Monday 8 October 2018

TLFG: 8-14 October 2018

It's that time of year again - yes, Non-League Day (NLD) is back!

This will be the ninth time the event has been held and I'm still pinching myself that a brainwave of mine could have made such an impact.

For those of you that don't know, NLD is an annual celebration of semi-professional and amateur football held to coincide with an autumn international break when there are no Premier League or Championship games so as to maximise the amount of publicity we can get and appeal to as many people as possible.

Originally it was intended to be an attempt to reach out to fans of the big clubs to get them to come and try out a non-league game for the first time but it's transformed into more of a general celebration of all things at this level and also a chance for clubs to raise funds, not only for themselves, but also a number of charities.

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This year's Non-League Day take place on Saturday - get involved!

Our official charity continues to be Prostate Cancer UK and it seems almost double the number of clubs (around 100) compared to last year have signed up to support them.

With Vanarama already announcing that they're hoping to raise £150,000 by NLD, the amount generated this year could be considerable!

Unsurprisingly this week's guide is dedicated almost exclusively to NLD so the Daily Digest will make way for a focused look at Saturday itself. 

All the week's other games will appear on the match maps as usual so have a good look through them to see what else is on but remember - it is an international break so the only game taking place in the top four divisions is AFC Wimbledon's match against Portsmouth in League One on Saturday.

The highlights of the midweek action which are well worth a mention are the friendly between England Women and Australia at Craven Cottage on Tuesday and England C v Estonia U23 at Leyton Orient's ground on Wednesday (England C are the country's non-league representative XI) - tickets are £10 and £5 respectively.

On Thursday, Dulwich Hamlet have lined up a friendly against Crystal Palace who are sending pretty much a first-team squad minus those on international duty. Tickets are £10 and you are being urged to buy in advance as it could sell out.

Lastly on Friday, two clubs who are without a game on Non-League Day have arranged a friendly. The match between Walthamstow and Clapton CFC, who both play on the Wadham Lodge site, should draw a lively crowd of several hundred and entry is by donation (suggested amount £3). 

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to Grays Athletic who you can also go to watch on NLD

There are also some FA Cup replays which have a significant amount of prize money riding on them. The draw for the Fourth Qualifying Round take place at Wembley on Monday lunchtime and I think I'm going to be there. I know I'm definitely going to the national stadium on Monday morning to record something relevant to the draw and NLD for Talksport2 so whether it will be live or pre-recorded I don't know. I'm just hoping someone gets stuck in traffic and I have to step in to help draw the balls!!!

I think that's about it from me. The week ahead is likely to be incredibly hectic and I hope it's all worth it. Thanks again for all your support and if you are free, please try and get to a non-league game on Saturday no matter where you are in the country. If you're outside London, I've spent a large chunk of my time building a match finder which will allow you to discover what your nearest game is depending on your location. There's also a similar event being held in Germany - it's called Tag der Amateure and is taking place on Sunday so please give that your backing too if you're over there.

Remember, semi-professional and amateur football make up the bedrock of the game is this country and around the world - do your bit to make sure those foundations stay firm.

There are over 100 matches in and around the London area over the next seven days with the National League, Bostik League, Evo-Stik League, FA Trophy and FA Vase taking centre stage. 

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
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

In this section I will list a few games I think are particularly worth watching and highlight ones which are offering special deals and events to get new people in. To clarify, non-league teams are classed as those playing in the fifth tier and below of English football. Please note - this list could well get refreshed/updated as the week progresses as many clubs often release their plans quite late in the day (updated on 08/10/18)

Saturday 13 October

National League (Level 5)
Leyton Orient v Hartlepool United @3pm - the biggest crowd at a non-league game anywhere in the country is likely to be for this match at Brisbane Road where two former EFL sides do battle. The O's and Pools are both pushing hard for promotion and have only lost three games between them so far this season. To top it all, tickets have been reduced to just £5 so I'd recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment
Boreham Wood v Maidenhead United @3pm - the Wood punched way above their weight to impressively make it to the National League play-off final last season. On Saturday they'll be looking to arrest a run of four straight defeats against a Magpies side who are struggling for consistency just below them. Ticket discounts, fun activities and player appearances are all taking place in an effort to draw in new fans
Bromley v Barrow @3pm - after inconsistent starts to the season, both sides enjoyed victories on Saturday and will be looking to close the gap on the top seven by winning this game. If you buy tickets online in advance they'll only be £10 - it'll be £18 if you pay on the day. The other notable story ahead of this game is Barrow manager Ian Evatt (formerly of QPR) and his squad have part funded the cost of a supporters' coach to bring fans all the way down from Cumbria - great effort!
Dagenham & Redbridge v Wrexham @3pm - after battling financial problems the Daggers were recently saved by an American consortium including former Everton and Man Utd goalkeeper Tim Howard. Sadly results have yet to improve and the east London club are still stuck in the bottom three. On Saturday they welcome title contenders Wrexham for a big game. If you're a friend of a Dagenham season-ticket holder or you are a season-ticket holder at a Premier League or Championship club, you'll be able to get in at reduced prices which start at £10


National League South (Level 6)
Wealdstone v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - one of the matches of the day in the London area will be this one at Grosvenor Vale. To all intents and purposes this is a derby and features two sides who are also ensconced in what will probably be a thrilling title race. The Stones have been big supporters of Non-League Day since it began in 2010 and were the first club to ever offer a discount to coincide with the event. This year is no different with a number of ticket promotions available and sponsors Wenzel's (a local bakery who make the best doughnuts in the world IMHO) will also be doing a few things. I'm highly tempted by this one and you should be too!
Welling United v Slough Town @3pm - there's also a very intriguing clash between two of the top five at Park View Road. Discounts are available for Premier League and EFL season-ticket holders.

A bit further afield
Billericay Town v Gloucester City @3pm - a lot has been written, much of it negative, about big spending Billericay and their high profile owner Glenn Tamplin. However, when it comes to NLD, the Essex club usually really go to town and create quite a buzz around their fixture. Last season nearly 2,000 people watched them beat Hendon 4-3 in a thrilling clash. This year they come into the game as leaders of the division and on the back of a 9-1 FA Cup win over Whitehawk. The club are offering a number of discounts to get in, most notably half price for people in fancy dress
St Albans City v Bath City @3pm - just to the north of London lies the market town of St Albans. Clarence Park is one of my favourite non-league grounds and is really easy to get to, just a few minutes walk from St Albans station. Like Wealdstone, City have been big supporters of NLD for a long time and always look to do something. This year they will be offering some ticket price reductions, raising money for Prostate Cancer UK and former Arsenal striker Alan Smith will be putting in an appearance. The match itself should also be well worth a watch as both sides are in the top eight

Bostik League Premier Division (Level 7)
Corinthian Casuals v AFC Hornchurch @3pm - head down to Tolworth for some crossbar challenge fun and a number of other events as the club look to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK
Staines Town v Merthyr Town @3pm - the Swans announced their deal quite late but it's a good one - admission reduced to £5, armed forces and emergency personnel for free. If you want to pay the normal £10 to get in, the club will give £5 of it to Prostate Cancer UK
Wingate & Finchley v Leatherhead @3pm - up at Summers Lane former England player Nicky Shorey takes charge of his first game as new Wingate boss and it's also half price pro club season-ticket holders

A bit further afield
Burgess Hill Town v Haringey Borough @3pm - one of the deals of the day is to be found in deepest Sussex at the fantastically named Green Elephants Stadium where it will be only £1 for adults and free for U18s. The hosts narrowly avoided relegation last season and have made a poor start this time too but hey, it's only a pound and it's very much on my shortlist
Merstham v Bishop's Stortford @3pm - located just beyond the M25 to the south of London, you won't have too much further than normal to travel to get to this one - you'll even be able to use an Oyster Card to get there. The Moatsiders are offering free entry to all NHS workers and a number of other discounts as they prepare to take on a Stortford side which includes journeyman striker Jamie Cureton who is still banging them in at 43 years of age
Tonbridge Angels v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - almost certainly the game of the day at this level sees the current leaders host the team in third. Tonbridge are four points clear at the top whilst Bognor are unbeaten and the highest scorers in the division so it should be good. It's also only £5 if you arrive by 215pm - it then goes up to £11
Whitehawk v Brightlingsea Regent @3pm - the Hawks suffered relegation from the National League South last season and have made an iffy start this time round too. They suffered the ignominy of a 9-1 defeat at Billericay Town in the FA Cup on Saturday so will hope to bounce back strongly here. The club are making big efforts to engage with their local community and grow their supporter base and are really going to town with this game. Admission has been reduced to £5, there will be plenty of off-field entertainment and also some fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK - all a short walk from Brighton Marina

Evo-Stik League Premier Division South (Level 7)

A bit further afield
Chesham United v Salisbury @3pm - the Generals are another club who are long-term supporters of NLD and have come up with one of the most enticing deals on Saturday - Pay What You Want. At NLD Towers, if clubs want to reduce admission, this is the way we most strongly encourage them to go. The idea draws people in and many are more than happy to pay the going rate so you end up with a far bigger crowd than normal leading to bulging coffers as the extra punters will very often also spend on programmes, refreshments and lots of other things once they're in. Although I haven't been for years, Amy Lane was always one of my favourite grounds and despite being way out in the Chilterns, Chesham is still reachable by London Underground
Bostik League South Central Division (Level 8)

A bit further afield
Cheshunt v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - with both clubs knocked out of the FA Trophy in the opening round they decided to bring forwards this fixture from later in the season. To their credit, the Ambers have also made the game 'Pay What You Want' to try and encourage as big a crowd as possible. Located a short distance from Tottenham's training ground, this could be a good one for local Spurs fans with a free afternoon

Essex Senior League (Level 9)
Barkingside v Stansted @3pm - located a short walk from Seven Kings station, Barkingside's Cricklefields home (which they share with landlords Ilford) should provide a good value option on the east side of town. 'Side are always looking at ways to bring in new supporters and they're offering free entry to all emergency service workers, students and the unemployed. It's only £5 for everyone else and if a crowd of over 100 turn up, the chairman will refund their 'regular loyal band of supporters'
Sporting Bengal United v Hoddesdon Town @3pm - over in Mile End, the hosts have decided to knock a couple of quid off the normal admission price meaning it's only £4 to get into this one

Southern Counties East League Premier Division (Level 9)
Fisher v Glebe @3pm - there's a London derby at Salter Road where the hosts will be putting on a Groundhopper Appreciation Day. This will include the sale of vintage programmes and the showcasing of various trophies and memorabilia. Football magazine 'When Saturday Comes' will also be giving away a limited number of this month's edition to the first few people through the gates - the only London club where they'll be doing this

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division (Level 9)
Edgware Town v Biggleswade FC @3pm - the Wares are one of only seven clubs throughout the country who have been chosen to host a showpiece game with Kick It Out. The anti-discrimination charity are celebrating their 25th year and have raised their participation in the event to the highest level it's ever been. Edgware have made a solid start to the season but will probably find things tough as Biggleswade are top. It's also 'Pay What You Like' so there's plenty of good reasons to get down to Silver Jubilee Park on Saturday

Combined Counties League Premier Division (Level 9)
Colliers Wood United v Raynes Park Vale @3pm - although I'm not aware of any special deals or events at the Wibbandune on Saturday - the 'A3 Derby' has to make the guide as it is the A3 Derby. Named after the road which links to the two neighbouring clubs, this match is always one of my highlights of the CCL season. Hopefully they'll get their first 100+ attendance of the season


Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South (Level 10)
Hashtag United v Benfleet @3pm - the hosts were only founded in 2016 by football YouTuber Spencer Owen. They filmed and uploaded their exhibition and friendly matches onto the video-sharing platform and grew a large following on social media. The club have now gone semi-professional and entered the national system's pyramid at the start of this season, groundsharing with Haringey Borough. Things have gone well and they're currently one point clear at the top of the division. On Saturday they will be offering free admission to all, running a number of competitions and fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK

Combined Counties League Division 1 (Level 10)
Chessington & Hook United v Sandhurst Town @3pm - the Blues are offering free entry to the first five adults who bring a child and will then be hosting a half-time penalty competition for kids with 'prizes to be won'!
Tooting Bec v Fleet Spurs @3pm - the Bec groundshare at Raynes Park Vale and are making it only £3 for anyone with 'a shirt or season ticket at any Prem ot local NL club'for their CCL game

FA Trophy Preliminary Round and FA Vase First Round
There are also a large number of ties in these two national knockout cup competitions, which have their finals on the same day at Wembley in May. The Trophy is for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers but at this stage only teams in the eighth tier are taking part, with the winners of each tie pocketing £3,000. The Vase is for sides in the ninth to eleventh tiers with the winners of each tie receiving £825 and the losers £275. Sadly it is rare to find any clubs in FA competitions reducing admission as they have to agree it with the opposition. However, most clubs in these competitions will usually charge between £5-9 to get in so it's pretty cheap anyway. Here are a few ties that I like the look of:

FA Trophy
Barking v Hayes & Yeading United @3pm - it's an all-Bostik League east meets west clash at Mayesbrook Park on Saturday as teams from the North and South Central divisions go head-to-head. The visitors are on of the highest ranked London clubs at this level and should start as favourites
Grays Athletic v Sevenoaks Town @3pm - with landlords Aveley opting to play their tie on Friday night, Grays are the next best London-based club in the North Division. Sevenoaks are new to this level and will have to be at their best
Phoenix Sports v Ramsgate @3pm - among the frontrunners in the Bostik League South East, Phoenix should have too much for the visitors

FA Vase
Chertsey Town v Flackwell Heath @3pm - on Saturday the Curfews comfortably extended their unbeaten run to remain top of the Combined Counties League. Will midtable Hellenic League side Flackwell Heath cause a cupset and bring their hot streak to an end???
Harefield United v Woodbridge Town @3pm - the hosts are celebrating their 150th year in style - topping the league and doing well in this major cup competition. Woodbridge play a level above them but aren't pulling up any trees and could be there for the taking
St Panteleimon v Cray Valley PM @3pm - to my knowledge the Saints are the lowest ranked London club left in the competition. Playing in the 11th tier and groundsharing with North Greenford United, they have produced a couple of notable upsets in the two previous rounds. On Saturday they play a team who are doing well in the Southern Counties East League, two levels above them, who caused a number of upsets themselves on the way to winning the London Senior Cup in 2017 - surely they can't win again???


Middlesex County League Premier Division (Level 11)
Lampton Park v PFC Victoria London @3pm - last but not least we have this MCFL game featuring our friends PFC who despite being the away team are marketing the match as if it were one of their own home fixtures, so keen are they to participate in NLD. Last year they managed to generate a crowd of around 400 for a match against North Acton and they'll be looking to appeal to the local Polish community, who they primarily represent, to back them in great numbers again. The match is being played at the Middlesex FA's brand new HQ in Northolt and it's free to get in

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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