Sunday, 20 October 2019

TLFG: 21-27 October 2019

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

For the second Saturday running, not only have I found myself off work but I made it to a game.

I had initially planned to take my daughter out of London to watch either QPR play up at Hull or Harrow Borough at Salisbury.

In the end she got invited to a party and I had to stay in town to drop her off and pick up.

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to Corinthian Casuals on Non-League Day

As a result I only had time to stay local so it didn't take much time to decide to go to an FA Cup match, with the most local being the one at Hayes & Yeading United.

The west London club were only formed in 2007 when Hayes and neighbouring side Yeading merged.

Initially playing in the fifth tier at Hayes' old Church Road ground, the club have now moved to the site of Yeading's old stadium which although impressive on the face of things, is still very much a work in progress.

The draw had pitted H&YU against fellow Southern League club and title contenders Poole Town so it was always going to be tough.

Things got much tougher when the hosts had defender Keano Robinson sent off for a professional foul in only the fourth minute but they held on relatively comfortably until half time.

At the interval I caught up with Non-League Show presenter Tim Fuell who is also a senior official at H&YU. As we were talking I was also lucky enough to meet TLFG reader Jonathan B who introduced himself and we also had a quick chat. 

The second half saw Hayes create far more chances but they fell behind with just over 20 minutes to go.

There was plenty of huff and puff from the hosts but they never really looked like scoring until the 94th minute when James Clark found an equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game to set up a replay in Dorset on Tuesday night. 

Hayes & Yeading celebrate their late equaliser
As this was all going on, news was coming in from Haringey Borough where their FA Cup tie against Yeovil Town had been abandoned because of alleged racist abuse of their players.

Last week, I said this would be the tie to watch but never had I thought it would make the headlines for these unsavoury reasons.

I have to admit that there was an uncomfortable air at Hayes too where some QPR fans like me with nothing much else to do had gone to this game.

Unlike me, they were coming out with loud and abusive comments from the off and had stewards on them within minutes warning them of their behaviour.

Although there wasn't anything racist said, they were soon moaning about how much focus there had been on the 'racialism' in England's midweek game in Bulgaria and how you 'couldn't call a blackboard a blackboard any more'. 

Later in the game I heard a Hayes supporter comment how impressed he'd been by the black referee because he hadn't given the team with black players preferential treatment! 

Although not grossly offensive, I left the ground feeling uneasy.

If you do hear or see anything that crosses the line at a match, whatever the level, report it to anti-discrimination charity 'Kick It Out' through one of the various ways listed on their website.

On checking the results from elsewhere, I discovered Harrow had lost at Salisbury but that QPR had won on their travels again to move up to fifth - Premier League here we come!

THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include the return of the Champions League and Europa League, a full programme of Premier League and EFL games, some FA Cup replays and the next round of the FA Trophy. We also have plenty of games in all our local non-league competitions - there are over 90 matches in total so there's plenty to choose from. 

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 21 October

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Charlton Athletic @1pm - once again the week begins with a bit of U23 action. There are three games on but this derby is far and away the best on offer because it's being played at Selhurst Park. Tickets are £5 for adults and you can buy in advance

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Tuesday 22 October

Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Red Star Belgrade @745pm - after the humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich in their last group game, Spurs will be looking to get their European campaign back on track against the Serbian league champions. Despite being way stronger on paper, the north London club are going through a rough patch and will have to avoid complacency at all costs. Away fans have been banned by Uefa from attending this game, increasing the allocation available to Tottenham fans but you'll still need to be a member to buy one

Uefa Youth League
Tottenham Hotspur v Red Star Belgrade @3pm - earlier in the day, the clubs' U19 sides meet at Spurs' training ground in Enfield. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance by calling 0344 844 0102 and selecting Option 2

Championship
Millwall v Cardiff City @745pm - the Lions started the season brightly but results dropped off and club legend Neil Harris stepped down as manager at the beginning of this month. Days later they beat Leeds but surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at Brentford in the derby on Saturday. Cardiff haven't really got going since their relegation from the Premier League but have only lost one of their last five to keep themselves in contention for a play-off spot. Tickets are on sale to non-members
Queens Park Rangers v Reading @745pm - with the Royals playing just over 30 miles west of Shepherd's Bush, this is effectively a derby so should be worth a watch. QPR picked up their seventh win of the season as they won 3-2 at Hull on Saturday. The result moved Mark Warburton's side into the top five. Reading, on the other hand, are having another season of struggle and sacked boss Jose Gomes nearly two weeks ago. However, new manager Mark Bowen (formerly on QPR's coaching staff) presided over a 1-0 victory over Preston on Saturday so they could be a trickier opponent than they could have been. Tickets are on sale to non-members

FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Replays
Winners of each tie receive £18,750 prize money and qualify for the First Round where League One and League Two clubs enter the draw. The draw takes place on Monday so all the sides below should have a good idea of who they will be playing if they win

Barnet v Potters Bar Town @745pm - if you'd prefer a bit of cup drama the two replays on offer shouldn't disappoint. First up is this local derby. After years of living in Barnet's shadow, Potters Bar have moved up the pyramid in recent years and are now only two levels below their hosts. In Saturday's original televised tie, the minnows pinched a late equaliser to earn a shock 1-1 draw and this trip to The Hive. Barnet should, of course, start as favourites but anything is possible. Tickets are available to non-members
Wealdstone v Maidenhead United @745pm - the Stones did well to hold the Magpies, from a division above, to a draw on Saturday. If you want atmosphere it could well be better at this game than the one above because the ground is far smaller and likely to be busy. Wealdstone's fans are also among the most passionate at this level of the game. Tickets are available to non-members and you can buy in advance or pay cash on arrival. Unlike most non-league games, rival fans will be segregated

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Hornchurch @745pm - in north London there's a big game in the Isthmian League where two of the top four will duel for three precious points. A win for the hosts could see them go top on goal difference

Isthmian League South East
Cray Valley PM v Whyteleafe @745pm - this fixture in the eighth tier looks intriguing. CVPM have made a fine start to life at this level after promotion from the SCEFL and find themselves in the top three. The Leafe are way down in 16th but have only played four league games because of a great FA Cup run which came to an end on Saturday. The Surrey club would go top if they won all their games in hand so it will be interesting to see how good they really are

SCEFL Premier Division
Erith & Belvedere v Erith Town @745pm - the standout game in the ninth tier is most definitely the Erith derby in south-east London. Neither side are pulling up any trees this season and are side-by-side in lower midtable so both could do with a win

SSML Division 1
St Panteleimon v London Lions @745pm - in terms of form, the hosts are one of the best sides to watch in London right now. The Greek Cypriot club, who groundshare at North Greenford United, are new to this higher level and haven't lost any of their opening 13 games to put themselves nine points clear at this early stage. The visitors, a Jewish club, are coasting along nicely enough in midtable but they'll do well to get anything here

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Wednesday 23 October

Championship
Fulham v Luton Town @745pm - the match of the day takes place at Craven Cottage in what is also effectively a derby given Luton's close proximity to London. The Hatters' fans always travel in large numbers to these sort of games with QPR getting their biggest crowd of this season against them. The Cottagers haven't lived up to the tag of pre-season favourites and lost to a pretty hapless Stoke side on Saturday but given how tight the division is, they are still very much in contention. Having only been recently promoted, this season will be all about consolidation for the visitors and they're doing enough to survive at the moment. Tickets are on sale to non-members

Friendly
Brentford B v Reading U23 @730pm - with Griffin Park closing at the end of the season, demand for tickets to see the Bees' home games has been high as people try to get in a final visit. If you've not made it yet then this match gives you the perfect opportunity to do it as entry is free and open to everyone

CCL Premier Division
Colliers Wood United v Hanworth Villa @730pm - two points off top spot and with two games in hand, CWU are in the best position I can remember them being in since I started this blog in 2011. With only one league defeat, it's looking good for the south-west London club. Hanworth Villa have been one of the stronger sides in the CCL over the last few years but they've gone right off the boil and could go down

FA Vase First Round
Westside v Deal Town @745pm - having seen this match postponed a week ago, these two will have another go at getting a result here. The hosts play a level below their opponents but they have a good chance of pulling off a cupset nonetheless

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Thursday 24 October

Europa League

Arsenal v Vitoria @8pm - at the time of writing, the Gunners are on an eight-game unbeaten run so come into this in pretty good shape. With wins over Liege and Frankfurt in their first two group games, a win over Portuguese side Vitoria looks likely. The Primeira Liga club were humiliated by third-tier side Sintra in the Portuguese Cup on Saturday and lost their previous league game. With defeats in their first two Europa League games too, there can surely be only one winner. This match has sold out

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Friday 25 October

Premier League 2
Fulham v Sunderland @2pm - if you're off on Friday and want to take the kids somewhere for half-term, it's only £3 for adults and £1 children to watch this U23 game at the Cottagers' training ground in Motspur Park

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Saturday 26 October

Premier League
Watford v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - the Hornets came agonisingly close to a shock win at Spurs on Saturday but ultimately had settle for a 1-1 draw. The result kept the Hertfordshire club winless and rooted to the bottom of the table. On paper, the Cherries are the smallest club in the Premier League by some distance with their tiny ground of 11,000 half the size of the next smallest. Yet somehow they keep doing what they need to do to keep things ticking over on the pitch. Their dull draw with Norwich on Saturday kept them in the top half. Since moving into the top flight together in 2015 there have been eight matches - six have ended in draws with a win apiece. It could well be tight. Tickets are available to non-members
West Ham United v Sheffield United @3pm - the Hammers made a decent start to the season but with only one win in five, they've drifted back down to 10th. Newly promoted Sheffield United will probably be satisfied with the fact they are not in the bottom three at this stage but they could easily find themselves in there if they lose this. Tickets are available to non-members

Championship
Millwall v Stoke City @3pm - with only one win in five, at the time of writing, the Lions badly need to get something against struggling Stoke. Sadly for them, the Potters have finally started to hit some form with back-to-back wins over highly fancied Swansea and Fulham sides lifting them off the bottom. Tickets are available to non-members

League Two
Leyton Orient v Carlisle United @3pm - with three wins on the trot, the O's have hit a hot streak. The results have pushed them up to 12th only two points away from the play-off places. Carlisle are having a disappointing season and have lost four of their last five to sit 20th. However, the Cumbrian club have won on three of their last five visits so it appears Brisbane Road is a happy hunting ground for them. Tickets are available to non-members

National League
Bromley v FC Halifax Town @3pm - without doubt the match of the day at non-league level sees the top two in this division clash at Hayes Lane. Only goal difference currently separates the clubs so this should be a cracker. Halifax are in marginally better form but both lost on Saturday. Tickets are available to non-members but are cheaper if bought online in advance

National League South

Wealdstone v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - there aren't any really eye-catching games in the sixth tier but if you go to this one, you'll get to see whether the Stones can extend their lead at the top to eight points. Tonbridge are just above the relegation zone so an away win looks unlikely

FA Trophy First Qualifying Round
This national knockout competition is for clubs in the fifth to the eighth tiers and has its final at Wembley. At this stage, clubs from the seventh tier enter the draw to play all the eighth tier clubs who've made it this far. There are several ties in the London area on Saturday, here are my top three

Haringey Borough v Horsham @3pm - north London club Haringey hit the headlines on Saturday when they decided to take their players off the pitch during an FA Cup tie with Yeovil because of alleged racist abuse by some of the visitors' fans. The Isthmian League club return to cup competition a week later with a tough match against fellow Isthmian League promotion contenders Horsham. The Sussex club enjoyed promotion at the end of last season, have just moved into a new ground and are second in the league. It should be close
Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - over in south-west London we've got this mouthwatering groundshare derby to look forward to. Both in the Isthmian League Premier Division's bottom eight, neither are in good form but these occasions usually draw a good crowd so it should be well worth a watch
Uxbridge v Bognor Regis Town @3pm - the hosts are only a couple of points away from the play-off places in the Isthmian League South Central. In Bognor they face a tough draw against a club from the division above but the Sussex club aren't in the best form so they've got half a chance

Middlesex Senior Cup Second Round
Hanwell Town v Brentford B @3pm - already out of the FA Trophy and presumably without a league game, Hanwell have arranged this attractive county cup match for Saturday afternoon. With Brentford's first team not in action that day, you'd hope a few of their fans would make the short journey north to see this match. Once again, I'd like to applaud the Bees for putting a side in this competition and the London Senior Cup and I wish more of our local Premier League and EFL clubs would do too

SSML Premier Division
Oxhey Jets v Newport Pagnell Town @3pm - two of the top five meet at the Boundary Stadium on Saturday in a match of great importance in the ninth tier. The visitors are desperately trying to keep up with leaders Tring Athletic and if they lose here, they could find themselves eight points off title pace

SCEFL Division 1
Croydon v FC Elmstead @3pm - there's no doubt about the game of the day in the 10th tier where the top two in this division meet. The visitors are currently two points clear at the top but Croydon have a game in hand - a hugely important game at this level

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Sunday 27 October

Premier League
Arsenal v Crystal Palace @430pm - the week comes to a close with this derby at the Emirates Stadium. Given the Gunners' current form and the fact Palace have only won twice on their last 10 visits to this part of London, you'd expect the Selhurst Park club to come unstuck again. Tickets are not available to non-members

Isthmian League North Division
Grays Athletic v Dereham Town @3pm - there's a random bit of non-league action in Essex where the FA Trophy draw has seen Grays have to move this game to Sunday as their landlords are have landed a home draw. Grays are firmly in the hunt for the title so they should expect to win here against midtable opposition

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Manchester City @230pm - the biggest game of a busy programme of women's football sees this hugely important clash between last season's league champions and FA Cup winners. City are currently top with a 100% record so Arsenal will need to win to draw level. This match is being played at Boreham Wood and tickets are cheaper if bought online in advance


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, 14 October 2019

TLFG: 14-20 October 2019

And relax - Non-League Day (NLD) is over for another year. Phew!

The 10th instalment of the event which tries to promote semi-professional and amateur football around the country was quite a challenge to deliver but there were some new personal highs and some unpleasant surprises.

As with all NLD campaigns, you prepare for months but then as the day approaches nothing seems to be happening and you think it's going to be a disaster.

But then, one by one clubs start announcing their plans, media outlets begin asking for interviews and it all falls into place with about 48 hours to go.

Seeing the NLD logo on Football Focus was a very special moment for me
The biggest challenge occurred just over a week before when my web developer announced that traffic to our website was so high that we'd breached Google Maps' free use limit and they suddenly wanted over £200 just for September. On Wednesday, the bill for the first few days of October was already at £185 so I had to make the decision to suspend the match finder - the most crucial part of our website.

I took it offline until Friday morning while I took stock of my finances and my developer adjusted the map settings to make things less costly and then relaunched it and hoped for the best.

With the Premier League sending out a promotional email to over 300,000 UK subscribers and releasing several video packages on social media and many Premier League and EFL clubs doing similar our site took a battering!

This spiked even further on the day itself when BBC coverage of the event began at 0745 with an MOTD Kickabout NLD Special on CBBC.

My personal highlight of the day came at noon when Football Focus came on.

This show is the same age as me and I've watched it all my life so to see a large chunk of the programme dedicated to NLD and to have our logo up on the screen behind the presenters was a very special moment.

A further plug for our website during the show saw my Google Maps costs for this campaign come in at around £650 - I've never spent a penny on this service in the previous nine years so it shows you quite what a surge of interest there was.

With all that out of the way, I made my way with friends and family out to the suburbs to watch Harrow Borough play Truro City.

Despite the poor weather, the pitch held up well and the Cornish side didn't have a wasted journey.

The chips at Harrow were better than the team's performance
Sadly the game was pretty unspectacular, in part because of the conditions and Harrow lost 2-1 despite a very late rally that nearly saw them grab a draw.

During the game I was lucky enough to catch up with non-league legend David Bauckham who advised us during the early years of NLD.

He's most famous for producing some fantastic photographic essays about his trips to clubs up and down the land and he made a first trip to Harrow Borough to catch up with me.

He took some great pictures and the essay will follow soon on his website.

Elsewhere, there were tales of some enormous crowds.

Most notably, our friends at Dulwich Hamlet crammed in nearly 3,000 again and they did it without any ticket price reductions which was incredibly impressive.

In the 11th tier, Clapton CFC attracted over 900 to their match against Stonewall which was also pretty spectacular.

Well I think that's about it from me - I took unpaid leave today to recover and have time to produce this as the football never stops!

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


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include the return of the Premier League and Championship after the international break and a range of exciting looking ties in the FA Cup. We also have plenty of games in all our local non-league competitions - there are over 80 matches in total so there's plenty to choose from. 

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 14 October

Professional Development League
Crystal Palace v Watford @1pm - Monday is usually U23 day and there is a bit of action at that level to get the week underway. The match is at Crystal Palace's training ground and it's free to get in - enter via the cricket ground on Worsley Bridge Road

SCEFL Challenge Cup First Round
SC Thamesmead v Erith Town @745pm - the hosts lost heavily at home to Ascot in the FA Vase on Friday so will want to bounce back with a much more positive result here. However, Erith play in the division above so it could be tough again
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Tuesday 15 October

Premier League International Cup
Monaco v Feyenoord @7pm - the most exotic game of the week takes place in the unlikely environs of Dagenham where U23 sides from these two big European clubs meet at the Chigwell Construction Stadium - admission is free.

Southern League Premier Division South
Hayes & Yeading United v Hendon @745pm - these two local rivals meet for the second time in 10 days with the visitors hoping to get revenge for their 5-4 loss in the FA Cup. Both sides came unstuck on NLD and will hoping for improvement here. However, Hayes will no doubt have an eye on their big FA Cup tie at the weekend

Velocity Trophy
VCD Athletic v Phoenix Sports @745pm - talking of local rivals, these two play at grounds just over 200m apart as the crow flies. Both are also in the top eight of the Isthmian League South East so it's going to be close in pretty much every respect

SCEFL Challenge Cup First Round
AFC Croydon Athletic v Croydon @745pm - there's a theme developing here, yes that's right, another derby! These two don't play quite as close as the sides above but there's still an obvious geographical rivalry. The hosts play a level above and should start as favourites

FA Vase First Round Replay
Beckenham Town v Chatham Town @745pm - the top two in the SCEFL meet in this big cup replay. Although they're both ninth tier teams, I'd watch this over the two games above. The hosts are getting good crowds and there's a decent bit of prize money on offer here - Update: match is being played on Wednesday 16 October

A bit further afield
About 50 miles north of London at Stadium MK, England U21 have a Euro 2021 qualifier against Austria. Adult tickets are £15 but I don't think there are too many left so act fast

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Wednesday 16 October

FA Vase First Round
Westside v Deal Town @745pm - after seeing the initial tie postponed on Sunday because of a waterlogged Chalky Lane pitch, the two sides will have another go on Wednesday. The hosts are making their debut in the 10th tier this season and doing pretty well so they should fancy their chances against Deal who play a level above. Match postponed

Update: Beckenham v Chatham listed for Tuesday is actually on Wednesday.

ECL Division 1 South
Hackney Wick v Lopes Tavares @745pm - one of the stories of NLD was the adoption of Hackney Wick by Roma. The Italian giants created headlines last year by choosing Scottish club St Anthony's and have decided to make it an annual tradition. Sadly it didn't do the Wickers much good on the pitch as they got thrashed by Oxhey Jets in the FA Vase. Lopes Tavares have been superb in the ECL this season winning all seven games and they should win comfortably here

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Thursday 17 October

Premier League Cup

Crystal Palace v Blackburn Rovers @1pm - your only option on Thursday is this U23 game at lunchtime. The match is being played at Dulwich Hamlet and it's free entry


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Friday 18 October

A bit further afield
There are two decent U23 matches taking place just outside London. Chelsea host Arsenal in what should be a good derby at Aldershot Town whilst Tottenham play Leicester City at Stevenage. Tickets are usually £5 and both kick-off at 7pm
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Saturday 19 October

Premier League
Chelsea v Newcastle United @3pm - with the international break over, there's a full programme of Premier League games to enjoy but if you're not a member you probably won't be able to get a ticket for any of them without paying a fortune. The Blues come into this on the back of four straight wins and should have too much for Newcastle who have been poor not withstanding a win over Man Utd who anyone can probably beat at the moment
Tottenham Hotspur v Watford @3pm - Spurs and Watford are both in a bit of a mess at the moment. After becoming members of the coveted 'top four' club in recent seasons and making the Champions League final last season, to be way down in ninth after eight games is hugely disappointing. Watford have also performed well in recent years, preserving their Premier League status with relative ease and making it to the FA Cup final last season but they're winless from eight and bottom. I doubt this will be a classic but if Tottenham lose, boss Mauricio Pochettino could be in real trouble
Crystal Palace v Manchester City @530pm - the day finishes with what could be a cracker at Selhurst Park. Several TLFG readers have already told me they're coming over for this one and hopefully they won't be disappointed. Roy Hodgson's Palace side have made a fine start and are up in the top six. League champions City have lost two of their last five and are already eight points behind leaders Liverpool and come here knowing that the Eagles were one of the only sides to beat them last season

Championship
Brentford v Millwall @3pm - it's derby day at Griffin Park but like many matches there this season, ticket sales are being restricted to members and people with a previous purchasing history. This is because the ground is small and in its final season so everyone's trying to get a last visit in. As it's Millwall, there's also a security restriction on tickets too. The two are in lower midtable so it should be close
Charlton Athletic v Derby County @3pm - if you're not a member of any of the clubs above, then this is the highest level game that's on general sale to anyone. The Addicks were among the frontrunners but have dropped to 10th. Derby made the play-off final again last season, and lost again. County have had so many near misses since being relegated from the Premier League, it must be really tough being one of their fans. Again fancied to do well, they haven't got going yet and it looks like being another year of disappointment

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @3pm - after seeing manager Wally Downes suspended on betting charges, the Dons have won their first two games of the season and are slowly climbing the table but are still in the relegation zone. Pompey are one of the biggest sides in the division and as a result, tickets for this aren't available to non-members either!

FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Who needs tickets for a league game anyway when you've got a whole load of crucial FA Cup ties to choose from. If you're new to the competition at this stage, this is the final round that the remaining non-league teams have to negotiate to get a place in the hat alongside all the League One and League Two clubs who enter in the next round. The winner of each tie will earn £18,750 in prize money - a significant amount for clubs at this level. 

Bromley v Aldershot Town @3pm - the Ravens are currently second in the National League and are London's top ranked non-league club as a result. Aldershot are having a disappointing season and definitely start as second favourites here. Tickets are cheaper if bought online in advance
Sutton United v Billericay Town @3pm - the U's have had a number of famous FA Cup runs over the years and got all the way to the Fifth Round in 2017 when they lost 2-0 to Arsenal. They begin their campaign against Essex club Billericay who are having problems on and off the pitch at the moment and should be beaten. Tickets are cheaper if bought online in advance
Welling United v Eastleigh @3pm - the Wings find themselves in midtable in the National League South and not in the greatest form. Hampshire club Eastleigh are on a decent unbeaten run and should win. Tickets are £13 on the gate
Haringey Borough v Yeovil Town @3pm - if I was going to choose a game as a neutral I'd probably go for this one. Just over five years ago Haringey were in the Essex Senior League whilst Yeovil were in the Championship some seven divisions apart. Two promotions for Boro and three relegations for Yeovil mean they're now much closer and meeting in a competitive fixture which the hosts could conceivably win. Coles Park is located on White Hart Lane within sight of Tottenham's ground and should be packed. Tickets are on general sale but must be bought in advance and in person from the club - none will be available on the day
Carshalton Athletic v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm - there's some more cupset potential at Colston Avenue were one of the Isthmian League promotion contenders host the fifth tier Daggers. Carshalton have been in great form over the last two years and are going well again. The visitors have only won one of their last five so could be vulnerable. Tickets are available on the gate for £10
Whyteleafe v Chippenham Town @3pm - eighth tier Whyteleafe are the lowest ranked TLFG club left in the competition. It's going to be tough against Chippenham as they play two levels above the Leafe but anything's possible in this glorious competition. No particular ticket restrictions appear to be in place which means it's £10 on the gate
Hayes & Yeading United v Poole Town @3pm - there's an all-Southern League tie at the SkyEx Stadium in west London. The hosts know they've got their work cut out as Poole are among the title contenders and it's only this FA Cup run that's keeping them off top spot. Since Hayes and Yeading merged in 2007 the club have only made it to the First Round once where they lost to Wycombe - given they were in the Conference and had a bye to the Fourth Qualifying Round for most of their early years, they haven't had much luck in this competition. Tickets are £10 on the gate
Dartford v Kingstonian @3pm - the Darts have had a rocky start to their NLS campaign but they are improving and should have too much for their Isthmian League opponents. Tickets are £14 on the gate

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Cheshunt @3pm - if the FA Cup's not for you, this derby might appeal instead. Enfield have a game in hand which if won would put them top. The Ambers are new to this level, are still adjusting and will find this pretty tough

Isthmian League North Division
Aveley v Coggeshall Town @3pm - the best match in the eighth tier would appear to be this one at Parkside where two of the top six meet. The visitors are probably most famous for having pop star Olly Murs on their board of directors

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Molesey v Colliers Wood United @3pm - the Moles have responded well to life back in the CCL and are well positioned to mount a challenge for an instant return to the Isthmian League. Visitors Colliers Wood are also right up there and have a game in hand on Molesey so this could have a significant bearing on the title race

ECL Division 1 South
Lopes Tavares v Benfleet @3pm - there isn't really a standout game in the 10th tier so I've picked this one as it could see the hosts extend their 100% record to nine games

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Sunday 20 October

Kent Senior Trophy First Round
Erith & Belvedere v Lordswood @3pm - the only men's game on Sunday sees two midtable SCEFL clubs do battle at Park View Road

FA Women's Super League Cup
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @3pm - also known as the Continental Cup, there are four group games in London on Sunday with this all-Super League derby probably the pick of what's on offer


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, 7 October 2019

TLFG: 7-13 October 2019

It's that time of year again - yes, Non-League Day (NLD) is back!

This will be the tenth time the event has been held and I'm still pinching myself that a brainwave of mine could have made such an impact.

For those of you that don't know, NLD is an annual celebration of semi-professional and amateur football held to coincide with an autumn international break when there are no Premier League or Championship games so as to maximise the amount of publicity we can get and appeal to as many people as possible.

Originally it was intended to be an attempt to reach out to fans of the big clubs to get them to come and try out a non-league game for the first time but it's transformed into more of a general celebration of all things at this level and also a chance for clubs to raise funds, not only for themselves, but also a number of charities.

The 10th Non-League Day takes place on Saturday

Our official charity continues to be Prostate Cancer UK and loads of clubs around the country have signed up to support them.

National League sponsors Vanarama are running another fundraising campaign so hopefully the amount raised will be considerable.

Unsurprisingly this week's guide is dedicated almost exclusively to NLD so the Daily Digest will make way for a focused look at Saturday itself. 

All the week's other games will appear on the match maps as usual so have a good look through them to see what else is on but remember it is an international break so the only game taking place in the top four divisions on Saturday is at Brisbane Road where Leyton Orient take on Walsall in League Two.

Other highlights of the midweek programme include the derbies between AFC Wimbledon and Leyton Orient in the EFL Trophy and Barnet and Bromley in the National League. Elsewhere Wealdstone have a crucial FA Cup replay against Bristol Manor Farm.

Towards the end of the week there are some decent U23 games at clubs' main stadiums and there's also a packed programme of women's matches over the weekend including the fixture between Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa at The Valley.

I plan to be at Harrow Borough on Non-League Day 
As for Non-League Day itself there's a huge selection of games some of which are offering special deals to get you in - all of the ones I know about are listed below, let me know if I've missed any.

Please be aware that the list of deals is likely to change as clubs often announce their plans quite late in the day so this page will be updated as the week goes along.

As a Harrow Borough supporter I intend to be at their game against Cornish side Truro City. It's free for kids and emergency service personnel and Premier League/EFL season ticket holders will get in for £6 on production of their season ticket.

I've highlighted it below but in case you miss it, there's a very good opportunity to do a groundhop double on NLD as British Airways are playing the all-conquering Jersey Bulls at 730pm. Unsurprisingly, they play right next to Heathrow Airport at one of London's most unusual grounds.

I think that's about it from me. The week ahead is likely to be incredibly hectic and I hope it's all worth it. Thanks again for all your support and if you are free, please try and get to a non-league game on Saturday no matter where you are in the country.

If you're outside London, I've spent a large chunk of my time building a match finder for the whole country which will allow you to discover what your nearest game is depending on your location. 

There are also similar events being held in France and Germany on Sunday so please give them your backing if you're over there.

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 WEEK AHEAD
Despite it being an international break don't despair. With games in the National League, FA Trophy, FA Vase and many other non-league competitions there are well over 80 matches taking place across London so there's plenty to choose from. 

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.

There's loads going on at Wadham Lodge - find out more
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 NON-LEAGUE DAY RECOMMENDATIONS


In this section I will list a few games I think are particularly worth watching and highlight ones which are offering special deals and events to get new people in. To clarify, non-league teams are classed as those playing in the fifth tier and below. Please note - this list could well get refreshed/updated as the week progresses as many clubs often release their plans quite late in the day.

UPDATED ON FRIDAY 11 OCTOBER 
Please be aware that bad weather is forecast to hit the capital on Saturday so some games may get postponed. Thankfully quite a few clubs have 4G pitches so I will indicated this below

Saturday 12 October

National League (Level 5)
Barnet v Woking @3pm - the biggest non-league game of the day in London is this match at The Hive between two of the National League's top six (although that's dependent on midweek results). The Bees could only manage a draw in the derby at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday but it still extended their unbeaten run to three games. After a blistering start, newly promoted Woking are now winless in five but still find themselves in the top four. If you don't know the geography, Woking is only just outside London so there should be a decent away following. Barnet members are being allowed to 'Bring a friend for free' to this game so if you know any, give them a call!

A bit further afield
Aldershot Town v Hartlepool United @3pm - if you want a special deal at this level, it's 'pay what you want' at the EBB Stadium as long as you book in advance


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National League South (Level 6)
Dulwich Hamlet v Weymouth @3pm - over the last few years Champion Hill has become one of the best places to spend Non-League Day as the club have embraced the idea and come up with some great promotions to get new people in. In 2014 they made their match against Hampton & Richmond 'pay what you want' with all profits going to charity - nearly 3,000 showed up and around £10,000 went to good causes. This year they are offering cheap drinks in the bar for season-ticket holders from Crystal Palace, Charlton and Millwall as well as doing a fundraising drive for Prostate Cancer UK. Check the club's website for the latest information. As for the match itself, Dulwich aren't in the best of form in the league but made it through to the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Weymouth, however, won the Southern League Premier South last season and are in the top four again so will probably start as favourites

Welling United v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - two TLFG clubs meet at Park View Road where an NLD special offer is available. Any Premier League or EFL club season-ticket holder will get in for £10 as will anyone who can produce a programme from Welling's FA Cup win over Tavistock on Saturday. The Wings aren't quite the force they were last season but are comfortable enough in midtable. Hampton, on the other hand, have begun badly but picked up a crucial win over Tonbridge in their last league game to climb out of the relegation zone

A bit further afield
Slough Town v Billericay Town @3pm - a little to the west of London, the Rebels are offering some great deals for their match against Billericay. It will be FREE ENTRY for season-ticket holders from any Premier League or EFL club and only £5 for everyone else (kids go free). This ground has a 4G pitch

St Albans City v Eastbourne Borough @3pm - Clarence Park is one of my favourite non-league grounds and I spent a very enjoyable NLD their in 2016. City always put a real effort into promoting the day and this year is no different. Aside from reduced admission (even cheaper if booked in advance), there is a beer festival, a penalty competition and lots of activities for kids

Tonbridge Angels v Braintree Town @3pm - if you fancy a short journey into Kent then why not pop down to Longmead Stadium where tickets have been reduced to £7 for adults, which is close to half price

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Southern League Premier Division South (Level 7)
Harrow Borough v Truro City @3pm - there's a clash between two of the division's top eight at Earlsmead on Saturday. The club have arranged a reunion of the squad which won the Isthmian League 35 years ago and a presentation will be made at half time. There are also a number of special deals on offer with free entry for emergency services personnel, any accompanied child and half-price entry (£6) for Premier League and EFL season-ticket holders

Hendon v Salisbury @3pm - the Greens usually put on a good show on Non-League Day but this year the main focus will be on celebrating the life of one of its young fans who sadly passed away over the summer. Bryan, a regular reader of this blog and supporter of NLD, suffered the loss of his son Luca in June and this big match will be dedicated to him. There will be a minute's applause before the game so the bigger the crowd, the better. If you're a season-ticket holder at a Premier League or EFL club or work for the emergency services or armed forces, you'll get in for half price (£6). This ground has a 4G pitch

Isthmian League Premier Division (Level 7)
Carshalton Athletic v Kingstonian @3pm - the Robins have distributed lots of free tickets to local schools and are offering half-price entry to Premier League, EFL and National League season-ticket holders provided you turn up before 215pm. Carshalton play on a 4G pitch so this should go ahead whatever the weather. This ground has a 4G pitch

Cray Wanderers v Enfield Town @3pm - the oldest team in London are offering £5 entry to any Premier League, EFL or National League season-ticket holders. They also plan to put on a Cray legends game at 12pm and were arranging a collection for Prostate Cancer UK. This ground has a 4G pitch

Haringey Borough v Margate @3pm - Coles Park has become arguably the best place to watch non-league football in north London over the last few years. Located on White Hart Lane itself, within sight of Spurs' ground, the club has progressed impressively over the last few years. They're doing well in the league again this season and are on another great FA Cup run - they play host to Yeovil in the next round. If you're not already a holder of one of the club's free season tickets then you'll get in for a reduced price of £5. They are also doing a collection for Prostate Cancer UK. This ground has a 4G pitch

Hornchurch v Bowers & Pitsea @3pm - way out at the far end of the District Line you can immerse yourself in this Essex derby. The Urchins are offering reduced entry of £8 for adults if they can produce the flyer that's downloadable from their website


A bit further afield
Other seventh tier games of interest include:

Cheshunt v Worthing @3pm - lying just beyond the M25 to the north-east of London, the Ambers are running a very tempting 'Pay What You Want' deal and will be collecting money for Prostate Cancer UK

Hitchin Town v Bromsgrove Sporting @3pm - another club who always embrace the spirit of NLD are Hertfordshire club Hitchin. Their historic Top Field ground is quite unique and very popular with visitors. They're offering 25% off if you book online in advance using code 'CANARY25'

Merstham v Leatherhead @3pm - the Moatsiders have always enthusiastically backed NLD and this year is no different with loads planned as part of their 'Family Day'. Aside from free entry for emergency services workers, it's only £5 for season-ticket holders of 'any other club'. There will be a collection for Prostate Cancer UK and lots of kids activities. To top it all, it's a big Surrey derby too!

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FA Trophy Preliminary Round (Level 8 teams)
FA rules mean that cutting ticket prices is much harder for cup games like this than it is for league matches so it is very unusual to find special deals. Therefore, I'm going to list a few ties which should be worth a watch regardless.

Hanwell Town v AFC Dunstable @3pm - the hosts are in fantastic form at the moment and sit proudly at the top of the eighth tier Isthmian League South Central. However, they shouldn't have it all their own way as the visitors are second in the parallel Southern League Division 1 Central. Hanwell's ground has received some fine improvements recently and is well located next to the A40 and a short walk from Perivale Tube station on the Central Line

Uxbridge v Northwood @3pm - there's a local derby to be enjoyed at the Honeycroft where two teams from the Isthmian League South Central do battle. The hosts should start as favourites

Whyteleafe v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - there's also a south London derby at Church Road. The Leafe are only 14th in the Isthmian League South East but that's partly down to the fact that they're in the middle of a great run in the FA Cup. Their victory at Abbey Rangers on Saturday means they're now only one win away from a place in the First Round and a possible dream tie against an EFL club. Tooting are currently joint top of the South Central Division with Hanwell - this could be a cracker. This ground has a 4G pitch

Barking v Guernsey @130pm - if 3pm kick-offs are a problem for you, then this lunchtime game might give you the opportunity to see a match. The early kick-off is presumably to accommodate the visitors' flight times back to the Channel Islands

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FA Vase First Round (Level 9 & 10 teams)
FA rules mean that cutting ticket prices is much harder for cup games like this than it is for league matches so it is very unusual to find special deals. Therefore, I'm going to list a few ties which should be worth a watch regardless.

Broadfields United v Walthamstow @3pm - the hosts enjoyed promotion to the ninth tier last season but they could find it tough going against the 'Stow who are one of the most highly rated teams in the Essex Senior League this season. This match is being played at Harefield United's ground

Fisher v Greenwich Borough @3pm - there's a local derby between two Southern Counties East League clubs at Salter Road in Rotherhithe. The club are once again running a 'most obscure football shirt' competition so dig out your most unusual one and see how you get on. This ground has a 4G pitch

Hadley v Milton Keynes Robins @3pm - the hosts made a valiant run to the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and are doing well in the Essex Senior League too, definitely a side to keep an eye on this season

Oxhey Jets v Hackney Wick @3pm - the hosts have dedicated this match to the 'Lives Not Knives' campaign which local police are using to tackle knife crime which is a subject that's a major priority for the visitors too

Welling Town v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - the draw has thrown up this tasty south-east London derby between another two Southern Counties East League sides. The club are offering deals on season tickets which could see you end up paying as little as £2 a game. There's also a promo video for the match on their website which includes loads of great goals and some stonking fouls! This match will be played in Thamesmead

AFC Hayes v AFC Broxbourne Borough @3pm - the tenth-tier hosts are hoping for a big crowd as they try to raise a considerable amount for Prostate Cancer UK

Bedfont & Feltham v Colliers Wood United @3pm - B&F have made a good start to the season but should face a step up in the class when one of the best sides from the division above them pay a visit. You can see two matches at this ground on Saturday as British Airways play Jersey Bulls at 730pm

Lopes Tavares v Stanway Rovers @3pm - LT have made a superb start to the season and are top of the Eastern Counties League Division 1 South. On Saturday they welcome one of the better sides from the division above and could well cause a cupset

New Salamis v Eynesbury Rovers @3pm - with their roots in north London's Cypriot community, New Salamis are new to this level after promotion from the Herts County League. Like to the two matches above, they now face a decent side from the division above so could struggle. This match is being played at Enfield Town 
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Level 9

Essex Senior League
Cockfosters v Redbridge @3pm - tied on 13 points in midtable this should be a close game. To entice you in this match has been made 'Pay What You Want' so give it a go if you're in the area. As the name suggests, Cockfosters play just a short walk from the Tube station of the same name

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Level 10

Combined Counties League Division 1
Chessington & Hook United v Epsom & Ewell @3pm - there's a decent looking local derby in the 10th tier with the hosts really embracing the day and making it 'Pay What You Want'. They will also be raising funds for Prostate Cancer UK

Tooting Bec v Fleet Spurs @3pm - playing at the impressive Imperial Fields near Mitcham tramstop, the Bec have made this match 'pay what you want' but will give you your money back if it finishes 0-0. Bargain!

British Airways v Jersey Bulls @730pm - this match should attract quite a few groundhoppers because of its late kick-off. The ground is also rather unusual being located right next to Heathrow Airport meaning jets are taking off and landing every minute or so. It's only a short walk from Hatton Cross Tube station on the Piccadilly Line so is easy to get to. To increase the novelty factor even further, Jersey are a newly formed team and are playing in the English league system for the first time. They're also rather good and top the division having won all of their first 10 games!

Eastern Counties League Division 1 South
Newbury Forest v Wivenhoe Town @3pm - the hosts play at one of the easiest grounds to get to by public transport, as Oakside sits right next to Barkingside Tube station. The 10th tier club are dedicating their game to Prostate Cancer UK

Southern Counties League Division 1
Croydon v Meridian VP @3pm - the Trams are really pushing hard to get a big NLD crowd and have made it 'Pay What You Want' to get as many people as possible through the turnstiles. The club suffered a ruinous break-in by vandals last season and could really do with your support if you're in the area

Holmesdale v Greenways @3pm - Bromley based side Holmesdale have cut admission to just £3 for everyone except Bromley season-ticket holders who will get in for just £1!

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Rayners Lane v Park View @3pm - north west London club Rayners Lane had their completely rebuilt ground re-opened by Watford legend Luther Blissett earlier in the week. As part of the £10m refurbishment, the club have installed a 4G pitch so this match should go ahead. This is just a short journey from Harrow Borough which could fall foul of the rain - £6 admission, including a programme
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Middlesex County Football League (Level 11)
Clapton CFC v Stonewall FC @230pm - although way down in the 11th tier, one of the best fan experiences of the day is likely to be found at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow. CCFC's fans are among the most fun anywhere in the capital with great singing, banners and even occasionally some naughty pyro (shhh!). The atmosphere is highly inclusive and families are very welcome. Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out have picked a handful of games around the country to help further their cause and this is one of them. Entry is by donation 

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.