Monday, 13 August 2018

TLFG: 13-19 August 2018

It's been a long, tiring but ultimately enjoyable day.

Regular readers might remember that I was intending to make a trip to Yorkshire on Sunday to pay a visit to the oldest football ground in the world.

Well I succeeded and had a great time.

If you don't know, the ground in question is called Sandygate. It's located in Sheffield and plays host to Hallam FC who have been at the ground since 1860.

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It's unusual as the football club share the playing area with the local cricket club so the ground only has three sides.

Despite playing way down in the tenth tier, two of the three sides are well developed with a large modern stand, a decent covered terrace and fine new clubhouse.

The match I saw was an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Cheshire club Runcorn Linnets from two levels above.

A decent crowd of well over 300 watched a competitive game but the visitors were the better side and deservedly won 2-0.

The unassuming sign which welcomes you to one of the most significant places in football history 

Given its historic status, every football fan should at least consider a visit here.

With rolling hills in the background and a considerable slope to the pitch, it's very different to the stadiums, grounds and arenas most fans are used to. It's also only £5 to get in and the food and drink are reasonable too. Give it a go!

All that travelling means I haven't been able to devote as much time to the blog this week so the daily digest below is a little less in depth than usual so apologies for that.

Finally, thanks to all those of you who have been in touch this week with info and photos of where you've been and those of you with questions about where to go. I love hearing from you all so do let me know what you've been up to and have a great week.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 90 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the Premier League and Championship dominating proceedings - there are also a number of replays in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round too.

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black 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.

Monday 13 August

National League South
Wealdstone v Woking @745pm - the Stones suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday at newly promoted Billericay Town. On Monday night they welcome recently relegated Woking who under new manager Alan Dowson have won all three of their opening fixtures to go top

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Worthing @745pm - the Robins won the South Division title last season to return to the seventh tier. On Saturday they won at Lewes, who they were promoted with, to get off to a great start. Next up they face Worthing who narrowly beat Wingate & Finchley in front of the biggest crowd of the day (755) in the Bostik Premier
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Tuesday 14 August

Carabao Cup First Round
Millwall v Gillingham @745pm - the early rounds of this cup often throw up some really uninspiring ties and consequently cheap tickets are usually in plentiful supply. Cheap tickets are available here (£10 adults) but this is actually a bit of a derby so it should have a bit more about it than would otherwise be the case
Queens Park Rangers v Peterborough United @745pm - this game, however, has very little going for it. QPR have lost both their opening games and have a terrible record in cup competitions. Posh, on the other hand, have won both of their games in League One and in many ways will start as favourites. To top it all, tickets are £15 - I'll be surprised if as many as 5,000 turn up

National League
Boreham Wood v Gateshead @745pm - with four points from three games, the Wood have made a solid enough start but they'll need to up their game for the visit of Gateshead who have been arguably the surprise package so far this season. Managed by former Newcastle player Steve Watson, this very young side have won their opening three games to arrive as joint leaders

National League South
Welling United v Billericay Town @745pm - the Wings have made a pretty decent start with two wins from three and now face Bostik League champions Billericay who are already up in second after an unbeaten start to their campaign

Bostik League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Folkestone Invicta @745pm - both sides began the season with defeats so will hope for improvements here. This will also be the hosts' first home game since winning promotion to the seventh tier
Enfield Town v Bishop's Stortford @745pm - the Towners picked up an impressive away win at Folkestone on Saturday and will look to build on that here. The visitors make a welcome return to the Bostik League after several years in the National League South and Southern League and come from just beyond the northern periphery of London giving this a bit of a derby feel too

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replays
Bedfont Sports v Little Common @745pm - having battled out a 2-2 draw on Sunday these two have another go at the Recreation Ground next to Heathrow Airport so if planes are your thing, check it out
Clapton v Woodbridge Town @745pm - the majority of fans have fallen out with those running the club so Tons games aren't the experience they were two or three years ago. Where crowds where averaging around 350, they're now way back down in double digits. However, Clapton are still a hugely historic club who play at the oldest ground in London so they're worth visiting for that reason alone
Colliers Wood United v Beckenham Town @745pm - the hosts caused a minor upset by earning a draw on Saturday against a side I thought would be too good for them
Hanworth Villa v Crowborough Athletic @730pm - it's Combined Counties League against Southern Counties East League in this replay at Rectory Meadow

Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South
Newbury Forest v Fire United @745pm - both of these sides have moved up to the tenth tier this season and as such TLFG are now covering them. Forest play at Redbridge's ground whilst the visitors are a Christian team with a founder from Brazil

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Wednesday 15 August

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay

Leyton Athletic v Barkingside @745pm - two Essex Senior League sides meet again up at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow after initially drawing on Saturday

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Balham v Raynes Park Vale @730pm - with Balham groundsharing at Colliers Wood United this is effectively a derby. After winning the London Senior Cup last season, the hosts have made a bright start and should start as favourites

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Friday 17 August

Professional Development League
Watford v Sheffield United @3pm - the Hornets' U23 side welcome their counterparts from Bramall Lane. UPDATE (15/08/18): this match and most of Watford U23 games are set to be played at Wingate & Finchley this season

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Saturday 18 August

Premier League
Chelsea v Arsenal @530pm - the match of the week takes place at Stamford Bridge where this derby between London's two biggest clubs gets underway at teatime. The Blues won comfortably at Huddersfield under their new manager on Saturday whilst the Gunners, also under new management, lost to reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday. Interestingly, Arsenal are unbeaten in six matches (in all competitions) against their cross-town rivals but will do well to extend that run here
Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham @3pm - tickets for the match above will be like gold dust so you'll be much better off concentrating your efforts on going to this. This derby is the last game Spurs will play at Wembley before moving back to their revamped ground in N17 next month. Tickets are in good supply so give it a go (UPDATE (15/08/18): Spurs' new ground has been delayed so this won't be their last game at Wembley)
West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - the last time I looked there were also tickets available for this. The bad atmosphere and discontent at the London Stadium last season created quite a few headlines. Manager David Moyes ended up doing a decent enough job and kept the Hammers up but he still parted ways with the club over the summer. Former Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini is now in charge but he presided over a 4-0 thrashing by Liverpool on Sunday to get off to the worst possible start

Championship
Millwall v Derby County @3pm - the Lions ground out another perfectly respectable point on the road at Blackburn on Saturday to remain unbeaten. Elsewhere, the honeymoon seems to be over for new Rams boss Frank Lampard who saw his side demolished 4-1 by Leeds at Pride Park. Derby are always among the contenders for promotion so we should get a decent game here

Saudi Super Cup
Al-Hilal v Al-Ittihad @630pm - with no other EFL fixtures in London on Saturday, the next best thing would appear to be this rather incongruous but incredibly intriguing fixture at QPR's Loftus Road. Rangers hosted the Saudi equivalent of the Community Shield back in 2015 and have been selected to host it again. The late kick-off time means it can be very easily combined with one of the numerous 3pm matches around the capital that day. Tickets were originally eye-wateringly expensive but prices have been revised and many are now available for £35

There are lots of non-league options too but sadly I've run out of time this week - they are all on the match maps so you can take a look and make your choice

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Sunday 19 August

Championship
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - with the Owls playing in a televised Carabao Cup game at Sunderland on Thursday, this match has been moved back to Sunday to the great benefit of neutrals and groundhoppers. The Bees, despite being one of the division's smallest clubs, have assembled a fine team who have begun the season very promisingly indeed. After thrashing Rotherham on the opening day, they earned a creditable draw at Stoke on Saturday. Wednesday are expected to struggle this year and have accrued only one point so far

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Manchester City @1pm - Sunday is also a good day to watch U23 football with some of the best young players in the land on show at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground

Bostik League South East
Cray Wanderers v Whitstable Town @3pm - the hosts are the oldest team in London. If you've not seen them in action yet, get yourself along to Bromley's Hayes Lane which they share

FA Continental Tyres Cup
The women's season gets underway with a number of fixtures in this competition. The derby between Arsenal and West Ham at Boreham Wood and the match between double-winners Chelsea and Brighton, both at 2pm, are the best on offer


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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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