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.

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