Sunday, 30 October 2016

TLFG: 31 October - 6 November 2016

Welcome one and all to this week's TLFG.

It occurred to me the other day that this blog has now been going for five years.

I set it up back in 2011, shortly after returning from a trip to Bosnia, as a way to fill the time after taking redundancy from my job at the BBC.

It kept me occupied through a few worryingly jobless months and has somehow continued through until today despite me becoming a father and taking on a new line of employment that sees me work some crazy shifts. 

The rewards of slowly developing and growing the blog have been immense. I've been interviewed by the New York Times, helped authors research their books, offered advice to travellers planning visits to London and have developed some great friendships and contacts with readers and club officials.

The thought that I can be of help to people is the main reason why I do this so it's always great to get an email or tweet asking for tips and help - so keep them coming.

It's FA Cup First Round weekend and this is one of the best ties in London

What else have I been up to over the last week? Well I actually managed another live game and what a waste of time it was too!

I finally made it down to Loftus Road for the first time this season to watch QPR take on local rivals Brentford in Friday night's live televised game.

It wasn't a classic performance by either side but the Bees deserved their 2-0 win which was their first at our place for 52 years!!! I'm so glad I was there.

People are calling for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's head but we're 14th in the table, we've got an average squad, play in an average size stadium and personally I believe we are where we kind of deserve to be. Did I mention I don't lose sleep over QPR any more? 

Enough about them - this week is all about Harrow Borough

The Ryman League minnows have battled through four qualifying rounds to make it to the FA Cup First Round 'Proper' on Saturday and have landed an incredibly tough tie against League One play-off contenders Northampton Town at Sixfields.

Avoiding defeat is almost unthinkable but the Boro have got absolutely nothing to lose and I'm sure they will give a good account of themselves.

I'm just gutted I won't be there - I am actually off work but it's my birthday and I'm already committed to a trip to Bristol. I was praying Harrow would draw Bristol Rovers but it wasn't to be. Oh well, I'm free for the second round so I'll have to make do with that instead. 

If you're in London this weekend you can gorge on FA Cup football with games spread right across the weekend from Friday to Sunday. Tickets are available for all games although you will need to buy in advance for the very interesting looking tie between Boreham Wood and Notts County.

I think that's about it from me. Enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to. Some readers who always do are the guys at 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' whose latest trip took them to Ilford FC over in east London - give it a read.

There are well almost 90 matches in the London area over the next week with the Premier League and FA Cup taking centre stage. The Champions League is also back and there are games in several county and minor league cups too.

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
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 31 October

Premier League 2

West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion @7pm - once again there's a good selection of U23 football on Monday with this PL2 game at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground the best on offer

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Walton Casuals @745pm - both these two have made a decent start and a win for the hosts will fire them into the top four


Tuesday 1 November

FA Trophy First Qualifying Round Replays

Wingate & Finchley v Grays Athletic @745pm - after fighting out a 1-1 draw on Sunday, these two do it all again in N12 for the £2,700 prize money
Harrow Borough v Herne Bay @745pm - Boro grabbed an injury-time equaliser on Saturday to earn this replay but with their massive FA Cup First Round game at Northampton looming, will they be distracted???
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - the Tangerines did superbly to hold Tonbridge to a 3-3 draw on Saturday and now have home advantage to try and pull off a cupset
Northwood v Royston Town @745pm - the Woods welcome the Southern League Division 1 Central leaders for a challenging game


Wednesday 2 November

Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur v Bayer Leverkusen @745pm - with a loss, a win and a draw Spurs have made a stuttering start in Group E so they really need to take three points against the Germans who haven't lost yet

Kent Senior Cup First Round
Phoenix Sports v Charlton Athletic @745pm - the joint leaders of the Ryman 1 North host a squad from the League One Addicks in this county cup fixture

Essex Senior League
Ilford v Clapton @745pm - if neither of the above appeal, try an East End derby between these two old rivals


Friday 4 November

Brentford v Fulham @745pm - after winning the derby against QPR last Friday, the Bees welcome their other west London rivals this Friday for another televised game. The Cottagers trounced high-flying Huddersfield 5-0 on Saturday so will also come into this match on a high

FA Cup First Round - at this stage League One and League Two clubs join the draw alongside the 32 non-league clubs who have survived the six qualifying rounds

Millwall v Southend United @745pm - the Lions have enjoyed an upsurge in form of late and leapfrogged Southend on Saturday with a win at Oxford. However, the Shrimpers beat Millwall 3-1 earlier in the season so will fancy their chances


Saturday 5 November

Premier League

Chelsea v Everton @530pm - the Blues are starting to hit some serious form but the Toffees, a top six side themselves, should provide stiff opposition in the game of the day
West Ham United v Stoke City @3pm - at the other end of the table we've got an early season six-pointer between clubs perched just above the relegation zone

FA Cup First Round
Charlton Athletic v Scunthorpe United @3pm - the Addicks are unbeaten in four but have drawn the League One leaders in this tough tie
Dagenham & Redbridge v FC Halifax Town @3pm - the Daggers held leaders Forest Green to a 1-1 draw in the big National League game on Saturday will start as favourites against the Shaymen who play in the division below. However, they are a canny cup side and won last season's FA Trophy
Dartford v Sutton United @3pm - the Darts welcome the U's for a TLFG derby. Sutton play in the higher division but the hosts are in great form so there shouldn't be much between them

Brentford B v Manchester United U23 @3pm - one of the more unusual games of the day sees the Bees' youngsters and reserves entertain their counterparts from Old Trafford at Griffin Park. To top it all, it's free to get in

Ryman League Division 1 North
Phoenix Sports v Cheshunt @3pm - at the time of writing, four teams share the lead of this division and these are two of them. Sadly, after a strong start, Phoenix have gone four without a win and are on the slide so will want to arrest that run here

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Wembley v London Colney @3pm - the top two in the league go head-to-head at Vale Farm. The visitors are 12 points clear at the top but Wembley have three games in hand so a win would make things really interesting

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Forest Hill Park v Rusthall @3pm - FHP are in only their second season at this level but are up in the top four and ready to take on the leaders at the Ladywell Arena


Sunday 6 November

Premier League
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur @12pm - the match of the week takes place at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday as we get to enjoy our first North London derby of the season. They both finished in the top three last season and they're both vying for honours again this time. The Gunners are currently joint top but Spurs are only three points behind and the only unbeaten side in the top flight - it should be close

FA Cup First Round
Boreham Wood v Notts County @2pm - the Wood are enjoying a good season in the National League and have landed a great draw against these League Two play-off contenders. It will be tough but it's caught the interest of the TV companies and it should be tough for the Magpies

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. 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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