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.

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