Monday 5 August 2019

TLFG: 5-11 August 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to this week's TLFG.

I'm afraid to say that this week's piece is a bit of a rush job again as I've only just got back from a week long trip to Istanbul and I only started work on this at 10pm (Sunday night) so it's pretty much just the maps again - apologies.

The big news this week is the return of the Premier League with four games staggered across the capital on Saturday.

As well as action in the EFL and National League, the other action of note comes in the opening round of the FA Cup (aka the Extra Preliminary Round) so if you want to start your 'Road to Wembley' now is the time.

The FA Cup gets underway on Saturday
If you want to see Wembley FC in the opening round, they're away at AFC Hayes.

The FA Cup has complicated things for quite a few eighth-tier teams who have been left without a game so many have seen their pre-seasons extended by yet another week with several having arranged further friendlies.

My own club QPR started their latest season in the Championship on Saturday with an unexpected 2-1 win at Stoke City which has lifted everyone's mood around Loftus Road.

New boss Mark Warburton brought in a whole new squad of players over the summer and a mix of them and some of Rangers' youngsters produced an impressive display to win in the Potteries.

Next up are Huddersfield Town who have just come down from the Premier League - if the team from W12 can pick up another three points it will be quite something as little was expected of them.

Going back to Istanbul - you may remember I made several appeals for match info for clubs in the city.

I was really struggling and I'd given up until a late night search on Friday finally uncovered a little previously publicised friendly between Galatasaray and Greek giants Panathinaikos in what looked like a cracker on paper.

I had concerns over whether a Passolig ID would be required and whether I'd get one at such short notice but then I read about rumours of free tickets being given out at the club shop if you spent more than 100 lira (about £16) on merchandise.

I paid a visit to the home of Besiktas on Saturday
Sadly it didn't kick-off until 9pm on Saturday night on the opposite side (and continent!) of town to where I was staying so it wasn't really practical given my early departure today - journeys across Istanbul and the Bosphorus can easily take two hours given its truly vast size.

Instead I had to make do with another trip to Besiktas, my adopted Turkish team, and another visit to the club shop - something I'd last done 10 years ago. I picked up last season's black kit which was on clearance so I got a pretty decent price.

The Vodafone Arena has been completely rebuilt since I last went and it was being prepared for next week's Uefa Super Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool.

I've been to Istanbul three times and have never seen a local club in action - the one match I did see was the 2009 Uefa Cup final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen at Fenerbahce's ground and even then the local fans who did attend the game were totally bonkers! One day it will happen...

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 sees the return of the Premier League, the second round of matches in the EFL and the opening round of the FA Cup - there are almost 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
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

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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