Monday 11 October 2021

TLFG: 11-17 October 2021

Greetings dear readers and welcome to the 10th-anniversary edition of TLFG!

I recently had a feeling that the moment might be coming up so I had a look in the archives last week and found that the first edition was published on 9 October 2011.

If you take a look at it, the layout is a little different but essentially the concept is the same as it is now.

One of the main differences is that rather than the 'Daily Digest' I do now, I used to simply do a 'TLFG Top 10' with effectively one match from each tier of the pyramid, although that would depend on who was playing. 

These days there's also a lot more women's football which I'm getting very enthusiastic about now my eldest daughter has started playing.

It's also interesting to see who was playing that week and at what level.

Sunderland were still a Premier League club, Watford and Crystal Palace were also-rans in the Championship and Sutton were two levels below where they are now.

Harrow play their biggest game for several years on Saturday
Tickets are available in advance

Elsewhere, Dulwich Hamlet were an eighth-tier club who would be happy if 300 turned up. Ten years on and they broke their stadium record when 3,334 watched them play Billericay on Saturday.

Waltham Forest were an Isthmian League club in 2011. Since then they've dropped a level, nearly gone bust but are now known as Walthamstow and doing well in the Essex Senior League with way more fans than they had then.

The last club mentioned in that first Top 10 were South Kilburn who were a Combined Counties League side then.

I went to watch them play Bedfont Sports, who've enjoyed significant growth since, a few weeks later on a bad pitch covered in mushrooms behind Vale Farm Sports Centre in Wembley.

They lost and eventually dropped out of the league in 2014.

According to Wikipedia, they resigned from the Middlesex County League ahead of this season and that's where the story sadly seems to end.

I originally set up this blog after being made redundant from the BBC Sport website when it relocated from TV Centre in Shepherd's Bush to Salford near Manchester.

It literally kept me going as job application after job application got rejected and I ended being unemployed for nearly a year until a train operating company picked me up and gave me a chance.

I'm still with them now but I'd love to get back into football in some way but that's another story.

One of the best things about writing this blog is the experiences it's given me.

I've been interviewed by the New York Times, appeared in or contributed to football books in the Netherlands and Germany, spoken on podcasts and met lots of TLFG's readers when out and about at games.

The encouragement many of you have given me in person or online has been genuinely heart-warming.

When you're sat at your laptop at gone 1am writing about a 10th-tier match featuring teams most people have never heard of, you do sometimes wonder why you're bothering but those comments really keep me going so thanks to all of you, I really appreciate it.

TLFG has also seen me through major family events like the death of my mother, the birth of my two children and my Dad's so far successful fight against cancer - many of you donated to a fundraiser I launched following his diagnosis for which I'm hugely grateful again.

Fancy a great value trip to Wembley? I've got my tickets

I had thought of doing something grand for this edition but I simply didn't have time.

One idea my wife has been pushing for ages is for me to do a podcast.

I like the idea of this but it would take up even more time that I don't have and I'm not too sure how it would work.

What would I talk about? Would I simply do an audio version of what I've written or discuss/ramble on about things a bit more?

Recording it wouldn't be a huge worry but editing it would. Clipping up bits of audio used to be part of my job at the BBC and I found it incredibly tedious.

All my favourite podcasts usually involve at least two contributors and I'm not really one to go chasing interview guests as that would take time too. A group of regulars could be good though.

Any thoughts?

Well I think that's about all I've got for now on the 10th-anniversary chat.

Once again, thank you all for your support in whatever form it's taken. 

I hope to continue churning out this stuff for at least another 10 years by which time I might have come up with something truly grand to mark the occasion.

As for this week, I will be going to a match on Tuesday night but I face a dilemma about which one to pick as they feature my two favourite sides.

QPR B take on Nottingham Forest U23 at Wealdstone in the ironically titled Premier League Cup and Harrow Borough play Beaconsfield Town in a Southern League match.

My heart says Harrow because it's a properly competitive game and they need the money more but my head says QPR as more of my friends have shown an interest in going, I'm not really in the market to watch first-team games and the ticket will be a lot cheaper (probably £5 as opposed to £12 at Harrow).

Decisions, decisions...

I'm gutted to be working on Saturday as I'll miss Harrow's hugely important FA Cup tie against Chelmsford but if they do get through to the First Round then I'll be all over it. 

A few weeks ago I had a vision of them playing Ipswich Town at Portman Road - here's hoping.

Lastly from me, many thanks to Nick G from Kingston for donating to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund. I really appreciate it.


The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League, EFL, FA Cup, most of our local non-league competitions and there are several women's fixtures 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 11 October

FA Youth Cup Third Round Qualifying
The week begins with a trio of games in this most prestigious of U18 competitions. Barnet, Boreham Wood and Hayes & Yeading United are all hosting games - check their websites for the latest admission and kick-off details. The winners will go into the First Round proper where I presume youngsters from EFL clubs will enter the draw 


Tuesday 12 October

Fifa World Cup qualifier
England v Hungary @745pm - after thrashing Andorra 5-0 on Saturday, the Three Lions' road to Qatar continues with a visit from Hungary. Given how racially toxic the atmosphere was in Budapest a few weeks ago and how some England fans like to boo 'the knee', this has to be one of the most unattractive England games to have been advertised for a while and boy how they've advertised it! My social media timeline has been full of ads. With the away game ending in a 4-0 win for Gareth Southgate's side, the hosts should coast to another victory. Tickets

Premier League Cup
QPR v Nottingham Forest @7pm - whether this is a B or U23 team match for QPR is unclear but the difference between the two is wafer-thin anyway. Whatever the case, they're playing Forest's U23 side at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip. Admission will probably be somewhere in the region of £5 but check with the club on the day

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - there are a number of games in the seventh tier on Tuesday with this north London derby probably the best on offer. The Towners are currently third and a win will put them top. Wingate, one of the division's smaller clubs, have made a solid start and sit comfortably in midtable

Isthmian League South East Division
VCD Athletic v Corinthian @745pm - another side, at the level below, worth keeping an eye on are VCD who are currently battling Haywards Heath and Cray Valley for supremacy in this division. Corinthian, not to be confused with Corinthian Casuals, have made a disappointing start and should be beaten


Wednesday 13 October

FA Women's League Cup
Tottenham Hotspur v Charlton Athletic @730pm - the Women's League Cup (aka the Continental Cup) group stage gets underway on Wednesday with this derby at The Hive. With Spurs among the early frontrunners in the Super League, you fear for the Addicks who play a level below. Tickets
London City Lionesses v West Ham United @7pm - in the other match of the night, second tier LCL will look to cause an upset when they host the Hammers at Dartford's ground. In most season's you could see this happening but West Ham have made a very bright start and should win. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Kingstonian v Worthing @745pm - one of the non-league games of the week takes place at the United Business Group Stadium. The K's have been top for a few weeks now but will be caught by the visitors if they win 

SCEFL Premier Division
Erith Town v Fisher @745pm - the Dockers could move level on points with leaders Glebe if things go their way on Wednesday. With only one defeat from nine, Erith should have too much for the midtable Fish

SCEFL Division 1
Westside v Tooting Bec @730pm - sitting in fourth at the time of writing, the Bec could also draw level with leaders Stansfeld if they take all three points at Wibbandune on Wednesday

Thursday 14 October

Uefa Women's Champions League
Arsenal v Hoffenheim @8pm - the Gunners are currently England's top team but they were no match for European champions Barcelona who thrashed them 4-1 in their last group game. Hoffenheim are currently fourth in the Bundesliga and lost 3-1 at leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday. On balance, Arsenal should probably start as favourites. Tickets look set to be released following their match against Everton today (Sunday)


Friday 15 October

Premier League 2
Fulham v Reading @7pm - get your weekend underway with this U23 game at Motspur Park, Fulham's training ground. The spectator facilities are pretty decent but check on the day whether you'll be allowed in - it's usually about £3

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Ilford @745pm - the pick of the non-league action is this east London derby which could see Redbridge go top. A lot will depend on how current leaders Stanway Rovers get on at Woodford Town in the other ESL game of the night


Saturday 16 October

Premier League
Watford v Liverpool @1230pm - the Premier League returns after the international break. In the time since their last game at Leeds, the Hornets have fired Xisco Munoz and brought in veteran manager Claudio Ranieri who famously won the title with Leicester City. He goes straight in at the deep end with this very challenging game against the Reds who arrive in second just one point behind leaders Chelsea. Tickets are sold out
Brentford v Chelsea @530pm - in the teatime kick-off we have this mouthwatering derby to look forward to. The Bees have surprised a lot of people with how well they've done since coming up and are currently seventh after recent impressive displays against Liverpool and West Ham. As mentioned above, Chelsea are currently top and should win but a well motivated Brentford side and hostile home crowd could give them a very uncomfortable time. Tickets are sold out

Fulham v QPR @1230pm - west London is definitely the place to be on Saturday as the other big derby of the area is also on. The Cottagers are unbeaten in six against the R's but this is the best side to have represented the Loftus Road club in a decade and with the two neck-and-neck in the top six, it could be a real humdinger. You'll need to have a previous booking history with Fulham to get a ticket or have £200 for a hospitality package
Millwall v Luton Town @3pm - the first game of the day that you'll be able to get a ticket for without too many issues is this one at The Den. Two well-matched midtable clubs (both on and off the pitch - if you know what I mean) should produce a lively match. With Luton just to the north of London, this is pretty much a derby too. Tickets

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Sheffield Wednesday @3pm - the Dons return to action with one of the biggest matches of their season as the Owls pay their first visit to the new Plough Lane. The London side are winless in four and could do with three points here. Although Wednesday are one of the biggest clubs in the division following their relegation from the Championship, they're not unbeatable and if the Dons have a good day then anything's possible. Tickets are scarce but not officially sold out yet

League Two
Leyton Orient v Walsall @3pm - Saturday's 1-1 draw at Barrow caused a small slide down the table, but the O's are still fifth and enjoying a fine start to the season. The Saddlers are not faring nearly so well but managed an important 2-1 win over Salford this weekend. They're also unbeaten in three against the east London club so will hope to extend that run. Tickets

Premier League 2
Chelsea v Derby County @1pm - the Blues' U23 side entertain their counterparts from Derby in an early kick-off at Kingsmeadow meaning if you left a bit early, you could combine it with another local game like those at Corinthian Casuals or Met Police

FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
This is a truly huge moment for the non-league clubs who have made it through from the previous rounds. Now only 90 minutes away from a potential tie against one of several fallen giants in League One, getting through could be transformational for some. Almost £10,000 is on offer to the winner of each tie but to complicate things, all the fifth tier National League clubs enter the draw at this stage making it that little bit harder

Barnet v Boreham Wood @3pm - almost certainly the tie of the day is this north London derby between two National League sides. Historically Barnet are the bigger club, having spent many seasons in the EFL. However, they're going through a rough patch at the moment and the visitors will start as favourites
Bedfont Sports v Kidderminster Harriers @3pm - locally, if not nationally, the hosts are the lowest-ranked club left in the competition. The eighth-tier team beat Sholing in a replay to clinch this fantastic tie against a former EFL club. Now down in the National League North, Kidderminster are not the side they were and took two goes to beat another eighth-tier club in the last round
Corinthian Casuals v St Albans City @3pm - CCs were another side to require a replay to get this far, beating Wingate & Finchley at the second time of asking. This is the first time since the '80s that they've got to this point so it would be huge for the Tolworth-based club to progress. St Albans play a level above and should provide a stern test
Harrow Borough v Chelmsford City @3pm - the Boro have made relatively smooth progress, seeing off Ramsgate, Welling United and Marlow. Those wins have earned them around £10,000 so winning here would effectively double their money. Like Welling, Essex club Chelmsford play a level above - can Harrow do it again?
Wealdstone v Dagenham & Redbridge @3pm  - just down the road from Earlsmead, there's another big all-National League tie with the Stones welcoming the early-season leaders. The Daggers' form has taken a worrying dip in recent weeks as four defeats from five have seen them slip to sixth. The Stones have only won one of their last five so it could all come down to whose confidence and morale is better on the day

Isthmian Premier
Enfield Town v Worthing @3pm - if these two win their midweek games then this could become a battle of the top two so will be well worth watching if none of the FA Cup games are for you

CCL Premier Division South
Beckenham Town v Walton & Hersham @3pm - at the time of writing, these two are third and first respectively so with no FA Cup action in south-east London, Eden Park could be a destination of some interest in that part of town

SSML Premier
New Salamis v Risborough Rangers @3pm - there's a similar scenario at Coles Park too where, subject to midweek performance, these two could be third and first by the time of kick-off. They should still both be in the top six whatever happens on Tuesday and Wednesday but check the latest table on Thursday just to make sure

CCL Division 1
Kensington & Ealing Borough v London Lions @3pm - nothing really stands out in the 10th tier but it's usually always entertaining watching K&EB and they're taking on the leaders. They play at Hanwell Town so it's pretty easy to get to by car, bus and Tube


Sunday 17 October

Isthmian Premier
Kingstonian v Cheshunt @3pm - the K's groundshare with Corinthian Casuals so they've had to move this game to Sunday much to the delight of groundhoppers everywhere. A win here against midtable Cheshunt could either keep them top or return them to the summit - it all depends on that crucial round of midweek fixtures

FA Women's National League Division 1 South East
London Seaward v Enfield Town @2pm - with the Super League taking a break until November and only a few fixtures taking place in the Championship, most women's action this month will be found in the National League and FA Cup. This derby in the fourth tier is the pick of the games on Sunday with the hosts looking to close the gap on the top five after drawing 1-1 with Actonians in their latest game. Enfield have only won once this season but pushed title-chasing Billericay hard in their most recent match, narrowly losing 3-2. The hosts should start as favourites

London & South East Women's Regional League
Dulwich Hamlet v Ashford Town (Middlesex) @2pm - the biggest crowd of the day may well come at Champion Hill where the always well-supported Hamlet take on league leaders Ashford. The Tangerines have won all six of their matches so far, scoring a whopping 37 goals in the process. Dulwich are only fifth but have played fewer games than everyone else and could go as high as second if they win their games in hand

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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