Sunday 3 July 2016

TLFG: 4-10 July 2016

Well, well, well it's been quite a week. 

Forget all the political turmoil, it's been a terrible time for England football fans too. 

Not only were they humbled by an industrious and hardworking Iceland side in the second round of the Euros, they were then further shown up by Wales who made it all the way to the semi-finals after a superb win over Belgium. 

Both of these 'minnows' are dwarfed by the population and resources that the English FA has at its disposal and yet it made absolutely no difference. The players and manager are paid absolute fortunes and have been for years but things are going backwards.

I actually have a lot of time for Roy Hodgson, believing him to be sincere, honest and hardworking - he's achieved some great things particularly with Fulham and West Brom but it seems big clubs and players don't respond well to his methods when he's been given the chance.
Who will come in next is unclear. I was, rather randomly, told by an old woman on a train yesterday that Gareth Southgate was the man for her because he'd hit the post with a penalty in Euro 96 (it was actually saved but I didn't like to tell her) and most of her family had worked for the Post Office. Seems as good a reason as any right now!

Aside from all that, the summer's domestic pre-season action got underway.

As mentioned last week, it was pretty much all about QPR as far as the pro teams were concerned. The first-team squad picked up a 3-2 win at Aldershot on Friday with the mercurial Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, back from a disappointing loan spell at MK Dons, scoring twice. The U21s also recorded a 2-1 win at Wealdstone the following day.

This week sees the action pick up considerably with lots more clubs taking to the field including Premier League outfit Watford who play their first friendly at Woking on Sunday. Like QPR's game at Aldershot, this match is outside London but only just so I thought it was well worth including.

There are also games in the London area for Brentford, Charlton Athletic and Reading, while Fulham U21s are also in action.

We've also got a couple of mini tournaments involving some of our local non-league sides. One of my highlights of pre-season is the now well established Geoff Harvey Memorial Trophy at Corinthian Casuals. This year it's also being dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Hill who passed away recently. The format sees four teams play a semi-final each on the Saturday before a third place play-off and final on Sunday. Aside from the hosts, the entrants include Hampton & Richmond Borough, Hayes & Yeading United and Tonbridge Angels. The matches are at 11am and 3pm on both days and you can pay by day or get a weekend ticket.

On the east side of town, Clapton are hosting the inaugural Walter Tull Cup to honour the memory of the man who became the first black professional outfield footballer in England. This three-team tournament takes a round robin format with points awarded for wins, draws etc. The matches are also only 30 minutes each way so they can all be condensed into one afternoon. The other competitors are AC London and Hackney Wick with the first game at 1230pm.

There is also a fine selection of Women's Super League action on Sunday with Arsenal, Chelsea and London Bees all playing at home.

There are nearly 40 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to get into full swing.

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 - something which often happens at this time of year. 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
Black pin - Friday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures

In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 4 July
Waltham Forest v Brentwood Town @745pm - our first Monday night game of pre-season as clubs from the Essex Senior League and Isthmian League meet at Wadham Lodge

Tuesday 5 July
Bedfont & Feltham v Harefield United @7pm  - if you've never been, The Orchard is one of the most unusual grounds in London as it is located at the end of Heathrow airport's runway - paradise if you're a groundhopper/plane spotter

Friday 8 July
Boreham Wood v Brentford @730pm - the hosts always put together an impressive pre-season schedule at Meadow Park with this year's first opponents being Championship side Brentford

Saturday 9 July
Boreham Wood v Reading @3pm - the following afternoon they welcome the Royals, also of the second tier, as new boss Jaap Stam takes charge for the first time
Welling United v Charlton Athletic @3pm - these two south-east London clubs meet for what has become a regular pre-season game
Sutton United v Fulham XI @3pm - the U's prepare for life in the top tier of non-league football with this friendly against the Cottagers' youngsters and reserves
Dulwich Hamlet v Bromley @12pm - another south-east London derby with the early kick-off allowing you to do a double with another game
Jimmy Hill/Geoff Harvey Memorial Trophy from 11am - semi-finals day of the annual four-team tournament at Corinthian Casuals also featuring Hampton & Richmond, Hayes & Yeading and Tonbridge Angels
Walter Tull Cup from 1230pm - new three-team tournament at Clapton also featuring AC London and Hackney Wick

Sunday 10 July
Woking v Watford @5pm - the Premier League Hornets begin pre-season just outside London against the Cards
Jimmy Hill/Geoff Harvey Memorial Trophy from 11am - finals day of the annual four-team tournament at Corinthian Casuals also featuring Hampton & Richmond, Hayes & Yeading and Tonbridge Angels
Chelsea Ladies v Birmingham City Ladies @3pm - second play third at Staines Town in the FA Women's Super League

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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