Sunday 31 October 2021

TLFG: 1-7 November 2021

I can hardly believe it but another month has rolled by and we're into November.

The clocks have changed and it's now dark before full-time in 3pm kick-offs.

I'm going to keep my own stuff brief this week as we're lucky enough to have received a ground review from one of our American readers who's currently resident in London but more of that below.

My own personal football highlights this week were the Women's Euro 2022 draw which determined that the group game tickets I randomly bought for a game at Brentford will see Germany play Denmark - a derby between the most successful country in the competition and one fielding arguably the world's best player in Pernille Harder. 

I also have tickets for the final at Wembley which should be a great occasion.

If you haven't already got tickets for next summer's tournament, the ballot is now open.

The other high point for me was going to watch Harrow Borough in FA Trophy action at South Park who play in Reigate.

They won 1-0 to bag some more prize money and make it 15 wins from 17 games ahead of their huge FA Cup match at Fratton Park against Portsmouth on Saturday.

I managed to get some tickets - our initial allocation of 400 looks like selling out so it should hopefully be a memorable day whatever happens.

So now for that ground review, provided for us by Marc Derks who paid a visit to Craven Cottage.

He also gives us a bit about his own background which is very interesting.

Here's what he had to say:

Fulham 1:2 Reading, 18 September, 2021

I had never seen anything like it.  I was 10 years old and standing on the goal line wondering why the opposing goalkeeper had gloves on, while one of the attackers lined up to take a corner kick.  My youth “select” team, among the first of its kind in my small hometown in Virginia, was already down several goals, so I was nervous as he backed up a few steps. He struck it perfectly and it flew into the area, high and beautiful, and settled in the back of the goal.

I was stunned.  Can he do that?  HOW can he do that?  It was 1974 and this Yank had never seen anyone “bend it like Beckham.”  It wasn’t clear at all to me that physics would even allow for such a thing.  The touring U-11s from Chelsea (at least they were from Chelsea in the mists of my memory) went on to score 10 unanswered before half-time, when we divided up and scrimmaged for the rest of the game.

Notwithstanding this drubbing at an early age, I developed a love for the beautiful game in the wilds of America --150 miles removed from the nearest professional team, the Washington Diplomats-- that would last the rest of my life.  Fate, luck, and a unique career have finally, almost fifty years removed from that transcendent Olympico, brought me to London, the beating heart of professional football.

Even before arriving at Heathrow, I knew I would set out to become a groundhopper.  As a Manchester United supporter (a story perhaps for another time), I was also in search of a London club to support.  The search, perhaps not surprisingly, did not last long.

The hey-day of Fulhamerica has perhaps passed, gone are the days of Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, Kasey Keller, and Eddie Johnson all suiting up at Craven Cottage at the same time.  Even so, Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson both feature for the US Men’s National Team.  I was looking forward to seeing them as I made my way across Putney Bridge and through Fulham Palace grounds on my first Saturday in London to watch the Cottagers take on ex-burb London team Reading.

While Craven Cottage isn’t necessarily easy to reach by public transport, it is nonetheless a great journey.  Most routing will drop you off somewhere near Putney Bridge, and that will leave you a pleasant stroll along the Thames through Fulham Palace Gardens as you head west toward the ground. It can be a bit confusing as you get close and the construction of the new Riverside Stand interrupts your stroll. Follow the crowds back to the street though and you will soon be alongside the iconic Cottage from which the ground derives its name.

Depending on the game, you can get tickets from the website as they release to the general public as the fixture date draws near.  You must create an account, but that seems very typical of most League sides.  I’ve purchased a £65 membership having adopted Fulham as my London club and it allows me to purchase multiple tickets.

The atmosphere outside the stadium is festive, as there is often a brass band providing their take on today’s hits (I can’t fully explain it, but it is worth seeing) and Billy the Badger is frequently bouncing about available for pictures.  Get there early for a pint and a pie, as the food is good and affordable but the service is spotty when they get crowded.  

Often the latest available tickets are in the Hammersmith End.  This makes sense as the sun sets over the stand on the other side, the Putney End, and will be in your eyes for most of an afternoon fixture.  

Away fans are on the Putney End in sections P6 and P7 and the most vocal home supporters are in the upper rows of the center of the Hammersmith End H4 and H5.  Sight lines are good from just about anywhere and the stands sit virtually on the touchlines.  Neither seemed too intimidating, but you will be standing a great deal more if you end up in either place.

The Johnny Haynes Stand (aka Stevenage Road Stand) is a Grade II listed historical building and is what you might call to mind when thinking of a turn of the century football ground.  There are some seats behind supports, but it's a remarkable example of football history.  Many families end up sitting here.  It also houses the fan shop, which is only accessible from the outside. The famous cottage sits in the corner between the Haynes Stand and the Putney End.

The Riverside Stand, whose opening is now delayed to the beginning of next season, will be a great addition to the ground without affecting the other stands.  The 8700 additional seats will bring the capacity to near 30K, in line with the club’s ambition to make the “bounce” back to the Premiership.  They are well positioned to do that, sitting second (as of this writing) in the tight Championship table.

While the game wasn’t necessarily secondary to ticking a bucket list ground off my roster, it was great to hear the Londoners’ support for Tim Ream as they shout “Reeeeeam” anytime the captain is on the ball.  He is much maligned by USMNT supporters, so it’s good that he gets love in West London.  

Reading handed Fulham their first loss of the season, but I was hooked.  I’ll be back over and over and hope to make my Boxing Day plans at Craven Cottage.


If you'd like to write something similar about one of your visits to a club within the M25 then please get in touch - I'm sure we'd all love to read it.

Have a great week everyone.


The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League, EFL, FA Cup, most of our local non-league competitions and the Women's Super League too.

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 - turquoise 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 1 November

Youth & Development matches
Most Mondays provide a selection of U23 and other youth games and this week is no different. Crystal Palace opened their new £20m academy last week and they're at home to Blackburn Rovers at 1pm but whether they'll let the public in, remains to be seen. Fulham also have a game against Middlesbrough at their training ground - again I'm not sure about admission but it's often fine to go along. Charlton Athletic are playing Bristol City at Dartford's ground and is probably the one most likely to let you in. However, as always, check all the details on the day as they can change significantly


Tuesday 2 November

Millwall v Reading @745pm - the match of the night is this second tier sort of derby at The Den. The Lions have been doing well of late and could've moved into the top six if they'd beaten Huddersfield on Saturday, but it was not to be. The Royals are only a couple of points behind but with four defeats from six, they appear to be going in the opposite direction. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Rotherham United @745pm - after their fantastic win at Sunderland last week, the Addicks won their crucial relegation six-pointer against Doncaster 4-0 to move out of the bottom four. Next up they face another Yorkshire club but one at the other end of the table and in much better form. Tickets

Isthmian Premier
Wingate & Finchley v Worthing @745pm - the hosts grabbed a few headlines by beating reigning champions Hornchurch in the FA Trophy on Saturday. The small north London club have made a promising start under new boss and former player Marc Weatherstone and are sitting pretty comfortably in midtable. On Tuesday we'll get to see just how good they are as they welcome the current league leaders

Isthmian South Central
Chipstead v Chertsey Town @745pm - unbeaten in the league and with a great FA Cup run behind them, Chertsey looked well set to challenge for promotion. That was until Tuesday night when their big match with Bracknell Town ended in a mass brawl and led to the resignation of manager Kevin McClaren. How his departure affects the side remains to be seen but the first game without him ended in a 2-0 loss to Worthing in the FA Trophy. Chipstead have had a quieter start to the campaign and sit a point behind the Curfews in the table

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Takeley @745pm - a 2-1 win over Athletic Newham on Saturday extended the Stow's unbeaten run in the league to seven games and put them top of the table in the process. One point clear and with games in hand on all of their challengers, things are looking pretty rosy for the club from E17 right now. Takeley are pottering along in midtable and should be beaten 

FA Youth Cup First Round
There are a couple of ties in this most prestigious of U18 competitions on Tuesday. A load of EFL sides enter the draw at this stage and AFC Wimbledon and Sutton United both have home games which should be worth a watch, especially if you want to make your first visit to either the new Plough Lane or Gander Green Lane


Wednesday 3 November

FA Youth Cup First Round
There are a couple of senior county cup matches on Wednesday but if given the choice, I'd rather see one of the ties in this competition. Erith Town are one of the smallest clubs to have made it to this point so for them to now be hosting Portsmouth is quite a big deal. The Dockers' youngsters beat Boreham Wood, a side who invest a lot in their academy, in the last round so will fancy their chances of another cupset. Elsewhere in south-east London, Cray Valley PM welcome Aldershot Town

Thursday 4 November

Europa Conference League
Tottenham Hotspur v Vitesse Arnhem @8pm - Spurs are a club in crisis at the moment with their latest insipid display against a dysfunctional Manchester United side leading the fans to call for the heads of the chairman and manager. Hopefully the Conference League will come as a bit of light relief and should present a very realistic chance of silverware. However, given the club were only 90 minutes away from winning the Champions League in 2019, it's a reminder of how far they've fallen. Dutch club Vitesse moved up to fifth in their league after a 2-1 win at Heerenveen on Saturday. Tickets are on general sale at reduced prices


Friday 5 November

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Little Oakley @745pm - the hosts have been drawing crowds in large numbers since returning to the town and their new stadium a few weeks ago. With an average attendance of 431, they are now the best-supported side in the league. Results are improving too, with their 3-1 win at FC Clacton on Saturday moving them up to ninth. The visitors are new to this level and are holding their own in midtable


Saturday 6 November

Premier League
Brentford v Norwich City @3pm - pundits were purring about the Bees after thrilling performances against Arsenal, Liverpool and West Ham but three defeats on the bounce must have changed a few people's views. Losing 3-1 at previously winless Burnley on Saturday with probably their worst performance must worry fans. Thankfully they've got the chance to bounce back straightaway against the weakest team in the league. However, they've only managed two wins from their last 10 matches against the Canaries and if they lose again, the season could take on a very different complexion. Tickets are sold out
Chelsea v Burnley @3pm - the Blues enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at Newcastle on Saturday to move three points clear at the top. Despite this early-season success, they seem to be getting a bit overlooked with their big rivals' slip-ups and struggles creating more headlines. I guess that's probably to their benefit as they're left to go about their business. Although Chelsea have dominated matches between the two in recent years, the Clarets did manage a 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge in 2017 so they'll need to channel the spirit of that performance to get anything here. Tickets have sold out
Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers @3pm - the Eagles caused the upset of the weekend by winning 2-0 at Manchester City on Saturday. Although with now only one defeat from their last four visits to the Etihad, was it really that much of a surprise? Patrick Vieira's men are becoming pretty tough to beat and are the divsion's draw specialists, which is why they're only 13th at the time of writing. In my head, I'd picked up a vibe of Wolves struggling this year but that's not the case as four wins from nine has left them on the verge of breaking into the top half. It's hard to see past another draw. Tickets are only available to members

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Crystal Palace @1130am - if you want to see a couple of games on Saturday then you can start early at Kingsmeadow with this U23 match. Adult tickets are £5 and can be bought in advance or on the day

Millwall v Derby County @3pm - Premier League matches are increasingly becoming the preserve of season-ticket holders, members and those who can afford hospitality packages. This means the Championship is becoming the best option for many casual fans and visitors to London. Once again, Millwall provide the highest level of football open to such a person on Saturday and they could well be pushing for a play-off spot by the time kick-off comes round. Derby are currently bottom after being docked 12 points for going into administration. Despite this, manager Wayne Rooney has stuck doggedly to the task of keeping them up and they could move to within a point of safety if they have a really good week. Tickets

FA Cup First Round
With the qualifying rounds now complete, the surviving non-league teams are joined in the draw by all the clubs from League One and League Two. The winners of each tie receive £22,629 - a considerable sum for the smaller clubs
AFC Wimbledon v Guiseley @3pm - the original Wimbledon famously won the FA Cup in 1988 but since re-forming in 2002, the Dons' best is the Fifth Round - still quite an achievement for a League One club. On Saturday it will be their opponents who will arrive as underdogs. The sixth-tier club from Yorkshire have made it to the Second Round twice in recent seasons but they're struggling in the league at the moment and lost 5-1 at Darlington on Saturday. Tickets 
Charlton Athletic v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - when sixth-tier club Havant drew Charlton, they would've probably fancied their chances but the League One side's form has improved significantly over the last couple of weeks making the task a little more daunting. The Hawks famously made the Fourth Round and briefly led Liverpool at Anfield before ultimately losing 5-2 in an entertaining game back in 2008. In Paul Doswell they now also have the manager who took non-league Sutton United all the way to a Fifth Round tie against Arsenal in 2017, beating AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United to get there. In essence this is a huge banana skin for the Addicks, complacency must be avoided at all costs. Tickets
Leyton Orient v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - although quite a few miles apart on either side of the Thames, the journey between these clubs is made a lot easier by the high-speed Javelin train network with Stratford International only a one stop, 12-minute journey from Ebbsfleet. The National League South side are currently among the frontrunners and could've gone second on Saturday but had their game postponed because of Covid in their opponent's camp. The O's roared back into League Two's top six on Saturday, thrashing Hartlepool 5-0 as they extended their unbeaten run. The east London club should win but will be mindful of the fact they lost at home to Maldon & Tiptree this time two years ago. Tickets
Boreham Wood v Eastleigh @3pm - the Wood beat Southend 1-0 on Saturday to go top of the National League, moving ahead of Grimsby who suffered their second defeat of the week. As a result, they should start as firm favourites against fellow fifth-tier club Eastleigh who are currently down in midtable. Tickets
Hayes & Yeading United v Sutton United @3pm - Paul Hughes' side are unbeaten in all 18 of their league and cup games so far this season. They've also won two penalty shoot-outs including one against Dorking Wanderers which saw them make the FA Cup First Round for the third season running. Although Sutton are now a League Two side, these two are old non-league rivals so for many this won't have quite the glamour and excitement that drawing a fourth-tier side usually would. Nonetheless, it is an all-London game and could provide a really entertaining match. Tickets 

National League South
Dartford v Chippenham Town @3pm - away from the excitement of the FA Cup, there are plenty of other non-league games going on. The Darts have made the early running in the NLS but with only two wins from five, their lead is down to just one point. The visitors are down in 12th and seven games without a win so should be beaten

Isthmian Premier
Corinthian Casuals v Enfield Town @3pm - I'd say the game of the day in the seventh tier will be this one in Tolworth. The Towners are second at the time of writing and seem to have established themselves as one of this season's title contenders.On Saturday they got a good win over Met Police, one of the best sides in the Southern League, to make progress in the FA Trophy so they should be confident of getting something from this one. Casuals are in lower midtable but they have games in hand after a good FA Cup run but will need to be at their best to prevail here

Isthmian South Central
Uxbridge v Chipstead @3pm - there are no real standout games in the eighth tier but I'm pleased to say Uxbridge are still leading the way in this division. They also made progress in the FA Trophy on Saturday, beating Essex club Basildon United. They've only lost once in the league this season but that was to co-leaders Bracknell so they badly need three points here. The Chips could be in the top eight by the weekend

CCL Premier North
St Panteleimon v Hanworth Villa @3pm - the game of the day in the ninth tier takes place up in Enfield at the QEII Stadium. It should be a cracker as the teams in third and first lock horns. Hanworth are already five points clear at the top but Saints have a game in hand so a win for them will make things very interesting indeed

SCEFL Division 1
Sutton Athletic v Stansfeld @3pm - the visitors lost their top-of-the-table clash with Tooting Bec on Saturday but remain in front thanks to their superior goal difference. In Sutton they face another top-six club who have the games in hand to go top themselves so it's another huge match at this level


Sunday 7 November

Premier League
Arsenal v Watford @2pm - after the panic of early season, Mikel Arteta seems to have steadied the ship. Saturday's 2-0 win at Leicester means the Gunners are now unbeaten in nine games, up to sixth in the league and through to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup. After their fantastic win at Everton, the Hornets blew all that good work by losing 1-0 at home Southampton on Saturday and now find themselves within another defeat of falling into the relegation zone. Tickets are only available to members
West Ham United v Liverpool @430pm - the match of the week looks like being one to savour. After beating holders Manchester City in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, the Hammers must now fancy themselves for a piece of silverware. At the time of writing, they're about to play Aston Villa but win, lose or draw they'll still be fourth coming into this. Liverpool also made the EFL Cup quarter-finals with a routine win at Preston but then saw Brighton come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Anfield in one of the surprise results of the weekend. Amazingly, this match went on sale to non-members and I know some of you managed to get some. All the original allocation have now gone but there are numerous single tickets available for re-sale through the club

FA Women's Super League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United @1215pm - there's a glorious pair of games in north London which are staggered to allow easy transfer between the two for neutrals and groundhoppers. The first takes place at The Hive where a hugely improved Spurs side return from the international break looking to put the pressure back on the top two. With United two points and a place below them, this has the potential to be quite a match. Tickets are only £6.50 if bought in advance
Arsenal v West Ham United @645pm - presumably scheduled to avoid clashing with the mens' games, this derby should be a fine way to end the week. Like Spurs, the Hammers have improved considerably over the summer but are still some way short of the level Arsenal can produce and will start very much as the underdogs. Tickets

FA Women's Championship
Crystal Palace v Durham @2pm - the Eagles welcome the current leaders for what should be a tough afternoon at Hayes Lane.With only one league defeat this season, the visitors will start as strong favourites against a Palace side lacking form. Tickets

FA Women's National League Plate First Round
AFC Wimbledon v Chesham United @2pm - for the second game running, the Dons will be playing at Plough Lane. They attracted around 1,500 spectators for their Women's FA Cup game last week and will hopefully pack a few more in here. Tickets are free but you must register in advance 

London & South East Women's Regional League
Dulwich Hamlet v Fulham @2pm - although both are well behind leaders Ashford Town (Middlesex), the biggest crowd of the day in the fifth tier will almost certainly be found at Champion Hill. Both sides are in midtable but have the games in hand to break into the top four. Tickets

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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