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
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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.

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