Sunday, 1 October 2017

TLFG: 2-8 October 2017

I can't quite believe it but it's that time of year again - yes, Non-League Day (NLD) is back for it's eighth year to fill the gap left by the international break.

Given how tiny the team of NLD volunteers is, how we do it all in our spare time and with no budget other than our own money it’s almost miraculous. 

Things seem to have got a lot busier a lot earlier this year which is hopefully a good sign. Many more clubs than previously have signed up to raise funds for our charity partner Prostate Cancer UK so hopefully we'll make a load of money for them too.

Kick It Out are holding five showpiece events around the country with two in London so it looks like being a pretty exciting weekend.


This year's Non-League Day takes place on Saturday - get involved!

Aside from NLD, there are a load of midweek games and also some EFL games and women's matches at the weekend. They do all appear on the match maps but my focus is entirely on NLD and what you can see, with the TLFG Daily Digest making way for a more specific look at the best things that are going on on Saturday.

POSSIBLE GROUNDHOP TRIPLE
It is also possible to see a triple of games on NLD itself if you start off with either the League Two game between Barnet and Coventry City or Chelsea's Women's Super League game against Liverpool both of which start at 1230pm. You can combine them with a number of nearby games at 3pm (Hadley are offering free entry to Barnet match-ticket holders) before finishing off watching PFC Victoria London in Feltham at 730pm - more on them later.

GUEST WRITER GROUND VISIT
We're also really lucky this week to have a received a ground review from Nick Willis. His timing is superb as it features a trip to Dulwich Hamlet who will be one of the best teams to visit on Non-League Day. Here's what he has to say:

I arrive at East Dulwich station, and meet a couple of friends in the Cherry Tree pub on Grove Vale just across from the station. A big, airy, open plan pub, playing the early kick-off Premier League match. Lots of groups of men in their late twenties / early thirties are watching the televised football, some sporting the pink and purple of Dulwich.
A short walk around the corner we arrive at Champion Hill Stadium. The entrance to which is tucked away next to a Sainsbury’s supermarket … and worryingly, next to a car-wash forecourt … people have to queue to one side of the car-wash, looking apprehensive about the possibility of getting drenched! It’s £11 for an adult ticket, which at face value seems ok, especially given the proximity to central London.

The entrance is in the north-east corner of the ground, just along from the main stand which sits along the north side of the pitch. Next to the entrance as you go in is a blue shipping container selling Hamlet merchandise. There is a steady flow of customers picking up baseball hats, t-shirts and fanzines.

A fine sticker collection is just one of the many reasons to visit Champion Hill

We walk to the far north-west corner of the ground to a bar tucked away in a large hut facility. They sell an interesting array of craft beer for around £3 a can. Alongside the bar is a Thai street-food stall, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Brick Lane market. These additions seem to enhance the matchday experience for Hamlet fans, one such that I speak to saying “it has to be better than the usual stuff you get at football”. I can’t disagree, Dulwich seem to be moving with the times, and offer their fan-base the chance to choose something of a slightly higher quality when it comes to eating and drinking.

One noticeable difference about Champion Hill is the amount of stickering around the ground, many bearing the logos of German sides, St Pauli and more commonly Altona 93. A post-match search on the internet reveals that Altona, a lower division side from the suburbs of Hamburg, have recently struck up a friendship with Dulwich, having been founded in the same year, 1893. A match has subsequently taken place between the two teams in Hamburg.

We take our place on a slightly raised area behind the goal. Leatherhead are attacking, joined by a small collection of green shirted away fans. The 500-seater main stand is heaving by this point, with some large pink and purple flags being waved.
Leatherhead start the game with plenty of attacking intent and possession, but the home team dispatch a goal on the break, and quickly add a second. Without a great deal of the ball, Dulwich look quietly in control, their efficiency in front of goal and doggedness at the back see them out as 4-0 winners, much to the delight of the 1,750 crowd.

The main stand at Dulwich Hamlet - turn up early if you want to get a seat
Leatherhead, with some high profile additions to their squad this summer, were expected to put up more of a fight, but alas, Dulwich were just too good on the day. The final whistle doesn’t seem to signal the speedy departure of many Hamlet fans from the ground, a large contingent seem happy to stick around and have another drink in the fine autumn weather.

Many thanks to Nick for taking the time to put this together, much appreciated. If you want to do something similar then get in touch through one of the various ways listed at the foot of the page.

If you're in London this weekend, please do consider giving a non-league game a visit. As mentioned above, you can combine it with a league game. If you've never been before, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the standard of football, facilities, prices and many other things (the bread pudding at Harrow Borough is sensational). If nothing else, do it for me.

Have a great one!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days despite the Premier League and Championship taking a break. Aside from a couple of games in the EFL, it's all about non-league football this week as the capital's smaller clubs take centre stage.

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.

One of the biggest crowds of the day is likely to be at Champion Hill where it's 'Pay What You Like' 

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 (Non-League Day) fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




TLFG NON-LEAGUE DAY RECOMMENDATIONS
In this section I will list a few games I think are particularly worth watching and highlight ones which are offering special deals and events to get new people in. To clarify, non-league teams are classed as those playing in the fifth tier and below of English football.

National League (Level 5)
Sutton United v AFC Fylde @3pm - arguably the most famous non-league club in London at the present time because of their stunning FA Cup run earlier this year, the U's head into this game on the back of a 2-2 draw with fellow title contenders Dover. Sutton have always been huge supporters of NLD and are throwing their weight fully behind it this year. As well as a number of discounts to get you in, they're also one of Prostate Cancer UK's showpiece games
Boreham Wood v FC Halifax Town @3pm - I'm not aware of any promotions being offered at Meadow Park but it should be a good game with the sides neck and neck in the table and pushing to get into the top six. UPDATE: Ticket deals are now available
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National League South (Level 6)
Dartford v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - the Darts are currently the pick of the sides in this division from the London area. Currently fifth and just three points behind the leaders, they should fancy themselves to win here. They are also offering some great deals to attract new visitors 
Wealdstone v Whitehawk @3pm - the Stones started sluggishly but have started to pull away from the bottom three - a win here against the whipping boys of the division is a must. Wealdstone were the first ever team to offer a special deal on NLD and they've got loads going on again as they are also one of PCUK's showpiece games. The Raider is also set to make an appearance
Welling United v Chippenham Town @3pm - it's pleasing to see that all London clubs in the NLS who are playing at home are offering special deals. The Wings are giving reduced admission to season-ticket holders from Premier League and EFL clubs
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Bostik League Premier Division (Level 7)
Dulwich Hamlet v Needham Market @3pm - arguably the Daddies of NLD, the Hamlet threw the kitchen sink into their preparations back in 2014 in what turned out to be a huge moment in the development of the event. Offering 'Pay What You Like' with all profits going to charity, a near capacity crowd of almost 3,000 saw them play Hampton & Richmond. They're offering 'Pay What You Like' again this year so hopefully the crowds will turn out in large numbers once more
Enfield Town v Margate @3pm - the Towners, with their ultras, are one of the better supported clubs in the division and should get a good turnout for the visit of Margate. They also have a special kids' package in place
Harrow Borough v Kingstonian @3pm - they've left it late to show their hand but the Boro are offering half-price admission to Premier League and EFL season-ticket holders and members for the visit of the K's
Metropolitan Police v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - the Met are renowned for not really having any fans so if any club could do with a boost in that department it's them. Luckily they've been chosen as one of only five clubs nationally to host one of Kick It Out's showpiece games. As part of this there will also be a Non-League Legends XI taking on some Chelsea fans in another match earlier in the day 
Tooting & Mitcham United v Worthing @3pm - the Terrors have some of the finest facilities of any non-league club in London as I discovered when I visited on NLD2 back in 2011. They always offer concessionary prices to the likes of armed forces, emergency services personnel and season-ticket holders of other clubs. This match is an early season six-pointer between two strugglers so there's plenty at stake
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FA Trophy Preliminary Round
 - this national knockout cup competition, with its final at Wembley, for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers gets underway on Saturday. At this stage only teams in the eighth tier are taking part, with the winners of each tie pocketing £3,000. It is also rare to find any clubs in FA competitions reducing admission has they have to agree it with the opposition. However, most clubs at this level will usually charge no more than £8-9 to get in anyway
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Uxbridge @3pm - hailing from either side of Heathrow Airport and playing in the same division we've got a decent looking derby on our hands
Corinthian Casuals v AFC Dunstable @3pm - aside from being an interesting clash between leading sides from the parallel Bostik South and Evo-Stik East, this game has also been selected as one of PCUK's showpiece games
Grays Athletic v Norwich United @3pm - on the far eastern side of town, the hosts are also doing a collection for PCUK and want you to come down and check out the fine new ground they share with Aveley

Twelfth-tier club PFC Victoria London are aiming to get a 1,000 crowd
Haringey Borough v Whyteleafe @3pm - the hosts have enjoyed a great run in the FA Cup this season, making it through to next week's fourth qualifying round, and are also doing well in the Bostik North. The Leafe are also doing really well in the Bostik South so we might find out which division is better
Walton Casuals v Canvey Island @3pm - like the match above, two teams from the top end of the Bostik South and North do battle. This is a good one for groundhoppers as the Stags have just moved into a new stadium
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Essex Senior League (Level 9)
Hackney Wick v Clapton @3pm - one of the standout games of the day at any level, this East End derby between sides who share the Old Spotted Dog (the oldest ground in London) has real potential. However, a lot depends on whether the Clapton Ultras, who generate some of the best atmosphere in non-league football, turn up. They have been boycotting home games because of a dispute with the owner but with this technically being an away game, there are rumours they may return. Hackney Wick have announced some special deals and events too. UPDATE: I have received confirmation that the ultras will be returning for this game 
Ilford v Takely @3pm - the Foxes entertain one of the title contenders at Cricklefield and are offering reduced prices to West Ham fans whilst also collecting for the Salvation Army

Southern Counties East League Premier Division (Level 9)
Beckenham Town v Canterbury City @3pm - the hosts have a family day with face painting, flags and rattles all available plus a DJ and food.
Croydon v Bearsted @3pm - you'll get in for free to this one if you download the Sportswik app or get in for half price simply for mentioning 'Non-League Day' - bargain!
Glebe v Hollands & Blair @330pm - there are reduced admission prices to be had at Foxbury Avenue as Glebe look to win over the people of Chislehurst and Sidcup

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division (Level 9)
Hadley v Tring Athletic @3pm - with neighbours Barnet playing Coventry City at 1230pm in a League Two game, the hosts are offering free entry to everyone with a ticket to that match or anyone with a season ticket at any other club
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Southern Counties East League First Division (Level 10)
FC Elmstead v Stansfeld @3pm - the Cocks have tweeted Bromley fans asking them to come along and bring a friend for free. Whether this 2-for-1 principle is in place for everyone is unclear
Fisher v Forest Hill Park @3pm - the Fish have been big supporters of NLD since it began in 2010 so it's no surprise that they're offering an impressive 'Pay What You Want' deal for this match. It's also a good chance to check out their new ground if you've not been yet
Sporting Club Thamesmead v Meridian VP @3pm - the hosts are getting local youth teams involved as mascots and ballboys and will be giving reduced admission to residents of the area

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 (Level 10)
Broadfields United v Codicote @3pm - playing at Harefield United's ground, the Fighting Cocks live very much in the shadow of nearby Wealdstone who dominate the non-league scene in this area. Not to be put off by this they're running a 'Pay What You Want' promotion 
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Middlesex County Football League Division 1 West (Level 12)
PFC Victoria London v North Acton @730pm - the hosts, a club primarily for players from Poland, have only recently formed but are ambitious and won promotion last season. I'm highlighting this because it's been selected as one of Kick It Out's showpiece games and they're trying to smash their attendance record by trying to get 1,000 people to turn up which would be sensational for a team at this level. It's free to get in and the late kick-off should easily allow groundhoppers and anyone else who wants to see a second or third game plenty of time to get there. They play at Hanworth Villa's ground near Feltham which is in easy reach of many other games

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.

1 comment:

  1. i was waiting for the league but i did not know when it might begin. now your blog gives me the right time and venue with important information. thank you for posting with this

    ReplyDelete