Sunday, 4 July 2021

TLFG: 5-11 July 2021

This time next week, English football fans could be experiencing unrivaled levels of sporting ecstasy if their side can win two games between now and then.

How many of you thought England would get this far, relatively easily and without conceding a goal???

I certainly didn't.

At no point in this tournament have I felt particularly over-excited, nervous, anxious or any of the other feelings I usually experience during these big tournaments.

I don't know whether that's because I'm a jaded middle-aged man, quietly confident or simply realise there's more to life? Maybe it's a combination of all three.

Denmark on Wednesday looks supremely winnable but those are the sort of games we've been really vulnerable to losing in the past but I don't feel it at the moment.

Italy are the only remaining team who I think could give us any real problems and also the fact the match is being broadcast by ITV!

I saw a shocking stat detailing just how likely a bad result is when the commercial broadcaster covers England's games rather than the BBC so here's hoping that curse doesn't continue.

This week's blog has been a struggle to produce as my eldest destroyed my faithful laptop of many years by exploding a supposedly unpopable homemade water-filled fidget toy all over it.

Luckily my wife rustled up another old one from a cupboard to save me the hefty expense of a brand new one.

Also, my two-year-old was sent home from nursery with Covid-like symptoms on Wednesday - she tested negative but still has an unpleasant virus which has made her irritable to say the least.

Anyway, I made it and I've produced something which I hope is of use.

 THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in Euro 2020 and a number of friendlies which feature a handful of EFL teams and lots of non-league ones.

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 - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple 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 5 July

Friendly
Grays Athletic v Cray Valley PM @745pm - the week gets underway with this decent looking friendly between two Isthmian League clubs. The visitors had a great run in the FA Cup last season which they will hope to use as a springboard for a good campaign

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Tuesday 6 July

Euro 2020 Semi-Final
Italy v Spain @8pm - there are three huge games at Wembley this week and the first is between two previous winners. It seems almost unthinkable the mighty Azzurri have only won this competition once, way back in 1968 when they beat Yugoslavia 2-0 in Rome. Spain have won three times in 1964, 2008 and 2012. Since records began in 1934, the head-to-head between these sides is exactly equal but in recent years, the Iberian side have dominated with Italy only winning two of the last 10 meetings. Despite this, Roberto Mancini's side have looked far more impressive in this tournament and will start as favourites. At the time of writing, tickets are still available from Uefa's website but the cheapest ones were 345 euros!

Friendlies
Walton Casuals v Crawley Town @745pm - if you don't have that kind of loose change burning a hole in your pocket then you could head down to Surrey instead where we're set to get our first glimpse of an EFL squad getting put through its paces as League Two Crawley pay a visit. Tickets are only available on the turnstile
Haringey Borough v Royston Town @745pm - two seventh-tier teams do battle at Coles Park in what should hopefully be a well contested fixture
Barking v Cheshunt @745pm @745pm - the Blues host higher level opposition as they get to show of their still relatively new 4G pitch at Mayesbrook Park
Fisher v Bermondsey Town @745pm - over in Rotherhithe, the Fish were supposed to play Lewes but Covid saw the Sussex club pull out and local club Bermondsey fill in
Welling Town v Herne Bay @745pm - way back in pre-pandemic times, the Boots' last full season saw them win the SCEFL Division 1 title at the first time of asking. With the two seasons since then both curtailed, the Thamesmead-based outfit will hope to recover some of that form this year. Herne Bay play a level above them so should provide a stern test
England Fans v Denmark Fans @8pm - after beating their counterparts from Scotland and Germany, the England supporters' side have arranged another short-notice game against Denmark. It's being played at Bedfont Sports near Heathrow and entry is free
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Wednesday 7 July

Euro 2020 Semi-Final
England v Denmark @8pm - after crushing Ukraine 4-0 on Saturday, the Three Lions find themselves just 90 minutes away from their first major final since 1966. At first glance you might think that they'll never get a better chance but I was quite surprised to find the Danes are ranked 10th in the world which is higher than the likes of both Germany and The Netherlands who we would all probably have wanted to avoid at this stage. Historically, England have a very strong record against their Scandinavian opponents but recent encounters haven't gone well with the two games against them in last autumn's Nations League seeing Denmark win 1-0 at Wembley after a 0-0 draw on their own soil. The bookies have Gareth Southgate's side as favourites to win the tournament - it would be gutting if they choke now. Tickets weren't available when I last looked and will cost hundreds if any do come up

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Thursday 8 July

Friendly
Spelthorne Sports v Lyne @745pm - with the match at Virginia Water getting cancelled, I thought Thursday was going to be quiet but The Spelly have confirmed this fixture instead

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Friday 9 July

A bit further afield
Chesham United v Wycombe Wanderers @730pm - with little else on in the London area, why not head just outside it to the Buckinghamshire town of Chesham? It's still on the Tube network and the ground is walkable from the station - you'll also get to see another EFL club in action. Tickets are £10 and available online
Slough Town v Binfield @745pm - a train journey of just over 20 minutes from Paddington will find you a short walk from Arbour Park where the Rebels take on recent FA Vase finalists Binfield

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Saturday 10 July

Friendlies
Dartford v Ipswich Town @1pm - pre-season goes up another notch on Saturday as former Premier League side Ipswich enter the fray with a trip to Kent. The visit to Princes Park is listed as a full first-team fixture on the Suffolk club's website so it should be worth a watch. Tickets are £10 and I'd advise you to buy online in advance
Welling United v Gillingham @1pm - a short journey west will take you to Park View Road which will also be welcoming League One opposition in the form of Steve Evans' Gills. Having finished 10th last season, the Kent club will be hoping for a play-off push this year. Tickets are £11 and are also available online
Hampton & Richmond Borough v QPR XI @3pm - over on the west side of town, Gary McCann has managed to get a Championship club to send a squad of players to the Beveree. It won't be a full first-team game for the Rs but their website suggests some of their starters could be on show. Tickets for this are only £7 and are on sale online now UPDATE - SOLD OUT
Carshalton Athletic v Dulwich Hamlet @3pm - the Robins enjoyed a solid 3-1 win over Walton Casuals on Saturday and next face fellow south Londoners Dulwich who play in the division above them. Tickets are £8 and are available online
Haringey Borough v Chelmsford City @3pm - there's also some National League South talent on show in the form of Essex club Chelmsford. Prior to the pandemic, the Clarets had a terrible habit of blowing almost unassailable leads in the race for promotion so they'll be desperate for more consistency in 2021/22. Tickets are available in advance as are Haringey's free season tickets
AFC Croydon Athletic v Croydon @2pm - if you're in south London and aren't heading to Carshalton then El Croydico must surely be worth considering! UPDATE - MATCH OFF

Aside from all of the above, there's a veritable feast of football taking place at Brunel University's sports facilities where I've counted at least five friendlies taking place between some of our local clubs. The first match kicks off at 1130am and there are others at various intervals through until 3pm. Hanwell Town, Harefield United and the newly formed Shepherds Bush are among the sides in action.

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Sunday 11 July

European Championship Final
England v Italy @8pm - quite simply the biggest match in England's football history for 55 years so there's no pressure on Gareth Southgate's men! Since winning the World Cup in 1966 things haven't gone that well with opponents Italy making it to four World Cup finals (winning two) and four European finals (winning one) in the same period. As for form coming into this game, it's a little surprising that it's the Three Lions who have the better defensive record but in Belgium and Spain, the Azzurri have faced higher quality opposition on the way to the final. Currently in fourth, the Fifa rankings also have England as the higher-ranked side but most fans would probably concede that Italy have been the most impressive side throughout the tournament. Matches between the two are usually tight, often ending in draws and it's very rare to see a side score more than two goals. Sadly for England, they have faced Italy four times in tournaments and lost on each occasion most recently 2-1 during the 2014 World Cup group stage and then a penalty defeat in Euro 2012 quarter-finals. Most pundits I've heard have gone with 2-1 to England and I'll be more than happy with that. Tickets are long gone!!! 

A bit further afield
England Fans v Italy Fans @1015am - to get you in the mood for the main course later in the day, fans of both sides will be meeting in a friendly at Chesham United where it's free to get in


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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