Sunday, 13 August 2017

TLFG: 14-20 August 2017

Well I think that's it - everyone is finally underway.

The Premier League, EFL, National League, the FA Cup and all the other leagues TLFG covers have all seen their first games played.

The opening weekend of the Premier League saw some truly sensational games with Arsenal pipping Leicester 4-3, Watford coming from behind to controversially draw 3-3 with Liverpool and, most notably, champions Chelsea losing 3-2 at home to Burnley.

In last week's piece I said the Clarets could make it tough for Chelsea but I didn't realise just how tough!

Elsewhere, Spurs started well with a win at Newcastle while there were disappointingly comfortable defeats for Crystal Palace and West Ham.

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I'm pleased to report that the two sides I follow had good weeks.

QPR followed up their impressive win over Reading with a 1-0 EFL Cup victory over Northampton and a 1-1 draw against a highly rated Sheffield Wednesday side at Hillsborough.

Whilst Harrow Borough, who were reprieved from relegation by problems at Worcester City, began their Bostik League campaign with a 2-1 win over Harlow Town.

Sadly I missed out on experiencing these fine performances as I had booked tickets months ago to spend the day at the London Stadium watching the World Athletics Championships instead.

Despite football being my passion, I haven't played it for years and actually spend the rest of my spare time running.

Whether it's a Saturday morning parkrun, a track session at my local club, running a half marathon or just pounding the streets to keep off the calories - it keeps me busy.


Railway improvement work could have a serious impact on your journey to football this month

I'm actually a registered amateur athlete with England Athletics so going to the World Championships was something I was always likely to do.

Having been operational for five years, it was still only my first visit to the stadium and I was interested to see what it was like and why West Ham's fans hated it so much.

It was effectively sold out on Saturday morning and the atmosphere was pretty decent as the British women charged round the track in 4x100m relay. The sightlines from where I was sat in the upper tier were also good so I was a bit surprised that it was so unpopular. However, football is very different to athletics and the track does get in the way and for fans used to the closeness of Upton Park it must be very hard to get used to. I'll just have to make another visit to see for myself.

Thousands turn out for the World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium

In other news, Spurs put their second home game of the season against Burnley on general sale earlier this week.

I put a post about it on TLFG's Facebook page and it received huge interest.

Given the vastness of Wembley, I would think every game will go to general sale this season. Even the Chelsea game on Sunday has some availability provided you registered with the club before 1 July.

With most of my Saturdays taken up with work and many tickets available for only £20, I could well find myself at Wembley for the odd Sunday game over the next few months.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days with all our major football leagues in action.

There are also some FA Cup ties, some of which are yet to be confirmed so check back as the week progresses.

As always, 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 (orange 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.


Coming out on Wednesday, the Non-League Club Directory is back for 2017-2018

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




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 14 August*

National League South
Wealdstone v Havant & Waterlooville @745pm - the Stones narrowly missed out on a play-off place last season and on Monday they welcome the newly promoted Hawks who won the Ryman League title back in April

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Barking @745pm - the hosts did really well to make the play-offs last season and got the new season off to a great start on Saturday with a win at Norwich United. Barking came into this campaign as Essex Senior League champions but came unstuck at home to Waltham Abbey in their first game

Bostik League South Division
Carshalton Athletic v Hastings United @745pm - the Robins were just pipped to a play-off place by Hastings last season so there's a little bit of unfinished business here

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v West Essex @745pm - it might be early days in the ESL but this is a top-six clash and a win for either will see them go at least joint top

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Sporting Club Thamesmead v FC Elmstead @745pm - like the game above, this is also a top-six clash that will put the winner top

*There are also a number of U23 games in the Professional Development League but, at the time of writing, all are taking place at club training grounds so it is unclear whether the public will be admitted

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Tuesday 15 August

Championship
Brentford v Bristol City @745pm - the Bees have got off to a shaky start with defeats in their first two league games. However, they are unbeaten in six against the Robins so that run could end
Millwall v Ipswich Town @745pm - the Lions picked up their first point of the season against Bolton on Saturday. The Tractor Boys are next up and although suffering some very poor results in pre-season have won their first two and are looking good

National League
Bromley v Leyton Orient @745pm - we've got a derby to look forward to at Hayes Lane of Tuesday as the Lilywhites welcome the recently relegated O's. After losing at Sutton on the opening day, Leyton Orient have won their next two while unbeaten Bromley are only a point behind
Dagenham & Redbridge v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - there's also a big game with a derby feel to it north of the river where two of the favourites for promotion go head-to-head at Victoria Road

Bostik League Premier Division
Hendon v Enfield Town @745pm - there's a north London derby at Silver Jubilee Park on Tuesday. Neither team made a great start on Saturday so they'll both be going after their first win

Bostik League South Division
Corinthian Casuals v Greenwich Borough @745pm - both these sides made the play-offs last season where CC's beat big-spending Greenwich 4-3 in south-east London in the semis. Boro will no doubt want to get some early revenge

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
Erith Town v Rochester United @745pm - after drawing 1-1 at Rochester with 10 men, the initial replay was postponed so now they have to try again with the winners travelling to Whyteleafe in the next round
Waltham Forest v FC Romania @745pm - inclement weather also delayed this replay. The visitors are among the favourites to win the Essex Senior League this season and have already won all three games played, scoring 13 in the process

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Wednesday 16 August

Bostik League North Division
Grays Athletic v AFC Hornchurch @745pm - Grays play their first competitive game at Parkside, the new ground they share with Aveley. Title contenders and Essex neighbours Hornchurch provide the opposition

Essex Senior League
Hackney Wick v Sporting Bengal United @745pm - it's a case of Hackney versus Tower Hamlets in Newham on Wednesday with this East End derby at Clapton's ground

Combined Counties League Division 1
FC Deportivo Galicia v Kensington Borough @745pm - two recent graduates of the Middlesex County League are now both in the CCL1 and groundsharing at the two Bedfont clubs which means they play right next to each other next to Heathrow airport, sadly nowhere near where either of them come from

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Southall v Hatfield Town @745pm - having finally been signed off by all the relevant authorities, Southall begin life at the brand new SkyEx Stadium which they share with Hayes & Yeading United. UPDATE (15/08/17): Match moved to Hillingdon Borough

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Friday 18 August

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Derby County @705pm - the Blues' U23 side play the first home game of their PL2 campaign at Stamford Bridge. At just £5 for adults, matches like this provide a great opportunity to see a game at one of the city's top stadiums at a fraction of the normal cost. However, tickets must be bought by 4pm on the day of the game - you will not be able to pay on the gate

FA Cup Preliminary Round
AC London v Egham Town @745pm - the hosts have created a lot of headlines over the last couple of weeks. Set up following the London riots of 2011 by a teenager, AC London are not only now a well established semi-pro club but they are also in the FA Cup for the first time. After a fixture clash with Whyteleafe, who they groundshare with, they had to forfeit home advantage in the opening round but still beat Crawley Down Gatwick. Next up they take on the Sarnies who play two levels above them and made the Evo-Stik League Division 1 Central play-offs last season - it will be quite some achievement if they win again

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Saturday 19 August

Championship
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - strangely there's no Premier League football in London on Saturday so this represents your next best option. Both these sides made the play-offs last season but came unstuck at the semi-final stage and will want to do well again
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City @3pm - QPR came perilously close to relegation to League One last season but managed to stay up and have started this season much better than expected. Hull fought hard but lost their place in the Premier League back in May and are expected to do well

League One
Charlton Athletic v Northampton Town @3pm - the only other EFL game in the capital on Saturday is this one at The Valley. The Addicks will start as favourites especially when you consider the Cobblers have only managed two wins over them since 1964!

National League
Boreham Wood v Aldershot Town @3pm - the Wood have started well enough but not as well as the Shots who have won their opening three and are already two points clear at the top. That could change following midweek results but if they do win again, then they could be well worth a watch
Bromley v Hartlepool United @3pm - it's a huge week for Bromley who host recently relegated former EFL stalwarts Leyton Orient and Hartlepool in back-to-back games. Whereas the O's have started well, the club from County Durham are winless and down in 20th place

National League South
Wealdstone v Chelmsford City @3pm - the Stones start the week against the Ryman League champions and end it against one of the favourites for the NLS title. Chelmsford are living up to their billing so far with a 100% record from their first three games

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Billericay Town @3pm - the standout game of the week in the Bostik League sees the two pre-season favourites meet at Champion Hill. If you've somehow missed it, Dulwich have become the biggest club in the league in terms of support (averaging 1,317 last season) as good marketing and community engagement has seen them grown rapidly in recent years. However, in recent months Billericay have been taken over by a rich benefactor who is rumoured to be spending over £30,000 a week on wages for the likes of former Premier League players Paul Konchesky, Jamie O'Hara and Jermaine Pennant. Despite the two clubs' strong squads, neither managed a win on the opening day with Billericay somehow contriving to lose at home to Kingstonian who are without a ground of their own after leaving Kingsmeadow in April

FA Cup Preliminary Round - at this stage of the competition, clubs from the eighth tier join the draw alongside the sides from the ninth and tenth tier who survived the opening round. Winners of each tie receive £1,925 prize money. Listed below are a few of the many ties taking place in London this weekend
AFC Hornchurch v Brentwood Town @3pm - the Urchins welcome Brentwood for an Essex derby between two Bostik League North sides
Chertsey Town v Horsham @3pm -  the Curfews welcome Bostik League Horsham to Alwyns Lane as they look to cause an upset
Clapton v Norwich United @3pm - there's a similar ninth versus eighth tier game at the Old Spotted Dog where a great atmosphere could usually be guaranteed. However, the club's ultras began another boycott on Saturday and without them, the ground is usually close to empty. Check their Twitter feed during the week to see whether or not they'll be back
Colliers Wood United v Shoreham @3pm - the Wood welcome the Southern Combination champions to the Wibbandune for what should be a testing tie
Croydon v Faversham Town @3pm - the Trams face a tough game against Bostik League Faversham who top the South Division at the time of writing

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Sunday 20 August

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea @4pm - Spurs begin life at Wembley Stadium with this humdinger of a derby against the Blues. These two finished second and first in the Premier League last season but it was Spurs who made a much better start this weekend, winning 2-0 at Newcastle while Chelsea lost 3-2 at home to Burnley. Tickets are still on 'restricted general sale' for this match - which means you can get a ticket if you had registered with Tottenham before the 1 July

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Cray Wanderers v Sevenoaks Town @3pm - thanks to several local sides groundsharing, there are three further FA Cup ties on Sunday. Bostik League side Cray, who play at Bromley's ground, welcome SCEFL side Sevenoaks and should therefore start as favourites
Erith & Belvedere v Cray Valley PM @3pm - there's a south-east London derby at Park View Road where the recently relegated hosts will look to claim the scalp of their higher ranked neighbours
Southall v Hadley @3pm - west Londoners Southall play only their second game at the newly opened SkyEx Community Stadium and face Hadley from the division above (UPDATE: 18/08/17 - Match moved to Saturday 19 August, 3pm at Hillingdon Borough)


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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

TLFG: 7-13 August 2017

It's nearly here. The final countdown has begun - by the end of the week, the football season will be fully underway at every level which TLFG covers.

The weekend just gone saw the EFL and FA Cup get going. This week sees the Premier League, Premier League 2, and sides in the seventh and eighth tiers finally join the party.

Once again I've missed out on seeing live football but this week it was a conscious choice - it was either go to a game or write this blog. Such is my devotion to you, dear readers, that I opted for the latter.

It was a tough decision as QPR gave one of their best performances for a while against a highly rated Reading side. Two Conor Washington goals got the crowd roaring within earshot of my flat and saw off Jaap Stam's side with relative ease as a high energy pressing game won the day for the hosts. 

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I also passed up the chance to join German TLFG reader Christoph for the Tottenham game against Juventus at Wembley which kicked off at 530pm - but then so did most people as only 26,251 turned up for a game which, although attractive, was significantly overpriced when it first went on sale.


Railway improvement work could have a serious impact on your journey to football this month

In fact, the last two Non-League Finals Days drew significantly higher crowds to Wembley which is a little bit of a worry - I'm sure it will be a different story when Chelsea head there for Spurs' first home game later this month. Although, it should be noted that the Blues have only been given 3,000 tickets!

In other news, the capital is currently playing host to the World Athletics Championships over at the London Stadium. I've not been to see a West Ham game there yet but I do have tickets for the athletics on Saturday so will have to see what it's like.

Also this week, I'd like to draw your attention to the huge engineering project which has begun at Waterloo station over the weekend. From now until 28 August, roughly half of the UK's busiest station will be closed meaning a huge reduction in trains and the temporary closure of some suburban stations.

This will definitely affect people going to watch AFC Wimbledon as Norbiton station will be closed throughout the works. Brentford and fans travelling to Fulham via Putney might notice a difference too. 

At non-league level many sides will be affected with Corinthian Casuals and Chessington & Hook United seeing the branch line they both play on closed.

If you're heading out of London - Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton are the league clubs most likely to be affected whilst trips to Aldershot Town, Eastleigh and Woking could be difficult too.

Things are likely to be worse for midweek games as more people are likely to be travelling so please make sure you plan ahead and use an alternative transport option where possible.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with all our major football leagues in action.

There are also some EFL Cup games and FA Cup replays, some of which are yet to be confirmed so check back as the week progresses.

As always, 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 (orange 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.


Now in it's 131st year, the Nationwide Football Annual is back for 2017-2018

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin




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 7 August

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Tower Hamlets v FC Broxbourne Borough @745pm - get your week underway with some cup football in Mile End. These two fought out a 1-1 draw in the original tie on Saturday

Pre-season friendly
Barking v Clapton @745pm - two east London neighbours play a match in honour of teenage Barking player Joshua Bwalya who was murdered last Tuesday by a masked gang

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Tuesday 8 August

EFL Cup First Round
AFC Wimbledon v Brentford @745pm - probably the match of the round from a London perspective is this derby at Kingsmeadow. If you do fancy going, please be aware that because of engineering work Norbiton station, which serves the ground, is closed and trains to Kingston will take longer than usual and could be heavily overcrowded so leave in good time
Millwall v Stevenage @745pm - with Stevenage coming from just outside London, the Lions effectively have a derby to look forward to as well
Queens Park Rangers v Northampton Town @745pm - QPR's record in the early rounds of this competition over recent years has been pretty poor and the Cobblers could well win if the hosts make a lot of changes

National League
Boreham Wood v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - the Wood picked up a very useful point at AFC Fylde on the opening day of the season and next welcome title contenders and local rivals Dagenham. The Daggers started their campaign with a 2-1 win over Barrow
Leyton Orient v Solihull Moors @745pm - the O's began life among the non-league ranks with a disappointing 2-0 reverse at Sutton on Saturday. The bright spot from my point of view was the enormous 3,000+ crowd which turned out to watch it. The east London club will hope to get back on track against Solihull whose first game was postponed following safety concerns over their stadium

National League South
Welling United v Chelmsford City @745pm - the pick of the games in this division, the Wings welcome the bookies' title favourites Chelmsford to Park View Road. Welling travelled all the way down to Truro on Saturday only to lose 3-2 while City flexed their muscles with a 2-0 win over Gloucester
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Oxford City @745pm - in the night's other game, Hampton and Richmond go after their first win of the season as they look to at least make the play-offs again. This could also be affected by the railway works with trains to Hampton likely to be busy

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
CB Hounslow United v Rusthall @745pm - the hosts play the first FA Cup match at their new stadium near Heathrow - be part of it!
Wadham Lodge v Framlingham Town @745pm - the hosts failed to beat FA Cup debutants Framlingham on Saturday despite having an extra man for the final 30 minutes

Southern Counties East League Division 1
Meridian VP v Bridon Ropes @745pm - way down in the 10th tier we've got a groundshare derby to enjoy. These two play a stone's throw from The Valley down in south-east London

Pre-season friendlies
AFC Hornchurch v West Ham United XI @730pm - with the Bostik League yet to get started, the Urchins have arranged a warm-up against a Hammers' development side
Thurrock v Colchester United U23 @745pm - the other notable friendly of the night takes place a short drive to the south where newly promoted Thurrock complete their preparations before returning to seventh-tier football

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Wednesday 9 August

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
Erith Town v Rochester United @745pm - after fighting out a 1-1 draw on Saturday, Erith welcome SCEFL rivals Rochester to Oakwood
Waltham Forest v FC Romania @745pm - a last-minute goal saw Forest earn a replay against their Essex Senior League rivals on Saturday


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Friday 11 August

Premier League
Arsenal v Leicester City @745pm - the new Premier League season kicks-off on Friday night with this match at the Emirates between the FA Cup holders and the 2015/16 Premier League winners. The Gunners have been inconsistent in pre-season but ended it on Sunday by beating Chelsea on penalties to claim the FA Community Shield for the 15th time. The Foxes never came close to retaining their title last season and have only won two of their seven friendlies this summer but they'll probably be fired up for this one

Premier League 2
Fulham v Middlesbrough @2pm - with tickets for the Arsenal match above almost impossible to get without membership or a lot of money, you could enjoy a PL2 double instead. If you don't know, this competition features the best U23 sides in the country in a league format. On Friday, you can start the day at Fulham's Motspur Park training ground for this one and then make your way, train disruption permitting, over to east London for...
West Ham United v Everton @7pm - the Hammers' youngsters entertain their counterparts from Goodison Park at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground in what looks like a fine game on paper
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Saturday 12 August

Premier League
Chelsea v Burnley @3pm - the Blues begin the defence of their title with what should be a comfortable enough home win. However, the Clarets have proved to be a bit of a thorn in Chelsea's side in recent years, drawing two of the four games the sides have played since 2015
Watford v Liverpool @1230pm - earlier in the day, the Hornets face a tough opener against Jurgen Klopp's Reds. New boss Marco Silva takes charge of his first competitive game at Vicarage Road but with only two wins in 10 against the Anfield club, he knows it will be an achievement to get anything
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield Town @3pm - in the day's other top-flight game, the Eagles face a visit from Premier League new boys Huddersfield. The Terriers haven't played at the top level since the '70s so will want to make the most of the experience

Championship
Brentford v Nottingham Forest @3pm - the Bees narrowly lost at promoted Sheffield United on Saturday and will hope to pick up their first points against Forest who saw off Millwall in another closely contested game on Friday
Millwall v Bolton Wanderers @3pm - the Lions' first home game back in the Championship is against a side who they came up with. The Trotters enjoyed a ding-dong battle with Leeds on Sunday but ultimately lost 3-2

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - neither side are expected to pull up many trees this season but both will hope to comfortably avoid the drop. The Dons picked up an impressive point at Scunthorpe while the Shrews saw off Northampton on a decent opening day for both

League Two
Barnet v Luton Town @3pm - effectively a derby, this game has become even more interesting after looking at Saturday's results. The Bees did really well to come back from 2-0 down to draw at big spending Forest Green while the Hatters showed why they're being tipped to win the division by thrashing Yeovil 8-2!

National League
Leyton Orient v Maidstone United @3pm - two of the best supported clubs in this division meet at Brisbane Road on Saturday for what is also pretty much a derby. The last time they played was way back in 1990 when the Stones were enjoying their brief stint in the Football League. They met in the League Cup over two legs and the O's won 6-3 on aggregate

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Staines Town @3pm - nothing really stands out in the National League South so the focus next moves to the seventh tier where the Hamlet start the season in the newly named Bostik League as title favourites. After several years of falling short in the play-offs, the pressure is really on boss Gavin Rose to deliver. However, huge investment at Billericay which has brought the likes of Paul Konchesky, Jamie O'Hara and Jermaine Pennant to the Essex club should ensure they don't have it all their own way

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Soham Town Rangers @3pm - in the division below Dulwich, the Urchins are set to spearhead the Greater London area challenge for the North Division title. Soham aren't fancied to do much so really must be beaten
Aveley v Bowers & Pitsea @3pm - its's a huge day for the Millers who play the first competitive game at their impressive new Parkside stadium. Fellow Essex club B&P make the short trip from Basildon to help them mark the occasion

Bostik League South Division
Greenwich Borough v Whyteleafe @3pm - in the parallel South Division, Boro are tipped to be champions. Having spent a tidy sum on players since new owners took over, they will be expecting promotion after falling just short last season

Evo-Stik League Division 1 East
Hayes & Yeading United v Aylesbury @3pm - after suffering another very disappointing relegation, former fifth-tier side H&YU will be starting life at level eight for the first time I can remember. Hopefully they'll be able to play this game at their new stadium but it keeps failing safety inspections so this game could well get moved to somewhere else

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Hadley v Harpenden Town @3pm - I've picked this one as if Saturday's results are anything to go by, this could produce a cricket score. Hadley won 9-1 at Langford in the FA Cup while Harpenden got stuffed 5-1 at Southall who play in the division below! It could be a long afternoon for the visitors - it'll probably finish goalless now

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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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

TLFG: 31 July - 6 August 2017

I can't believe we're moving into the first week of August already - the first seven months of the year have flown by.

However, the best thing about this is that it means the football season is almost upon us - praise the Lord!

Last week we saw the Essex Senior League get underway, while this week things start to get really serious as all three divisions of the EFL start and we also get to enjoy the opening round of the FA Cup.

There's also a huge weekend of action at Wembley where Spurs welcome Italian champions Juventus to their new temporary home on Saturday while Arsenal take on Chelsea less than 24 hours later in the FA Community Shield.

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The Tottenham game has proved to be a bit controversial as promoters initially advertised the tickets at a ridiculously high price causing many to actively boycott the game while others were simply unable to afford it.

With sales struggling, prices have since been slashed so you should be able to get a ticket for the 530pm kick-off. The other good thing about the late start is that you can combine it with other games if you want to see more than one on Saturday.

One choice, which a German friend of mine has gone for, is the National League opening-day game between Sutton United and Leyton Orient which starts at 1230pm. Although way down in south London, you'll have three hours to get between games.

Alternatively, you could avoid the Spurs game and see another match much closer to Sutton. The nearest is the friendly between Carshalton Athletic and Dulwich Hamlet which should be decent enough.

If you've got a car you could probably also just about make it to one of the FA Cup ties at Colliers Wood United or Chessington & Hook United.

Talking of the FA Cup, if you're thinking of having a go at completing the 'Road To Wembley' and seeing a game in every round, you might want to have a look at the book just below.


The FA Cup starts this weekend - here's how you get to see a game in every round

Written by TLFG reader A E Greb, you can discover how he managed to see not only a game in every round but also a replay too as he made it all the way to the national stadium back in the 2011/12 season. A number of today's big stars emerged at lower division clubs that year and he was also at Spurs for one of the most dramatic footballing events of the year.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are almost 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with several Premier League sides, a number of top European clubs and EFL teams all in action. There are also one or two new ground openings 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 (orange 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.


Arsenal legend Ian Wright's autobiography has proved to be one of the most popular football books of the year

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




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 31 July

Pre-season friendlies
Welling United v Millwall XI @745pm - the week begins with a south-east London derby at Park View Road. After a bad start, the Wings finished last season fairly strongly and have an outside chance of the National League South play-offs. The Lions are back in the Championship this season and will probably field one or two first-teamers as they have no further friendlies before the new campaign begins on Saturday
Corinthian Casuals v Bristol Rovers @745pm - the hosts have landed a prestigious friendly against League One promotion contenders Rovers. According to the Pirates' website, this is a first team game so a strong side is expected
-------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 1 August

Pre-season friendlies
Leyton Orient v Arsenal U23 @745pm - the O's conclude their pre-season programme with this testing fixture against the Gunners' talented youngsters
Tooting & Mitcham United v Crystal Palace U23 @730pm - the Terrors are back in the seventh tier for the first time in a few years. After a dodgy start to pre-season, they've won their last two and scored eight in the process. The Eagles' youngsters play the odd game at Imperial Fields so should know the ground well

Essex Senior League
Hackney Wick v Tower Hamlets @745pm - the Wickers only formed in 2015 but they've grown rapidly and are playing their first season in the ninth tier Essex Senior League. Their campaign got underway on Saturday with an impressive 3-1 win at Burnham Ramblers. This east London derby against Tower Hamlets will be their first competitive home game since moving in to share with Clapton

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Wednesday 2 August

Pre-season friendly
Aveley v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - after spending many decades at Mill Field, Aveley open their impressive new Parkside facility with this friendly against the Hamlet

Essex Senior League
Ilford v Clapton @745pm - the ESL fixture computer has thrown up another great east London derby on Wednesday night as two more near neighbours meet. The hosts went top on Saturday after beating the newly reformed Woodford Town 2017 5-0

Outside London
Southampton v FC Augsburg @745pm - the pick of the games outside the capital is the Saints' match against Bundesliga opponents Augsburg who aren't expected to do too well this season. The last train back to London is at 11pm so getting back shouldn't be a problem
--------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday 3 August

Pre-season friendlies
Cray Wanderers v Dorking Wanderers @745pm - the Wands will be looking for an improvement on their 11th-place finish in what was the Ryman South last season. On Thursday they entertain a tough Wanderers side who won the division's play-offs
--------------------------------------------------------------

Friday 4 August
Enfield Town v Barton Rovers @745pm - aside from a loss to Chelmsford City, the Towners have won all four of their other friendlies and scored a whopping 21 goals in the process. Barton play a level below Enfield but made the Southern League Division 1 Central play-off final last season 

Outside London
Leicester City v Borussia Monchengladbach @745pm - the Foxes end their pre-season against Bundesliga opposition. Die Fohlen finished ninth last season and recently signed English youngster Reece Oxford on loan from West Ham. The last train back to London is at 958pm so you might have to duck out early or drive
----------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday 5 August

Pre-season friendlies
Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus @530pm - the runners-up in the Premier League take on the runners-up in the Champions League in what should be the game of the week at Wembley. I say 'should' because the tickets were initially very expensive and didn't sell. Prices have since been slashed so hopefully there'll be a decent crowd
Crystal Palace v Schalke 04 @3pm - the Eagles also welcome Bundesliga opponents as they prepare for the new season. After the success of the early 2000s, Schalke have had a fairly lean few years and finished 10th last season
Watford v Real Sociedad @3pm - the Hornets celebrate the life and achievements of former manager Graham Taylor who sadly died in January. There will be lots of family activities from noon and tickets are £10 for the visit of Sociedad who have qualified for this season's Europa League

Championship
Fulham v Norwich City @3pm - the Cottagers made the play-offs last season but have struggled to get going so far this summer with an 8-2 defeat to Chelsea at Cobham being the low point. However, they are still among the favourites to go up
Queens Park Rangers v Reading @3pm - after a pretty underwhelming pre-season which strangely included not one but two friendlies against the Royals on the same day at the start of July (both lost), QPR welcome their old rivals from the Thames Valley for the first match of the new season. Jaap Stam's side made the play-off final last season and will be favourites to win here

League One
Charlton Athletic v Bristol Rovers @3pm - the Addicks start 2017/18 with a home game against Rovers who finished just three places above them last season. Both have a good chance of making the play-offs this time round

National League
Sutton United v Leyton Orient @1230pm - definitely the game of the day at this level, the U's derby match against recently relegated Orient is being shown live on BT Sport hence the early kick-off. Even though they enjoyed a remarkable FA Cup run last season, Sutton were well off the pace in the league and will want to improve in that respect. The O's were devastated by off-pitch problems last season but buoyed by new owners they are expected to do much better this time

National League South
Dartford v Hungerford Town @3pm - both these sides finished in the top six last season - the Darts made the play-offs and Hungerford would've done too if ground-grading issues hadn't controversially prevented them. Unsurprisingly, they're both fancied to do well again in 2017/18

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round - also known as the opening round of the FA Cup. If you want to do 'The Road To Wembley' and see a game in every round then this is where you have to start. 370 clubs from all over the country enter at this stage, most of whom play in the ninth and 10th tiers of the English game. Winners of each tie receive prize money of £1,500. Below I've picked a few of the notable ties - there are others

AC London v Crawley Down Gatwick @3pm - formed as recently as 2012, the hosts are entering the FA Cup for the first time this season. They've had a nomadic existence over the last five years and will start this season groundsharing at Whyteleafe. However, at the time of writing, the Leafe have a friendly scheduled for the same time as this game and AC are keeping everyone, including their opponents, in the dark as to where and when it's being played! Hopefully we'll get some clarification before Saturday (UPDATE: this match has been switched to Crawley Down)
Glebe v Lordswood @3pm - Glebe were primarily a junior club until recently but since putting out a senior side as well, they've gone from strength-to-strength. Always there or thereabouts in the Kent Invicta League/SCEFL Division 1, the Chislehurst-based club got promoted last season and should be ones to watch again this year
Hackney Wick v Long Melford @3pm - as was previously mentioned above, the Wickers are also relative newcomers to football at this level. I think I'm right in saying that this is the most centrally located tie of the day with the game taking place at London's oldest ground - the Old Spotted Dog
Hanworth Villa v Bedfont & Feltham @3pm - we've got a local derby over near Heathrow. Hanworth are usually among the frontrunners in the Combined Counties League and will start as favourites against B&F who suffered relegation last season to the CCL Division 1

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v Harefield United @3pm - the Panthers only formed last season and won promotion from the SSML Division 2 at the first attempt. Head down to Donkey Lane to see how this ambitious young club fare at the higher level

Other friendlies
Aveley v Harlow Town @2pm & Grays Athletic v Sittingbourne @430pm - despite moving to their new Parkside ground this season, the Millers will still be groundsharing with Grays. The two play friendlies back-to-back on Saturday but at this stage it's unclear whether one ticket will get you in for both or whether re-entry will be required
Corinthian Casuals v Crystal Palace U23 @3pm - after hosting Bristol Rovers on Monday, CCs bring their pre-season to an end with this game against the Eagles' development side
Outside London
Southampton v Sevilla @3pm - the Saints end pre-season with this attractive fixture against one of the biggest names in Spanish football. The Andalucian club finished fourth last season and beat RB Leipzig and Arsenal in the Emirates Cup this weekend
---------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday 6 August

The FA Community Shield 
Arsenal v Chelsea @2pm - you know the new Premier League season is almost upon us when this charity match between the Premier League champions and FA Cup winners takes place at Wembley. This year we have a big London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal. The two only met last week in China where the Blues won comfortably and you'd have to fancy them again here

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Barkingside v Stowmarket Town @3pm - the Side groundshare at Ilford and have consequently had to wait until Sunday to play this tie against opponents from Suffolk. Located a short walk from Seven Kings station, this is a pretty easy one to get to
Epsom & Ewell v Banstead Athletic @3pm - in the other tie of the day we've got a Surrey derby to look forward to. Sadly, unlike the match above, Chipstead's ground where E&E play is almost unreachable without a car

Outside London
Brighton & Hove Albion v Atletico Madrid @4pm - possibly the best 'outside London' friendly of the summer, the Seagulls prepare for their first season in the Premier League with this eye-catching friendly against Diego Simeone's team. The Spanish giants have qualified for the Champions League again and should provide formidable opposition
AFC Bournemouth v Napoli @730pm - talking of Champions League opponents, the Cherries have lined up a friendly against another one. After finishing third in Italy last season, Napoli will add a touch of glamour to proceedings at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday. The last train from Bournemouth to London is at 1006pm so you should be able to get back ok
--------------------------------------------------------------


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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

TLFG: 24-30 July 2017

Hello one and all and welcome to TLFG.

With July drawing to a close, pre-season is really hotting up with a number of our biggest clubs in action in the capital.

As a result, the amount of matches outside London which are covered has reduced to ones featuring Premier League, European or EFL sides which this blog normally covers.

With the quality of teams and matches improving, TLFG's Daily Digest is also back instead of the Top 10.

Subscribe to The London Football Guide

Readers last week may remember my aspiration to go and watch Carshalton Athletic take on QPR but it didn't happen as childcare intervened.

However, I engaged in something far more rewarding on Wednesday when I joined a work party at Earlsmead Stadium cleaning up the ground ahead of the forthcoming friendly between Harrow Borough and a Cardiff City XI (Saturday 29 July, 2pm).


For any German readers planning a trip to watch a game in London - this is the book for you

Having seen an advert for volunteers on the club's website, I headed down there on my day off and introduced myself to the team leader Noel who put me to work with a fellow vice-president Michael.

Our first task was to head to the main stand and reach down into the gap between the back row of seats and the wall and retrieve all the rubbish that had been dumped there over the previous season or two. We brought up all kinds of stuff including many polystyrene cups and chip holders, bottles, cans, crisp packets and even a couple of old Hendon programmes from when they were groundsharing.

Next up we de-mossed the terrace behind one of the goals and then finished up by weeding one of the car parks. It all took about two-and-half hours.

Although not glamorous work, I'd done my bit for a club I'd supported pretty much remotely for the best part of 25 years but most importantly I'd got to meet some of the people who make the club tick - something I'd been meaning to do for a while.

A bin full of weeds - the product of a fine morning's graft

Non-league clubs up and down the country are always looking for volunteers to do all kinds of jobs and can offer great work experience opportunities if you're trying to build up your CV so contact your local one if this is something that could be of interest to you.

The other thing to note this week is that aside from all the friendlies, we have some competitive football too. The Essex Senior League season starts on Saturday, we've got a couple of games in the opening round of the Herts Charity Shield and we've also got the final of the Middlesex Senior Cup which could be a cracker.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with several Premier League sides, a number of top European clubs and EFL teams playing friendlies.

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 (orange 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.


This comprehensive guide is currently one of the UK's best selling football books

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




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 24 July
Edgware Town v FC Deportivo Galicia @730pm - the pick of the friendlies sees the Wares host up and coming side FCDG. Promoted from the Middlesex County Football League into the 10th tier at the end of last season, the club who are primarily made up of players with Spanish heritage, will look to test themselves against a team from the level above
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Tuesday 25 July
Charlton Athletic v Norwich City @745pm - the biggest game in London on Tuesday is this friendly between the League One Addicks and Norwich who are fancied to do well in the Championship
Middlesex Senior Cup Final @730pm - there's some real silverware at stake over at the Beveree where Hampton & Richmond Borough host Wealdstone. This game has been held over from last season after Hampton's qualification for the National League South play-offs
Hayes & Yeading United v Harrow Borough @745pm - the hosts have been given permission to host this friendly against local rivals Harrow at their newly built stadium, however, only part of the ground will be open

Outside London
Southend United v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - a short journey east of London will take you to the Essex seaside town of Southend where the local League One side have landed this friendly against Premier League newcomers Brighton
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Wednesday 26 July
Thurrock v Southend United XI @745pm - the hosts won promotion back to the seventh tier last season and welcome a Shrimpers squad for an Essex derby

Outside London
Luton Town v Leicester City @745pm - the Hatters are favourites for the League Two title and they've managed to arrange this high profile friendly against the 2015/16 Premier League champions
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Thursday 27 July
Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI @730pm - the Wood have very strong links with the Gunners and a pre-season game between the two has become an annual event. The Premier League side will probably only field members of their U23 side but there could be one or two recognisable faces
CB Hounslow United v Walton Casuals @730pm - the Combined Counties League side played the first match at their new ground on Saturday. If you're a groundhopper who didn't make it to that and would like to tick it off your list, this is your chance
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Friday 28 July
Sutton United v Norwich City XI @745pm - the U's penultimate pre-season game sees them take on a side from the Canaries. Sutton have been recreating their famous FA Cup run of the late '80s this summer by playing Coventry who they famously beat and now Norwich who eventually knocked them out
Greenwich Borough v Millwall XI @745pm - with former Millwall player Gary Alexander now manager at Greenwich, a pre-season game against the Lions is becoming an annual fixture. The hosts should be among the favourites for the Bostik South title this season

Outside London
MK Dons v Leicester City @745pm - the Foxes play their second friendly of the week just to the north of the capital with this match against League One opposition
Aldershot Town v AFC Wimbledon @730pm - if the thought of attending a game at Stadium:MK is too much, head down to Hampshire where two phoenix clubs meet at the Recreation Ground
----------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday 29 July
The Emirates Cup - this annual tournament hosted by Arsenal is one of the highlights of the pre-season period in London. The opening day this year features games between Red Bull Leipzig and Sevilla (2pm) and Arsenal and Benfica (420pm)
Brentford v Celta Vigo @3pm - the Bees end their pre-season campaign against Spanish top flight side Vigo. The Galician club finished finished 13th in La Liga last season so should provide a decent test for Dean Smith's team
Fulham v Wolfsburg @3pm - there's a European flavour to proceedings at Craven Cottage too where German outfit Wolfsburg provide the opposition
Queens Park Rangers v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - it seems west London is the place to be for football on Saturday with QPR playing at home too. This fixture against the Cherries is being used as a benefit match for Stan Bowles, arguably the club's best ever player. One of the biggest characters of English football in the '70s, the Mancunian is now suffering from Alzheimer's so proceeds from the game will go to him
Millwall v Granada @3pm - now back in the Championship, the Lions welcome Granada from the parallel second tier in Spain. The Chinese owned club suffered relegation last season and will no doubt be wanting to bounceback straight away
Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town @3pm - having started the week playing against Norwich, the Addicks end it with a game against the Canaries' biggest rivals Ipswich. The Tractor Boys are usually among the contenders in the Championship but had a disappointing 2016/17 campaign 
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Salford City @3pm - the Beavers have lined up this game against one of the most famous non-league clubs in the country. Part-owned and run by former Manchester United stars Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes, Salford have found themselves the subject of a prime time TV documentary series. Since the takeover, the Ammies have also enjoyed a couple of promotions and an excellent FA Cup run. Proceeds from this match will be going to Bliss who help premature and sick babies

Outside London
Derby County v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim @3pm - although quite a way north of London, Derby can be reached by train from St Pancras in less than 90 minutes and the stadium is close to the station. Hoffenheim finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season to qualify for the Champions League
Reading v Vitesse Arnhem @3pm - the Royals, managed by Jaap Stam, made the Championship play-off final last season but were beaten by Huddersfield. On Saturday they welcome the Dutch Cup winners to the Madejski Stadium (Correction: this match is being played at Wycombe Wanderers' ground)
Slough Town v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - the Rebels play host to the Baggies at their new Arbour Park ground for the testimonial of long serving physio Kevin McGoldrick. This match is ALL TICKET so you must purchase in advance
---------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday 30 July
The Emirates Cup - day two of the tournament at the Emirates Stadium sees RB Leipzig play Benfica (2pm) and Arsenal take on Sevilla (420pm)

Outside London
AFC Bournemouth v Valencia @3pm - end your weekend with a trip to the Dorset coast and the chance to see one of the biggest names in Spanish football. Bournemouth has one of the best sandy beaches in southern England and is a direct train ride from Waterloo or Clapham Junction
--------------------------------------------------------------


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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Monday, 17 July 2017

TLFG:17-23 July 2017

Hi there and welcome to third edition of TLFG for the 2017/18 pre-season.

UPDATE (18/07/17): After the rather threadbare offering I produced on Sunday night, here's the re-booted, fleshed out version.

If you didn't see the original, I fell behind schedule because I spent last week on holiday in the central Turkish city of Konya.

If you haven't been, it's packed with culture, history and lots of great food. One of the most striking things is that the overwhelming amount of visitors are Turkish meaning on the downside not many people speak English but conversely everything is really cheap.

A proud moment - getting my hands on the Turkish Cup

Not only was my flight and hotel package ridiculously good value (£285 for a week's B&B in a 5-star spa hotel with flight included) but all of the main attractions charged under £2 entrance for adults with some of them completely free. Kids never paid anything and playgrounds of really high quality were everywhere.

My personal highlight was of course football related and came in the form of getting my hands on the Turkish Cup which local side Konyaspor won for the first time last season and were parading in a local shopping centre. I also bought one of their third choice shirts for under £20 in the club shop where my daughter was fussed over and given not one but two club balloons to keep her entertained. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on their progress in this season's Europa League.

Subscribe to The London Football Guide

This week the preparations for Non-League Day will start to hot up. I've got a meeting with Kick It Out on Thursday and need to upload lots of fixtures on to the event's match map so people can see what's on.

I also hope to get to a game myself on Saturday with Carshalton Athletic v QPR U23s looking quite likely - a friend's teenage son has just signed for the host's first team so it could be a big afternoon for him.

On my way back from Stansted airport yesterday I passed Tottenham's new ground which is going up impressively fast. If you're a Spurs fan or like a bit of football nostalgia, BBC reporter Chris Slegg has written a book all about White Hart Lane and included some great stories and anecdotes associated with the old ground which was one of my favourites.

 
A great read for football historians, particularly the Spurs fans amongst them

I've also been made aware that there are some websites out there charging people for advice on how to visit football matches here in England. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, please be aware that I offer a very similar service for free so you could easily save yourself $50 for even the most basic information.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with three Premier League and several EFL sides playing friendlies.

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 (orange 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.

A fine summer read if football tactics are your thing

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin




TLFG TOP 10
In the following section I list 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.

1. BRENTFORD v SOUTHAMPTON
The Bees' first pre-season home game sees them welcome the Saints. The Premier League side got their preparations underway on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against St Gallen in Switzerland and should bring a strong side to Griffin Park. If the chance to see a top-flight side in action wasn't already enough, all profits from the game are going to the Grenfell Tower fire appeal. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

2. PORTSMOUTH v BOURNEMOUTH
If you fancy a trip to the coast on Saturday, this is the game for you. The train from Waterloo to Fratton leaves every half an hour and takes just under 90 minutes. If you leave London early, you can also take in Portsmouth's historic dockyard or take a boat trip around the naval base - last time I went, one of the US Navy's nuclear submarines had just arrived after a two-day voyage from New York. I digress - this game is a south-coast derby and fans are being urged to buy in advance to avoid disappointment on the day. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

3. CRAWLEY TOWN v BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
A little to the south of Gatwick Airport you've got the chance to see another Premier League side in a Sussex derby. Harry Kewell's team welcome the Seagulls who returned to the top division for the first time since 1983 when they finished runners-up to Newcastle in the Championship. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

4. BARNET v MILLWALL
Up at The Hive we've got a London derby to look forward to with the Bees of League Two hosting the Championship's Lions. These two have only ever met three times in competition with Millwall winning 4-0 in north London last August. Barnet shouldn't be too overawed though, pre-season has seen them win all three of their games including victories over sides from Swansea and West Ham. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

5. AFC WIMBLEDON v BURTON ALBION
Get your weekend off to a good start with some Friday night football at Kingsmeadow. The Dons began their pre-season with an entertaining 3-2 win over Watford on Saturday and next face the challenge of Burton. As one of the smallest clubs in the division, the Brewers did extremely well to survive their first season in the Championship under boss Nigel Clough. (Friday 21 July, 745pm. Club info)

6. OXFORD UNITED v BRENTFORD
Got some time off or visiting London for a few days? A midweek away day to Oxford to see the sights of the historic city with a bit of football thrown in could be for you. The U's narrowly missed out on a League One play-off place last season and have a shot at going one better this time. This will be the Bees' first game after returning from their training camp in France. (Wednesday 19 July, 745pm. Club info)

7. STEVENAGE v CHARLTON ATHLETIC
The Addicks head just beyond the northern fringes of London for this game against League Two opposition after enjoying back-to-back wins over Welling and Greenwich on Saturday afternoon/evening. The Hertfordshire side held Norwich to a draw last week so should provide a decent test. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

8. EBBSFLEET  UNITED v SOUTHEND UNITED
The hosts won the National League South play-offs last season to return to the fifth tier. Pre-season has so far produced defeats against Shrewsbury Town and Tonbridge Angels and tough fixtures against Tottenham and Cambridge are scheduled before this one. League One side Southend hail from Essex, a few miles downstream on the other side of the Thames. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

9. BOREHAM WOOD v LUTON TOWN
The Wood are one of the minnows of the National League so it's great credit to the team running the side that they're preparing for another season in the fifth tier. On Saturday they welcome former top-flight side Luton who are now one of this season's favourites for the League Two title. The Hatters should bring a significant following as only a short train ride separates the two towns. (Saturday 22 July, 3pm. Club info)

10. ALDERSHOT TOWN v CHELSEA U23
The Shots have a busy pre-season and this is likely to draw a decent crowd. Chelsea's U23 team is packed with talent and they often use Aldershot's ground for their Premier League 2 games. On Saturday the development squad played two games against EFL opposition back-to-back, a 1-1 draw with Crawley and a 5-1 win over Southend. Gary Waddock's Aldershot side have struggled in the games they've played so far, so this could be really tough. (Wednesday 19 July, 7pm. Club info)


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