Sunday 19 November 2017

TLFG: 20-26 November 2017

For the first time in a while I got to see a live game just over a week after the previous one - I haven't enjoyed that kind of run for a while.

It was to Champion Hill that I headed on Tuesday night to watch Dulwich Hamlet host my beloved Harrow Borough in a Bostik League game.

It was the first time I'd got to watch Harrow this season and they competed well with the league leaders until an unnecessary foul on the hour handed the hosts a penalty which they scored and from which the Boro never looked like coming back from.

A second goal came in closing stages to confirm a 2-0 win for Gavin Rose's side.

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However, the football was secondary on Tuesday as Dulwich began their campaign to raise funds after property developer owners Meadow Residential had announced their plans to massively scale back their involvement.

With posters all over the ground, a fan with a megaphone beseeching supporters to donate to the 12th man fund and not one but three TV crews covering proceedings, the campaign's launch got off to a good start.

An impressive crowd of 1,199 turned out to support the team which I'm told by long standing fans is the highest midweek attendance for decades.

Given the Hamlet's current table-topping status, large supporter base and high media profile I'd be staggered if they didn't turn things around. As non-league clubs go, they present one of the best investments around.

Not all other clubs are in such a healthy position and I overheard some locals remark that if Harrow were to have a rich owner suddenly pull the plug they'd be '####ed!' which sadly I'm afraid to admit they would.

Although close enough on the pitch, the gulf between the two clubs off it was stark with the stands and terraces packed on three sides of the ground whilst the away end had maybe 10-15 in it at most.

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to Erith Town

It is a huge credit to the committee, vice presidents and the manager that they manage to compete at this level year after year with the likes of far bigger and richer clubs but that kind of success can only go on for so long - only another club suffering financial difficulties elsewhere in the country saw the club reprieved from relegation last season.

Worryingly, the fantastic start to this campaign which saw Boro top the league for most of August has fizzled out and they've now lost six in a row in all competitions and eight of their last 10. The last team beaten were Bedfont Sports who play two levels below and that was only by 3-2.

On Saturday the losing streak was extended by a heartbreaking defeat at home to Dorking Wanderers. The visitors raced into a 3-0 lead only for Harrow to equalise but then concede again to lose 3-4.

If they lose at bottom club Worthing next Saturday then some serious questions will need to be asked if they aren't already.

Enough of my moaning, in other news I was pleased to hear that one of my American readers Mauricio had enjoyable visit to Shepherd's Bush on Saturday to watch QPR play Aston Villa. Although it wasn't quite the Arsenal v Spurs game he and most other fans were trying to get tickets for, it seems to have been a decent enough substitute.

In other news I'm pleased to be able to say that good friends 'Two Men In Search Of The Beautiful Game' have been groundhopping in London again. They paid a visit to Erith Town last weekend as they played Windsor in the FA Vase. These fine gentlemen put in a lot of effort as they not only write about their experiences but also vlog about them and produce a photo gallery so make sure you check out their fine work.

Lastly from me I'd like to say a massive thank you to Scott T who became the first person to donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. I really appreciate this as a lot of late nights are involved in putting this together every week and the caffeine will come in very handy especially tomorrow when I have to be up for work at 345am!

With the international break now well and truly over, there are over 100 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include three important Premier League games, a London derby in the Championship, some big games in the National League and the next round of the FA Trophy.

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.
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
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 20 November

Surrey Senior Cup First Round
Carshalton Athletic v Egham Town @745pm - the top match of the day is this county cup game between sides from the parallel Bostik South and Evo-Stik East

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Redbridge @745pm - county cup games like the one above can be treated by managers and fans as a bit of a distraction so the first XIs aren't picked and the crowds are smaller than normal, as a result this match at a slightly lower level could be a better watch. Not only is this a bit of a derby but it pits the team in seventh against the current league leaders. The Mile End Stadium is one of the most centrally located grounds in London and is close to Mile End station meaning it's easy to get to too


Tuesday 21 November

Brentford v Burton Albion @745pm - there's a decent serving of EFL football in London on Tuesday. The Bees are currently the capital's top ranked club in this division after a fine recent run of results. Sadly that run came to an end at Cardiff on Saturday but they should feel confident of beating Burton who are in the bottom three
Millwall v Hull City @745pm - in Bermondsey, the Lions welcome Hull who are finding things tough after their relegation from the Premier League. Not many would've predicted Millwall to be above the Tigers by late November but that's the way things currently stand

League One
Charlton Athletic v Rochdale @745pm - unbeaten in eight league games, the Addicks are currently fifth in the third tier and looking good for a play-off spot. Rochdale are struggling and should lose here

National League
Bromley v Aldershot Town @745pm - there's a blockbuster night of action in the fifth tier with some big matches on at both ends of the table. Currently the second highest ranked non-league team in London with the third highest crowds, the hosts probably don't get as much attention as they deserve. Still relatively new to this level, they're doing really well to be up in seventh and are still very much in touch with all the teams above them. One of those are Aldershot who hail from just outside the capital so expect a decent turnout for this match
Dagenham & Redbridge v Dover Athletic @745pm - after being surprisingly held by struggling Leyton Orient on Saturday, leaders Dover stay in the east of London for their next match at Victoria Road. On paper, the Daggers should present a much tougher challenge as they're chasing promotion too
Leyton Orient v Chester @745pm - at the other end of the table, two of the biggest clubs in the division are scrapping to avoid the drop. Both sides come into this match on the back of positive results so it should be close
Sutton United v Torquay United @745pm - the U's could go top if they win and Dover drop points at Dagenham. The Gulls are rock bottom and have lost their last three so if they get anything it will be one of the results of the night

National League South
Dartford v Wealdstone @745pm - the Darts returned to top spot on Saturday with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Gloucester City. Next up are the Stones from the opposite side of London - these two couldn't be much further apart from a London perspective. Wealdstone's Bobby Wilkinson was recently named manager of the month but in typical fashion saw his side lose at struggling Oxford City on Saturday as their fine run came to an end

Bostik League Premier Division
Hendon v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - the standout game in the seventh tier on Tuesday is this match at Silver Jubilee Park between two of the top six. The Greens have spent most of this month playing cup matches but returned to league action with a slightly disappointing draw against struggling Burgess Hill on Saturday. Despite their off-pitch worries, the Hamlet on are on fire at the moment. On Saturday they demolished title rivals Metropolitan Police 4-1 at Imber Court to move seven points clear at the top

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Basildon United @745pm - two of the top six in the ESL do battle at London's oldest ground on Tuesday. Sadly the Clapton Ultras are still boycotting home games so the crowd and atmosphere won't be anything like it could be


Wednesday 22 November

FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round Replay
Cray Wanderers v Moneyfields @745pm - an intriguing tie between two of the best sides in the eighth tier. Cray are fourth in the Bostik South while Moneyfields, from Portsmouth, currently top the Evo-Stik East. Having done the hard work of drawing away, Cray must surely back themselves to win here. The winners will travel to Braintree Town in the next round on Saturday

London Senior Cup Second Round
Balham v AFC Wimbledon @730pm - the hosts only joined the Combined Counties League last season, got promoted at the first attempt and are now playing AFC Wimbledon in the cup - quite an achievement. Of course the Dons will only field a development XI but there could be one or two first-team players in there so this is a significant moment for Balham


Friday 24 November

Premier League
West Ham United v Leicester City @8pm - David Moyes will take charge of his first home game against the Foxes. At the time of writing, his first match against Watford has yet to be played but that will undoubtedly affect the performance here. Still not the side they were when they won the title two seasons ago, Leicester are comfortably holding their own in midtable and will be dangerous opponents

Premier League 2
Fulham v Newcastle United @2pm - if you're in town for the match above as a tourist or groundhopper then you could do a lot worse than get yourself down to Fulham's training ground for this U23 game earlier in the day. It's located close to Motspur Park station so is easy to get to with frequent trains from Waterloo and Clapham Junction

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Hackney Wick @745pm - the now customary Friday night game in the ESL takes place at Mile End Stadium just a short distance away from the big game at the London Stadium. Neither side are likely to push for honours this season but this is very much a derby so some east London bragging rights will be up for grabs


Saturday 25 November

Premier League

Crystal Palace v Stoke City @3pm - the Eagles threw away a winning position against Everton on Saturday as they had to settle for a draw. The point took their tally for the season to just five points as they remained bottom. On Saturday they welcome the Potters who are also amongst the division's strugglers for another crucial game
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion @3pm - Spurs suffered the shame of defeat in Saturday's north London derby against Arsenal so will be desperate to return to winning ways on their return to Wembley. With four defeats on the bounce the Baggies are in worrying form and manager Tony Pulis is facing the very real prospect of a rare sacking. Unlike the match above, tickets are on general sale 

Fulham v Millwall @3pm - the match of the day in the second tier is this tasty looking derby. Neither side are pulling up any trees this season so this could be quite a dogged affair. The Lions and their fans tend to relish these occasions and I can see them winning. Sadly, because of security reasons, tickets are not on sale to non-members

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Walsall @3pm - the Dons picked up a priceless 3-1 win at Bristol Rovers on Saturday to move out of the relegation zone and onto level points with fellow strugglers Walsall. As a result, this game is of huge significance in both sides' attempts to avoid the drop

League Two
Barnet v Grimsby Town @3pm - despite the appointment of Mark McGhee as new manager at the beginning of the week, the Bees lost again at Port Vale on Saturday to remain in the bottom two. Midtable Grimsby are the next to visit The Hive and Barnet fans will be hoping for a repeat of the 3-1 win they recorded last season

National League
Boreham Wood v Woking @3pm neck-and-neck in the table just outside the play-off places, these two relatively local sides should produce a good game. Both have been drawing a lot in the league recently but both produced stunning upsets in the First Round of the FA Cup seeing off League One sides Blackpool and Bury respectively

FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round - this national knock-out competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers with its final at Wembley has reached the last of its qualifying rounds where clubs from the sixth tier enter the draw alongside all the surviving ones from the seventh and eighth tiers. The winners of each tie will receive a cheque for £5,000. These for me, are the pick of ties:

Wealdstone v Chelmsford City @3pm - probably the tie of the round locally pits these two NLS sides together. The Stones were on a decent run until Saturday while Chelmsford are firmly among the title chasers
Welling United v Weston-Super-Mare @3pm - in terms of league ranking, this match is very similar to the one above but the teams aren't hugely well supported and the visitors have a long way to travel so it might lack a bit in that respect
Hendon v Slough Town @3pm - personally I'd probably go to this match if I had to choose. Two of the top teams in the seventh tier from the parallel Bostik and Evo-Stik Leagues meet at Silver Jubilee Park. This brings back memories from the late '80s when these two were among the powers in the Isthmian League
Haringey Borough v Thame United @3pm - the hosts are one of the lowest-ranked teams left in the competition and will fancy their chances of progress here as they've drawn another side from the eighth tier who aren't doing all that well

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont Sports v Hanworth Villa @3pm - there's a bit of a Super Saturday in the CCL Premier it's just a shame the kick-offs aren't being staggered. First off here we have a local derby between the sides in the third and fifth and over at Gander Green Lane we have...
Sutton Common Rovers v Walton & Hersham @3pm - a battle between the teams in fourth and second, this match could see the sides cancel each other out allowing leaders Westfield to move even further clear

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Ilford @3pm - on paper a cracking east London derby between two well matched teams but as mentioned above, the crowd and atmosphere will be well down on what it could be if the Clapton Ultras' boycott continues

London Senior Trophy Second Round
Stonewall v FC Elmstead @2pm - for groundhoppers, this tie being played in Barnes could be a good one for you. Stonewall are the most successful gay football club in the world having won European and World club titles. Currently going for the Middlesex County League Division 1 Central & East title (12th tier), they'll start as underdogs against the Cocks from the SCEFL Division 1

Sunday 26 November

Kent Senior Trophy Second Round
Erith & Belvedere v Erith Town @3pm - the only men's game in the capital on Sunday is this local derby in south-east London. Sadly both sides groundshare and play away from Erith but hopefully we'll still get a decent tie

FA Women's Premier League Southern
Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town @2pm - with several games on Sunday, it could be a good day to check out a women's match. The Addicks are currently top of what is effectively the third tier of the women's game and should beat Swindon at SC Thamesmead's ground

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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