Monday 21 May 2018

TLFG: 21 May - 3 June 2018

In most years, this piece would probably be the last one of the season but not so this time round.

That's largely down to the fact that for the first time ever, London has been chosen to host the CONIFA World Football Cup.

Kicking off in 10 days time, the event will pick up where the EFL play-offs leave off and extend the live action in the capital until 9 June - unusual in most years and exceptional in a FIFA World Cup one.

If you haven't heard of it, the tournament is for teams representing 'nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories' which are not recognised by FIFA.

Competitors in the 16-team tournament include Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man), Northern Cyprus, Panjab, Tamil Eelam and Tibet - every continent bar South America is represented.
The Conifa World Football Cup is coming told London - find out more
There will be one or two familiar faces among the squads and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg is set to officiate at some of the games.

Also on the refereeing side of things, a green card is also set to be introduced and will be shown to players guilty of dissent or diving - it will lead to them being immediately substituted.

Matches are taking place at 10 different non-league grounds in and around London with the opening ceremony at Bromley on 31 May and final at Enfield Town on 9 June.

Full information about fixtures and tickets can be found here.

There is also a souvenir programme for the tournament which can be ordered in advance and also a range of merchandise - as CONIFA is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, all purchases will make a big difference.

As it stands, I'm hoping to go to Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus and Tuvalu v Matabeleland on 3 June, the semis on 7 June and the final on 9 June. How about you?

If you are going to a game at the CONIFA World Football Cup, a documentary maker from the Netherlands would like to hear from you and film you at a game. Please get in touch with us if this interests you and we'll put you in touch.

But before all that gets underway, we have the EFL play-off weekend at Wembley. Apart from the Championship game between Aston Villa and Fulham, tickets for the League One and League Two games should be pretty easy to get.

Copies of the official programme can be ordered now
With so much to play for, these games are usually highly charged and have a great atmosphere - try and get to at least one if you can. More details can be found in the Daily Digest below.

Over the last few days, I made my third visit to Wembley in six weeks - this time for Non-League Finals Day.

As usual it provided a feast of football and some great entertainment over the course of nearly seven hours - courtesy of the FA Trophy final going to penalties.

Congratulations to Thatcham Town and Brackley Town for winning the FA Vase and Trophy respectively and my commiserations particularly to local side Bromley who were on the verge of winning the Trophy until a 95th-minute equaliser took the match to extra-time and ultimately penalties.

The one sour note of the day for me was provided by a group of 20-30 young Thatcham fans right in front of our group who spent most of the game abusing and goading the Stockton Town supporters sat a few feet away across a handful of rows of seats.

It was totally out of the spirit of the day and shamed their club. Thankfully their targets didn't rise to it and for the most part kept their dignity.

So disinterested in the action were said group of 'supporters' that the abuse continued after the final whistle while their players were receiving the cup - very poor.

Aside from all that, I also launched this year's Non-League Day last night with the announcement that this year's event will be on Saturday 13 October so put the date in your diary.

Finally, it's nice to report some more good interactions with you dear readers.

Here's your chance to get on the telly with a group of friends

Regular correspondent Chris H was at Wembley on Sunday but also headed out to Greenford on Tuesday to watch PFC Victoria London clinch the Middlesex County League Division 1 West crown by virtue of goal difference alone! Congratulations to coach Emil and the team on your second consecutive promotion.

Lastly, do you fancy yourself as a bit of a Football Genius?

If so then a new ITV quiz show is being launched by the same production company behind 'Have I Got News For You'.

They are looking for teams of five who all support the same club to go head-to-head with supporters of other teams. If you're interested get in touch with the production team via email (

Thanks this week goes to reader Markus U who gave a generous donation to the TLFG coffee-drinking fund. Thank you sir, much appreciated.

I think that's about it from me for this week - as always, enjoy your football watching and let me know what you've been up to.

There are 30 matches in the London area over the next two weeks. The highlights include an England international, the EFL play-offs and the group stage of the CONIFA World Football Cup. It is possible that some CONIFA warm-up games could be added too - there is supposed to be a tournament at Enfield Town on 26 May but the details are proving hard to come by.

With games pretty thin on the ground, I've also included a few from the 11th, 12th and 13th tiers whose seasons are continuing for another week or so. These games are often played at fairly rudimentary grounds, with few facilities and can be particularly susceptible to a change of venue or kick-off time.

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.

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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.

Saturday 26 May

Championship play-off final
Aston Villa v Fulham @5pm - after a very quiet midweek period, things get very tasty on Saturday when the Cottagers head to Wembley to play Villa in what has been dubbed the richest game in football. As a result of the multi-billion pound deal the Premier League has struck with the satellite and cable TV broadcasters, victory in this match is said to be worth at least £200m to the winner so there is a huge amount at stake. Fulham finished third, five points ahead of Villa and beat them 2-0 when they last met in February at Craven Cottage. As it stands, you need a previous booking history with Fulham to be able to get a ticket from them whilst tickets for the Villa end of the stadium go on general sale on Tuesday at 5pm if any are left


Sunday 27 May

League One play-off final
Rotherham United v Shrewsbury Town @3pm - the second instalment of the EFL's play-off weekend takes place at Wembley at 3pm. As with the match above, it's another fourth versus third battle so you could argue that the 'right' teams have made the final. Rotherham are a proper yo-yo club who have been up and down all three of the EFL's divisions over the course of their history. Prior to this season, they spent three years in the Championship so are looking for an instant return. The Shrews were expected to struggle this year but this is their second visit to the national stadium this season after also finishing as runners-up in the EFL Trophy. Promotion would be a huge achievement for the Shropshire side as they haven't played in the second tier since 1989. Tickets are on general sale now from both clubs


Monday 28 May

League Two play-off final
Coventry City v Exeter City @3pm - the Sky Blues were a fixture of the top flight between 1967-2001 so it's fair to say that they are way too big a club to playing at this level. Sadly off-pitch problems have seen them fall down the divisions since then but things are turning around with this play-off final absolutely massive for the club who are looking to get out of the fourth tier at the first attempt. They also have a decent record at Wembley having famously won the FA Cup in a thrilling game against Spurs in 1987 and far more recently the EFL Trophy last season. However, although Exeter are a much smaller club they've had a better season than Coventry up until this point with the Grecians winning 1-0 when they last played in January. Tickets for the Exeter fans' section are on general sale now whilst those for Coventry will become available on Tuesday at 9am


Thursday 31 May

CONIFA World Football Cup Group Stage

After several months of waiting, the CONIFA World Football Cup finally gets underway in London. There are a mouthwatering eight group games taking place on Thursday as all 16 competing teams begin their campaigns. With matches taking place at non-league grounds all over the city and kick-offs staggered throughout the day, it will be possible to do a triple and see three matches at different grounds or you could just camp at one stadium and see two matches back-to-back. Tickets are £12 per adult per game on the gate and if you decide to stay at one stadium you will need a separate ticket for each game. Here is a rundown of what's on, including a brief profile of each team:

Abkhazia v Tibet @12pm - hailing from the Caucasus, Abkhazia hosted the last World Football Cup and won it after squeaking past Panjab on penalties in the final. Tibet are arguably the most high profile team in the tournament but are also one of the most inexperienced and are one of the rank outsiders - they are likely to draw quite a few people through the turnstiles though

Ellan Vannin v Cascadia @12pm - more commonly known as the Isle of Man, Ellan Vannin are effectively the local interest in this tournament and are highly fancied by the bookies to do well. Runners-up at the inaugural tournament in 2014, this experienced Manx team should beat North American side Cascadia who have only recently formed but they have a number of players and a coach with English non-league experience so should be able to compete

Szekely Land v Tuvalu @12pm - representing ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Szekely Land are a team on the up. Finishing ninth at the last WFC, they then came third at the European Football Cup in 2017 enjoying notable wins over Ellan Vannin and Abkhazia during the campaign. Lying in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Hawaii, Tuvalu are probably the most remote of all the teams taking part. Replacements for Kiribati, who dropped out two months ago, Tuvalu are the rank outsiders. Their last match saw them beat Tonga 4-3 back in December

United Koreans in Japan v Western Armenia @12pm- quarter-finalists at the last World Football Cup, UKIJ are one of the top challengers from Asia. With a squad based almost entirely in Japan, tournament sponsors Paddy Power have them at 6/1 to win the title. Western Armenia finished seventh at the last WFC but had some very close games with eventual finalists Abkhazia and Panjab. With players at a number of top division clubs in Armenia, Kazakhstan and Slovakia they could be dark horses at 25/1. 

Northern Cyprus v Karpatalya @3pm - moving on to the mid-afternoon kick-offs we get the chance to take a first look at Northern Cyprus who were runners-up in last year's European Football Cup which they hosted. With this game also being played at Enfield Town, there's likely to be a good attendance as a large Turkish Cypriot community live nearby. Young striker Ahmet Sivri of Galatasaray is said to be the man to watch in their squad. Karpatalya have come in as late replacements for Felvidek. Made up of ethnic Hungarians from Ukraine, they have a couple of players with experience of top-tier football in Hungary and Romania

Padania v Matabeleland @3pm - originating from northern Italy, Padania are among the favourites. Having won both of the European Football Cup tournaments since CONIFA's foundation and coming fourth at the last World Football Cup they should provide formidable opposition for anyone. Their star player is veteran defender Marius Stankevicius who has had a fine career at clubs including Brescia, Lazio, Sampdoria, Sevilla and Valencia. Matabeleland is a region of Zimbabwe and are one of three African sides in the competition. Coached by Englishman Justin Walley, they are another one of the most inexperienced sides in the tournament so could struggle here. Also of note, Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar is set to act as their goalkeeping coach and brand ambassador. Of all the teams in the tournament, they have some great merchandise so buy your shirts and scarves in advance and help fund their trip

Panjab v Kabilya @3pm - a little outside London in Slough, CONIFA world number ones Panjab will take to the field for the first time. With a large south Asian community on the west side of London, all their group games will be played at Arbour Park to try and attract good crowds. Runners-up at the last World Football Cup, Panjab are real contenders and have played a number of warm-up games in recent weeks, most notably against Liverpool U23s. Made up primarily of English based non-league players, they should have enough to win here. Kabilya represent a Berber people based in what is now northern Algeria. They are another one of the more inexperienced sides in the tournament and could struggle

CONIFA World Football Cup Opening Ceremony @7pm
followed by Barawa v Tamil Eelam @8pm - the day comes to an end with a bit of pageantry at Bromley's Hayes Lane ground. Barawa, from Somalia, are the nominal hosts of the tournament. Their young side are almost all from London and play for local clubs with a couple on the books at QPR and Millwall. Like Panjab, they have played a number of warm-up games of late so should be well prepared. Sitting just above Barawa in the rankings, Tamil Eelam are side that tend to blow hot and cold with a hefty win often followed by a heavy defeat. Their last match saw them lose 4-1 to South Korea U23 in Nottingham


Saturday 2 June

International friendly
England v Nigeria @515pm - the Three Lions play their penultimate World Cup warm-up game at Wembley as Gareth Southgate gets a better of idea of who to start against Tunisia in their opening group match in Volgograd

CONIFA World Football Cup Group Stage
With only one day off, all 16 sides return to action again on Saturday. This time it's only possible to see two games in a day with four matches kicking off at 2pm and four at 5pm. Based on the brief profiles above, I would recommend Northern Cyprus v Tibet as the game of the day which I believe had the highest ticket sales of any game the last time I heard. It takes place at Enfield Town at 5pm. All other games can be found of the match map


Sunday 3 June

CONIFA World Football Cup Group Stage
A breathless group stage comes to an end on Sunday when all 16 teams return to action after less than 24 hours. This time four games will kick off at 3pm and four at 6pm. The top two in each group progress to the quarter-finals while the rest go into a separate placement 'tournament' to see who finishes in 9th-16th place - in other words no-one goes home early and each team has something to play for right until the final day.

Padania v Szekely Land @6pm - the standout game pits two teams together who have a 100% record at this stage. Padania, hailing from northern Italy, have scored a staggering 14 goals in their two opening games and look like very serious contenders indeed. Szekely Land have scored nine themselves and have yet to concede. Made up of ethnic Hungarians based in Romania, Szekely have also been backed by some very colourful and vocal ultras who should create a great atmosphere. Both sides are already through to the next round but this will decided who wins the group. This match is being played at Bedfont Sports whose ground is worth visiting as it's based right next to the runway of Heathrow Airport so if you like football and planes it doesn't get much better than this!

Barawa v Ellan Vannin @3pm - the only other team with a 100% record are Ellan Vannin (a.k.a. the Isle of Man) and are geographically the closest thing to a home nations team. With solid wins over Cascadia and Tamil Eelam, the Manx side are pretty much there but need a point to be mathematically sure of progress. Barawa are the 'host' nation for this tournament. Despite originating from Somalia, most of the players and officials are based here. After crushing Tamil Eelam 4-0 in their first match, they came unstuck against Cascadia and either themselves or the North American side could still make it through. This is being played at Haringey Borough

Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus @3pm - one of the biggest crowds of the day should be found at Enfield Town where the reigning champions take on one of the pre-tournament favourites. Group B is far from decided with all teams in it having dropped points so far. Currently Karpatalya, who came in for Felvidek at short notice, top the group on goals scored from Northern Cyprus with Abkhazia a point behind. With Karpatalya playing Tibet, who have lost both games, it would look like only one of these will go through so it's all to play for down at Donkey Lane

Panjab v United Koreans in Japan @6pm - my final pick of the day sees CONIFA's top ranked team Panjab return to Slough Town's ground to take on the only side who have yet to score or concede a goal. Panjab demonstrated their class by trouncing Kabilya 8-0 in their opening game and a place in the next round looked a certainty. However, they came unstuck against Western Armenia in their second game and will go out if they lose this one. Despite that sensational opening result, if things go really badly on Sunday they could even finish last in their group

There are four other games to enjoy on Sunday and with the staggered kick-off times, it would be rude not to combine one of the above with one of the less eye-catching games. The easiest double would appear to be Abkhazia v Northern Cyprus at 3pm (Enfield Town) and then Matabeleland v Tuvalu at 6pm (Haringey Borough) - it's a pretty straightforward journey by train from Southbury or Enfield Town to White Hart Lane and then a brisk walk or bus ride to the ground - I'm going to be attempting this. Alternatively you could do it the other way around and watch Barawa v Ellan Vannin at 3pm (Haringey Borough) and Kabilya v Western Armenia at 6pm (Enfield Town). If you have a car then Karpatalya v Tibet at 3pm in Bracknell should be combinable with the Panjab game in Slough at 6pm or maybe the Padania match at Bedfont but it will be tight. The one game that would appear to be out on its own is Cascadia v Tamil Eelam over in Rotherhithe at 3pm.

With the tournament developing every day, I will aim to update the guide as the competition progresses.

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.


  1. Hello. I will be attending all three Cascadia matches in the ConIFA and am waiting for my accreditation for the 3 EFL playoffs.

    I've already done FA Womens Cup Final, games at Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal, and the Saracens v Wasps semi final. Happy to allow you to take our content with a quick credit.


  2. Hi,
    Good work as always - love the map!
    Having been to none of the CONIFA grounds yet I was wondering: is there one you‘d personally recommend? From where I live I tend towards one in the South or West of London.

    1. Hi Markus - it depends what you're interested in. The most unusual is Bedfont Sports as it lies very close to the runway at Heathrow Airport and you get quite close to the planes.

      Sutton has a bit of character to it and has hosted some famous FA Cup ties over the years.

      I haven't been to Bracknell, Carshalton or Slough although I've heard good reports about all of them. It's also been a long time since I've been to Bromley and it has changed a lot.

      I'm hoping to check out Carshalton for the semis.

  3. Thanks very much, that‘s very helpful!

  4. Hi, I have a friend, Cristina Sferrazza singing for Padania at 6pm. I am singing in the afternoon in Portsmouth so not expecting to be able to attend. I would like to surprise her by attending, what is the ground like to get to, is it difficult from M25?