Monday, 10 September 2018

TLFG: 10-16 September 2018

Apologies one and all for the late publication of this week's guide.

Quite by chance, it turns out that there's no senior football taking place in the London area today (Monday) anyway so you're not likely to miss much.

As I mentioned recently, the blog could start to tail off a bit as the birth of my second child next month gets closer and it seems to have happened a bit sooner than I originally expected.

With ante-natal classes and decorators playing a huge part in changing my normal weekend schedule, many of my normal activities went by the wayside.

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The biggest story of the weekend, from a personal point of view, occurred on Sunday afternoon when a trip to the park turned into a bit of a drama.

Whilst sitting on an ornamental rock, my five-year-old approached me and asked if I wanted to see something she and some friends had unearthed under a tree a couple of days before.

Initially non-plussed by the idea of inspecting an odd-shaped stone or similar, I wandered over and was greeted by a far more alarming sight.

Poking out of the soil was a small metal circular object which immediately screamed to me of World War Two ordnance.

Not wanting to cause a panic or make a fool of myself near a busy playground, I took a photo and tweeted it to the local police who almost immediately told me to dial 999.



Les Ferdinand and Andy Sinton at the QPR Community Trust 10th anniversary reception

Within minutes the park had numerous officers descend on it and after an initial assessment they evacuated everyone.

I received a call later that afternoon from the police to say that it was found to be a 'viable device' from WW2 and thanks for reporting it. It seems like my daughter and friends had a lucky escape!

Strangely, I did exactly the same thing when I was at primary school in the '80s - digging up a Nazi device with a friend in our playground which got us all an afternoon off.

Aside from this, and on a totally different note, I was lucky enough to attend the reception to mark the 10th anniversary of the QPR Community Trust on Tuesday at Loftus Road.

There were some great speeches from those involved and I got to meet former player Andy Sinton (a hero of my youth), club CEO Lee Hoos and I also got to talk about the challenges facing the club in the hunt for a new stadium with those tasked with securing somewhere.

On the subject of Non-League Day, for the first time this year, we've produced a limited number of enamel badges to mark the event and these can be ordered for £3 (+£1.25 P&P) from my colleague Ian who can be contacted here but there are only a few left. The day itself, on 13 October, is now only a few weeks away so put the date in your diary now.

Lastly this week I'd like to say a big thanks to all the readers who have emailed and posted on social media - I really appreciate your words of support and the effort taken to post your pictures and match updates, especially as my chances to get out and about are becoming limited.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the Premier League and Championship making their return after the international break. There are also a load of ties in the next round of the FA Vase.

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
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.

Tuesday 10 September

Kent Senior Cup Second Round
Welling United v Gillingham @745pm - with no matches in the London area at all on Monday, the first game of the week of note is this one between the Wings and the Gills from League One. The visitors are more than likely to only field an U23 side but it should be worth a watch

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replays
Walton Casuals v Beckenham Town @745pm - while the match above might feature some higher quality players, these replays are arguably far more important for the participating clubs as the £6,000 prize money for winning will make a big difference. The hosts, who play two levels above the Becks, should start as strong favourites
Whyteleafe v Corinthian Casuals @745pm - these two were in the same division last season but Casuals ended up getting promoted. In theory they should therefore be more likely to win but they've failed to win a league match this season and could be there for the taking

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Wednesday 11 September

Friendly
Brentford B v Huddersfield Town U23 @1pm - get down to the Bees' training ground if you fancy a bit of free football at lunchtime

FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay
Cray Valley PM v Merstham @745pm - the non-league pick of the night takes place in south-east London where the ninth-tier hosts will be looking to upset the visitors who play two levels above them - they're in reasonable form so it is doable

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Friday 14 September

Premier League 2
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers @7pm - get your weekend underway with some U23 football at the Cottagers' training ground, it's £3 on the gate and I'm told the facilities for spectators are pretty good

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Saturday 15 September

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool @ - 1230pm - the top flight returns from the international break with a bang as two of the title contenders do battle at Wembley. Spurs have begun to cement themselves as a member of the exclusive 'Top Four' group over the last few years just as the Reds have started to show a surge in improvement too. At the time of writing, Tottenham are just outside the leading pack but a win against the current leaders will put them right back in it
Chelsea v Cardiff City @3pm - the Blues are also right up there with Liverpool as life under new manager Maurizio Sarri has begun well. Neil Warnock's latest attempt to flourish in the Premier League is once again stalling but it is early days, however, they're unlikely to get anything here
Watford v Manchester United @530pm - the day finishes off with another very interesting fixture. The Hornets have had a superb start to the season and are joint top with Liverpool and Chelsea. They saw off Tottenham in their last game so an out of sorts Man Utd shouldn't hold any extra fears

Championship
Brentford v Wigan Athletic @3pm - despite being two of the smallest clubs in the division, these two are more than holding their own. The Bees have been building a fine side over the last few years and are right up among the promotion challengers again. The Latics occupied a Premier League place for several years and won the FA Cup in 2013 but it all went wrong after that. Last season they found themselves in League One but got promoted and have begun well this time too
Millwall v Leeds United @3pm - the match of the day at this level, certainly in London, is to be found at The Den. The Lions had a great second half of last season and looked likely to grab a play-off place before falling away at the last moment. This campaign has got off to a sluggish start and they've now lost three in a row. Leeds, on the other hand, are unbeaten in six and top of the table so should be incredibly tough opposition. Also, these clubs' fans have two of the worst reputations in the country so if you're new to London and looking for a family day out, this might not be the match for you. Surprisingly, tickets are on sale to non-members and I haven't seen anything to say it's all ticket but it is approaching a sell out so don't delay buying one if you do want to go

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Scunthorpe United @3pm - elsewhere in the EFL there's only one other game to choose from and it's this one at Kingsmeadow. On paper, with both teams in lower midtable, it doesn't look like being a classic so there might well be better options available

National League
Leyton Orient v Barnet @3pm - one of them is this game at Brisbane Road where two London rivals, who were both previously in the EFL, go head-to-head. Unbeaten this season, the O's have made a great start and are just two points behind leaders Harrogate. Although down in tenth, the Bees are the form team of the division with five wins on the bounce so this could well be a corker. It could quite conceivably get a crowd in excess of 5,000 too
Bromley v Salford City @3pm - with only two wins from their opening 10 games, a few concerns will be starting to creep in at Hayes Lane where more was probably expected from last season's FA Trophy finalists. This Saturday, you've got another chance to run the rule over big spending Salford who made headlines in July by persuading Adam Rooney to leave Aberdeen for English non-league football despite the fact the Dons were in the Europa League. Things didn't start all that smoothly for the club, owned by Man Utd legends the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes and Butt, but they seem to have found their feet and have moved into the top six
Dagenham & Redbridge v Chesterfield @3pm - with ailing finances, the Daggers were in all kinds of trouble at the bottom of the division. However, with former England caretaker manager Peter Taylor in the manager's hotseat, the east London club have started to turn things around. Unbeaten in three, they've climbed three places and will almost certainly move clear of the relegation zone if they win here. The Spireites were a League Two side last season but finished bottom and, after a positive start, seem to be finding the transition to non-league football a tough one. Now winless in six, they will slip below the Daggers if they lose here


National League South
Wealdstone v Chelmsford City @3pm - at the time of writing, the Stones are sitting pretty in sixth and are firmly among the play-off contenders. On Saturday they welcome Chelmsford who seem to challenge for promotion every year but never quite make it. Although down in 11th, this division looks like being very competitive again with only six points separating the teams between second and 13th

Bostik League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - the Robins won the South Division last year to  make their return to the league's top division after several seasons away. It's still early but they should be reasonably satisfied with eight points from five games. Bognor suffered relegation from the NLS last season and are showing strong signs of being able to make an immediate return

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Poole Town @3pm - of the sides shunted unceremoniously from the Bostik to Evo-Stik Leagues over the summer, the Greens have made the best start. Sixth after six games, the north-west London club must be pretty happy with how they've adjusted to the long journeys (there have so far been trips to Frome, Taunton and Swindon). On Saturday they welcome a club from Dorset who often do well in this division and who gave current Southampton striker Charlie Austin the platform he needed to turn pro


FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
This competition is for clubs in the ninth to 11th tiers of the English game. It is a knockout competition with its final at Wembley in May. This round sees another 120 clubs enter the action, meaning the vast majority of entrants are now in the draw (of 638 teams who entered, only another 46 will be added over the next two rounds). Ties are still generally regionalised at this stage with the winners of each tie receiving £725 and the losers £250. Several ties are being played around London but here are a few I really like the look of

AFC Croydon Athletic v Lingfield @3pm - one of the highest ranked ninth-tier teams in the London area, the Rams should represent one of the city's best chances of doing well this season. They welcome opposition from Surrey who also play in the ninth tier but in the parallel Southern Combination
Sporting Club Thamesmead v Banstead Athletic @3pm - also amongst the contenders in the ninth tier are Banstead. The Surrey club are unbeaten in nine league games so far and should start as strong favourites in this one
Southall v Wembley @3pm - I've gone for this as it's got the flavour of a derby about it. Both play in the ninth tier and although neither are pulling up any trees, I just like the look of it. Southall made the final in 1986 and had another good run a couple of years ago. As for Wembley, well they've never played under the stadium's famous arch but they can see it from their ground
Harefield United v Oxhey Jets @3pm - these two don't play a million miles apart either. They used to be in the same division but the Hare are now a level below and will want to cause an upset
St Panteleimon v Long Buckby @3m - the hosts, who play at North Greenford United's ground, are competing in the Vase for the first time and caused quite an upset by beating Holmer Green in the last round. This time their opponents, from Northamptonshire, play just one level above them and are struggling so they've got a great chance of making further progress
Cricklewood Wanderers v North Greenford United @3pm - talking of North Greenford, they make the short trip to Vale Farm to play another one of the remaining 11th tier teams. Cricklewood play two divisions below their opponents and have barely played this season so they'll do very well to win

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Sunday 16 September

FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
With several clubs groundsharing, there are also three ties to be enjoyed on Sunday afternoon. Broadfields United entertain fellow north-west Londoners Edgware Town, Enfield Borough have a London derby against Sporting Bengal United (at 2pm) and Cray Valley (PM) welcome Hailsham Town from Sussex

FA Continental Tyres Cup
There are three women's games in the capital on Sunday with Crystal Palace v Chelsea at Bromley's ground the standout fixture

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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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