Sunday, 1 December 2019

TLFG: 2-8 December 2019

Greetings and welcome to the first TLFG of December as another year begins to draw to a close.

When I set up this blog in 2011 as an antidote to being made redundant from the BBC, I never thought I'd still be here eight years later. 

It has afforded me a creative outlet, expanded my knowledge of the London football scene and given me some great experiences at home and abroad thanks to some of the contacts I've made with TLFG readers.

There have been many kind offers of hospitality by fellow fans in other countries some of which I've been able to take up and others which I haven't but one day who knows?

It's London Non-League Dogs Day on Saturday
Away from the blog, the last couple of months have been a bit strange for me with the last 10 days in particular being a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally. 

I think I mentioned about a month ago that I was undergoing some health tests - first up, it seems these are all likely to produce good or acceptable results. 

However, one did come back with a very worrying reading which caused me to really confront my mortality - something I hadn't really grappled with since being a teenager. 

Thankfully, other tests have since pretty much abrogated that result and I should be ok subject to a couple rather more 'invasive' explorations but I should still be here for Christmas.

Elsewhere, my Dad who regular readers know is fighting cancer, has been hit with very rapidly diminishing eyesight which has turned his incredibly active lifestyle on its head in a staggeringly short time. It does seem it could be partially treatable and he has a big meeting about the progress of his cancer treatment on Tuesday so it's a big week.

Whyteleafe will be hosting the Southern Frontier Cup in May 2020
All this does put football into perspective and I've opted to spend the last week with my family rather than head out to a windswept ground which no-one else is interested in.

However, it has still lifted me on a couple of occasions over the last few days and preparing this blog has taken my mind off things.

Hearing from readers usually puts a smile on my face too and few events have been as eye-catching and fun as this Saturday's 'London Non-League Dogs Day' put on by TLFG reader Andy Lloyd-Williams at Fisher's SCEFL game against Erith & Belvedere in Rotherhithe.

With treats for your dog on the door and an 'interspecies team photo' with the players after the game, it's almost as unmissable as Crufts for canine football fans.

Also, looking ahead to the end of May, fans of Conifa football will be pleased to know the Surrey international side will be hosting the four team Southern Frontier Cup at Whyteleafe's ground.

North American side Cascadia and Yorkshire have so far been confirmed with one more team to be revealed in the coming days - tickets are on sale now for what should be an entertaining weekend.

Talking of big football tournaments, the draw for Euro 2020 took place on Saturday and several games will be played in London in June and July. The ticket ballot re-opens on Thursday 4 December so don't miss out if you want to get some.

Well I think that's it for me, hopefully I haven't depressed you too much, have a great week and enjoy your football!

Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here

The highlights of the next few days include a full programme in the Premier League, EFL, National League, Women's Super League and loads of other matches in our local non-league competitions. 

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 2 December

Professional Developement League
As usual, the week gets underway with some lunchtime U23 action. Crystal Palace take on Middlesbrough at Dulwich Hamlet's ground whilst QPR entertain Colchester at their training ground. With all games at this level, always check the details before you travel as they can change at short notice

Velocity Trophy
Brentwood Town v Grays Athletic @745pm - the top non-league game of the night is this Essex derby which has been switched to Aveley's ground

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel north into deepest Hertfordshire then you'll be rewarded with the opportunity of watching the U18 game between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup at Stevenage's ground at 7pm

Tuesday 3 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v AFC Bournemouth @730pm - the new era of Amazon broadcasting the Premier League begins on Tuesday night with this match at Selhurst Park. The Eagles enjoyed a very tidy win at Burnley on Saturday, leaving them just two points off the top five. The Cherries lost at Spurs to extend their losing run to three matches. In the eight games between them since Bournemouth joined the Premier League, the Dorset club have only won twice and lost 5-3 on their last visit in May. Unusually for a Palace home game, tickets are on general sale

London Senior Cup Second Round
Harrow Borough v Brentford B @745pm - after a decent start, Boro have won only one of their last 13 games in all competitions. A lot of the matches have been close but they've often lost in the end. Last season things were going much better and they met the Bees' second string in the final of the Middlesex Senior Cup. Brentford stuffed a decent Beckenham side 6-0 in the previous round and should comfortably win here


Wednesday 4 December

Premier League

Chelsea v Aston Villa @730pm - the Amazon coverage continues with this match at Stamford Bridge. The Blues suffered a surprise defeat at home to West Ham on Saturday so will want to bounce back immediately against a Villa side who have lost three of their last five. The Birmingham club haven't played Chelsea for nearly four years and their record against them is poor with their 2012 visit to SW6 ending in an 8-0 loss being a particular low. Tickets are not available

Kent Senior Cup Second Round
Phoenix Sports v Charlton Athletic @745pm - like Brentford, the Addicks are another pro club to enter a development side in their local county cup which I applaud. They've won it three times, with the last title coming in 2015. Even though it will largely be youngsters in action, they should still edge past their Isthmian League opponents

Thursday 5 December

Premier League

Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion @815pm - with Unai Emery gone, caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg could only inspire his Gunners charges to a 2-2 draw at lowly Norwich on Sunday. Next up are another side they should, at least on paper, also beat. Brighton have lost three in a row but I still expect to see a well motivated and spirited performance from them which could make for another difficult evening for this very shaky Arsenal team. Tickets are not available

Brentford B v Grasshopper Zurich U23 @1pm - earlier in the day you should be able to get a bit of free European football at the Bees' training ground where the west London club stage another one of their high profile friendlies (double-check all the details on the day)


Friday 6 December

Millwall v Nottingham Forest @745pm - with two draws last week, the Lions extended their unbeaten run to four matches. On Friday night they welcome a very capable Forest side who are well placed to push for promotion. Millwall are on a three-game unbeaten run against the East Midlands club and are actually four games up in the head-to-head since records began in 1909. Tickets are available

Premier League 2
There's also a fine selection of U23 football on Friday with a mouthwatering game between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool opening proceedings at midday at Spurs' training ground. Arsenal then entertain Blackburn Rovers at 7pm at Boreham Wood, whilst Fulham take on West Ham United at Motspur Park at 7pm. Admission details vary so check with all clubs on the day for the latest information


Saturday 7 December

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley @3pm - after winning their opening three games under Jose Mourinho, Spurs travel to Man Utd for a huge match in midweek before returning to the THS for this eminently winnable game. The Clarets have defied the pundits again this season and appear in no danger of relegation but they'll still start as second favourites here - their last away win against Tottenham was in 1983. Tickets are not on sale to non-members
Watford v Crystal Palace @3pm - the Hornets lost their huge six-pointer at Southampton on Saturday which saw them sack manager Quique Sanchez Flores on Sunday, less than three months after he rejoined the club. Next up they have a very tough midweek trip to Leicester before they welcome Palace to Vicarage Road. A new manager should be in place by then so it appears quite a hard game to call at this point. Tickets are available

Fulham v Bristol City @3pm - with four wins a row, the Cottagers have hit a purple patch and are now real contenders for automatic promotion. On Saturday they welcome the Robins who, a bit like Derby, always seem to be around the top six but never make it to the promised land of the Premier League. Although Fulham are in better form, they'll need to be wary as City have won four of their last six against them. Tickets are available
Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End @3pm - the R's recovered from their 4-0 thrashing in midweek by Nottingham Forest to record a 1-1 draw at Derby on Saturday but they still slipped further down the table as their winless run got a bit longer. PNE were right up with the title challengers but two defeats in a week has seen them slip to fifth. The Lancashire club have become a real bogey team for QPR - they're unbeaten in nine games against them, winning the last six. Tickets are available

National League
Barnet v AFC Fylde @520pm - with AFC Wimbledon and Leyton Orient playing away, there's no other EFL action in London on Saturday. In the fifth tier this rather uninspiring match between two teams in the bottom half has been picked for live broadcast by BT Sport causing its late kick-off. The Bees put five past a stuggling Ebbsfleet side in their last match to end an iffy run but they should find things tougher against a resurgent Fylde side who've won their last two in the league and beat Kingstonian on Saturday to move into the Third Round of the FA Cup. Tickets are available

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Dartford @3pm - despite their good cup performances and huge fanbase, it's not going too well for the Hamlet in the NLS this season. Another loss at Oxford City on Saturday means they haven't won a league game since August. Now just four points above the relegation zone, a win in this derby will make a big difference. The Darts have been in better form of late and are above Dulwich in the table but only by three points - an important game for both

Isthmian League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Hornchurch @3pm - in the seventh tier there's a match of great significance at either end of the table as Wingate look to move clear of the bottom three and the Urchins attempt to move into the top three. Despite their lowly position, W&F picked up an impressive point at title chasing Enfield Town on Saturday so they shouldn't be too overawed

Isthmian League South Central
Uxbridge v Harlow Town @3pm - the Reds are having their best season since 2011-12 when they made the play-offs. Sadly they didn't win and have been drifting around the eighth tier ever since. However, under new boss Danny Edwards they've surged into the top three in this division and look all set for another play-off campaign. Harlow have become a bit of a yo-yo club in recent years between the Premier Division and this one and they're just behind Uxbridge in what is a very congested top 10

FA Vase Third Round Replay
Sutton Common Rovers v Lancing @3pm - after fighting out a thrilling 3-3 draw in Sussex on Saturday, these two ninth-level clubs will have another go at taking a big step towards Wembley in this replay at Gander Green Lane

SCEFL Premier Division
Fisher v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - after several similar and very successful events around the country, Non-League Dogs Day comes to Rotherhithe as owners and their hounds are heartily encouraged to head to St Paul's Stadium to enjoy the action. With free dog treats provided on the door to entice your pooch and various other prizes available it should be a fun afternoon

CCL Division 1
Tooting Bec v Jersey Bulls @2pm - the match of the day in the 10th tier would appear to be this top-two clash at Imperial Fields. Channel Islands club Jersey have entered the English league system for the first time this season and have won all of their first 17 league fixtures to go 20 points clear with less than half the season gone. The task for second placed Tooting Bec is therefore a huge one - will they be the first team to beat them???

MCFL Premier Division
Cricklewood Wanderers v Brentham @230pm - there's also a top-two clash in the 11th tier where leaders Brentham travel to play Cricklewood at Wembley's Vale Farm ground. The visitors are celebrating their centenary season and are currently three points clear with three games in hand

MCFL Premier Division Cup Quarter-Final
Clapton CFC v Stonewall @130pm - over in Walthamstow you should be able to expect a lively exchange between two sides who produced a seven-goal thriller on this year's Non-League Day in front of a crowd of over 900


Sunday 8 December

FA Women's Super League
Chelsea v Manchester City @12pm - on a packed day of women's football there's one standout game topping the bill as two of the top three meet in a high stakes game at high noon. These teams, along with Arsenal, dominate this league and any dropped point is usually crucial. With the Gunners demolishing Bristol City 11-1 on Sunday to go top on goal difference, a defeat for either of these sides could be hugely damaging to their title hopes. Tickets are available in advance or on the day but given the small stadium it could be pretty full

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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