Sunday, 14 July 2019

TLFG: 15-21 July 2019

Welcome one and all to our guide to week three of pre-season.

How's it been for you so far?

The next few days look like being the busiest yet as more teams get into action and Premier League sides start to return from overseas training camps.

Once again I've included a few notable games from beyond the M25 as I seek to showcase the best of what's on offer at this early point of the football year and there are some quirky match-ups, the kind of which keep this time of year so interesting as far as I'm concerned.

A new football festival comes to London in August

Aside from the live action, let me mark your card with news of the 'Jumpers For Goalposts' festival of football culture which is happening here in London on 3-4 August.

There will be speakers, screenings, memorabilia, retro video games and pretty much everything your heart might desire.

It's taking place at Printworks London in Surrey Quays, a stone's throw from Millwall who will be hosting Preston North End on the Saturday in their opening game of the new season - day tickets to the festival are £20 but you can get 15% off if you include discount code 'LFG15' when booking. Many thanks to German TLFG reader Christoph B for tipping me off about this.

Lastly this week, thanks to Simon K who joined the readers who have donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund over the last few months. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words. The page will stay open as the fight goes on!

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include some decent friendlies featuring several Premier League and EFL clubs, a foreign international side and also plenty of games featuring non-league sides too - there are over 100 matches in total so there's plenty to choose from.

Getting details on all games taking place this week has been a challenge, especially the lower down you go. Several clubs have published nothing at all, incorrect information and/or have not responded to requests for clarification - so there could be one or two matches I've missed. 

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
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 15 July

Friendly
Carshalton Athletic v Cray Valley PM @745pm - the Robins made a spectacular return to the seventh tier last season, finishing as runners-up in the Bostik Premier. On Monday they entertain CVPM who celebrated their centenary year by winning the Southern Counties East League and getting to the FA Vase final - it will be interesting to see how they fare at the higher level

-------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 16 July

Friendlies
Barnet v Crystal Palace @745pm - our first chance of the summer to see a bit of Premier League talent should come at The Hive as National League Barnet take on the Eagles. Just back from their training camp in Switzerland, this match is listed as a first-team game for Roy Hodgson's side so you should expect to see at least a few familiar faces. Adult tickets are still available for a very reasonable £10
Boreham Wood v Queens Park Rangers @730pm - just a bit further to the north another National League side play host to Championship club QPR. New boss Mark Warburton saw his side beaten 3-1 by Austria Vienna on Friday night and will hope for a good response here. Adult tickets are £15
Dartford v Gillingham @745pm - the Darts have also landed a juicy friendly against their local League One side. A short train journey should deliver a few away fans for this derby - adult tickets are £10
Wealdstone v Colchester United @730pm - almost four years ago the Stones made it to the first round of the FA Cup where they hosted the then League One U's. The pro club's abilities shone through and they eventually won 6-2. The hosts will welcome them once again on Tuesday with the gap between them now a tad reduced following Colchester's relegation to League Two. This will also be new boss Dean Brennan's first home game since taking charge of Wealdstone. Adult tickets are £8

A bit further afield
Stevenage v Peterborough United @745pm - League Two plays League One in this all EFL affair at the Lamex Stadium. A short trip on the train from Kings Cross is all that's required to get to this one
Ebbsfleet United v Charlton Athletic @730pm - after seeing off local National League South side Welling United on Saturday, the Addicks travel a bit further east and up a division in class for this match against Ebbsfleet. A very healthy crowd of 2,052 enjoyed the match at Park View Road so I would hope for another decent attendance here
Maidenhead United v Kuwait @745pm - one of the most unusual games of the summer takes place at York Road on Tuesday as the Magpies welcome the national team of Kuwait who are here on tour. Having already beaten Marlow and Hungerford Town, the team ranked 156th in the world should face a tougher test at Maidenhead's historic ground. If you can't make it on Tuesday, they're also playing QPR's U23 side at the club's Harlington training ground on Saturday
Woking v Wycombe Wanderers @745pm - sides from satellite towns on the periphery of London meet at the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Tuesday. Two divisions separate the clubs but with the Cards drawing with Oxford United on Saturday, it should be close again
Basingstoke Town v Luton Town @745pm - the Hatters continue their preparations for life back in the Championship with a trip to eighth tier Basingstoke. The Hampshire club suffered relegation last season and haven't played at this level for many years
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Wednesday 17 July

Friendlies
Dagenham & Redbridge v Charlton Athletic @730pm - the matches come thick and fast for the Addicks this week but at least they're not having to travel far as they head across the river to Essex. The Daggers suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Chelmsford City on Saturday and will need to be at their best to get anything out of this game. Adult tickets are available from £10
Hornchurch v Leyton Orient @745pm - the District Line looks like being busy on Wednesday night as a little to the east of Dagenham we have another derby. The Urchins begin the season without the AFC which used to precede their name as they return to the one they began using in 1961. This will be the O's first game since drawing 2-2 with Hull City in Spain just over a week ago
Tooting & Mitcham United v Reading XI @745pm - the Terrors responded well to relegation to the eighth tier but didn't quite have enough to make the Bostik League South Central play-offs and they'll hope to go that little bit further this year. On Wednesday they welcome a development squad from Reading for what they hope will be a good workout

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Thursday 18 July

Friendly
Glebe v Welling United @745pm - there are a handful of games on Thursday with this one topping the bill. Both hailing from south-east London, this derby should draw a reasonable enough crowd with the visitors, who play three levels above their hosts, starting as strong favourites
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Friday 19 July

A bit further afield
Crawley Town v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - there's nothing in London of any note on Friday so I recommend heading south for this Sussex derby near Gatwick Airport where you should also get to see some Premier League players put through their paces. Adult tickets are £10
Colchester United v Ipswich Town @730pm - there's also a derby at the JobServe Community Stadium where Paul Lambert takes his recently relegated Ipswich side back to one of his former clubs. Adult tickets are £15
Welwyn Garden City v MK Dons @745pm - after recently hosting Luton Town, WGC next welcome Paul Tisdale's League One side for another prestigious friendly. Adult tickets are £5
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Saturday 20 July

Friendlies
Bromley v Crystal Palace @3pm - the pick of the day's games is this south-east London derby between the National League Lilywhites and Roy Hodgson's top flight side. This match is listed a first-team game on the Eagles' website so it could be worth buying tickets in advance
Barnet v Peterborough United @3pm - with a number of our bigger local clubs playing away on Saturday, the Bees find themselves high up the bill for the second Saturday running as they host League One side Peterborough. Adult tickets are £10
Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United @3pm - there's a decent looking Essex derby at Victoria Road on Saturday which should draw in a few fans. The Shrimpers play two divisions above the hosts so will start as favourites. Adult tickets are available from £10
Dartford v Leyton Orient @3pm - the Darts enjoy another visit from EFL opposition when E10's finest head down to Princes Park. Adult tickets are £10
Dulwich Hamlet v Tottenham Hotspur U23 @3pm - the Hamlet have spent a very enjoyable few days in the north west, enjoying back-to-back victories over Chester and Marine. They next welcome Bromley for a derby in midweek before pitting themselves against some of the best young players in the country at Champion Hill. Adult tickets are £12
Wealdstone v Watford U23 @3pm - there will also be a representative side from another Premier League club at Grosvenor Vale on Saturday afternoon where adult tickets are £8

Doubleheaders
If you want to see two matches in an afternoon then there are doubleheaders taking place at Aveley and Bedfont Sports on almost exactly opposite sides of London. At Parkside, Aveley play Waltham Abbey at 1pm before tenants Grays Athletic entertain Enfield Town at 330pm. At the Recreation Ground, near Heathrow, FC Deportivo Galicia take on Broadfields United at 12pm before Bedfont Sports meet Beaconsfield Town at 3pm. As far as I'm aware, all matches are separate and you'll probably have to pay twice if you want to watch both but please check the details with the clubs before you set off

A bit further afield
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - on paper the game of the day is almost certainly this one with Championship title favourites Fulham taking on Premier League opposition. For some reason this is being played at Aldershot Town's ground. Adult tickets are £10 and can be bought on arrival
Gillingham v Charlton Athletic @3pm - there's another match for the Addicks on Saturday but this should be the toughest of the lot as they make a short journey into Kent to play League One opposition. Adult tickets are £15
Oxford United v Queens Park Rangers @3pm - mention of the U's brings back very bad memories for any QPR fans born before 1980 and able to remember the Milk Cup Final defeat of 1986. Having beaten some of the best clubs in the country, including Chelsea and the then almost invincible Liverpool, en route to the final - cup glory seemed a formality for Jim Smith's side. However, it wasn't to be as his players froze and Oxford ran out very comfortable 3-0 winners. Competitive games between the two have been thin on the ground as both clubs have moved up and down the divisions and it's just over 20 years since QPR beat Oxford 1-0 at Loftus Road in a league game. Only a division separate these sides now and there could easily be an upset again. Adult tickets are £12
Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford @3pm - all three west London Championship clubs will be heading out of town on Saturday with the Bees also heading up the M40 to face League One opposition. Adult tickets are £12
Stevenage v Portsmouth @3pm - the host's busy programme of pre-season games continues with this challenging fixture against Pompey who made the League One play-offs last term. Adult tickets are £12
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Sunday 21 July

A bit further afield
Gillingham v Millwall @1pm - there's only one match on in the south-east that I'm aware of but it's a good one as these two old rivals do battle at the Priestfield. If you want to go, fast trains taking around 45 minutes leave from St Pancras and Victoria and it's a pretty easy walk from the station. If you are visiting London and looking for a fun family afternoon out then I would perhaps caution against this one as there has been trouble between fans in recent years. Adult tickets are £15



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.

Monday, 8 July 2019

TLFG: 8-14 July 2019

Greetings to TLFG and our guide to week two of pre-season.

Sourcing all the fixture information has been tough with several sides not publishing the details so there's been a bit of chasing, hence the delay in publication.

Consequently I might have missed a few games so apologies for any errors or inaccuracies.

After seeing Arsenal spoil us by putting out an XI at Boreham Wood last week, there are no Premier League sides in action this week but there are plenty of EFL sides instead.

I'm going to have to keep this intro brief this week as I'm really short of time but all the important stuff is below.

Thanks to Stewart and all TLFG readers who have/would like to donate to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund over the last few months. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words. The page will stay open as the fight goes on!

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include some decent friendlies featuring several EFL clubs and also plenty of games featuring non-league sides too - there are over 90 matches in total which is great for so early in pre-season.

Getting details on all games taking place this week has been a challenge, especially the lower down you go. Several clubs have published nothing at all, incorrect information and have not responded to requests for clarification - so there could be one or two matches I've missed. 

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
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue 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 8 July

Friendly
Walton & Hersham v Knaphill @745pm - there's a not a lot on on Monday but this finds itself at the top of the bill because it's being played at a proper ground. For some reason this has been moved to Bedfont Sports, near Heathrow, which is rapidly becoming the hardest working stadium in the south east with matches almost everyday thanks to its 4G pitch

-------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 9 July

Friendlies
AFC Wimbledon v Bristol City @745pm - after entertaining Brentford on Friday night, the Dons welcome some more Championship opposition to Kingsmeadow. Adult tickets start at £10
Dulwich Hamlet v Colchester United @745pm - the Hamlet entertain League Two opposition from Essex as they prepare for their second season in the National League South (NLS). Adult tickets are £12
Wingate & Finchley v Stevenage @745pm - Isthmian League side W&F are another team to enjoy a visit from an EFL side on Tuesday. Adult tickets are usually £12 at Summers Lane
Bromley v Welling United @745pm - there's a south-east London derby to be enjoyed at Hayes Lane where the hosts should start as favourites
Dartford v Ebbsfleet United @745pm - it's a similar story at Princes Park but on paper the visitors should be stronger

A bit further afield
Billericay Town v Southend United @745pm - NLS side Billericay do battle with their local EFL club in an all-Essex affair
Oxford City v Oxford United @745pm - the Oxford derby, need I say more?
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Wednesday 10 July

A bit further afield
Hitchin Town v Stevenage @745pm - with all our local teams playing friendlies on random 3G pitches with little in the way of spectator facilities, your best option would appear to be this Hertfordshire derby. Adult tickets are £9 if bought in advance online

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Thursday 11 July

Friendly
Beckenham Town v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - there are a handful of games on Thursday with this one topping the bill. Both hail from south-east London and I'm told the ambitious Becks have one of the best pitches in the capital
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Friday 12 July

Friendlies
Fisher v Millwall XI @745pm - the Fish host the Lions in a local derby. I believe the Millwall community team run and maintain Salter Road so the links between the clubs are strong. Adult tickets at Fisher are normally £8
Enfield Town v FC United of Manchester @745pm - two fan owned clubs meet for this friendly in north London. The visitors are on a whirlwind tour of the south and will also play at Lewes on Saturday

A bit further afield
Braintree Town v West Ham United U23 @745pm - the Hammers send an academy side into deepest Essex to take on the similarly nicknamed 'Iron' on Friday night. Adult tickets are £10
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Saturday 13 July

Friendlies
Barnet v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - there's a paucity of really eye-catching games this weekend with this one between two old rivals just about coming out on top. The Bees, aside from a good FA Cup run, had a disappointing season in the National League last season and will hope to impress against a side who narrowly avoided relegation from League One. Adult tickets are £10
Welling United v Charlton Athletic @3pm - the Wings welcome their local rivals for this annual pre-season game at Park View Road as the Addicks prepare for life back in the Championship. Adult tickets at Welling are usually £12

A bit further afield
Crawley Town v Swansea City @3pm - there's an all EFL affair not far from Gatwick Airport so if you're reading this somewhere overseas you can easily jet in for this one! To top it all, it's Crawley's Fun Day and all tickets to the match are just £1 - bargain!!!
Havant & Waterlooville v Portsmouth @3pm - it's a big day for H&W as they get to play host to neighbouring League One side Pompey. Adult tickets are £10 and available on the gate
Woking v Oxford United @3pm - the Cards won promotion back to the National League via a nervy play-off final. They play their first home game of pre-season against League One side Oxford. Presumably a 'lively' atmosphere is expected as segregation between rival fans is to be enforced. Adult tickets are £10
St Albans City v Stevenage @3pm - the visitors continue their tour of local clubs with another short trip to NLS side St Albans. Clarence Park is one of my favourite non-league grounds so I'd always recommend a visit
Folkestone Invicta v Gillingham @3pm - if the weather's good, a trip to the seaside for this Kent derby could be well worth doing
Bedford Town v Luton Town @3pm - after a good workout at Welwyn Garden City on Saturday, the Hatters travel to another nearby non-league club as they prepare for their return to the Championship
Ebbsfleet United v Tottenham Hotspur U23 @3pm - Spurs send an academy side to Kent for what will hopefully be an entertaining fixture
Ramsgate v Crystal Palace U23 @3pm - if you don't fancy getting off at Ebbsfleet, stay on the train and head for the coast to watch the Eagles' youngsters in action
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Sunday 14 July

GTR Railway Friendly Flexi League
South Western Railway v Brighton Train Crews @2pm - as there's nothing else on, why not give some railway football a go? Two teams of drivers, guards and various others go head-to-head in this league match which comes just beyond the midpoint of the Flexi League season. The main reason to recommend this to groundhoppers is that it's being played at Fisher's ground in Rotherhithe and the hosts will have some rather fine enamel pin badges for sale



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.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

TLFG: 1-7 July 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to the first edition of TLFG of the 2019/20 season - our ninth year of covering all the goings on in London.

I hope you've had a good few weeks since I last wrote - not least enjoying the Women's World Cup and the plethora of other men's tournaments taking place in the so-called 'close' season.

A trip to France to catch a game had been very much on my to-do list but the timings weren't great with my daughter's school schedule and a few other things cropped up in the meantime too.

The Lionesses have a friendly against Germany at Wembley on 9 November which I've got tickets for instead. Two tickets for my daughter and I came in at just £11 which shows what great value the women's game is at top level. If they go on to win the World Cup, they could become some of the hottest tickets in town.

Tickets are available now


Talking of Wembley events, the national stadium will be hosting a load of games in next summer's men's Euro 2020 tournament and the ticket ballot is open from now until 12 July. Tickets range in price from 50-945 euros!!!

Before I forget, since I last wrote Chelsea beat Arsenal to win the Europa League in Baku whilst Tottenham Hotspur finished runners-up to Liverpool in the Champions League final as English clubs dominated - hats off to them all.

The saddest news of the last few weeks was that of the untimely death of Leyton Orient manager Justin Edinburgh at the age of just 49. The former Tottenham player suffered a cardiac arrest on 3 June just weeks after guiding the O's to the National League title and taking them to Wembley for the FA Trophy Final.

The east London club begin their pre-season without him with a match at Harlow Town on Saturday on what is a pretty decent first Saturday with one Premier League club and several EFL ones all in action.

The ticket ballot is open until 12 July

On a personal note, a couple of weeks ago I finally managed to meet up with my Dad for the first time since he got diagnosed with cancer (his treatment has made him too radioactive or susceptible to infection from visitors) and introduce him to his new granddaughter. He was in great form and I couldn't really notice any difference which was incredibly encouraging - he's on immunotherapy now which seems to have some potentially nasty side effects but fingers crossed he will continue to make progress. 

Thanks again to all TLFG readers who have/would like to donate to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund over the last few months. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words. The page will stay open as the fight goes on!

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include some decent friendlies featuring one Premier League team and several from the EFL, there are also plenty of games featuring non-league sides too - there almost 50 matches in total which is great for so early in pre-season.

Getting details on all games taking place this week has been a challenge, especially the lower down you go. Several clubs have published nothing at all, incorrect information and have not responded to requests for clarification - so there could be one or two matches I've missed. 

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
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 2 July

Friendly
Aveley v Chelmsford City @745pm - our pre-season matches get underway for another year with this all-Essex affair at the well appointed Parkside ground. The hosts had a great season in the eighth tier Bostik North, finishing runners-up but sadly the play-offs were to prove their undoing. It was a similar tale for Chelmsford who seem to make the National League South (NLS) play-offs with great regularity before always falling short. With City playing two levels above Aveley, they should start as favourites

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Thursday 4 July

Friendly
Bedfont Sports v Brentford B @7pm - also in the eighth tier, Sports have done really well to land this friendly against the second string of their local Championship club. The hosts managed a midtable finish in the Bostik South Central last season whilst Brentford B made it to the finals of the Middlesex and London Senior Cup Finals, winning the former against Harrow Borough at Griffin Park
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Friday 5 July

Friendly
AFC Wimbledon v Brentford @745pm - the first really juicy friendly of this summer's warm-up programme takes place on Friday when the Dons, of League One, welcome Championship side Brentford for this derby. Manager Wally Downes pulled off a minor miracle by keeping Wimbledon in the third tier last season and will hope for a much more comfortable campaign this time round. The Bees enjoyed another top-half finish as they impressively punched well above their weight again. Adult tickets start at £10

A bit further afield
Bowers & Pitsea v Colchester United @730pm - the hosts won the Bostik North last season and welcome League Two club Colchester to their Basildon home for this decent looking game. Adult tickets are £5
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Saturday 6 July

Friendlies
Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI @3pm - National League club Boreham Wood always seem to put together a great selection of pre-season games and this year is no different. It opens on Saturday with their now annual fixture against the Gunners with whom they have very strong ties. Arsenal often bring the strongest side available with some big names playing in these games in recent years. However, with it still be very early  and with several players involved in the Africa Cup of Nations and Copa America, it's not going to be a full-strength team. Adult tickets are £16
Bromley v Fulham XI @3pm - the Lilywhites enjoyed a solid 11th-place finish in the fifth tier last season and will hope to improve on that this season. Fulham, however, suffered the ignominy of relegation from the Premier League but are still currently joint favourites for the Championship title alongside Leeds. This isn't listed as a first team friendly on the Cottagers' website so don't expect much more than a development side. Adult tickets are £10
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Harrow Borough @12pm - the battle of the Boros takes place at Bedfont Sports' ground near Heathrow Airport (great for plane spotters). Hampton had a tough season last year but kept their heads above water and will contest another season in the NLS. Harrow surprised many by finishing seventh in the Southern League Premier South last season, scoring and conceding loads of goals in the process. You can do an easy double with this one as FC Deportivo Galicia entertain Wraysbury in another match on the same pitch at 3pm
Haringey Borough v St Albans City @3pm - Haringey made a fantastic debut in the seventh tier last season and led the Bostik League for many weeks. Ultimately they finished third and lost in the play-offs but their performance surpassed most people's expectations. On Saturday they welcome Hertfordshire club St Albans who missed out on the NLS play-offs and should provide a good test for Tom Loizou's side
Clapton CFC v Wanderers FC @2pm - there are plenty of other non-league friendlies on Saturday but this one catches the eye even though it features sides who play well down the pyramid. Clapton CFC begin the season in the 11th tier Middlesex County League Premier Division after winning promotion last season. Despite playing at such a low level, they attracted over 1,000 fans to their title-winning final match against FC Roast and will no doubt manage at least a couple of hundred for this one. Wanderers FC play at an even lower level but are a reincarnation of the historic club which were originally founded in the 19th century and won the first ever FA Cup in 1872

A bit further afield
Concord Rangers v Millwall @1pm - the Lions begin their pre-season campaign with a trip to Canvey Island to play Concord who narrowly missed out on a play-off place in the NLS last season. Adult tickets are £10 and will be available on the gate
Faversham Town v Gillingham @2pm - the Lilywhites entertain their local League One side in a slightly earlier kick-off. Faversham struggled last season and could well struggle again here. Adult tickets are £10 and available on the gate
Harlow Town v Leyton Orient @3pm - the Hawks came bottom of the Bostik Premier last season to lose their place in the seventh tier. It was a totally different story for the O's who won the National League and finished as runners-up in the FA Trophy. All that joy has been tempered in the last few weeks by the sad news of manager Justin Edinburgh's untimely death at the age of 49 and this will be their first match without him. Adult tickets are £10
Welwyn Garden City v Luton Town @3pm - the Hatters suffered relegation from the Championship in 2007 and fell all the way down into the realms of non-league where they spent several seasons. After reorganising, they've won three promotions and now finally find themselves back in the second tier after 12 painful years away. They begin their pre-season with what should be a gentle workout at local eighth-tier club WGC. Adult tickets are £10 and available on the gate

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Sunday 7 July

A bit further afield
Billericay Town v All Star XI @3pm - the only game I'm aware of in the south-east of any note is this friendly at Essex club Billericay. They missed out on the NLS play-offs last season and will hope for at least a place in the post season this time round. On Sunday they welcome an All Star XI whose side are set to feature the likes of former professionals Joe Cole, James Collins, Glenn Johnson, Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky among others. Adult tickets are £10


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.

Monday, 20 May 2019

TLFG: 20-27 May 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to the final edition of TLFG for the 2018/19 season.

I had intended to finish it off with a trip to Wembley for Non-League Finals Day but my wife got admitted to hospital on Thursday, came out on Saturday afternoon and I've been looking after her and the kids since.

The day itself sounded pretty great as always with over 42,000 enjoying Chertsey Town's win over Cray Valley PM in the FA Vase and Leyton Orient narrowly losing 1-0 to AFC Fylde as they missed out on the non-league double.

All in all, it's been quite a year for London football with many of our local clubs achieving great things.

I thought, for a change, I'd try and list all those honours so here goes.

Leagues
Premier League: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal - third, fourth and fifth
FA Women's Super League: Arsenal - champions
FA Women's Championship: Tottenham Hotspur - runners-up
League One: Charlton Athletic - play-off finalists (final on 26 May)
National League: Leyton Orient - champions
National League South: Welling United - play-off finalists
Evo-Stik League South Premier Division: Metropolitan Police - play-off winners
Bostik League South Central: Hayes & Yeading United - champions
Bostik League South East: Cray Wanderers - champions
Combined Counties League Premier Division: Chertsey Town - champions
Southern Counties East League: Cray Valley PM - champions
Southern Counties East League Division 1: Welling Town - champions, Erith & Belvedere - runners-up
Thurlow Nunn League Division 1 South: Hashtag United - champions
Spartan South Midlands League Division 1: Harefield United - champions, Broadfields United - runners-up


Cups
Champions League: Tottenham Hotspur - finalists (final on 1 June)
Europa League: Arsenal and Chelsea - finalists (final on 29 May)
FA Cup: Watford - runners-up
Women's FA Cup: West Ham United - runners-up
FA Community Shield: Chelsea - runners-up
FA TrophyLeyton Orient - runners-up
FA VaseChertsey Town - winners, Cray Valley PM - runners-up
Bostik League Cup: Enfield Town - winners, AFC Hornchurch - runners-up
Combined Counties League Cup: Sutton Common Rovers - winners, CB Hounslow United - runners-up
Essex Senior League Cup: West Essex - runners-up
Spartan South Midlands League Division 1 Cup: London Lions - runners-up
London Senior Cup: Welling United - winners, Brentford B - runners-up
London Senior Trophy: Erith & Belvedere - winners, Bridon Ropes - runners-up
Middlesex Senior Cup: Brentford B - winners, Harrow Borough  - runners-up
Middlesex Charity Cup: Uxbridge - winners, Ashford Town - runners-up
Middlesex Premier Cup: Harefield United - winners
Hertfordshire Senior Cup: Boreham Wood - winners
Hertfordshire Senior Centenary Trophy: London Lions - winners
Kent Senior Cup: Bromley - runners-up
Kent Senior Trophy: Beckenham Town - runners-up
Hospitals Charity Cup: Erith & Belvedere - winners, Sutton Athletic - runners-up
Surrey Senior Cup: Metropolitan Police - winners, Tooting & Mitcham United - runners-up
Southern Combination Cup Final: Walton Casuals - winners, Sutton Common Rovers - runners-up

I think I'm right in saying that in total, TLFG clubs won an impressive 23 titles between them this season and Tottenham could make that 24 if they beat Liverpool in the Champions League Final on 1 June.

On a personal note, my top five highlights of the season were:

1. Winning an unsung hero award from QPR and getting to walk out onto the pitch at half-time during the Bolton game with my eldest daughter to receive it
2. Putting on the ninth Non-League Day and raising over £150,000 for Prostate Cancer UK
3. Watching Harrow Borough take on Brentford B in the Middlesex Senior Cup Final at Griffin Park
4. Attending the grand opening of Tottenham's new stadium and their match against Crystal Palace
5. QPR finally breaking their hoodoo and winning away at Nottingham Forest

What were yours? I'd be interested to know.


Get your tickets now - 20% off with discount code 'tlfg''

As mentioned previously, this week sees the return of the excellent London Festival of Football Writing.

It takes place between 21-25 May and features some great speakers and events - what's more you can get 20% off your ticket or festival pass price by quoting the discount code 'tlfg' when booking online.

Looking ahead to the Champions League Final next month - Tottenham have announced they will be screening the game live at their new stadium. Tickets will be £10 adults and £5 juniors but you'll probably need to be a friend of a season-ticket holder or member to be able to get one - full details.

Also next month, this year's Soccer Aid match is being played at Stamford Bridge on Sunday 16 June. With funds raised going to UNICEF, a stellar cast of celebrities and ex-pros will do battle. For the first time the teams will be mixed and include a number of top female players like Katie Chapman and Rachel Yankey. The likes of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Roberto Carlos, Didier Drogba and Eric Cantona are all set to take part so it should be a fun evening.

Looking well ahead into the summer - several clubs have announced pre-season games with the following on general sale now:

28 July: Arsenal v Lyon - tickets
3 August: Crystal Palace v Hertha Berlin - tickets
West Ham United v Athletic Bilbao - tickets (on sale 17 June)
4 August: Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan - tickets

Lastly this week, many thanks to John B and all those who have donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund over the last few months. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

As always - enjoy your football and see you in a few weeks time. I aim to be back on 30 June when pre-season starts to get underway.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The next few days are set to be very quiet indeed with only four matches taking place - half of which will be very hard to get tickets for. If you know of any other fixtures I may have missed, please let me know.

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.

MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin
Monday fixtures - yellow 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.

Saturday 25 May

League Two Play-Off Final
Newport County v Tranmere Rovers @3pm - the EFL play-off weekend gets underway at Wembley on Saturday with this clash between sides from Wales and England. Newport made headlines this season for their fine run in the FA Cup which saw them beat Leicester City and Middlesbrough before finally succumbing 4-1 to eventual winners Manchester City (no shame in that). In the league they finished seventh, just pipping Colchester United to the last play-off spot. Tranmere finished just above them in sixth so they've both done well to get this far. Rovers only returned to the EFL last season after winning the National League play-offs so quite a few of the squad should be used to the pressure associated with an occasion like this. The two league games between them this season were very tight with one ending 0-0 and the other producing a 1-0 away win for Newport so this could go all the way to penalties. Of the three play-off games taking place this weekend, this is the only one you'll have a good chance of getting tickets for. If you want one, they're available from each of the clubs' websites - see the match map for links

Friendly
Cascadia v Chagos Islands @3pm - apart from the play-offs, the only other match I'm aware of this week takes place at Bostik League club Whyteleafe's ground. This friendly between two CONIFA members sees the sides play each other for the first time. Cascadia represent an area of North America around Seattle and did well to finish sixth at last year's World Football Cup here in London. Chagos Islands didn't qualify for that tournament but ended up filling in for Ellan Vannin who dropped out in protest after the group stages. Their last match came against the recently formed Surrey international side at the end of April which they won 3-2. Tickets for this match are available in advance or on the gate for £8
-------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday 26 May

League One Play-Off Final
Charlton Athletic v Sunderland @3pm - two former Premier League clubs meet at Wembley on Sunday for the chance to get back into the second tier. After winning the away leg of their play-off semi-final against Doncaster, the Addicks made heavy weather of the second leg and just scraped through on penalties. In the other semi-final, Sunderland won an attritional contest aganst Portsmouth with a solitary goal in the first leg being enough. Charlton came into the play-offs as one of the form teams of the division, no mean feat considering all the disharmony and unrest off the field. Sunderland, a far bigger club, were winless in their final four games and were far from convincing against Pompey. Despite this, the bookies can't choose between them so again it should be close. Given the size of both clubs, getting tickets without membership or a previous booking history is likely to be tough but keep checking the clubs' websites for the latest availability

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Monday 27 May

Championship Play-Off Final

Aston Villa v Derby County @3pm - the 'richest game in world football' is back and this year it will be contested by two big rivals from the Midlands. Again these clubs are far more famous for being top flight sides who have an impressive nine league titles between them. Like Newport and Tranmere above, these two grabbed the last two play-off places so can feel a little fortunate to be only 90 minutes from the £200m+ windfall that goes with promotion to the Premier League. For many, this is all about John Terry and Frank Lampard as the old Chelsea team-mates find themselves in opposite dugouts as assistant head coach and manager respectively. If results from earlier in the season are anything to go by then put your money on Villa who scored seven goals without reply over the two league games between the sides. Tickets will be really hard to get without membership but keep checking the clubs' websites for availability


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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.

Monday, 13 May 2019

TLFG: 13-19 May 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to one of the last editions of TLFG this season.

I'm not sure how many more I'll do before taking a few weeks off but next week will probably be the last before I come back for pre-season in July.

First up, what a week it's been for our local teams! With three of the four Champions League/Europa League finalists coming from this fair city.

London can surely argue it's now Europe's top footballing town.

With the Premier League concluding on Sunday - Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur claimed top-four finishes whilst Arsenal finished closely behind in fifth.

Tickets are now on sale for Non-League Finals Day

The other events of note over the last weekend were the Super Play-Off Final in the seventh tier which saw unlikely finalists Metropolitan Police almost do the unthinkable and beat Tonbridge Angels for a place in the National League South. They had the lead twice and were 2-1 up with five minutes to go but eventually lost 3-2 in extra-time. For a club that didn't want to be in the Evo-Stik League at the start of the season, they gave it a right good go.

Elsewhere, way down in the 12th tier, Clapton CFC got the final-day win they needed over FC Roast to give them the Middlesex County League Division 1 Central & East title. The match at the Stray Dog in Walthamstow was watched by a staggering 1,267 people which surely bodes well for future years.

Promotion will now see them enjoy mouthwatering contests against the likes of PFC Victoria London and Pitshanger Dynamo which should be well worth a watch.

As for what you can enjoy this week - well there really isn't very much at all.

Top of the bill we have the FA Cup Final but unless you're a member, well connected or have a lot of money to spend, you won't get a ticket. It's very much on my bucket list to go one day but it doesn't look it's going to happen this time.

I will, however, be at Wembley the day after for the annual feast of football that is Non-League Finals Day. This will be the fourth year that the FA have combined the Vase and Trophy finals into one event and it does seem to work pretty well.

The main gripe for me and many others is that re-admission is not allowed which given how long a day it is can be quite off-putting. If the Trophy goes to extra-time and penalties like last year, then you could be in Wembley for the best part of eight hours - smokers find it a real struggle!

Overall though it is a good day out and there could be a record crowd this year given that Leyton Orient have made it.

Get your tickets now - 20% off with discount code 'tlfg''

The only other match of note sees Charlton Athletic take on Doncaster Rovers in the League One play-offs. It appears there are some tickets available in the away end but more on that below.

Looking ahead to the Champions League Final next month - Tottenham have announced they will be screening the game live at their new stadium. Tickets will be £10 adults and £5 juniors. Details of how to get them are set to be released in the next few days so keep checking their website for details.

As mentioned last week, later this month sees the return of the London Festival of Football Writing.

It takes place between 21-25 May and features some great speakers and events - what's more you can get 20% off your ticket or festival pass price by quoting the discount code 'tlfg' when booking online.

Lastly this week, many thanks again to all those who have donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD

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.

MATCH MAP
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Friday fixtures - black pin
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 14 May

A bit further afield
The best thing taking place on Tuesday would appear to be the Essex Olympian League Cup Final. Being played near Stansted airport at the ground of Bostik League club Bishop's Stortford, locals Bishop's Stortford Swifts take on Catholic United who will be looking for some more silverware after beating Clapton CFC in the Anagram Records Trophy Final last week.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Friday 17 May

League One Play-Off Semi-Final Second Leg
Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers @745pm - after winning the first leg 2-1 up in Yorkshire, the Addicks look all set to book a trip to Wembley for a shot at returning to the Championship. Tickets for home areas of the stadium are scarce and will be hard to get without membership but there are still a few left in the away end on general sale

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Saturday 18 May

FA Cup Final

Manchester City v Watford @5pm - after winning the title on Sunday, City will be looking to complete the treble with what should be a fairly straightforward win over Watford. On paper the Hornets are significant underdogs but they are capable of pulling a big performance out of the bag. Don't forget City lost here to Wigan in 2013 who were a far weaker side than Watford so anything's possible - except perhaps getting a ticket. These are sold directly by the clubs and membership is a necessity

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Sunday 19 May

Non-League Finals Day:

FA Vase Final
Chertsey Town v Cray Valley PM @1215pm - the festival of football which is Non-League Finals Day kicks off shortly after noon with this intriguing contest between two TLFG  sides from the south-west and south-east of town. Both clubs won their parallel ninth tier leagues so should be well matched for this huge Wembley occasion. If you don't know, the Vase is a national knockout competition for clubs who play in the ninth to eleventh tiers. In recent years it has been dominated by clubs from Newcastle and the north east so for two London clubs to make the final is quite a surprise

FA Trophy Final
AFC Fylde v Leyton Orient @415pm - the day concludes with the Trophy, which is a competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers. The O's will start as favourites and come into this going for the non-league double having already won the National League title. AFC Fylde also got to Wembley on Saturday where they lost to Salford City in the National League play-off final. It will be interesting to see how motivated they are and how many fans can be bothered to make the trip again after that big disappointment. Either way it's usually a great day with adult tickets £25 (one ticket gets you in for both games), concessions £10 and U16s £1. Tickets can be bought online in advance or at the ticket office at Wembley on the day

Friendly
South Western Railway v District Line @2pm - if you fancy a bit of groundhopping you could tick Fisher's St Paul's Sports Ground off your list as it plays host to this friendly between two railway teams. SWR are a newly formed club who play in the GTR Railway Friendly Flexi League whilst District Line are the most successful club in the history of the much longer established London Underground League. History and form suggests the visitors should win. The match is free entry although donations will be gratefully received and non-league dogs will be very welcome! Check with SWR on the day if any details have changed

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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.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

TLFG: 7-12 May 2019

We're now into the second week of May and the season is well and truly winding down.

There's very little on over the next few days but what is taking place is highly important with many title deciders, play-off games and cup finals.

I've had to cast around a bit to fill up the map with a few 11th and 12th tier games and several matches from beyond the M25.

The week gets underway with a pretty decent friendly which is offering free entry but more on that below.

Get your tickets now - 20% off with discount code 'tlfg''
Many congratulations this week to AFC Wimbledon who seemed to do the almost impossible and keep themselves in League One - a fantastic achievement but boy was it close!

There was also play-off success for Welling United and Metropolitan Police with both now going into big finals next weekend - give them your support if you can.

My football watching took me to Wembley for the Women's FA Cup Final between Manchester City and West Ham United.

Last week I predicted a poor attendance because of unfortunate scheduling of a West Ham men's game and engineering work on the railways but I was pleasantly surprised to see a very healthy crowd of over 43,000 turn out - it makes you wonder what would've happened if things had been different.

The game itself was also a lot closer than I thought it would be. City did eventually win 3-0 but two goals came very late on and it had been goalless at half-time.

Tickets are now on sale for Non-League Finals Day
Overall it was a great family day out with the excellent ticket prices almost certainly proving to be a big draw for many.

I'll be heading back to Wembley again in a couple of weeks for Non-League Finals Day to see the FA Vase and FA Trophy Finals played back-to-back but more on that soon.

As mentioned last week, later this month sees the return of the London Festival of Football Writing.

It takes place between 21-25 May and features some great speakers and events - what's more you can get 20% off your ticket or festival pass price by quoting the discount code 'tlfg' when booking online.

Lastly this week, many thanks to Robert J and all those who have donated to TLFG's lung cancer fighting fund this week. I really really appreciate it and thanks for all your kind words.

To recap, I recently received the news that my Dad has lung cancer. This condition also claimed the lives of my Mum and grandfather so with me powerless to do anything medically to help him, I've decided to ask for all donations to this blog to go to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which you can contribute to through the fundraising page I've set up. 

As always - enjoy your football and have a great week.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include some crucial games in the Europa League, Premier League and a number of play-off games in many of our local non-league competitions 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
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 7 May

Friendly
Brentford B v Manchester City U18 @730pm - it might all be over for the Bees' first team but not so their development side who will be hosting City's youngsters at Griffin Park on Tuesday night where it will be free entry for everyone

A bit further afield
There are several county cup finals being played beyond TLFG's M25 border with the nearest being the Surrey Senior Cup Final between Metropolitan Police and Tooting & Mitcham United at Dorking Wanderers' ground. The Met would normally start as favourites but with this game coming just a day after their tense play-off win over Poole Town and with the resulting Super Play-Off Final on Saturday, they're likely to field a much weakened side. Elsewhere, Bognor Regis Town take on Burgess Hill Town in the Sussex Senior Cup Final which is worth going to as it's being played at Brighton & Hove Albion's Amex Community Stadium

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Wednesday 8 May

A bit further afield
A bit of a random one this but I'm not aware of anything taking place in London. The main reason to head to the Suffolk Premier Cup Final between Felixstowe & Walton United and Leiston is that it's being played at Ipswich Town's Portman Road ground which is within a 90-minute train ride of London

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Thursday 9 May

Europa League semi-final second leg

Chelsea v Eintracht Frankfurt @8pm - the Blues drew last week's first leg in Germany 1-1 which, in theory, means they should come into this as favourites. Both in the top four of their respective leagues, the sides should still be well matched with Eintracht bringing a large contingent of travelling fans many of whom probably won't have tickets - I'm told they received 28,000 applications for their much smaller allocation. Only hospitality tickets and packages are available at this stage if you do want to go

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Saturday 11 May

National League Promotion Final
AFC Fylde v Salford City @3pm - a few short years ago both these sides were pootling around in the lower divisions of the non-league pyramid making few headlines. Now both backed by wealthy owners the clubs have undergone radical transformations and sit on the brink of a place in the EFL. AFC Fylde finished fifth but managed to get the better of Harrogate Town and Solihull Moors to make it to Wembley. Salford, driven on by Man Utd's class of '92, finished second and scraped past Eastleigh on penalties in Sunday's semi-final. The pressure is all on them but it would seem the form is with Fylde - it should be an intriguing contest. Tickets are available

Super Play-Off Final
Metropolitan Police v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - for those not in the know, the FA restructured a number of divisions at non-league level prior to the start of this season. Not everything was as even as they'd have liked it and as a result the play-offs have been a bit of a muddle in the seventh and eighth tiers. For the first time, play-off winning teams would not be guaranteed promotion as there aren't enough places to go around. This means that in the seventh tier, only two of the four play-off winners will be able to go up and we now have two 'Super' Play-Off Finals to decide who goes up. The one taking place in London sees the Evo-Stik Premier Division South and Bostik Premier play-off winners go head-to-head for that one place. To get here, The Met have had to beat Salisbury and Poole Town while Tonbridge have beaten Haringey Borough and Merstham. For me, the momentum seems to be with Metropolitan Police who defied all the odds to get this far and beat far bigger clubs. They have nothing to fear and have home advantage. With average crowds of just 156, it would be quite a story if they made it to the National League South. Tickets should be available on the gate

Middlesex County Football League Division 1 Central & East
FC Roast v Clapton CFC @3pm - although way down in the 12th tier, this match could well draw a crowd of 800+ as it will decide if the Tons win the title. Although listed as an away game, the match has been switched to the Stray Dog so they'll have home advantage for this all-important game. On paper they should come out on top but with only a win good enough, pressure may take its toll

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Manchester City @1230pm - it's the final day of the women's season and the standout fixture is this match between the top two. Sadly there's nothing riding on it as Arsenal have already won the title whilst City picked up the FA Cup on Saturday

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Sunday 12 May

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton @3pm - it's the final day of the season in the top flight and although there are several matches in the capital, this is the only one of any significance as it will decide whether or not Spurs finish in the top four and get a Champions League place. With three defeats from four in the league and a loss to Ajax in Europe, their form is decidedly dodgy. Everton are in better shape coming into this but have little to play for other than the eighth place they already occupy. Tickets are only available to members

Elsewhere in the Premier League you can still get tickets for the final day game between Fulham and Newcastle United whilst the matches at Crystal Palace and Watford are on sale to members only.

A bit further afield
After their dramatic comeback against Wealdstone on Sunday, Woking will now host Welling United in the National League South Play-Off Final. The sides finished second and third respectively so it should be close. However, the smart money should still be on the Cards as they were unbeaten in the three league and cup games against the Wings earlier in the season. The winners will get to take their place in the fifth tier alongside the likes of Notts County and Yeovil Town so there's plenty at stake

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