Sunday 22 January 2017

TLFG: 23-29 January 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome to TLFG.

It's been another good week for London's top clubs with Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham now filling the top three spots in the Premier League. 

West Ham continued their recovery with a comfortable win at Middlesbrough, while things for Watford and Crystal Palace still look decidedly dodgy.

QPR and Fulham fought out, what was by all accounts, a very entertaining 1-1 draw in the west London derby but things were a bit more underwhelming elsewhere in the EFL as none of our other local clubs produced a win between them.

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to SE7 in this week's blog

Arguably the story of the week came way down in the 10th tier where Spartan South Midlands League club Hillingdon Borough announced on Tuesday morning they were to fold only to say they were back in business by lunchtime. How? Well former player Yannick Bolasie, now at Everton, heard of their plight and helped provide the funds they needed to continue. A great gesture from the DR Congo international. 

It would be great to see other Premier League players adopting or sponsoring non-league clubs. For many, a week's wages could cover the annual costs of most sides.

Personally it's been a quiet week on the football front but it's been great to see you've all been getting out and about - particular thanks go to Simon Sallek who's posted pictures and details of the games he's been to over the last few days on our Facebook page. If you'd like to share what you've been up to, please do.

Lastly this week, we've got another piece from 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game'. Hot on the heels of their last article about Tooting & Mitcham United, their latest one is about the intriguingly named Bridon Ropes who play near Charlton in the Southern Counties East League.

There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the FA Cup, EFL, FA Trophy 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).

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 23 January

Premier League Cup
West Ham United v Leicester City @7pm - the Hammers' U23 side take on their counterparts from Leicester at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Ilford @745pm - the non-league alternative is this East End derby at the Mile End Stadium

Tuesday 24 January

FA Trophy Second Round Replay
Sutton United v Worthing @745pm - a truly massive week of cup football for the U's gets underway with this tie against Worthing who play two levels below them. It will be interesting to see if Sutton rest players ahead of their much publicised FA Cup tie against Leeds United on Sunday when the FA Trophy is the one they have a much more realistic chance of winning. If they win this, there's a derby at home to Boreham Wood to look forward to in the next round

Kent Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Welling United v Bromley @745pm - over on the south-east side of town we have a derby in the county cup. These two played in the FA Trophy last week with underdogs Welling pulling off a surprise victory. Sadly, this competition probably isn't regarded as a massive priority by either so full strength teams are unlikely

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Leiston @745pm - the hosts welcome Suffolk club Leiston who are currently fourth but will go top of the table if they can win their games in hand

Essex Senior League
Wadham Lodge v Barking @745pm - after an impressive 2015/16, Wadham Lodge have struggled a bit this year and it's not going to get any easier on Tuesday when leaders Barking pay them a visit

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Hillingdon Borough v Kensington Borough @745pm - the hosts hit the headlines last week when they were saved from financial disaster by Everton player Yannick Bolasie who used to play for them when he started out. This will be their first game since and it comes against a team who are well placed to push for promotion


Wednesday 25 January

Ryman League Division 1 South

Cray Wanderers v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - the game of the day takes place at Bromley's ground where two clubs with hopes of making the play-offs do battle. TLFG fact - Cray claim to be the oldest club in London having been formed in 1860


Friday 27 January

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Aston Villa @7pm - I love a bit of Friday night football to get the weekend started and we're lucky to have two games to choose from on the east side of town. The first is this U23 game at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Enfield 1893 @745pm - a bit closer to the centre of town we've got this midtable clash. Oakside is right next to Barkingside station on the Central Line making it one of the easiest grounds to get to in London


Saturday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Brentford @3pm - with the competition down to its last 32 teams, the draw has thrown up a few eye-catching ties with this west London derby most definitely one of them. Despite being located less than five miles apart, the clubs have only met twice since 1950 and that was for a fourth round tie which went to a replay four years ago. Currently rampant in the Premier League, the Blues will start as overwhelming favourites against their Championship opponents
Crystal Palace v Manchester City @3pm - one of the other ties of the round pits last season's beaten finalists against five-time winners City. Both are having a tough time in the league by their respective standards so the cup should bring some welcome relief. City should win but in this competition anything's possible
Tottenham Hotspur v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - there's a potentially even bigger mismatch at White Hart Lane where one of the Premier League's top clubs welcome the Chairboys from League Two. However, the Buckinghamshire club are no fools as evidenced by their current 15 game unbeaten run which has got them this far in the cup and up to fifth in the league

Queens Park Rangers v Burton Albion @3pm - having both been knocked out of the FA Cup already, these two agreed to bring this match forward Valentine's Day. QPR have improved significantly over the last few weeks, stringing together a four-match unbeaten run to move up into midtable. Burton, a former non-league club and one of the smallest in the division, have done superbly well to make it to the second tier but have found the last six weeks tough going and are down in the bottom three

National League
Bromley v Southport @3pm - averaging crowds of 1219, the biggest turnout for a non-league match in London will almost certainly be at Hayes Lane for this one. The hosts are coasting along nicely in midtable at the moment while the Sandgrounders are looking for points to avoid the drop

National League South
Wealdstone v Dartford @3pm - the most notable match in the sixth tier takes place in Ruislip. Although the Stones have made great progress in the FA Trophy, they have lost significant ground on the play-off places in recent weeks and a tilt at promotion now looks unlikely. The Darts, on the other hand, have won eight of their last 10 to be right up there in third. A healthy crowd of 800-1,000 can probably be expected

Ryman League Premier Division
Hendon v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - after eight years without a ground of their own, Hendon finally have a home. Sadly it's not in the Borough of Barnet but it's just across the border in Brent at Silver Jubilee Park. This will be the first derby there against near neighbours Wingate

Ryman League Division 1 South
Tooting & Mitcham United v Greenwich Borough @3pm - if eighth-tier football is your thing then this is undoubtedly the match of the week as the leaders welcome big spending, third-placed Greenwich to Imperial Fields for a massive game

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Barking @3pm - there's a very similar match-up a level below but this time it's third hosting first. The Tons are the highest they've been in the league for years and briefly went top a couple of weeks ago before Barking made good use of their games in hand to reclaim the lead. The visitors are now four points clear and still have several games in hand on those below them so this a must win game for the hosts if they are to have any chance of winning the title. Sadly, at the time of writing, the Clapton Ultras are still boycotting games so the crowd for what is also a local derby is likely to much lower than it would otherwise be. UPDATE (27/01/17): the boycott is off, for now at least, so the Ultras will be back and the club have made it 'Pay What You Want' with a minimum donation of £1


Sunday 29 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Fulham v Hull City @1230pm - in the space of eight days, the Cottagers will play derbies against QPR and Reading and finish off with this cup tie against Premier League strugglers Hull - so quite a busy time. The hosts should fancy their chances despite only winning once against the Tigers in seven attempts since 2009
Millwall v Watford @12pm - there's a derby at The Den where League One play-off contenders Millwall will look to cause another upset after knocking out Bournemouth in the last round. Despite starting the season well, the Hornets are now seven without a win in the Premier League and could be vulnerable if they're not on top of their game
Sutton United v Leeds United @2pm - the most romantic tie of the round pits non-league Sutton against former league and FA Cup winners Leeds. The Whites' fortunes have fluctuated wildly over the last 25 years going from a league title and a place in the Champions League semi-finals to midtable mediocrity in League One. Now back amongst the promotion contenders in the Championship, they should have too much for the U's

FA Vase Fifth Round
Southall v Exmouth Town @3pm - over in west London there's a prestigious match in another FA competition. Southall are the only club from the capital to make it to the last 16 and have a very winnable tie against opponents from Devon who play in the parallel South West Peninsula League. The hosts made the final in 1986 and are now getting within touching distance of another trip to Wembley

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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