Sunday, 20 March 2016

TLFG: 21-28 March 2016

It's Easter once again and with it we get one of the best weekends of the year to watch football in London.

Strangely, though, the very full programme of fixtures will be missing all of the capital's biggest clubs as there's an international break. I can't remember this ever having happened before over the long weekend but that's the position we find ourselves in.

Don't be too downhearted though as we've still got over 130 matches to look forward to over the next eight days (I've included Easter Monday in this week's blog too). There are top-of-the-table clashes, cup semi-finals, local derbies and relegation six-pointers so we shouldn't be short of drama. 

I'm planning to take in at least one non-league game with my Dutch friend Paul. He's coming over to research his latest book about London football. We're intending to go to Wealdstone v Margate on Saturday to see one of the capital's main non-league sides and chat to a few people and get some stories. He really wants to meet the Raider but if you're a Stones fan with a few funny or interesting anecdotes who would like to appear in his book then please get in touch (Twitter: @matchdaysboek). That also goes for fans of AFC Wimbledon and Millwall whose matches he will also be visiting during his stay. 

On the subject of international weekend - if you're reading this and your club are running a special offer or promotion to get new fans in then please get in touch ASAP and I'll help promote it.

Aside from this blog, my focus over the next couple of months will be firmly on helping to promote Non-League Finals Day on Sunday 22 May at Wembley.

Join us at Wembley for the first ever Non-League Finals Day

The line-ups were confirmed on Saturday with Hereford meeting Morpeth Town in the FA Vase and National League sides FC Halifax Town and Grimsby Town going head-to-head in the FA Trophy.

A joint ticket for both games is just £25 adults, £10 concessions and £1 kids and represents a great chance to spend a whole day at Wembley, seeing two finals.

Somewhat controversially, the powers that be have also scheduled an England friendly against Turkey in Manchester the same afternoon causing many in the non-league community to feel more than a little sidelined.

My response is to challenge non-league fans to step up, turn out in huge numbers and show how vibrant and important the game at our level is. Many people think and expect little of clubs and fans outside 'The 92' but they will surely take notice if Non-League Finals Day outsells the England game.

Although a big ask it is by no means impossible - the Etihad Stadium has a capacity of around 55,000 and the FA Trophy final alone drew 53,000 to Wembley in 2007. This year we have three sizeable clubs all heading to Wembley with Morpeth also hopefully attracting a few extra fans from the wider Northumbria area.

It is a time, in my opinion, to come together and celebrate what we have as a community and put partisan feelings aside for the day. Rugby fans of both codes often put rivalries aside to turn out for big matches and doubleheaders - over 84,000 packed into Wembley to watch Saracens v Harlequins last season for a league match, setting a world record in the process. Why can't non-league fans try and emulate this and produce some kind of record of our own? 

I'm up for it and will be contacting all non-league clubs in the Greater London area over the next few weeks to help me promote the day. If you want to help as a club rep get in touch and I have some official resources I can share with you and also a little something as a thank you for your help.

Some are calling it a 'put up or shut up' moment for those who've had enough of the non-league game being sidelined and overlooked and I can see where they're coming from. It is undoubtedly a great opportunity to make a point but also one to celebrate what we have and enjoy a great day out. It could be a defining moment. Be part of it.


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 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
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures

Black pin - Good Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Easter Sunday fixtures
Orange pin - Easter Monday fixtures

Usually in this section I select 10 games which I think could be worth a watch. However, because it's Easter there a lots more which should seriously be considered so I've highlighted a few by date.

Monday 21 March
Wealdstone v Sutton United @745pm - London derby in National League South with Sutton pushing for promotion
QPR v Sheffield Wednesday @7pm - U21 action at Loftus Road
Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town @2pm  - U21 action at The Valley
Watford v Barnsley @7pm - U21 game provisionally at Vicarage Road but not confirmed

Tuesday 22 March
Enfield Town v Kingstonian @745pm - Isthmian League play-off hopefuls meet at QEII Stadium
Harrow Borough v Bognor Regis Town @745pm - Boro welcome FA Trophy semi-finalists and Isthmian title contenders Bognor
Tooting & Mitcham United v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - London Senior Cup semi-final and big south London derby
Crystal Palace v Leeds United @1230pm - U21 match at Selhurst Park

Wednesday 23 March
Romford v Harlow Town @745pm - the hosts welcome play-off chasing Harlow in the Isthmian 1 North
Arsenal Ladies v Reading Women @745pm - the Gunners' FA Women's Super League 1 campaign gets underway at Boreham Wood
London Bees v Watford Ladies @745pm - these two local sides begin their FA Women's Super League 2 seasons at Barnet

Thursday 24 March
Charlton Athletic v Bristol City @2pm - U21 game at The Valley

Friday 25 March
Dartford v Bishop's Stortford @3pm - the Darts look to revive their National League South play-off bid
Millwall v Watford @130pm - U21 match being played at Bromley's ground

Saturday 26 March
Wealdstone v Margate @3pm - highest level match in London that day
Kingstonian v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - local derby and promotion battle in Isthmian Premier, huge game at that level
Enfield Town v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - two teams hoping to also make Isthmian play-offs, both have lively sets of fans so there should be a good atmosphere
AFC Hornchurch v Thurrock @3pm - Essex derby between sides scrapping for an Isthmian 1 North play-off place.
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Hartley Wintney @3pm - long-awaited top-of-the-table clash between sides who have led the Combined Counties League for some time
Barking v Clapton @3pm - East End derby, hosts still have outside Essex Senior League title chance
Oxhey Jets v Sun Sports @3pm - non-league derby in the Watford area 
Glebe v Bearsted @3pm - first versus third in the Kent Invicta League

Sunday 27 March
Millwall Lionesses v Everton Ladies @2pm - first home game for Millwall in FA WSL2, being played at The Den

Monday 28 March
Millwall v Burton Albion @745pm - fifth against first in League One, late kick-off makes it ideal for combining with another earlier game like the one at Dulwich Hamlet
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @1245pm - two former FA Cup winners now fighting for League Two play-off places, early kick-off means it could be combined with Isthmian League games at Hampton & Richmond Borough or Corinthian Casuals although you might miss the first few minutes
Barnet v Luton Town @3pm - little to play for but effectively a north London derby in League Two with the Hatters located just outside the capital
Boreham Wood v Dover Athletic @3pm - game between teams battling for points at either end of the National League
Bromley v Forest Green Rovers @3pm - hosts welcome National League title contenders
Dulwich Hamlet v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - Isthmian Premier play-off rivals meet at Champion Hill
Wingate & Finchley v Hendon @3pm - north London derby in Isthmian Premier
Thurrock v Cray Wanderers @3pm - second versus third in Isthmian 1 North
Chipstead v Whyteleafe @3pm - a derby featuring teams from the capital's Deep South in the Isthmian 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Carshalton Athletic @3pm  - as above but more south-west and not so much of the Deep
Chelsea Ladies v Liverpool Ladies @2pm - the reigning FA WSL champions welcome the Reds to Staines Town for their first home game of the season

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.

1 comment: