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 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.

Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Tuesday 2 July

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


Thursday 4 July

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

Friday 5 July

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

Saturday 6 July

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


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

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!

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