Monday, 19 December 2016

TLFG: 19 December 2016 - 2 January 2017

Well we've made it to the end of 2016 and what a year it's been for Britain and the world.

I won't say any more than that but I'm still grateful to be here and I hope I'll have enough to stumble over the line into 2017.

The football world has been rocked by scandals again with the still unfolding abuse story overshadowing things as the new year beckons.

My personal highlights were Harrow Borough making the FA Cup First Round, organising another successful Non-League Day, see friends get their football books published and making a couple of trips overseas to watch some European football.

The first half of 2017 will see my two favourite clubs have to fight out a relegation battle as QPR and the aforementioned Harrow are in trouble.

I'm also looking forward to the second Non-League Finals Day at Wembley in May and I'm debating whether to go to the Women's European Championships in the Netherlands in July.

I'd be interested to hear about your highs and lows and hopes for the year ahead.

This week's blog is the now customary festive special edition which will cover you for the next two weeks. There are loads and loads of games, many of them derbies - although, as you'll see below, the Premier League and EFL are a bit lacking in terms of real blockbusters which is disappointing.

There are games spread right across the period with kick-offs varying too, allowing groundhoppers to take in at least two matches on some days.

It's just gone 0300 GMT so I think it's time to hit the hay and wrap things up for another year. I hope you've enjoyed the blog and found it useful. Have a great festive period and see you back here in early January.

TRAVEL ADVISORY
Please be aware that public transport will be significantly affected over the Christmas period, especially on Boxing Day (26 December).

There will be virtually no national rail services, including London Overground, and a significant chunk of the District Line will be shut too.

This means that getting to matches at Brentford, Chelsea, Millwall and Watford will be less straightforward than normal but good London Underground alternatives, with a bit of walking, are available instead.

For full details of festive services, including those on New Year's Eve, see the TFL website.

THE WEEKS AHEAD
There are 130+ matches in the London area over two weeks with action in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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).

Match map 19-25 December
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




Match map 26-30 December
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




Match map 31 December - 2 January
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Orange pin - Sunday fixtures
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
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 19 December

Ryman League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - a fine game to start the week as two sides with play-off ambitions from south of the river meet at Kingsmeadow

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Tuesday 20 December

National League
Boreham Wood v Braintree Town @745pm ninth in this division, The Wood are London's second highest ranked non-league club and should fancy themselves against relegation threatened opposition from Essex

Ryman League Premier Division
Harrow Borough v Tonbridge Angels @745pm - both sides are in slightly artificial positions at either end of the table with several games in hand on most of the teams above them. Tonbridge would be top of the league if they won theirs so will start as favourites

Ryman League Division 1 North
Thurrock v VCD Athletic @745pm - after several disappointments in recent years, Thurrock look all set to mount another promotion bid and are currently second, a position that should make them confident of victory here

London Senior Cup First Round
Corinthian Casuals v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - an attractive local derby between an amateur club and one from League One. The Dons are highly unlikely to field a full strength team but there could be one or two notables in their line-up

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Oxhey Jets v Sun Sports @745pm - simply put, this is the Watford non-league derby

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Wednesday 21 December

League One

Millwall v Charlton Athletic - in the quiet time before Christmas, this is definitely the match of the week. Re-arranged after an initial postponement, these two near neighbours from south-east London should put on a decent display

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Thursday 22 December

Middlesex Charity Cup Second Round
Cockfosters v Hayes & Yeading United @745pm - the hosts are having a fine season in the ninth tier SSML Premier while HYU are having a bit of a stinker two divisions above - real cupset potential here

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Friday 23 December

Ryman League Division 1 North
AFC Hornchurch v Aveley @745pm - the pre-Xmas period ends with this rather randomly scheduled Essex derby towards the far end of the District Line. Both clubs have very realistic promotion ambitions so it could be a cracker

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Monday 26 December - Boxing Day

Premier League
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the festive fixtures get underway on Boxing Day with a bumper programme of games. However, the Premier League and EFL offering in the capital is a little underwhelming with this match, albeit between two top eight sides, unlikely to get many pulses racing
Chelsea v Bournemouth @3pm - again, a bit of 'meh' game on paper, with the Blues overwhelming favourites to win. However, if the visitors have a real go it could be exciting
Watford v Crystal Palace @1230pm - the only derby of the day in the top flight is this one but there's no particular rivalry between them so don't expect fireworks

Championship
Brentford v Cardiff City @1pm - this is the best you'll find in the second tier on Boxing Day but neither side are having a good season

League One
Millwall v Swindon Town @3pm - another uninspiring midtable versus strugglers contest

League Two
Leyton Orient v Crawley Town @1pm - the O's badly need a win in their fight to avoid relegation and midtable Crawley could well be beaten (I'm clutching at straws to try and build this up too)

National League
Bromley v Sutton United @3pm - when you drop into the non-league ranks, things start to get far more interesting with this derby between clubs from south London likely to draw a decent crowd

National League South
Dartford v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - although a division below, this is arguably an even bigger derby, both sides are also in the top five
Wealdstone v Maidenhead United @3pm - the Stones welcome the runaway league leaders for what is likely to prove to be a very tough encounter

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Harrow Borough @3pm - it's also north-west London derby time where these two old rivals meet for the first time at Hendon's new ground, it's also a relegation 'six-pointer'

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - a south London derby between two promotion contenders

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Tuesday 27 December

Ryman League Premier Division
Grays Athletic v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - a lot of non-league clubs have decided to give their players an extended Xmas and play today which is also a Bank Holiday. This seventh tier match is the highest level game on offer and Dulwich should win

Southern League Division 1 Central
Hanwell Town v Uxbridge @1pm - at the time of writing, the hosts are the best London has to offer in this division. If they can string two or three wins together then they could find themselves in the top five. Although not disastrous, Uxbridge's season looks over already

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont & Feltham v CB Hounslow United @1130am - the CCL always do groundhoppers proud on Bank Holidays by giving the bulk of their games late morning kick-offs meaning you can easily catch another game or two elsewhere. This match, next to Heathrow airport's runway, is a groundshare derby
Walton & Hersham v Westfield @1130am - the game of the day in this division pits fourth against second and with the visitors hailing from Woking there's a touch of a derby about this one too

Combined Counties League Division 1
AC London v Banstead Athletic @1130am - we've got another groundshare derby between one side who were top and one who currently are top

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Cockfosters v Hadley @3pm - up in third, Cockfosters are the best London have to offer in the SSML and should therefore feel confident going into this local derby
Edgware Town v Wembley @3pm - elsewhere in the division we have another local derby which should be worth a watch

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Hillingdon Borough v Harefield United @3pm - another derby between two Middlesex clubs who effectively play on the same road. If you've got a car, this could be combined with the 1pm kick-off between Broadfields and Kensington at Harefield's ground

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Wednesday 28 December

Ryman League Division 1 North
Romford v Thurrock @745pm - the pick of the day's action is this groundshare derby where Thurrock will look to win to close the gap on leaders Maldon & Tiptree

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Friday 30 December

League One
Millwall v Gillingham @745pm - for the last couple of years Gillingham have been Millwall's geographically closest opponents so there is definitely a derby feel to games between the two

Ryman League Division 1 North
Aveley v Haringey Borough @745pm - if you fancy a non-league alternative then this game between two clubs who could make the play-offs might tickle your fancy

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Saturday 31 December

Premier League
Chelsea v Stoke City @3pm - the year comes to an end with another fairly average looking fixture at Stamford Bridge, one the Blues should win to maintain or extend their lead at the top

Championship
Brentford v Norwich City @530pm - the Bees provide the 'best of the rest' entertainment again as they take on the out-of-form Canaries who have won only two of their last 10 games

League Two
Leyton Orient v Cambridge United @1pm - with the visitors chasing promotion, it looks like another tough afternoon for the O's. The early kick-off makes this another good one for groundhoppers

National League
Boreham Wood v Eastleigh @1pm - having seen off Halifax to make the third round of the FA Cup, Eastleigh arrive with a bit of national recognition

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley @1pm - the biggest crowd of the day in this division is likely to be at Champion Hill for this south versus north London clash

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Sunday 1 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @4pm - at last, a half-decent derby to get excited about with both teams needing the points at either end of the table
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur @130pm - another derby which should be a bit more even than the one above

National League
Sutton United v Bromley @3pm - it seems to be the custom in the National League to play one of your nearest rivals on Boxing Day and then play the reverse fixture the following week

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Monday 2 January

Premier League
West Ham United v Manchester United @515pm - this will be the third time in a little over a month that the Hammers will have played Jose Mourinho's side. They got thrashed in the EFL Cup but managed to draw the arguably more important league game 1-1

Championship
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - tickets will be very hard to get for the match above but this game provides a very good alternative. Being located just outside the capital, all matches against London clubs are effectively derbies for Brighton so they should come close to selling out their allocation. They could also be top of the table by kick-off

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Millwall @1pm - there's another cracking London derby to look forward to here but you must be a member or on the club's 'fan register' to buy a ticket

League Two
Barnet v Plymouth Argyle @3pm - the Bees play host to the team who are currently top

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Braintree Town @745pm - an Essex derby between sides at opposite ends of the table

Ryman League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Kingstonian @3pm - a local derby at the well appointed Imber Court but don't expect much rivalry as the hosts don't have many fans

Ryman League Division 1 North
Phoenix Sports v VCD Athletic @1pm - these two are very local rivals so much so that when I went to watch Phoenix a few years ago, you could hear the crowd watching the match at VCD's ground

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - a derby between two sides who are also fighting for promotion
Walton Casuals v Whyteleafe @3pm - yet another groundshare derby

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - the Erith derby, it's just a shame neither of them play there and have to groundshare with other clubs

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Sutton Athletic v Kent Football United @3pm - third versus fourth at the time of writing

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Hillingdon Borough @3pm - two former FA Vase finalists meet at Hanwell Town's ground as the festive season comes to a close


GET INVOLVED
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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