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.

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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.

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.

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

Saturday fixtures - blue pin

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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. 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.


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