Monday, 27 January 2020

TLFG: 27 January - 2 February 2020

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

As I mentioned last time, it was going to be quite a big week for me and so it proved as I headed off to Paris for a meeting about expanding Non-League Day across Europe.

I travelled with my friend Mike who's looking to join the NLD team for this year and we were met at Gare du Nord by Maxime Marchon, a top man at So Foot - one of the top football magazines in France.

He played the perfect host, getting us across the city during the strikes, taking us to lunch, giving us a thorough tour of the So Press offices (they have several other titles) before hosting a brainstorming session with several of the title's other journalists and Franziska Schmidt from 11 Freunde who Skyped in from Berlin.

My haul of goodies from a very productive day in Paris
One plan we came up with was to try and help arrange friendlies between non-league sides from participating countries as some French teams had expressed an interest. I put out a tweet asking for expressions of initial interest on the Non-League Day account on Sunday afternoon and got lots of positive responses from English clubs so we'll see what happens.

After the meeting, Maxime arranged for us to get press passes for the French third-tier game between Red Star and Bourg-en-Bresse.

The hosts are the second oldest club in France, were founded by Jules Rimet and play in a crumbling old stadium in the north of the city not far from the Stade de France.

To draw a very lazy parallel, they're quite a similar club to Dulwich Hamlet being very community focused and with a really mixed and friendly fan base.

The ultras sang all game and to stand with them only cost eight euros. The food and drink on offer was pretty good value and the merchandise was good albeit a bit pricey for my liking - 80 euros for a replica shirt!

The game itself was pretty poor. Played on a 4G pitch, not a lot happened as the fog came down and the temperature dropped but with time running out both sides scored in the space of a minute as it finished 1-1.

The teams take to the field at a chilly Stade Bauer
The result left Red Star in second ahead of their trip to leaders Dunkirk next Friday. If you fancy a quick jaunt across the channel, it should be a pretty big game.

Overall, I loved my visit to the Stade Bauer. Although the sightlines weren't great and they still have cages to keep you off the pitch, I'd highly recommend you check it out soon.

It's way cheaper and more authentic an experience than PSG and I believe it's closing for redevelopment soon so you might not get another chance.

Back in London, there are plenty of games to choose from this week. I'll almost certainly be at QPR v Bristol City on Saturday - my daughter's seventh birthday treat (she does want to go I promise) and maybe another game before that as I'm off all week.

Lastly, many thanks to Gareth B and all those who have donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. It makes writing this even more worthwhile so many, many thanks.

THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include games 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.

There's a London derby to look forward to in the Women's Super League
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 - blue 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 27 January

Professional Development League
Queens Park Rangers v Millwall @1pm - the week begins with some U23 action at QPR's training ground near Heathrow. It's usually free entry but check all the details with the club before you travel

Isthmian League Premier Division
Haringey Borough v Carshalton Athletic @745pm - given that the hosts still have a few games in hand on those above them, they still have a chance of making the play-offs. The Robins are very much part of the battle for a place in the top five so this could be close

Isthmian League North Division
Romford v Hullbridge Sports @745pm - on Monday we get the rare chance to see Glenn Tamplin's new side in action within the M25. Romford usually groundshare at Brentwood Town but have moved this one to the artificial pitch at Aveley to make sure it goes ahead. The Essex club are having a lot spent on them in an effort to get them off the bottom
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Tuesday 28 January

Championship
Brentford v Nottingham Forest @745pm - two of the top five meet for what could be one of the games of the week. Not only should it have a big bearing on the race for promotion to the Premier League but it's one of the last games to be played at Griffin Park AND it's on sale to non-members so don't miss out

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Burton Albion @745pm - a game of some significance at either end of the table with the Dons pushing to get clear of the relegation zone and Burton trying to break into the top six. Tickets are on sale to non-members

FA Trophy Second Round Replay
Barnet v Farsley Celtic @745pm - after drawing in Yorkshire just over two weeks ago and then seeing the replay postponed twice, the Bees will have another go at beating the side from the National League North. The winners will host Barrow in the next round

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Slough Town @745pm - back-to-back wins and a number of games in hand have renewed hopes of Hampton making it to the play-offs. A win over the team currently in third will see people have to take them seriously

Isthmian League South Central
Uxbridge v Hanwell Town @745pm - a west London derby between two of the division's top four, this has the potential to be a bit of a cracker

CCL Premier Division
Molesey v Knaphill @745pm - two of the top five meet for a match in what has become a very congested title race as only four points separate the top six teams

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Wednesday 29 January

Premier League
West Ham United v Liverpool @745pm - originally scheduled for when the Reds were on World Club Cup duty, this match is now taking place on Wednesday. After consecutive wins over Bournemouth and Gillingham, it's gone a bit pear shaped for David Moyes' side. Now winless in four and out of the FA Cup to lower division opposition, West Ham need to start picking up points or they could easily go down. Sadly it's not about to get any easier as leaders Liverpool are 16 points clear at the top and are unbeaten. The good news for you is that a few tickets do seem to be available to non-members

FA Women's League Cup Semi-Final

Arsenal v Manchester City @730pm - if you fancy an arguably better value night out then this important women's match at Boreham Wood could be for you. The Super League's current top two should put on a good show with a place in next month's final at the City Ground up for grabs. Tickets are £7 if bought in advance or £10 on the gate

Essex Senior League
Ilford v Walthamstow @745pm - the Stow kept their title bid on track last week with a 6-2 win at Clapton. Without a game on Saturday, they fell six points behind leaders Saffron Walden but they have three games in hand so they're still very much in it. Ilford's season would already seem to be about playing for position with bottom club Sawbridgeworth miles behind everyone else

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Thursday 30 January

London Underground League
This competition sees teams from each of the network's lines and associated TfL teams fight for glory at the 4G facility on Market Road near Caledonian Road station. Matches take place at 4pm and spectators are very welcome. There are usually a couple of fixtures a week - check the league's Twitter feed for all the latest. On Thursday, the Waterloo & City Line take on the District Line in a league cup match

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Friday 31 January

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Clapton @745pm - as it stands this match between eighth and 11th is pretty much a dead rubber given how far ahead the leading group are but it's an easy one to get to

Friendly
South Western Railway v Southern Engineers @730pm - there's a bit more railway football on Friday night but it should be of more interest to groundhoppers as it's being played at Fisher's ground. It's free entry and pin badges are available

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel a short distance outside London then the U23 match between Chelsea and Leicester City might appeal. It's being played at Aldershot Town and tickets are no more than £5

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Saturday 1 February


Premier League
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United @3pm - among the division's more unfashionable clubs, both have had praise heaped upon them as they've achieved some great results. Despite this, they're both in pretty ropey form with only one win between them from their last five league games as draws have largely prevailed. With the historical record between them exactly even with 21 wins each, a draw looks likely again. Tickets are not on sale to non-members
Watford v Everton @3pm - Nigel Pearson has done a superb job since taking over as Hornets manager but the last week has been disappointing with defeats in the league and cup to Aston Villa and Tranmere Rovers squeezed into the space of three days. With a weekend off to recover, they'll be hoping for an improved display against the midtable Toffees. A few tickets are on sale to non-members
West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - this game against fellow strugglers Brighton is absolutely huge for the Hammers. Defeat will almost certainly leave them in the bottom three and do untold damage to morale. Worryingly for West Ham, they haven't won any of the five games against the Seagulls since the Sussex club joined the Premier League in 2017. Tickets are on sale to non-members

Championship

Charlton Athletic v Barnsley @3pm - the Addicks picked up a very creditable draw against Fulham in midweek but their long winless run continued. Now down in 20th, this match against fellow strugglers Barnsley could decide whether or not they get properly sucked into the relegation dog fight. Tickets are on sale to non-members
Fulham v Huddersfield Town @3pm - after getting thrashed at Manchester City in the FA Cup, the Cottagers get to turn their minds back to securing promotion. Currently third they next play a side who have really struggled to adapt to life following relegation from the Premier League. Despite the highly rated Cowley brothers coming in from Lincoln, the Terriers are still in the bottom four and in real danger of going down again. Tickets are on sale to non-members
Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City @3pm - QPR complete the bill of what is a pretty underwhelming day in the Championship. Rangers are London's lowest ranked second tier side but are arguably its most entertaining with their 28 games yielding a whopping 97 goals so far this season, more than anyone else in the division. City seem to be in play-off contention every season but always end up blowing it. After a slightly dodgy run, a couple of wins have put them right back in it. Tickets are on sale to non-members

National League
Barnet v Hartlepool United @3pm - the Bees are putting a useful unbeaten run together which combined with some games in hand has left them in a position where they can challenge for a place in the top seven. Hartlepool are just above them so would be a useful scalp in a push for the play-offs

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Chelmsford City @3pm - after a couple of good results moved the Hamlet away from the relegation zone, they've now gone four without a win and are only four points clear of the bottom two. Chelmsford are another club to always be there or thereabouts but who ultimately fail to go up. Although not in the top seven at present, they're not out of it yet

Isthmian League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Worthing @3pm - it was really hard to choose the top game in the seventh tier on Saturday as there are some really good ones. I've gone for this as Worthing are top and Carshalton could be third if they win in midweek and results go their way

Isthmian League South East
Whyteleafe v Cray Valley PM @3pm - it was another close call when it came to deciding the best game in the eighth tier but this one between the sides in fourth and fifth looks like the one

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Sporting Bengal United @3pm - in the ninth tier, head east for the Mile End Derby which is always one of the highlights of my season - but that's just me. Both clubs have their roots in the local Bengali community although the sides are made up of all kinds of people. Neither club have much to play for this season so it's all about bragging rights

London Senior Trophy Semi-Final
Forest Hill Park v Peckham Town @3pm - there's a place in a cup final up for grabs at the Ladywell Arena where the 10th tier FHP should start as favourites against a side struggling at a level below
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Sunday 2 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City @430pm - the week ends with its biggest game as two of the country's biggest teams meet at the THS. With Liverpool 16 points clear at the top, the title race would seem to be over so it's all about the scrap for places below them. City are second but could lose out to Leicester in that battle if they're not careful. Spurs are back in sixth and if they are to bridge the six-point gap to Chelsea in fourth then they'll have to win games like this. Tickets are not available to non-members

FA Women's Super League
Chelsea v West Ham United @2pm - there is a packed programme of women's football on Sunday with this London derby topping the bill. Although only third, the Blues are the form team of the women's game following their thrashing of champions Arsenal last weekend and their hefty FA Cup victory at Charlton on Sunday. Finalists last year, the Hammers went out of the cup on Sunday and will probably be disappointed with their current eighth place. A home win looks highly likely


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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