Sunday 14 October 2018

TLFG: 15-21 October 2018

Well that's it - Non-League Day (NLD) is done and dusted for another year. Phew!

The week began with a trip to Wembley to appear on Talksport2 and talk about NLD alongside Ray Stubbs, Tony Incenzo and Sam Parkin. 

It was great to meet them and get some more excellent exposure for the day just ahead of the FA Cup fourth qualifying round draw which followed shortly afterwards.

Later in the week there were other interviews including this one for the i newspaper and various other national, regional and club outlets.

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Taking to the airwaves at Wembley ahead of the FA Cup draw
Over the course of the week, the Premier League published a number of great stories about players who had gone from non-league to the top flight. The FA agreed to send the FA Vase and FA Trophy to a couple of ties in the competition that were being played on NLD and our charity partners Prostate Cancer UK gradually cranked up the publicity with great social media content too.
When the day finally arrived I got things started on social media around 0730 before then heading off to Wormwood Scrubs to take part in the parkrun, something that has become an NLD tradition for me over the years.

By the time I got home around 1030, #nonleagueday was in the top three trends on Twitter and things were building nicely.

Tweets of support from the likes of Arsenal legend Ian Wright and Leicester talisman Jamie Vardy, plus those from a whole host of Premier League and Championship clubs and a feature on Football Focus with Glenn Murray got things really moving.

Soon after this, traffic to our website started to get a bit mad and the match finder began to grind to a halt and we started to receive a few complaints. However, I made contact and acted as a personal match finder for as many people as possible.

I spent the afternoon itself at the Middlesex derby between Wealdstone and Hampton & Richmond Borough in the National League South.

A large crowd of 1,163 (about 400 more than normal and the biggest that had ever watched these two play each other) were treated to a 2-1 win for the hosts which also included a penalty save and a red card for the visitors.

Daniel Green sends in a corner during Wealdstone's win over Hampton & Richmond
There were tales of big crowds and great first visits to non-league grounds from all over the country and for the 24 hours of the 13 October #nonleagueday was the top trend on Twitter throughout the UK and 25th in the entire world.

Prostate Cancer UK received a cheque for £150,000 from National League sponsors Vanarama and we're still waiting to see how much comes in from the scores of clubs who did individual collections and events all over the country - at Wealdstone alone almost £500 was raised.

In other news, the GMB trade union also launched a new branch specifically for semi-professional and non-league players called Footballers United - fronted by NLD team-member and non-league legend Francis Duku it will hopefully provide protection, advice and many other benefits for players, fans, coaches and pretty much anyone involved at this level.

Next year will be the 10th Non-League Day so discussions are already being had about how we can make it the biggest one yet.

Finally I'd like to say a huge thank you to anyone who participated in the day in any way. Whether you were a member of the core team of volunteers on whom I totally rely, belong to one of our major partners, a journalist who covered the story in the media, a committee member at a club who embraced the concept of the day or simply a fan who went to a game and/or helped spread the message on social media - all of you played your part and the event would have been all the poorer without you.

There are over 80 matches in 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 few ties in the highly important fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Please bear in mind that because of several cup games taking place on Sunday, the midweek fixtures could change in the eighth to tenth tiers if replays are required. I will keep things as up to date as possible but can't promise 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.

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 15 October

Bostik League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Carshalton Athletic @745pm - the hosts suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Burgess Hill on Non-League Day which allowed Monday's visitors to leapfrog them in the table. Carshalton enjoyed an impressive 4-0 win at Harlow but it was only their third victory of the season, meaning this should be close. Update - this match has been postponed

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Erith Town v Corinthian @745pm - the Dockers have made a disappointing start to the season but recorded a morale-boosting win at Bedfont & Feltham in the FA Vase on Saturday. Next up they face a visit from high-flying Corinthian who will go second if they win here


Tuesday 16 October

Bostik League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Brightlinsea Regent @745pm - despite going two games without a win, the Towners are still the pick of our local teams in this division. Fifth at the time of writing and banging in goals for fun, they should have too much for relegation contenders Brightlingsea
AFC Hornchurch v Lewes @745pm - both sides suffered defeats on Saturday, something which stopped the Urchins breaking into the top five. The Rooks have played nine and won three, drawn three and lost three and are consequently firmly in midtable - it's a very tough one to call


Wednesday 17 October

Uefa Women's Champions League
Chelsea v Fiorentina @735pm - the Blues won the domestic double last season but things have gone a bit awry this time round. With only one win from five league games they've made a sluggish start. On Sunday they suffered the humiliation of a 5-0 home defeat by Arsenal who they comprehensively defeated in last season's FA Cup final. On Wednesday they play the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against a side who are currently midtable in Serie A

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Fisher @745pm - even though there is a game at a higher level on Wednesday, this clash between two of the title contenders in this division looks far more interesting. The Becks won their first nine league games to race clear at the top but things have suddenly gone a bit wrong. Back-to-back defeats in the league and another loss in the FA Vase on Saturday have made them look human again and in third place Fisher they face another challenging fixture

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Barkingside @745pm - without a game on Non-League Day, the hosts should come into this match refreshed and ready to go. At the time of writing they're right up in third and will strongly fancy their chances against 'Side who are winless from 12 and rooted to the bottom

Friday 19 October

U23 Development matches
There are three games spread around the capital on Friday at this level. The most eye-catching fixture is the Premier League 2 game between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City but it's taking place at the club's training ground. Although most games here are open to the public, not all of them are so check with the club on the day of the game. Elsewhere, Fulham entertain West Bromwich Albion at their training ground - this is being advertised as open to the public (£3 for adults) and Watford have a game against Bristol City at Wingate & Finchley's ground which should also be open to the public but check the details on Friday morning just to be on the safe side

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Basildon United @745pm - why not combine one of the early kick-offs above with this enticing Essex derby? These clubs are located only a few miles apart and are currently occupying the top two spots in the division - it should be a cracker!

Essex Senior League
Sporting Bengal United v Clapton @745pm - if you want to stay a bit closer to the centre of town then this match in Mile End should fit the bill. Another derby, between two east London clubs, this doesn't have quite as much riding on it as the game above. A couple of years ago the place would've been jumping thanks to the Clapton Ultras who would've travelled in large numbers but sadly they disbanded recently and the crowd will be well down


Saturday 20 October

Premier League
Chelsea v Manchester United @1230pm - there are only two top-flight games in London this weekend but they're both big. First up is this huge match between two Titans of English football. The Blues will start the game as joint leaders whilst a troubled United arrive in eighth. Jose Mourinho, by his standards, is going through a rough patch at Old Trafford with his side's great comeback against Newcastle last weekend probably keeping him in the job. He'll be desperate to win against his old club but it will probably be seen as an upset if he pulls it off
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @3pm - Millwall are the Hammers' traditional enemy but Spurs come a pretty close second. To make the relationship a little spicier, the clubs fought for control of the London Stadium before West Ham were eventually offered the chance to move in. Given that the move has ended up being far from popular with the east London club's fans, it was almost certainly a battle Spurs are now happy to have lost. As an outsider looking in, I've picked up on a vibe of Tottenham being nowhere near as good as they were last season and yet three league wins in a row have put them just two points off top spot so they're still very much in contention. West Ham made an awful start but have improved, taking seven points from their last five games. Spurs dominate the head-to-head between the two clubs and have won on five of their last 10 league visits to east London

Brentford v Bristol City @3pm - Bees fans were rocked in midweek by news that manager Dean Smith had opted to head back to his Midlands home to join Aston Villa. Since taking over at Griffin Park almost three years ago, the former Walsall boss, had done a superb job turning Brentford into one of the most competitive clubs in the division despite being one of its smallest. Danish assistant coach Thomas Frank has been put in temporary charge and is favourite to land the job but whoever comes in next will inherit a club in seventh with a great group of players. If they appoint anybody before Saturday they will face a City side who are winless in five and presumably a little low on confidence

League One
Charlton Athletic v Barnsley @3pm - after nice little run to move alongside the play-off contenders, the Addicks have now gone three without a win in the league and are back down in 11th. This is still respectable given all the off-field issues the club are experiencing with relations between the fans and owners at a low. On Saturday the Tykes, recently relegated from the Championship, make their first visit to The Valley in over four years. They'll be looking forward to it as they've won there the last three times and usually come away with at least a point

FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
The nation's favourite cup competition has reached one of it's most critical points - the final round before League One and League Two clubs enter the draw. Around the country tiny teams like ninth tier Dunston UTS are now only 90 minutes away from going into the hat alongside a local giant like Sunderland. Winners of each tie receive £25,000 in prize money so there's lots at stake

Wealdstone v Sutton United @3pm - despite there being higher ranked local teams playing (see below) this match is the one that jumps out for me. The Stones play a level below Sutton but are in good form and draw relatively large and vocal crowds. Sutton are most famous for their runs in this competition with historic games against the likes of Arsenal, Leeds and Coventry over the years. Given what's at stake, there could be a huge crowd crammed into Grosvenor Vale and it should be a real humdinger
Boreham Wood v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - normally an all-National League London derby would get a higher billing than the match above but with The Wood attracting smallish crowds (they drew almost half of what Wealdstone achieved on Non-League Day) and the Daggers being, quite frankly, rubbish at the moment I've put this second. In fact, neither side have been great recently so it could be fairly even
Barnet v Braintree Town @3pm - with no fixture over the international break, the Bees squad should be refreshed and ready to see off Essex club Braintree who are bottom of the National League and looking for a new manager
Haringey Borough v Poole Town @3pm - having seen off AFC Sudbury in the last round, Boro are one of two seventh-tier teams representing London at this advanced stage of the competition. They got to this round last season and if they win here, against a team from the parallel Evo-Stik League, then it will be the furthest they have ever gone in their history
Metropolitan Police v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - the other seventh-tier club left in are The Met who face an incredibly tough tie against a side from two levels above them. They last made the First Round in 2012 and have been there three times before so they have some pedigree and can't be written off

National League South
Dartford v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - as a neutral looking for a non-league game this weekend I'd really only be considering one of the FA Cup ties above but if they're not for you, this is a decent alternative. In a division covering teams from Cornwall to Kent, I think it's fair to call this a derby. The Darts pushed hard for the title last season but ultimately came up short. A quick glance at the league table might make you think they're out of it this year but despite being down in 13th, it's ridiculously tight with the nine teams immediately above them all just a win within reach. Dulwich are new to the division and took some time to adjust but with three wins in a row are now just a point behind Dartford and back in play-off contention themselves despite being way down in 16th - bonkers!

Bostik League Premier Division
AFC Hornchurch v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - if the Urchins win their midweek game there's a good chance they'll come into this game as a top-five club. Despite losing their big game against Bognor on Non-League Day, Tonbridge are still top of the league and should provide formidable opposition

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South
Hendon v Wimborne Town @3pm - the Greens suffered defeat in the Bostik League play-off final last season, got shifted over to the Evo-Stik League in the restructure and saw long-serving manager Gary McCann and several key players move to Hampton & Richmond. Despite all this disappointment and upheaval, Hendon have sailed on as if nothing had happened. Up in second in their new league only a point off top spot, new boss James Gray is doing an impressive job. Wimborne are struggling and should be seen off with relative ease despite their hefty win over Kings Langley at the weekend

Bostik League South Central
Chipstead v Waltham Abbey @3pm - the Chips are holding their own in lower midtable but face a visit from current leaders Waltham Abbey on Saturday. With only one defeat from eight, the Essex club are looking good
Uxbridge v Bracknell Town @3pm - if Waltham Abbey slip up, Bracknell will be looking to replace them. Having topped the table for most of the opening couple of months of the season, the Berkshire club have played less games than those above them and are effectively leaders in waiting. They should have too much for Uxbridge

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Walton & Hersham v Chertsey Town @3pm - the fine new facilities at the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub play host to this local derby. The hosts are having a poor season, with one win from 11 leaving them down near the bottom of the table. Chertsey, on the other hand, are flying. Top of the league and unbeaten, it will take quite a performance to stop Dave Anderson's side

Combined Counties League Division 1
Bedfont & Feltham v FC Deportivo Galicia @3pm - currently in third, B&F have the games in hand to go top. This match is a derby against a side who groundshare with Bedfont Sports whose ground almost touches The Orchard where this will be played

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Buckingham Athletic @3pm - the Hare bowed out of the FA Vase on Saturday and to make matters worse, near neighbours Hillingdon Borough won their league game to jump above them into top spot. Harefield have the games in hand to unseat them again and they'll need to win here against midtable Buckingham to get the momentum going again


Sunday 21 October

Women's matches
Sunday is all about women's football with five games taking place in the top three divisions. The pick of the matches is the Super League top-four clash between Arsenal and Reading at Boreham Wood. Elsewhere, there are home games for West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, London Bees and QPR

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 comment:

  1. Thanks James, I always look forward to your weekly posting. Throughout the past year and half I've read each one religiously so much so that I'm going to embark on my first football holiday to London next week. I hope to visit as many grounds as possible in 10 days. Thanks again!