Sunday, 7 August 2016

TLFG: 8-14 August 2016

Hi there. How are you? Welcome along to this week's TLFG ahead of another week which is bursting at the seams with great games.

Over the last few days, we've seen several competitions including the EFL and FA Cup get cracking while the week ahead sees the opening games in the Premier League, EFL Cup and, the one you've all been waiting for, the Ryman League.

I heard from several readers who had huge weekends of groundhopping ahead of them with trips to Craven Cottage, the Den, Loftus Road and Wembley all crammed in - I hope you enjoyed yourselves as there were some fine games on offer.

The opportunities to 'hop' aren't quite so great this weekend but a match a day from Friday to Sunday is possible if you can somehow source a ticket for the Arsenal v Liverpool game which dominates the schedule.

For those of you who enjoy being there at important moments, a number of clubs are celebrating first games at new stadiums or at higher levels over the coming days. 

In League One, AFC Wimbledon play their first home game in the third tier. Having only been founded in 2002 and starting in the ninth tier, they've climbed the divisions at an impressive rate. On Saturday they welcome Bolton Wanderers who were a Premier League side as recently as 2012.

Elsewhere, non-league sides Hendon and Fisher both begin life at new grounds. 

After several years on the road, the Greens return to a refurbished Silver Jubilee Park which is a bit closer to Hendon than their historic home at Claremont Road which they lost several years ago. Newly promoted Worthing are the visitors for a Ryman League game.

On the south-east side of town, Fisher make an eagerly anticipated homecoming to Rotherhithe after several seasons groundsharing at Dulwich Hamlet. The Fish are the descendants of Fisher Athletic who played in the Conference at one point and were still in the Conference South when the money ran out in 2009. They play Rochester United at new ground Salter Road in the Southern Counties East League. You are all warmly invited to both of the above.

One or two other teams (e.g. Walton Casuals and Brimsdown) have been on the move over the summer and will be beginning new groundshares, while we're still waiting to hear when Hayes & Yeading United will be allowed to play a competitive game at their new stadium (on the site of Yeading's old ground). A friendly against Hendon went ahead there last week and it looks impressive but there's still a bit more work to do.

Lastly this week, there's just time for another plug for Non-League Day (NLD). There's less than four weeks to go now and there still feels like there's a lot to do - it always does at this stage.

If you want to see and hear what I've got to say then watch this short film

On Saturday we launched, with the help of Tifosy, our charity crowdfunder for Prostate Cancer UK. As with all crowdfunding pages, there's an obligatory video which I make an appearance in alongside the likes of far greater football luminaries like Les Ferdinand, Gianluca Vialli, Matt Elliott and Guillem Balague. All have donated rewards and prizes which you can buy or bid for and there's also some exclusive NLD merchandise too. Please take a look and if this blog has been of use to you, I'd really appreciate it if you could put a pound or two PCUK's way. Just to clarify - all profits will go to the charity, none of it will go to me or NLD in any way.

That's enough from me, enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to. 

There are almost 90 matches in the London area over the next week as pre-season starts to wind down and the competitive stuff gets 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
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures

Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange 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 8 August

National League South
Wealdstone v St Albans City @745pm - bit of a derby feel to this one as the Stones host opponents from just outside the M25

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Sutton Common Rovers v Erith Town @745pm - after an entertaining 2-2 draw on Saturday, these two meet again on the 3G pitch at Sutton United

Tuesday 9 August

EFL Cup First Round
Leyton Orient v Fulham @745pm  - the EFL Cup gets underway on Tuesday and the draw has given us two decent crosstown derbies, the first being this one at the Matchroom Stadium
Barnet v Millwall @8pm - it's north versus south-east in the other one up at The Hive

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - Hampton host their first NLS match at the Beveree since promotion against a side who also won on opening day

Southern League Division 1 Central
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Marlow @745pm - both sides enjoyed fine wins on Saturday and come into this game in the Southern League Division 1 Central's top three

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
AFC Hayes v Abingdon United @745pm - after grinding out a 0-0 draw on Saturday, these two have another go
Sun Sports v London Tigers @745pm - used to playing each other in the Spartan South Midlands League, these two rivals produced a 1-1 draw in the initial tie

Wednesday 10 August

EFL Cup First Round
Queens Park Rangers v Swindon Town @745pm - playing a division above their opponents, the R's should start as favourites but are a notoriously poor cup team

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Tower Hamlets @745pm - if you'd prefer a bit of non-league football instead, you could try this derby on the east side of town

Friday 12 August

Premier League 2 (Division 1)
Arsenal U23 v Reading U23 @7pm - the brand new competition for the top clubs' youngsters and reserves begins on Friday night with this match at Boreham Wood

Saturday 13 August

Premier League
Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - after nearly three months of waiting, the Premier League finally returns to London with this offering at Selhurst Park

Brentford v Ipswich Town @3pm - after a disappointing start at Huddersfield, the Bees will look to bounce back against the Tractor Boys who smashed four past Barnsley in their first match

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - the Dons face former Premier League side Bolton in their first home match following promotion to League One

League Two
Barnet v Accrington Stanley @3pm - the Bees face a tricky first home game against opponents who made the play-offs last season and started well again on Saturday

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Worthing @3pm - be part of history and join the Greens as they play the first competitive game at their new ground against the newly promoted Rebels

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Fisher v Rochester United @3pm - if you can't get to Hendon, there's a new ground opening at Salter Road too as the Fish make their long-awaited return to Rotherhithe

Sunday 14 August

Premier League
Arsenal v Liverpool @4pm - two of the giants of English football go head-to-head in what is undoubtedly the standout fixture of the opening weekend

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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