to eighth during a worrying period. If Tottenham play to their strengths, it could be another tough afternoon for Alan Pardew's men. (Premier League, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Fulham v Hull City - at Craven Cottage we have a match of equal importance to teams at either end of the Championship. The hosts still haven't come to terms with relegation from the Premier League and have again struggled to assert themselves in this tough division. With one win in 14 matches it's been another challenging season for the club from SW6. Hull, on the other hand, got relegated in May and have been the pick of the sides which came down. Up in second, with four wins in five, it's looking good for the Tigers. (Championship, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Bromley v Tranmere Rovers all our League One and Two clubs are out of town this week which means the focus next moves to the National League. There are a few good options at this level over the next seven days but I think this one is probably the most eye-catching. Although Bromley also entertain the higher ranked Grimsby in midweek, this match against another former Championship team will probably generate a bigger crowd and provide more of an experience. Playing their first season in this division, the hosts made a brilliant start and established themselves amongst the frontrunners. A dreadful November saw them slip back into midtable where I'm sure they'd be more than happy to finish. In terms of attendance, Tranmere are the biggest club in non-league football with average gates of around 5,000. If you're unfamiliar with English football, Rovers surprisingly fell out of the Football League last season after a poor run of results. They were League Cup finalists as recently as 2000 and FA Cup quarter-finalists in 2004 so to see them in non-league football is a bit of a shock. (League One, Sunday 17 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Sutton United v Dartford in the division below we have a mouthwatering clash between two of our local sides who are well on course for at least a play-off berth. In a division where all of the top 10 still have realistic promotion ambitions, this match between third and fourth could be pivotal in how the season progresses. Sutton made it through to the last 16 of the FA Trophy on Saturday to become the last remaining TLFG club in the competition. This result extended their winning run to six in all competitions. The Darts aren't on quite such an impressive winning streak but haven't lost a league match in over three months and disposed of former leaders Bath 4-1 on Saturday. I fully expect the U's to get a 1,000+ crowd for this and will be disappointed if they don't. (National League South, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Hampton & Richmond Borough v Tonbridge Angels - it's been a stunning few weeks for Hampton as seven consecutive wins have propelled them to the top of the Isthmian League. Currently two points clear and with a game in hand over second placed Dulwich, things are looking very rosy. Their next engagement in the league sees them welcome Tonbridge who are third. Seven points behind Hampton, defeat here would pretty much knock them out of the title race so plenty is at stake. TLFG fact - legendary Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler is among Hampton's coaching staff and can often be seen putting the players through their pre-match warm-up. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Club info)

8. Egham Town v Royston Town - after highlighting them last Sunday, the Sarnies didn't disappoint and produced back-to-back league wins over Kings Langley and Aylesbury United to move up to third in what is a very competitive division. Now just three points off top spot and with games in hand on both the teams above them, we are looking at another local team with strong title ambitions. On Tuesday they welcome Royston who are immediately below them for another crucial game. Interestingly, this match will pit the best defence in the division (Egham) against its joint best attack (Royston) so the outcome should be interesting. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Tuesday 19 January, 745pm. Club info)

9. Wembley v AFC Dunstable - they were a few contenders for game of the week in the ninth tier but I went for this one as none of our local sides have made much impact in the Spartan South Midlands League this season until now. Although not really in with much of a chance of winning it, Wembley have made their way into the top five and welcome a strong Dunstable outfit who need to win to keep the pressure on current leaders London Colney. Given their name and location within view of the famous national stadium, Wembley are always worth a visit. (Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Club info)

10. Edgware Town v Baldock Town - another side to do well after being highlighted in this section last week, Edgware won their huge top-of-the-table clash against Crawley Green on Saturday in front of a crowd of nearly 200 (superb for a tenth-tier fixture). On Saturday they face another tough game against fourth-placed Baldock who have a mean defence. The two have already played twice this season in league and cup and both have ended in 3-2 away wins for Edgware. Another five-goal thriller would go down nicely. (Spartan South Midlands League Division One, Saturday 23 January, 3pm. Club info)

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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