Sunday, 18 October 2020

TLFG: 19-25 October 2020

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

As we approach at the end of October, there's a strange feel to what's going as Covid-19 to begins to tighten its grip on the population once again.

With London moving into the Tier 2 level of restrictions and with the odd game getting called off because of positive player tests, it seems only a matter of time before everything's brought to a halt again.

The increased restrictions aren't having a huge impact on non-league games yet, although some of the facilities on offer like seating and food might not be available or scaled back in some way so always check with a club before you travel if that's important to you.

In recent weeks, I've managed to use the threat of another lockdown to persuade my wife I should be allowed out to see a few games and I managed to successfully lead a small group to Coles Park on Tuesday night to see Haringey Borough play Bracknell Town in the FA Cup.

Despite more rain, we enjoyed what was a pretty well-contested match until the 75th minute when the hosts scored a third and took the wind out of their opponents' sails. 

Haringey Borough and Bracknell Town do battle at Coles Park

Two more goals rattled in before the end to give Haringey a slightly flattering 5-1 win.

In the next round, they've been drawn away to Essex club Maldon & Tiptree who memorably knocked out Leyton Orient last season.

The Fourth Round Qualifying should have dominated non-league proceedings this weekend but all the ties in London and many others around the country are being played behind closed doors because of Covid-19 restrictions which is a real shame.

It will be even worse if those non-league teams that make it through to the First Round, for one of the biggest matches in their history, see fans banned too.  

Given so many matches are being played behind closed doors, you might notice on the match maps that I've started to fill things out with a selection of 11th-tier matches and now a load more U23 and U18 games.

There are quite a few FA Youth Cup games this week but lots of local youth matches too. I'm by no means an expert as this level and the list of matches is not exhaustive as details for some are quite hard to get hold of.

The ones I have included should all be being played at non-league grounds and most charge at least a nominal admission fee of anywhere between £2-8 although some might well be free.

With all of these, check the details with the club before you travel.

Hopefully I will get to see another match this week, with Wednesday night's Kingstonian v Potters Bar Town match looking the most likely.

Although this blog is being written late at night again, it's on my own terms with no work to worry about and I've been able to discover The Prodigy's album 'The Day Is My Enemy' while writing it. 

I used to have a small role on Top of the Pops, Later with Jools Holland and even worked on Glastonbury in my BBC days and used to be quite into music. However, my priorities have changed quite a bit of late so it was quite a shock to realise this album has been out for five years and they've had another one since - a bit more personal insight for you.  

Lastly from me, many thanks to Glidden L from Texas, USA and Alex O from Dordrecht in the Netherlands and all those who have donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. Cheers one and all.


THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the Isthmian League, Southern League, London Senior Cup, Women's Capital Cup and FA Youth Cup. There are also games at higher levels but none of them are open to the public.

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 or youth matches. 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. However, capacity restrictions are currently in place at all grounds because of Covid-19 meaning only clubs from the seventh tier and below can currently admit spectators.

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 19 October

Isthmian League North Division
Aveley v Tilbury @745pm - the week opens with a very decent looking Essex derby. Tilbury are currently top of the division and if Aveley win their two games in hand, they'll be right up with them. Both saw their FA Trophy ties go to penalties on Saturday - the Millers came through theirs but Tilbury bowed out

Friendly
London Fire Brigade Western v Piccadilly FC @745pm - one game that's causing a lot of 'chatter' in the groundhopping community this week is this friendly. It's being played on one of the pitches at Ealing Trailfinders rugby club which is highly unusual and a programme has been produced although there aren't likely to be more than 20. It's also the venue where I had my wedding reception and former Chelsea player and now Trabzonspor manager Eddie Newton acted as a witness - you don't get that kind of thing happen every day! 

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Tuesday 20 October

London Senior Cup Second Round
Hendon v Brentford B @730pm - the Greens begin the defence of their LSC title by playing the team they beat in the final just over a month ago. The last meeting ended in a narrow 1-0 win for Hendon so it's likely to be close again here. You're strongly advised to buy your tickets online in advance and they're only £6.50 for adults

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Margate @745pm - the Towners are one of a number London clubs to have made a decent start to their campaign. With only three points separating the top seven teams, a win can see you make significant progress. Margate were a National League South club not all that long ago but don't look like getting back there any time soon. It's still early days, but Saturday's loss to leaders Worthing left them in the bottom five. This match is all-ticket so you must buy your tickets online in advance

Southern Counties East League Premier Division
Beckenham Town v Tunbridge Wells @745pm - the Becks were top and Tunbridge Wells fifth when Covid-19 brought a premature end to last season. As we come into this one, the roles are reversed and it's the 2013 FA Vase finalists who are now top, having gone unbeaten in their first nine league games. Both of them won on the road on Saturday but it was Beckenham who really grabbed the headlines by thrashing Punjab United 7-0. It looks like being a bit of a cracker and tickets are available on the gate for only £8

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Wednesday 21 October

Isthmian League Premier Division
Cray Wanderers v Bognor Regis Town @745pm - after their disappointing loss at home to Bishop's Stortford last weekend, Cray responded with back-to-back away wins over Bristol Manor Farm in the FA Cup and Haringey Borough in the league. Given they face an important trip to Canvey Island in the FA Cup this weekend, I'm surprised they haven't taken the opportunity to postpone this match as they are allowed to do. Bognor have been very inconsistent this season and are consequently slap bang in the middle of the table. However, they made short work of East Thurrock on Saturday and arrive in a bit of form themselves. Tickets can be bought in advance

Eastern Counties League Division 1 South
Athletic Newham v Frenford @745pm - the hosts were known as Lopes Tavares last season and were one of the best sides in this division before it ended early. They've started well enough this time and a win in their game in hand would put them joint top. However, to get there they've got to beat fellow east Londoners Frenford who are second and equally hungry for the points

FA Youth Cup Third Qualifying Round
Wealdstone v Bromley @730pm - one of the ties of the round sees two National League clubs' U18 sides meet as Grosvenor Vale. With both sides' fans locked out of all first-team games, you'd think a good few of them would take the chance to watch this. Tickets are £5 and seem to only be available on the gate but check with the club 
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Thursday 22 October

Southern Counties Floodlit Youth League
Walthamstow v Hendon @745pm - as you may have seen mentioned above, I'm trying to include more youth football in the blog at the moment. I'm not a huge expert on the level or what the competitions involve or how good they are but this U18 match is taking place at Wadham Lodge and should therefore be worth a watch. As always, check all the details with the club before you travel

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Friday 23 October

FA Youth Cup Third Qualifying Round
Carshalton Athletic v Eastbourne Borough @745pm - the weekend gets underway with a bit more U18 cup football at Colston Avenue. Carshalton games at all levels are all-ticket so you have to buy a ticket in advance. At this point, tickets don't appear to be on sale but check their website for updates

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Saturday 24 October

Isthmian League Premier Division
Saturday should have been all about the FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying but all the ties in London are behind closed doors because of Covid-19 restrictions. With all our local Southern League sides either in FA Cup action or without fixtures because their opponents are, the Isthmian Premier tops the bill when it comes to live football.

Carshalton Athletic v Enfield Town @3pm - depending on midweek results, these two could well be in the top five meaning there'll be plenty at stake. The Robins have seen very healthy crowds at Colston Avenue and often reach their 600 capacity. As a result, this is all-ticket meaning you have to buy your tickets in advance
Corinthian Casuals v Leatherhead @3pm - with the Tanners playing not a million miles from fellow Surrey club CCs, this has a bit of a derby feel to it. Although both in midtable, they're starting to climb and should produce some decent entertainment. The hosts are also bringing in some decent 400+ crowds but it's not all-ticket and you can buy on the gate or in advance via the website
Hornchurch v Horsham @3pm - over on the far eastern side of town, the Urchins welcome Sussex club Horsham. The Essex side have been a bit iffy in the early stages of this campaign but notched an impressive 4-0 win over Carshalton on Saturday which saw the Robins miss out on top spot. The Hornets also dispatched struggling Brightlingsea 4-0 to move into the top 10 in front of a 600 capacity crowd. Tickets are on sale online but you can also pay on the gate

Isthmian League South Central Division
Staines Town v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - the match of the day in the eighth tier takes place on the far west side of town as two clubs who probably should be playing at higher levels meet at Wheatsheaf Park. The Swans have really struggled over the last few years since falling down from the sixth tier, so it's pleasing to see them start so well. Fourth at the time of writing, they should provide very decent opposition for the Terrors who sit a point behind them in sixth. Tickets are available on the gate for £8 

Combined Counties League Premier League
Molesey v Sutton Common Rovers @3pm - it's bottom versus top at Walton Road and with the Moles' defence shipping 36 goals in just nine games, it could be a bloodbath. SCR are unbeaten at the time of writing and beat Molesey 4-0 in the reverse fixture last week. Tickets are available on the gate for £5

Combined Counties League Division 1
Tooting Bec v Farnham Town @3pm - the 10th tier has a number of decent looking games this weekend. First we have a top-five clash at Imperial Fields where the hosts welcome leaders Farnham for what should be an intriguing contest. Tickets are available on the gate for £6

Eastern Counties League Division 1 South
Frenford v White Ensign @3pm - if they beat Athletic Newham in midweek, Frenford will come into this as league leaders. The visitors should at least be a top six side themselves and could be as high as fourth. Tickets are available on the gate for £4

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
St Panteleimon v Buckingham Athletic @3pm - the Saints were joint top with New Salamis when the season ended in March. Promotion looked pretty much certain so they were one of the biggest losers anywhere in the country when they saw their results declared null and void by the FA. This season hasn't begun quite so strongly, after their move to share with Enfield Town, but with four wins from seven they're up in fifth and should be among the frontrunners for the rest of the season. Buckingham Athletic has a pretty humdrum campaign last time out but have come flying out of the blocks and are top after losing only one of their opening seven games. Tickets are available on the gate for £5

Middlesex County League Premier Division
Clapton CFC v Brentham @230pm - the Tons must be the best supported 11th-tier club anywhere in the country with attendances having topped 1,000 for some big matches. Under current restrictions they are limited to 300 spectators at Wadham Lodge which will almost certainly sell out for this match against the current league leaders. Keep checking the club's website for the latest ticket details

Arthur Dunn Cup First Round
A handful of ties in this historic competition for public school old boys are taking place around London. They kick-off at various times between 1100-1330 and give hardened ground hoppers the chance to perhaps visit a new ground and do a double. Club Des Sports on the borders of Acton and Shepherd's Bush, which has hosted the odd Combined Counties League game, is the venue for Old Wykehamists v Old Brentwoods at 1230pm

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Sunday 25 October

Women's Capital Cup First Round
Hounslow v Charlton Athletic U21 @2pm - with the top two divisions of the women's game on an international break, the highest ranked club in action on Sunday are third tier Hounslow who welcome a development side from the Addicks in what is essentially the London county cup for women. The match is being played at Rayners Lane and tickets are available on the gate for £3


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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