Monday 22 July 2019

TLFG: 22-28 July 2019

Welcome to TLFG's look at week four of pre-season where things are really starting to hot up.

Numerous Premier League clubs finally get into action on our patch over the next few days whilst the amount of EFL sides hoping to entertain us has also increased - there are also some European visitors to add even more glamour to the mix.

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. I include matches on the maps if they feature at least one representative side from a Premier League/EFL or overseas team - as a general rule, games outside the M25 between non-league sides will not be included.

The biggest event of the week is almost certainly Arsenal's Emirates Cup event.

Tickets are available for this year's Emirates Cup

Sadly as the Gunners' fortunes have waned on the pitch so has the calibre of this competition with it now being only a one day event instead of spread over a whole weekend. French club Lyon are the headline act whereas Real Madrid and Juventus were both on the bill along with Hamburg in 2008.

This year Arsenal are giving their women's players the chance to shine by playing a match against Bayern Munich. I think this is a hugely positive thing but many are still not convinced about women's football and will stay away - some of the Arsenal fans I know looked disgusted when they found out!

Aside from Bayern, Arsenal Women will also warm-up for the defence of their Super League crown with another couple of friendlies against Barcelona and Tottenham next month which should be well worth a watch but more on them in the coming weeks.

As mentioned last week, let me again mark your card with news of the 'Jumpers For Goalposts' festival of football culture which is happening here in London on 3-4 August.

A new football festival is coming to London
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.

I spent all of last week commuting back and forth between London and Southampton and then I've spent all this weekend looking after my daughters with my wife away on a residential course. Consequently I've seen no football at all - however, I have Tuesday and Wednesday off so am hoping to see something.

When I publish next week's piece is open to question as I'm off to Istanbul on Sunday for a week but I'll endeavour to get something up at some point.

On the subject of Istanbul, if anyone is aware of any friendlies taking place on either side of the Bosphorus at any level, please let me know as information is proving hard to come by. I know the big clubs play most of their pre-season games away but I'm more than happy to watch Umraniye, Istanbulspor, Beykoz or whoever. I'm staying on the Asian side so that would be more convenient but I'm not fussy.

Lastly this week, many thanks to all 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 highlights of the next few days include some decent friendlies featuring several Premier League and EFL clubs, some European teams and also plenty of games featuring non-league sides too - there are well 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.

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

In 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 22 July

Carshalton Athletic v Charlton Athletic XI @745pm - with most of Monday's games taking place on random 3G pitches around the capital, the match of the night is undoubtedly this one as the Robins entertain a side from The Valley. However, this isn't listed as a first-team game on Charlton's website so don't expect any more than a development squad to entertain you


Tuesday 23 July

Wealdstone v Wycombe Wanderers @730pm - there are loads of games on Tuesday night and I'd say that this is just about the pick of what's on offer. The sixth-tier Stones made the National League South (NLS) play-offs last season and will want to do even better under new boss Dean Brennan. Being based in Ruislip, Wycombe is only a short car or train journey away from Grosvenor Vale so a good crowd should be expected for the visit of the League One side
Metropolitan Police v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - there's also a chance to catch a League One side in action at Imber Court where the Dons make the short trip from Norbiton for another derby of sorts. The Met also suffered play-off misery last season, albeit at the level below Wealdstone, so they should be capable of giving Wally Downes' side a decent game
Sutton United v Dulwich Hamlet @745pm - there are also a couple of decent derbies on Tuesday where two of the best supported non-league sides in south London meet on the artificial turf of Gander Green Lane for what should be an intriguing contest. Sutton play a division above their visitors so should start as favourites
Dartford v Bromley @745pm - there's a very similar game taking place at Princes Park where another two local rivals go head-to-head for nothing more than bragging rights. On this occasion, the visitors play in the higher division

A bit further afield
Cambridge United v Leicester City @730pm - if you're prepared to travel around 50 miles north of London on Tuesday then you can get this week's first helping of Premier League players in action. League Two Cambridge have priced adult tickets at £10 and there seem to be plenty available
Oxford United v Fulham @745pm - after losing 2-1 to QPR on Saturday, the U's welcome another opponent from west London. The Cottagers suffered relegation from the Premier League last season but are one of the favourites to win the Championship title. Adult tickets are £12
Colchester United v Charlton Athletic @730pm - another one of our local Championship sides makes a short journey out to Essex to play League Two opposition. Adult tickets are priced at a rather steep £15
Swindon Town v Manchester United U23 @730pm - although it's only a development team, the chance for a League Two side to play against anyone from Old Trafford is too good an opportunity to miss. Although Swindon is quite a long way outside London (around 70 miles) there is a fast and frequent train service from Paddington which takes just over an hour, with the ground a short walk from the station. Adult tickets are only £8 for this one
Aldershot Town v Portsmouth @730pm - there's a bit of an Army v Navy feel to this one with both towns famous for being home to each of the armed services respectively. The Shots play two divisions below Pompey who should bring a decent following up from the coast. Although outside London, this is another ground that's very easy to get to by train. Adult tickets are £10 although it is half price for military personnel

Wednesday 24 July

Barnet v Arsenal XI @745pm - not all that long ago, the regular pre-season game between these two north London clubs would see the Gunners field a full strength side but with the Bees now out of the EFL and with serious money on offer to Arsenal to tour the world during the summer, only a development side will be sent to The Hive which seems a bit of a shame. Consequently, Barnet are only opening one stand and adult tickets are only £10
Haringey Borough v Queens Park Rangers U23 @745pm - elsewhere in north London, seventh tier Borough welcome a development team from QPR to Coles Park which sits firmly in the middle of White Hart Lane unlike Tottenham's ground which isn't even on the road of the same name

A bit further afield
Reading v Peterborough United @4pm - this match flies in the face of all convention when it comes to arranging friendlies. First of all it sees a Championship side host one from League One (traditionally the more senior club usually travels), it's on a Wednesday afternoon and to top it all the Royals have decided to make it FREE ENTRY for all at the Madejski Stadium so fill your boots!
Southend United v Millwall @730pm - if it's a nice day on Wednesday, you might want to take your bucket and spade to the Essex coast and make of day of it before finishing off with a trip to Roots Hall for this potentially lively encounter. Adult tickets are £12
Cheshunt v Stevenage @745pm - the hosts won promotion to the seventh tier last season so have done well to land this friendly against a local League Two club. Stevenage have this listed as a first-team game on their website although they also have a game the night before at Maidenhead so there'll probably be quite a bit of squad rotation going on


Thursday 25 July

Walthamstow v Clapton CFC @745pm - with all our local pro teams having the day off, the biggest match of the day is likely to be this one between sides who are set to groundshare for the first time this season. The hosts play two levels above the visitors but as regular readers know, Clapton CFC are supported by a small army of fans who could well turn out in decent numbers for this one
Welling Town v Sporting Club Thamesmead @745pm - in south-east London there's also a groundshare derby between two SCEFL sides. The Boots won promotion from the First Division last season and will start as favourites against SCT
Erith & Belvedere v VCD Athletic @745pm - a little to the south of Thamesmead, you come to Welling where E&B play their home games - they too have a derby against Isthmian League opposition

A bit further afield
Dorking Wanderers v Charlton Athletic XI @745pm - the Addicks will be sending another development squad into deepest Surrey on Thursday night when they take on the reigning Isthmian League champions 

Friday 26 July

Dagenham & Redbridge v West Ham United U23 @730pm - if the Daggers were still an EFL team then I daresay West Ham would've sent a full strength side to Victoria Road for this one but like Barnet and Arsenal above, the relationship between these two local clubs has changed over recent years. That's not to say relations aren't good as the Hammers did send a strong team for a mid-season friendly in 2018 when Dagenham were really struggling financially and it pretty much kept them alive. Adult tickets start at £10
Welling United v Millwall XI @7pm - there's also a derby at Park View Road where the Wings, who play in the NLS, look forward to a visit from the Lions' development team
Sutton Common Rovers v Sutton United @745pm - if neither of the above appeals how about trying out the Sutton derby? A whopping four divisions separate the teams and Friday night's 'hosts'  are actually the tenants. United also have a game against Chelsea U23 the following day which will almost certainly be their priority

A bit further afield
Gillingham v Southend United @7pm - the match at Reading on Wednesday breaks most of the conventions around friendlies but it didn't break the unwritten rule about playing a team from the same division, as this one does. Why two League One teams want to play each other on a Friday night just over a week before the start of the season is beyond me
Northampton Town v MK Dons @730pm - although MK Dons have only been around for 15 years, they've had time to develop a bit of a rivalry with the Cobblers who are geographically one of their closest rivals. The visitors won automatic promotion to League One on the final day of last season so should start as favourites. Adult tickets are £14
Maidenhead United v Wycombe Wanderers @745pm - National League side Maidenhead play local EFL club Wycombe in what can definitely be classed as a derby. For fans of football history, the Magpies' York Road home is recognised by FIFA as the oldest ground in continuous use by one club in the whole world - it hosted its first game in 1871. Adult tickets are £10

Saturday 27 July

Fulham v West Ham United @3pm - after several weeks of waiting, pre-season really gets going on Saturday when numerous Premier League clubs take to the field around the capital. For me, the match of the day would appear to be this crosstown London derby at Craven Cottage. Adult tickets are £20
Queens Park Rangers v Watford @3pm - there's also a derby at Loftus Road where these two old rivals meet. QPR narrowly lost to the Hornets in the fifth round of FA Cup last season before the Hertfordshire side went on to make it to the final. Adult tickets are priced at a very reasonable £10
Charlton Athletic v Aston Villa @3pm - Championship new boys Charlton have landed a huge friendly against the biggest club in the Midlands. Villa made it back into the Premier League after coming through the play-offs in May. Adult tickets are £15
Brentford v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - alongside the matches at Fulham and QPR, you're spoilt for choice on the west side of town where the Bees also welcome Premier League opposition. This is set to be Brentford's final season at their much loved Griffin Park ground so if you haven't been then you need to get a move on. Adult tickets are available from £10
Millwall v Real Sociedad @2pm - the Lions usually manage to attract a European side to the Den in pre-season and they've done very well to get the club which finished ninth in Spain last season. Adult tickets are £15
Hampton & Richmond Borough v AFC Wimbledon @3pm - the Dons follow up their midweek trip to Met Police with another game against local non-league opposition. H&RB play in the NLS so should provide a slightly sterner test

Development squad games
It's late and there are too many to mention individually but there will be U23 sides from Arsenal, Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Norwich City and several other EFL sides playing at local clubs on Saturday - have a good look round the match map to find out where

A bit further afield
Bristol City v Crystal Palace @3pm - it's over 100 miles to Bristol but it's relatively quick and easy to get to and the whole city is well worth a visit if you've never been. The revamped Ashton Gate is also well worth seeing. Adult tickets are available from £10
Luton Town v Norwich City @3pm - matches between these two were commonplace in the top flight when I was growing up but its been 27 years since they were both playing at that level and on that occasion the Hatters won 2-0 at Kenilworth Road. Both sides won their respective divisions last season so should come into this campaign on a high. Adult tickets are £15


Sunday 28 July

Emirates Cup
After a one-year hiatus, this popular pre-season tournament at the Emirates Stadium makes its return but the format has changed significantly this year with the event only lasting one day instead of the usual two. Not only that but the opening game will see Arsenal Women take part for the first time as they play their counterparts from Bayern Munich. The men's team will then complete proceedings with a match against French club Lyon. Sadly the introduction of the women's match and a game against the third best side in Ligue 1 has proved to be a bit of a turn off for many of the Arsenal fans I know. In previous years the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus, PSG, Inter and even Boca Juniors have showed up so you can perhaps see why they aren't that excited. Don't forget that the Gunners won the Super League last season and with women's football well and truly on the up in England, that could be the better game to watch. The first match gets underway at 1230pm and adult tickets cost between £25-£45

A bit further afield
Reading v Chelsea @3pm - if an afternoon in north London's not for you, then how about a short trip beyond the western fringes of town? With fast and frequent trains from Paddington, Reading is an easy 30-minute ride from central London. The ground is way out of the town centre but there are usually shuttle buses on big match days and I have walked it before. Adult tickets to watch the Europa League winners in action at the Madejski are £12 if bought in advance or £15 on matchday

If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. If you're interested in reviewing a ground in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.


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