Monday, 30 November 2020

TLFG: 30 November - 6 December 2020

Greetings one and all and welcome back to TLFG after another lockdown.

Once again I've quite enjoyed having a few weeks off but I'm refreshed and ready to go and looking forward to helping you plan your football travels around London.

Sadly, despite fans now being allowed back into grounds, the picture is probably as unclear as it's been at any point with the tier system causing all kinds of havoc.

Some leagues have several clubs in Tier 3 areas which means those clubs can't let any spectators in and their fans aren't allowed to travel to away games in Tier 1 or 2 areas.

As a result the SCEFL has suspended all league games until Boxing Day and most others at non-league level are expected to make statements about how they will progress later this week.

Croydon play their first match at the NSC on Saturday

Aside from that, Premier League and EFL clubs will be admitting up to 2,000 fans for their home matches this week. However, you have to be a season-ticket holder to have any chance of qualifying for a ticket so those matches are not listed on the match map or anywhere else in this blog.

National League clubs are definitely playing at the weekend but for various technical reasons many of them won't be in a position to host fans until next week. One or two clubs, like Bromley, are fairly hopeful of being able to open this weekend but the details won't be released for a day or two.

Details about elite women's clubs are actually proving quite hard to get hold of but for the likes of Chelsea and West Ham (and almost certainly Arsenal and Spurs too), you'll need to be a season-ticket holder to have any chance as capacities are being restricted to around 700.

All in all - keep checking everything! If there's a match on the fixture list that takes your fancy, check directly with the club what the latest is and take it from there. Many will be selling tickets online and you are advised to buy in advance to avoid disappointment.

I'll aim to update things when I can but this week's piece should be seen as advisory at best as so many things are subject to change.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the FA Vase and a few friendlies. There are also matches at higher levels but they are only open to season-ticket holders.

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.

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.

Saturday 5 December

National League
Bromley v Stockport County @3pm - the Ravens re-open their turnstiles to fans for the first time this season in time for the big game against former second-tier club Stockport. Tickets are on general sale but prices have gone up because of the limited capacity, the cheapest adult ones are £20 
Sutton United v Solihull Moors @3pm - there's also some fifth-tier action at Gander Green Lane too. At the time of writing, tickets are on priority sale to season-ticket holders but the rest will go on general sale from noon on Friday. You must buy in advance or you won't be let in

FA Vase Second Round
This knockout competition for sides in ninth to 11th tiers with its final at Wembley has reached the round where all the biggest clubs enter the draw - no more teams enter from this point onwards. There are 64 ties taking place around the country. Here are my top three in London on Saturday:

Clapton v Hamworthy United @1pm - the Tons, not to be confused with Clapton CFC, welcome Wessex League leaders Hamworthy to the Newham Leisure Centre for what should be a very challenging tie. UPDATE - this is now being played at Aveley's ground at 1pm
Hanworth Villa v Corinthian @3pm - both second in their respective ninth-tier leagues, this match at Rectory Meadow has real potential. Sadly, away fans are banned as Corinthian are based in a Tier 3 area
Ilford v Colney Heath @3pm - east London club Ilford face a very tough afternoon as they prepare to host a side who are currently joint top of the Spartan South Midlands League

London Senior Cup First Round
Cray Valley PM v Corinthian Casuals @3pm - CVPM have made numerous headlines this season for their run to the First Round of the FA Cup. They return from lockdown with an attractive county cup match against CCs from the division above. The hosts have an excellent recent pedigree in the competition winning the 2017 final and finishing as runners-up a year later

London Senior Trophy First Round
Croydon v Athletic Newham @145pm - I should imagine most groundhoppers in London will be heading to this one as it sees the Trams play their first game at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The 16,000 capacity venue is located on the same site which hosted FA Cup finals between 1895-1914, has seen many of the world's top athletes run round its track and staged concerts by some of the planet's top pop artists. Tickets are £7 for adults

Friendlies
Cray Wanderers v Basildon United @1pm - another good option for groundhoppers, this match on the site of what will be Cray's new ground at Flamingo Park hosts this early kick-off. The facilities are pretty rudimentary at the moment but I understand they will be publishing a programme
Haringey Borough v Hendon @3pm - of the friendlies on offer, this looks like the best one to me. Two north London clubs who were in reasonable form before lockdown should provide a decent spectacle for a fiver
Metropolitan Police v Kingstonian @3pm - there's another good bit of inter-league seventh tier action at Imber Court too where these two local rivals meet for a derby

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Sunday 6 December

FA Vase Second Round
Sutton Common Rovers v Southall @3pm - arguably the match of the weekend takes place at Gander Green Lane where two of the Combined Counties League's top clubs meet. Check ticket details with the club as the week progresses as capacity will probably be limited to around 300
Stansfeld v AFC Hayes @3pm - there's an all-tenth tier clash at Glebe's ground in Chislehurst and with very few games open to spectators it's been made all-ticket so you must buy in advance

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Birmingham City @2pm - the Gunners will let fans in for the first time this season as they welcome the Blues to Meadow Park. Capacity is being limited to 900 - in the unlikely circumstance that members don't snap up all the tickets, non-members will have a chance to buy from 11am on Saturday 5 December


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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