Monday, 11 September 2017

TLFG: 11-17 September 2017

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

Apologies for the slightly later than normal publication, it's been another busy week and hence the reason I'm writing this at gone 2am.

The main things keeping me busy this week have been - the battle to beat injury so that I can run the Harrow Half Marathon on Sunday (attempting to do this through rest and trips to the physio), my daughter's first day at primary school, an important Non-League Day (NLD) planning meeting with Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) which included a bit of filming, my first trip of the season to see QPR, some more general family engagements and a few days at work.

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It's the NLD planning and promotion that's taking up the most time though. At the moment, my biggest priority is to try and get as many clubs and fans to pledge to do something to raise funds for PCUK on the day. 

From a club point of view, I want to get as many as possible signed up to hold an event at their game on 7 October. It could be a simple bucket collection, a raffle or something far grander.

Find out how you can help Prostate Cancer UK on Non-League Day

For individual fans, the charity and I are trying to encourage people to walk, run or ride to whichever game they're going to. Apparently one team in the National League is getting a group of fans to walk around 20 miles to an away game which should be very doable and hopefully a lot of fun. I've done a number of cross London walks with QPR fans over the last few years and you get to meet some great people in the process.

If you fancy doing something like this get in touch with the charity or simply text BADGE to 70004 to donate £5 and you'll get one of their iconic 'Man of Men' badges sent to you.

There's now less than four weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day
We've also launched our new range of NLD t-shirts to go with some of the most popular ones from previous years. If you're a groundhopper then I hope you'll like the theme. With these, the manufacturer will also be donating a percentage of the proceeds to PCUK and grassroots football charity Street League. All the designs can be found towards the bottom of our homepage and several of them can be customised to your club's colours.

As mentioned above, I went to Loftus Road again this weekend to watch my first QPR match of the season. High flying Ipswich were the visitors and they were, thankfully, very disappointing.

Rangers came out on top in all the possession, shots and corners stats and duly won the match with goals from Jamie Mackie and Luke Freeman.

Ipswich prepare to defend a corner during their loss at QPR

The 2-1 scoreline was flattering to the Tractor Boys whose goal came from what seemed like their first shot in the 89th minute and they could and probably should of stolen a point in injury time when a glorious chance was sent over the bar by Tom Adeyemi from close range.

Aside from the somewhat frantic finish, most QPR fans left the ground in buoyant mood after seeing a spirited performance from a side who weren't expected to be doing as well as they are.

Also I'd like to give another nod to the Twickets re-sale website. I used them again to get my ticket for this and saved £££s. The season-ticket holder's seat I ended up with was pretty decent and would have cost me £38 if I'd bought it on the day but by using Twickets I paid £26 online including fees and then picked it up in person from QPR's ticket office. To stress, it's all legitimate and fully endorsed by the club with tickets never being sold for more than face value. Give it a go.

There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL take centre stage. The Champions League and Europa League get underway and there are also some FA Vase replays and the next round of the FA Cup too.

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.

A must have for watching football in England in 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.

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

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

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 11 September

Premier League
West Ham United v Huddersfield Town @8pm - with a host of seemingly good summer signings, many felt the Hammers could and probably would get off to a decent start. However, with a 100% defeat record and an average of over three goals being conceded per game they find themselves rooted to the bottom. New boys Huddersfield who came up via the play-offs weren't fancied to do much at all but with seven points from three games they're confounding everyone and up in the top six

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Sheffield Wednesday @1pm - the pick of the day's U23 action sees Palace's youngsters take on their counterparts from Wednesday at Selhurst Park

National League South
Wealdstone v Poole Town @745pm - both sides just missed out on the play-offs last season but both have really struggled so far this time round. The Stones recently took the tough decision to sack their manager of over 20 years and picked up a crucial win on Saturday to move out of the bottom three

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Tilbury @745pm - neither club has made a great start but this is an Essex derby between two near neighbours which will hopefully provide a lively contest
Haringey Borough v Romford @745pm - up on White Hart Lane, the hosts will go top if they beat struggling Romford


Tuesday 12 September

Champions League

Chelsea v FK Qarabag @745pm - after a season away, the Blues return to Champions League duty with what should be a comfortable home game against the reigning champions of Azerbaijan. Little is expected of the side who originally hail from the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh so complacency is likely to be the biggest threat Chelsea will face

Queens Park Rangers v Millwall @745pm - for those wanting to witness a far more meaningful contest then this London derby should get your adrenaline flowing. In recent years games between these two, particularly at Loftus Road, have had a real edge to them with crowd trouble usually breaking out at some point. The last match I went to between the sides way back in 2010 was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I have ever had at a game (Croatia v Turkey in Vienna at Euro 2008 was the worst). Again the match was on a Tuesday evening but despite this there were problems all over Shepherd's Bush during the afternoon which required riot police and a helicopter. Apart from a very tense atmosphere nothing happened during the game but immediately the final whistle went coins and other missiles came flying out of the away end and I remember seeing one female steward heroically trying to contain things on her own as the police presence was virtually non-existent. Since then the security operation on match days has been ramped up significantly but with Millwall selling out their allocation again, there should be quite an atmosphere

League One
Charlton Athletic v Wigan Athletic @745pm - these two former Premier League clubs currently find themselves languishing in the third tier but both have made a decent start and will hope for at least a play-off spot this year. Things are going so well for the Addicks that a win will put them top if Shrewsbury drop points against Southend
AFC Wimbledon v Gillingham @745pm - at the other end we've got what appears to be an early season relegation six-pointer between sides who've both made a bad start - the Dons have one win under their belts so far while the Gills have none

League Two
Barnet v Exeter City @8pm - the Bees have enjoyed back-to-back wins over Swindon Town and Cambridge United to move into the top seven. However, Rossi Eames' side will have to be at their best to extend the winning run as Exeter are three points clear at the top and unbeaten

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @745pm - the match of the night in the fifth tier is this derby at Victoria Road. We're nine games in and both these sides have held top spot at some point over the last few weeks. They're now second and fifth but with only three points separating the top nine, this league is incredibly close

National League South
Dartford v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - the Darts notched their fifth win of the season on Saturday to move up to third. With the gap between themselves and leaders Chelmsford cut to just two points, they could end the night in top spot. The visitors, however, are unbeaten in five and will be no pushovers

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Hendon @745pm - perennial title contenders Dulwich have got off to a slow start by their standards but with three wins in a row in all competitions they're starting to pick up. The Greens narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of last season but are right up in fourth after winning four of their first six games


Wednesday 13 September

Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund @745pm - Spurs have ended up in the group of death alongside Dortmund and Real Madrid. To make progress they're going to have to go all out to break their Wembley hoodoo and beat the side which finished third in the Bundesliga last season and a currently top. Please note - the clubs' U19 sides face each other in the Uefa Youth League at Tottenham's training ground at 3pm. Entry is free but limited to people who reserve a place in advance - check with the club to see if any spaces remain before you travel

Fulham v Hull City @745pm - if you can't get a ticket for the match at Wembley then this second-tier game is your best option. The former Premier League clubs have been models of inconsistency so far and are locked together in midtable on seven points

FA Vase First Qualifying Round Replay
Erith Town v St Francis Rangers @745pm - the Dockers' road to Wembley began with a 1-1 draw in Sussex against Rangers on Saturday. The prize for beating them will be a home tie against Mile Oak who also play in the Southern Combination
Forest Hill Park v East Preston @745pm - FHP made their debut in the Vase on Saturday and would've made it through at the first attempt but an injury-time goal by East Preston saw the tie end 4-4, hopefully we'll get another thriller at the Ladywell Arena on Wednesday

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Enfield Borough v Ampthill Town @745pm - with seven wins from eight in all competitions, the hosts look like a team to keep your eye on this season. Only formed last summer and with one promotion already under their belts, they are an impressive young club. This match against fellow title challengers Ampthill should see just how good they are


Thursday 14 September

Europa League
Arsenal v FC Cologne @805pm - after 19 successive seasons of Champions League qualification, that proud run came to an end in May as the Gunners finished outside the top four. As a result they will start life in the Europa League as one of the favourites. In a group which also includes BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade, these two would appear to be the most likely to progress so Arsenal will definitely be expected to win


Friday 15 September

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Leicester City @7pm - get your weekend underway with some U23 football at Boreham Wood's ground in north London. Admission to these games always used to be free but double check with the club before you travel
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion @7pm - if south-west London is more convenient, get yourself along to the Cottagers' training ground for this one. The public will be admitted and it's £3 to get in

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Balham @730pm - the hosts have made a solid start to the campaign and welcome new boys Balham for this groundshare derby

Essex Senior League
Barkingside v Redbridge @745pm - there's a bit of history between these two clubs over on the east side of town. For many years they used to share at Barkingside's ground next to the station of the same name but in 2001-02 the 'Side opted to sell the lease of the ground to Redbridge (or Ford United as they were then known). In 2014 with the rent hiked up, Barkingside decided to move away to groundshare with Ilford leaving Redbridge to play in Barkingside without them. Both are currently in the top nine


Saturday 16 September

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Southampton @1230pm - the Eagles continued their poor start to the season with a 1-0 defeat at Burnley on Sunday to heap further pressure on new boss Frank de Boer. The Saints aren't playing brilliantly at the moment and really must be beaten if the gloom is to be lifted over Selhurst Park
Watford v Manchester City @3pm - not many people would have predicted this to be a top-four clash when the season kicked off a month ago but that's exactly what it is. It's no surprise that City are up there but not many predicted the Hornets would be. To be fair, the Hertfordshire club have only played one of the big clubs (Liverpool) so far and were fortunate to scrape a draw - this will be a proper test
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City @530pm - without a Premier League win at Wembley, Spurs will expect to win this match against one of the division's weaker teams - anything less will be very disappointing and cause some fans to hit the panic button

Brentford v Reading @3pm - the Bees have impressed a lot of people over the last couple of seasons as they have comfortably consolidated their place in the second tier despite being one of the smallest clubs in it. Sadly this term has not begun well and they're still searching for a win after six games. The Royals got to the play-off final and were expected to do well this time but they've made a sluggish start and won't find this derby easy
Millwall v Leeds United @3pm - I wrote above about the febrile atmosphere at QPR v Millwall games, well it could be even more fiery here with the Lions and Leeds ranked at number two and three in the most recent English football arrests chart which came out last November. On the pitch the sides are much further apart with the hosts battling the drop and Leeds going for the title

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v FC Halifax Town @3pm - at the time of writing both sides are in the top six and given how tight the table is, they could be a lot closer and higher than that after the midweek round of games

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round - at this stage all clubs in the sixth tier (a.k.a. National League North and National League South) enter the draw alongside all the survivors from the previous three rounds - a total of 160 clubs. The draw is still regionalised at this stage to reduce travel expenses and the winners of each tie receive £4,500 in prize money. There are seven ties in the London area on Saturday - I've picked out three which I think are most notable
Hanwell Town v Enfield Town @3pm - Evo-Stik leaguers Hanwell have had a dreadful start this season and play a level below Enfield so will start as considerable underdogs. However, they've proven capable of a decent cup run in recent years and could cause a cupset here
Glebe v Phoenix Sports @3pm - I think I'm right in saying that ninth-tier Glebe are the lowest ranked club from the London area to still be left in the FA Cup and this is their best ever performance in the competition. In Phoenix they welcome a club from the level above them for a south-east London derby - a big occasion for both clubs
Metropolitan Police v Heybridge Swifts @3pm - although playing at a higher level and with home advantage, Met Police look vulnerable against Heybridge who are on fire in the Bostik North. Having won all five of their league games and made it through two rounds of the FA Cup they pose a real danger to the hosts who have struggled


Sunday 17 September

Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal @130pm - the match of the week has been saved until right near the end when West plays North in one of the biggest derbies of the season. Arsenal have lost on their last five visits to Stamford Bridge scoring only twice and conceding 15 times. The Blues are also currently in better form and will definitely start as favourites

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Thamesmead Town v Billericay Town @3pm - because they groundshare with Dartford who also have an FA Cup game on Saturday, Thamesmead see their tie moved to Sunday where it will no doubt draw a number of interested neutrals and groundhoppers. If you don't know, Billericay are currently top of the Bostik League which is no surprise as they're reported to be paying their squad, which includes a number of former Premier League players, more than £30,000 a week - an absurd amount for a club in the seventh tier. As a result, they're many people's most hated team and such people will be very keen to see them lose

Charity match
Dulwich Hamlet v Sierra Leone XI @4pm - despite having an FA Cup game on Saturday, the Hamlet's players decided they wanted to put on a benefit match to raise funds for those affected by the mudslides in Sierra Leone which blighted parts of the country a few weeks ago. Tickets are only £5 so give it your support if you're in the area

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.

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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