Tuesday, 29 August 2017

TLFG: 29 August - 3 September 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome back to a TLFG that's firing on all cylinders again.

My apologies for not getting the time to write a full blog last week as I was just too busy. I was particularly disappointed as there were so many great games to tell you about and I doubt the match maps were enough to highlight what a great selection there were. I hope you had a good time anyway.

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On Bank Holiday Monday it was possible to take in three games - I know some of you made it to two but did anyone get the hat-trick?

The week ahead sees the first international break of the season which means there are no Premier League or Championship games. Unusually all our local League One and Two sides are playing away too and England haven't got their World Cup qualifier until next week.


The most high profile match of the week will be this charity game at QPR

Which means, that aside from an unappealing midweek EFL Trophy game, the biggest football event of the week in London will be the 'Game 4 Grenfell' at Loftus Road.

Most readers will remember the terrible events of the Grenfell Tower fire back in June and how it affected many people in west London including myself as it stands exactly a mile from where I live. My wife has become involved with things since then and gave a speech in the aftermath in the shadow of what's left of the building.

QPR are the local club and swung into action immediately co-ordinating collections and all other kinds of welfare activities in the days and weeks since the tragedy.

On Saturday, two teams of ex-pros and celebrities managed by Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer will do their bit to raise funds for the survivors and hopefully provide some good entertainment for the crowd too.

There's also set to be some other non-football entertainment with former Girls Aloud star 'Cheryl' making her big comeback after maternity leave - gasp!

Personally I'm not usually a fan of celebrity or even legends matches but given this is on my doorstep and for a cause I strongly support, I'll probably get down there.

If I don't then it will be all about the FA Cup as the competition reaches the first qualifying round stage on Saturday. It starts to get quite serious at this point with clubs from the seventh tier like my beloved Harrow Borough entering the fray. They made it all the way to the First Round proper and a glorious thrashing at the hands of League One side Northampton Town last year - somehow I doubt that will be repeated as they've landed a stinker of a trip to Enfield Town who will be incredibly tough to beat.

There's now less than six weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day


It's also worth noting that our local sides have all got off to a flyer in the National League, currently filling five of the top eight spots. The top three are all at home on Saturday so that might be something to investigate too.

Whatever you do, don't think for one moment that because the Premier League is having a few days off that there 'is no football on' which I hear all too often. Go out and explore the lower leagues, you might find a club on your doorstep you never knew existed and they're actually much better than you could possibly have imagined.

All of which leads me to my final point which is that Non-League Day is now just over a month away. One of the reasons I have been so busy of late is my preparations for it.

With meetings at organisations like Kick It Out, Prostate Cancer UK and the Premier League - it's been a hectic few weeks.

This year's event is on Saturday 7 October during the next international break so if you can't check out a non-league game this weekend, please try and get to one then.

Anyway, that's it from me - have a great week and keep me updated on which matches you get to.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 60 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL take a break.

The main action takes place in the National League and there are also a number of FA Cup ties, plus some matches in the ninth and 10th tiers.

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.


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
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta 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.

Tuesday 29 August

EFL Trophy
Barnet v AFC Wimbledon @8pm - the only match in London this week between two sides from 'the 92' is this one in the much maligned EFL Trophy. This competition used to be purely for clubs in League One and League Two but from last season it was decided to include a few U23 sides from the Premier League and Championship too. The move was rejected by fans of most clubs with absolutely abysmal attendances as a result. Some clubs, especially AFC Wimbledon, have been particularly clear about their distaste for the changes and actively discourage fans not to attend games, particularly ones against academy sides. Although this is a far more genuine tie and a derby, don't expect much of a crowd. Tickets are £10 if you do decide to go

Professional Development League
If you want to see a more traditional way of developing young players then there are three games across the city during the course of the day. Not only this but the home clubs are all using their main stadiums rather than training grounds. Crystal Palace (1pm), Millwall (2pm) and Watford (7pm) are all throwing their doors open so you could quite easily see a couple of matches on Tuesday. Please make sure you double check the venue and kick-off time before you travel as these can change at quite short notice for games at this level

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Hanworth Villa v Colliers Wood United @730pm - two of the top six meet at Rectory Meadow on Tuesday. Bar one season, Hanworth seem to have been permanently stationed in the CCL's top five ever since I started this blog. A solid side who enjoy the odd good cup run, they finished third under former Fulham and QPR player Rufus Brevett last term. The visitors haven't been as impressive in recent years but have started well this time and should be capable of at least a draw

Essex Senior League
West Essex v Basildon United @745pm - the hosts only made their debut at this level last season and have begun this campaign with three wins and a draw to sit fourth in the table. Basildon have won all four of their games and arrive knowing a win could bring them level on points with leaders Takeley
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Wednesday 30 August

Essex Senior League

Sporting Bengal United v Sawbridgeworth Town @745pm - there's not a huge amount on Wednesday but conceivably, at the time of writing, the hosts could make it into the top five with a win here

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Saturday 2 September

Game 4 Grenfell @3pm
The most high profile game of the week will take place at QPR's Loftus Road Stadium where two teams of ex-pros and celebrities will do their bit to entertain the crowd and raise money for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire which which took place back in June less than a mile from the ground. Tickets are £15 for adults and £5 concessions

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Gateshead @3pm - the Daggers have got off to a good start and lie second after seven games. The Tynesiders have begun well too and are just two points behind in sixth
Leyton Orient v Guiseley @3pm - the O's have responded pretty well to relegation from the EFL and are locked on level points with east London rivals Dagenham in third. Guiseley miraculously escaped relegation last season and are struggling again
Sutton United v Maidenhead United @3pm - all of London's National League sides have made a great start and currently fill five of the top eight spots. However, it's Sutton who currently lead the way after going unbeaten in their first seven matches. Maidenhead have just come up from the NLS and in Dave Tarpey they have one of the hottest striking talents in non-league football spearheading their attack (Update: Dave Tarpey signed for Barnet on transfer deadline day)

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Dartford @3pm - after reaching the play-offs last season, both sides will probably be a little disappointed with how they've begun this time around. Although the Darts are in the top six again, they're already six points behind the leaders who they would've expected to challenge. It's worse for the hosts though who have only won twice so far and a bad set of results on Saturday could see them drop into the relegation zone or be left just above it

FA Cup First Qualifying Round - at this stage the surviving clubs from the eighth, ninth and 10th tiers are joined in the draw by all the clubs from the seventh tier. The winners of each tie receive £3,000 in prize money.

Enfield Town v Harrow Borough @3pm - the cup draw has thrown up some great derbies and other interesting ties with this one of great personal interest to me. After being reprieved from relegation over the summer, Harrow have come flying out of the blocks and were top of the Bostik League with maximum points after four games. Sadly that run came to a spectacular end on Monday when they lost at local rivals Hendon 6-0. The Towners are a bigger club than Harrow and are usually among the play-off contenders and although they are four points behind in the league, they're starting to warm up with two wins on the trot and should start as favorites
Hendon v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - elsewhere in north London we have this derby. Not only do these sides come from neighbouring areas but they're also currently fifth and sixth in the Bostik League. As we've already heard, Hendon thrashed Harrow on Monday while Wingate went to Staines and won 5-0 - impressive form from both
Haringey Borough v Hitchin Town @3pm - if you're looking for a potential cupset then Coles Park on White Hart Lane could be the place to be. Haringey came close to promotion last season and are up in the top four of the Bostik North again. Hitchin play a level above in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier and made the play-offs as well but they haven't started brilliantly and could be vulnerable
Clapton v Needham Market @3pm - if the Clapton Ultras end their boycott of matches at the Old Spotted Dog then this could be a great game to go to. Having seen off Norwich United in the last round, the East End club face a Needham Market side who've been far from their best in the Bostik Premier and could be there for the taking
Banstead Athletic v Glebe @3pm - two of our lowest ranked teams that are left in the competition do battle at Merland Rise. Both enjoyed promotions last season but they've found the step up in their respective leagues pretty tough going so this cup match should be a good distraction and will guarantee a ninth-tier team in the next round

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Bedfont Sports @3pm - after only joining the CCL last season, Balham got promoted at the first attempt and have made a steady start at the higer level. The visitors are unbeaten in five and could go top with a win

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Wembley v Oxhey Jets @3pm - these two have both made solid starts and come into the game in the top seven. A win for Oxhey could send them to the top

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Sunday 3 September

FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Romford v AFC Hornchurch @3pm - round off your week with a trip to Thurrock for this Essex derby in the FA Cup.With the Urchins living up to their billing as favorites to win the Bostik North, local rivals Romford are averaging a point a game and are down in 17th. The visitors should start as clear favourites but this is the FA Cup and it could be anyone's - a potential cracker


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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