Sunday, 3 July 2022

TLFG: 4-10 July 2022

Pre-season is now well and truly upon us.

With many of you posting stories of Friday night trips to Haringey Borough and Hitchin Town,  I made every effort to dash from work down to south-west London to watch a game myself on Saturday afternoon.

My chosen viewing - Raynes Park Vale v QPR U23s.

How the Combined Counties League side, playing in the ninth tier, had managed to land such a fixture was unclear but it was quite an achievement and they gave a very good account of themselves both on and off the pitch.

Very long-term readers of this blog might dimly remember my last visit to Grand Drive which was a league game against Molesey around 10 years ago.

There's absolutely loads to see at the Design Museum's football exhibition

The ground was pretty much as I remembered it but with the R's paying a visit, it was a lot busier - the crowd figure I heard was in excess of 300 which would have done the non-league club a power of good financially.

Having finished work shortly before 3pm, I missed the first 30 minutes by which time QPR were 1-0 down to what I'm told was a highly dubious penalty.

The visitors appealed strongly for a penalty of their own but it wasn't given and the hosts remained ahead at the break.

With wholesale changes taking place during and after the interval, it was hard to keep a track of who was playing but Rangers came back strongly and took a 2-1 lead midway through the second half only for a cracking free-kick to earn a 2-2 draw for RPV.

Far more seasoned watchers of QPR's youth sides (yes, I mean you Chris H) informed me that is was more of an U19 side than an U23 one so the result and performance weren't too bad.

The other highlight of the afternoon was finally getting to meet TLFG reader Andy L-W, his daughter and absolute legend Pie, the non-league dog.

We've chatted online numerous times over the years, so it was great for our paths to finally cross.

The week ahead is action packed but for me, it's going to be all about women's football.

With the Uefa Women's Euro 2022 getting underway, I'm off to Brentford on Friday to watch Germany v Denmark and then on Sunday I hope to watch Actonians in their first pre-season game against Selsey - subject to permission from the Mrs of course.

If you're in London for the Euros or just have some free time that doesn't involve watching football, I'd heartily recommed a visit to the Design Museum in Kensington/Holland Park.

It's currently hosting a fantastic exhibition, which I heartily recommed - Football: Designing the Beautiful Game.

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to look round it a couple of weeks ago and it was superb.

It includes the history and development of the design of footballs, boots, shirts, cups, logos, posters, stadia - you name it!

There are some great original artefacts that must be worth a fortune to collectors.

At the end, there's even a shop selling old programmes from a huge range of clubs and lots of other things too.

It's on until the end of August so don't miss out.


                                         THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include pre-season games featuring Premier League, EFL, many of our local non-league sides and a few women's teams 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin
Monday fixtures - yellow 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.


Tuesday 5 July

Friendlies
Hendon v Wealdstone @730pm - this fine-looking derby between two old rivals should be your first choice if you're in north-west London on Tuesday. Both clubs have experienced a lot of upheaval over the last 30 years since leaving their historic old grounds. Both are now settled in new homes but away from their traditional heartlands and Hendon have found it harder to grow their fanbase than the Stones. The visitors play two levels above the Greens so should start as favourites. Tickets are £5 and can be bought online or on the gate
Cray Wanderers v Welling United @745pm - the pick of the action on Tuesday is this south-east London derby. You may have seen me mention it before but Cray are London's oldest club so they're worth a watch just for that. Last season was a bit of a struggle for them in the Isthmian Premier but they managed to stay up. Welling play a level above them and had a similar campaign so both will be hoping for better this year
Haringey Borough v Walthamstow @745pm - after narrowly losing to Leyton Orient on Friday, Haringey next welcome the Stow. The club from E17 were crowned Essex Senior League champions last season to move up to the eighth tier Southern League Division 1 Central, one level below the hosts - it will be really interesting to see what they can do

A bit further afield
Woking v Arsenal U23 @745pm - if nothing takes your fancy within the M25 then you could head just beyond it to watch the Cards, of the National League, take on the Gunners' youngsters. Tickets are £12 and can be bought online in advance 
Dorking Wanderers v Sutton United @745pm - elsewhere in Surrey, Wanderers entertain local League Two side Sutton as they prepare for their first season in the fifth tier. Tickets are £8 and can be bought online in advance
Hitchin Town v Stevenage @7pm - to the north of London, there's a Hertfordshire derby at the historic Top Field which has been in use since 1873. The Canaries pulled in a crowd of over 2,000 when they played Luton on Friday night so they'll be hoping for another healthy attendance here. Tickets are £13 and can be bought online in advance
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Wednesday 6 July

Friendly
Sutton Common Rovers v Crawley Town @745pm - now groundsharing with AFC Whyteleafe, SCR welcome a squad from a League Two club as the Reds send a side to Church Road UPDATE - MATCH CANCELLED

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Thursday 7 July

Friendly
Bromley v Sittingbourne @745pm - last time I checked, the details about this were a bit sketchy. I think it's probably correct to say that this is a Bromley U23 game but check on the day to make sure

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Friday 8 July

Uefa Women's Euro 2022
Germany v Denmark @8pm - after a one-year Covid delay, the Women's Euros are finally here. With matches taking place all over the country, this is the first of four fixtures being played at Brentford's stadium. With eight wins from 12 tournaments, Germany are the most successful country in the competition's history. However, they didn't even make the semi-finals last time and aren't the side they once were. Denmark, on the other hand, did make the final in 2017 and with a number of stars that include Chelsea's Pernille Harder, they should be more than a match for Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side. Tickets were sold out but check Uefa's website for the latest

Friendly
Aveley v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - the Millers won promotion back to the Isthmian Premier after an exciting battle with Canvey Island for the Isthmian North title. The Essex club welcome local National League side D&R for what will hopefully be a decent derby

A bit further afield
Bracknell Town v Wycombe Wanderers @730pm - the Robins stormed to the Isthmian South Central title last season and now find themselves in the Southern League Premier South. A lot is expected of the Berkshire club who are said to be spending considerable sums on wages in an effort to make further progress. They now groundshare at Sandhurst Town, a few miles from Bracknell so it will be interesting to see what kind of fanbase they are able to build. Wycombe don't have this listed as a first-team game on their website so it will almost certainly be a development side
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Saturday 9 July

Friendlies
Boreham Wood v Brentford @3pm - things start getting serious on Saturday when the Bees become the first Premier League side to play a pre-season game. Their now annual trip to Meadow Park is also the Wood's first game of the summer too. The Hertfordshire side were on course for at least a play-off spot last season but their spectacular run to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup seemed to derail them and they fell away quite sharply after impressing so many in the narrow defeat to Everton at Goodison Park. Tickets are £15 and can be bought online in advance
Dartford v Charlton Athletic @3pm - after losing 1-0 to Scottish club Kilmarnock on Friday, the Addicks return south to play a local National League South side. The Darts lost out in the NLS play-offs last season and will hope for at least another top seven finish. Tickets are £10 and can be bought online in advance
Hayes & Yeading United v Hampton & Richmond Borough @3pm - having been in contention for the Southern League title for most of last season, it must have been pretty gutting for H&YU fans to lose to Farnborough in the play-off final. If they had won it, then they'd have been preparing to play alongside Hampton & Richmond in the NLS but it wasn't to be. The visitors missed out of the play-offs and must surely be targetting a top-seven finish this time around. Please note, this match has been switched to Bedfont Sports' ground
Beckenham Town v Welling United @2pm - the Becks are preparing for life in the eighth-tier Isthmian League South East after winning promotion last season from the Combined Counties League. It will be interesting to see how they fare at this level and Welling should provide a stern test

A bit further afield
Crawley Town v QPR @3pm - just to the south of London, not far from Gatwick Airport, Crawley welcome Championship opposition under the new management of Michael Beale. The Bromley-born boss, has made his name as a top coach alongside Steven Gerrard at Rangers and Aston Villa and this is his first job as the top man. He is incredibly well connected and has brought in some decent signings so it will be very interesting to see how he and his R's side get on. Tickets are £10 and can be bought online in advance
Slough Town v Wealdstone @1pm - after starting the week with a tricky trip to Hendon, the Stones next make the short journey west to the Berkshire town of Slough. The Rebels play in the NLS so should be a slightly harder challenge than the Greens
Canvey Island v Concord Rangers @3pm - although Canvey Island is quite a small place, mainly associated with caravan holidays on the south Essex coast, it still manages to host two pretty decent non-league football clubs. They've played in different divisions for a while now but following Canvey's promotion, they're now only a level below sixth-tier Concord. Often feisty affairs, this could be well worth a watch. Tickets are £10
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Sunday 10 July

Friendlies
Actonians v Selsey @2pm - aside from Chelsea, Actonians were the top women's football team in west London until newly promoted QPR pipped them to a top-four finish in the fourth tier FAWNL Division 1 South East by just one point. Their preparations for the new campaign begin against the newly renamed Selsey. The Sussex side have dropped the Chichester part of their old name and have moved under the wing of the Selsey men's club. They play in the parallel FAWNL Division 1 South West so it should be a good test for both sides. As I understand, it should be taking place at Rectory Park in Northolt
Fulham v Portsmouth @230pm - the Cottagers play in the women's fifth tier so a visit from third-tier Pompey to Motspur Park should see them tested thoroughly



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.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

TLFG: 27 June - 3 July 2022

Greetings everyone and welcome back to TLFG after what seems like a very short four-week break.

As many hardened groundhoppers will be well aware, the match action has never really stopped with a handful of pre-season games having already been played.

I've brought the blog back this week as we have our first friendly involving an EFL club and there's a decent selection of games involving non-league teams on Saturday.

The highlight of my month off was going to the National Game Awards a couple of weeks ago.

Yours truly winning big at Plough Lane

Hosted by the Non-League Paper, the lunch was held at AFC Wimbledon's new ground giving me the chance to have a nose around for the first time.

Having caught up with some old friends and met some new ones, it was on to the awards themselves.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the Buildbase Unsung Hero award came up.

Of all the awards, it was the only one that the winner had not been pre-warned about and as they were described, it became obvious that it was me for Non-League Day!

What an honour - but one I was totally unprepared for so the interview I did after winning was all over the place.

Many thanks to all those who've worked on Non-League Day over the years - you know who you are and I couldn't have done it without you.

I think that's it from me for now - enjoy your week.

MATCH MAP

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 map. 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.

MATCH MAP
Friday fixtures - black pin
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.

Friday 1 July

Friendly
Haringey Borough v Leyton Orient @7pm - the pick of the week's action takes place on Friday night as League Two side Orient send their first team to Coles Park to play Haringey. Ticket prices haven't been announced yet but they're usually around £10

-----------------------------------------------------------

Saturday 2 July

Friendlies
Raynes Park Vale v QPR U23 @3pm - RPV kick-off their eye-catching pre-season programme with this fixture against the R's youngsters, quite a coup for a ninth-tier side. I wonder if new QPR boss Michael Beale will be in attendance. Adult admission is £5
Abbey Rangers v Eastleigh @3pm - the hosts are also in the ninth tier and they've also done well to land a warm-up game against National League opposition
Sutton Common Rovers v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - SCR did well to hang on to their Isthmian League status last season and start this campaign with a new groundshare at Whyteleafe. Tonbridge were among the also-rans in the sixth tier
Bedfont Sports v Potters Bar Town @2pm - situated next to Heathrow Airport, the Recreation Ground is always good for a bit of plane spotting while watching the football. Bedfont came unstuck in the Isthmian League South Central play-offs and will want to go one better this time. PBT play a level above them
Clapton CFC v CSM London @2pm - after months and months of work, the Tons are now back at the Old Spotted Dog which is the capital's oldest ground. I don't think I've been there since Non-League Day 2015 but I love the place and heartily recommend a visit. Both of these sides play in the 11th tier. Capacity for this game is limited to 450 and it's pay what you can on the door
Broadfields United v Hillingdon Borough @11am / Rayners Lane v Hatfield Town @3pm - if you fancy a doubleheader, these groundsharers both have games on Saturday. You'll have to go out between games and pay separately (it's pay what you want for the Rayners Lane game) or alternatively you could combine the Broadfields game with another match of your choosing as you'll have plenty of time to travel

UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Roadshow
With the tournament finally kicking off next week, get into the spirit of things at Potters Field Park near Tower Bridge. Featuring interactive challenges, an immersive TV studio, live music, trophy visit, showpiece football pitch and legend appearances, this free event runs from 1000-1600

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Sunday 3 July

Friendly
Maccabi GB v Cockfosters @tbc - representing British Jews, the Maccabi GB team will soon be heading off to Israel to play in the 2022 Maccabiah Games. They've been drawn against France, Spain and Australia in the group stage. This match will be played at Rowley Lane near Borehamwood. Sadly I haven't been able to confirm the kick-off time or any admission details

Railway Flexi League Play-Off Final
Thameslink & Southern v Southern Engineers @2pm - Rectory Park in Northolt plays host to this big end of season decider. Beforehand, there's also a friendly at 12pm between AFC Old Oak and Barkingside Reserves

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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.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

TLFG: 30 May - 5 June 2022

Well this is definitely it - the end of the season, certainly as far as I'm concerned.

There are still three games taking place in London this week that I'm aware of and you should be able to get into at least a couple of them - more on them in the digest below.

Overall, it's been a reasonable season for the capital's clubs although most of the big prizes have eluded them.

Chelsea finished as the city's most successful club by winning the World Club Cup and finishing third in the Premier League. They also made it to the final of the FA Cup and EFL Cup. Off the field, things got a bit tricky when sanctions kicked in but a new future with wealthy American owners now beckons.

Tottenham Hotspur will join them in the Champions League after finishing fourth, just ahead of arch-rivals Arsenal who had a disappointing year under Mikel Arteta.

Italy take on Argentina at Wembley on Wednesday

There was a lot of fanfare and feelgood factor around West Ham United. They spent a lot of the season challenging for a top-four place and had a memorable run to the Europa League semi-finals but ultimately they finished a place lower than last season and ended up in the Europa Conference League.

Crystal Palace enjoyed a solid 12th-place finish under Patrick Vieira and also made the FA Cup semi-finals whilst new boys Brentford stunned many with some superb displays to end up in 13th with Christian Eriksen strengthening their squad in January.

Sadly, Watford continued their habit of bouncing up and down between the divisions and offered little as they were relegated with games to spare.

In the EFL, Fulham won the Championship with relative ease to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. 

It was not such good news for AFC Wimbledon whose time in League One came to an end. After winning 2-0 at Accrington Stanley on 7 December, they failed to win another game all season and unsurprisingly went down.

In League Two, Sutton United deserve an honorable mention. Playing their first-ever season in the EFL they spent most the campaign in the top six but fell away and missed a play-off spot by just one point. They came even closer to success at Wembley where they led Rotherham United in the EFL Trophy Final but conceded a goal deep in injury time and lost after extra time.

Of our local National League clubs, Bromley won the FA Trophy and Boreham Wood grabbed the headlines by making it to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup where they lost 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park.

In the Isthmian League, the main success stories were Aveley who won the North Division and Hanwell Town who experienced play-off glory in the South Central Division - both now move up to the seventh tier.

Ninth-tier clubs Beckenham Town, Hadley, Hanworth Villa, New Salamis, Southall, Walthamstow and Walton & Hersham all earned promotion after fine seasons.

A level below them, Buckhurst Hill, London Lions, Stansfeld and Sutton Athletic all went up too.

AFC Whyteleafe, Bermondsey Town and NW London have all made it into the 10th tier for the first time as well.

In the women's game, Chelsea won the double. They pipped Arsenal to the WSL title and narrowly beat Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. They made it to the League Cup Final too but City came out on top in that one.

My personal football highlights were going to watch Harrow Borough take on Portsmouth at Fratton Park in the FA Cup First Round in November, collecting my  2020/21 QPR Supporter of the Year award in March and delivering another successful Non-League Day a week later.

The season ahead will be like no other with the World Cup in Qatar causing a midseason shutdown for the top two divisions from mid-November, with the Premier League fully resuming again by Boxing Day and the Championship a bit before that.

I'll bring back this blog in about a month, shortly before the Women's Euros and men's pre-season games get underway.

Have a great June and look forward to catching up with you all again soon.

 MATCH MAP

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 map. 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.

MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise 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 30 May

EAL Senior Division Cup Final
DTFC v Lymore Gardens @730pm - one for the hardened hopper or football addict, the Essex Alliance League season comes to an end with this cup final at Leyton Orient's ground. DTFC have already won the league so should start as favourites against the side who finished fifth

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Wednesday 1 June

Finalissima - Cup of Champions
Italy v Argentina @745pm - you thought the season was done and dusted? No way - this blockbuster fixture at Wembley is still to be played. At the end of last year, Uefa and Conmebol renewed and extended their 'Memorandum of Understanding' and celebrated by announcing this match between the continental champions of Europe and South America. It should be a great occasion with the match going straight to penalties if the teams are level after 90 minutes. Only two matches like this have been played before with France beating Uruguay in 1985 and Argentina getting the better of Denmark in 1993 - let's hope the wait isn't so long next time. Tickets were priced very reasonably and have unsurprisingly sold out. Some hospitality packages are still available though 

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Sunday 5 June

National League Play-Off Final
Grimsby Town v Solihull Moors @3pm - the London Stadium, normally home to West Ham, plays host to this hugely important game. With a place in League Two up for grabs, this match has a lot riding on it. Grimsby have a long history in the EFL and lots of experience in the National League play-offs having made the post-season four years in a row between 2013-2016. They made it up in 2016 and enjoyed five seasons in the fourth tier before coming back down in 2021. Hoping to stop them making an instant return are Solihull. Managed by former Wimbledon player Neal Ardley, the club from just south of Birmingham have never made it to the EFL so it could be a truly historic afternoon for them. Tickets will be available from the participating clubs

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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.

Monday, 23 May 2022

TLFG: 23-29 May 2022

Well that's almost it. 

The Premier League is over for another year and League One is all decided.

All that's outstanding now is this weekend's League Two and Championship play-off finals and the National League play-off final on 5 June at London Stadium.

Thanks to TLFG reader Toby K, we've got a few Essex Alliance League cup finals to look forward to this week and there's a random women's match with an international flavour just outside the capital.

To top it all off, there's a couple of railway games too which I know a few of you really enjoy.

The Women's Euros take place in England in July - tickets are available

Apart from that, there isn't anything else that I'm aware of - please get in touch if you know of anything worthy of inclusion.

My main criteria at this stage is that the match is being played somewhere with reasonable spectator facilities and ideally at least a rail round the pitch - at least a Step 6 quality ground.

With the season barely over for most clubs, talk of pre-season is already hotting up.

I'm huge fan of the summer warm-up games because of the unusual match ups and total lack of pressure which often leads to some fun stress-free games often played in beautiful weather.

While some teams have their schedules published months in advance, others are really cagey.

Sadly, both clubs I follow are in the latter category although QPR have announced a trip to Germany but precise details are pretty light at the moment.

Harrow Borough have said nothing at all, as if it's a great state secret but hopefully they'll have someone half decent coming to Earlsmead at some point.

Probably the biggest friendly to be announced so far is Arsenal v Sevilla at the Emirates on 30 July.

Tickets go on general sale on Monday 30 May for between £25-£40 which doesn't seem too bad.

With so little on for the next few weeks, this could well be the last full blog I write before July but I'll review that this time next week.

As mentioned above, the Women's European Championships are coming to England in July.

Brentford's new ground is the host stadium in London and a a few tickets are still available.

I've got tickets to see Denmark v Germany there and one of the quarter-finals. I've also got some for the final at Wembley too.

The prices are pretty great - the quarter-final ones I recently bought were 10 euros each.

Anyway, if I don't write another piece next week, have a great month off and I'll be back again soon.

MATCH MAPS

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
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 23 May

EAL Fenton Cup Final
DTFC v Rapid Chingford @730pm - pretty much all the teams normally covered in TLFG have finished for the season so there are some new teams for you to check out. Thanks to reader Toby K for pointing out that a number of the Essex Alliance League's finals are being played at some of east London's bigger grounds. I know very little about this competition but the clubs compete in the 11th tier and below. This game is being played at Leyton Orient so it's a great chance to visit Brisbane Road if you've never been before

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Tuesday 24 May

EAL Premier Division Cup Final
Wapping v London Park City @730pm - as above and once again, it's being played at Leyton Orient

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Thursday 26 May

EAL Division 3 Cup Final
FC Baresi U23 v Old Barkabbeyans Reserves @730pm - as above but this one's at Dagenham & Redbridge

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Saturday 28 May

League Two Play-Off Final
Mansfield Town v Port Vale @4pm - finishing seventh and fifth respectively, these clubs have done well to find themselves just 90 minutes away from a place in League One. Vale took four points off the Stags during the regular season so should have a slight psychological advantage coming into this. Tickets are available from each of the participating clubs so visit their websites for the latest info

Friendly
International Surrey Women v Afghanistan Development @330pm - if you're prepared to travel a little outside London to Dorking, then head to Meadowbank for this interesting looking friendly. Tickets are £5 and can be bought in advance

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Sunday 29 May

Championship Play-Off Final
Huddersfield Town v Nottingham Forest @430pm - the so-called richest game in football, given the amount of Premier League cash accessed by the winner, is here again. This time it sees Huddersfield, who played in the top flight between 2017 and 2019, look to make a reasonably swift return and Nottingham Forest. The East Midlands club have a hugely illustrious history with one league title and two European Cups - in 1979 and 1980. They also won the League Cup in 1989 and 1990 and were a decent side until the late '90s when things started to go wrong. They've now been out of England's top division since 1999 so a chance to play alongside the nation's elite is long overdue. Tickets are only available from the participating clubs but will be very hard to get



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.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

TLFG: 16-22 May 2022

Welcome to the latest edition of TLFG.

After a hectic week that culminated in a trip to Wembley for the Women's FA Cup Final, I've not got the energy to write a full guide - I'm nodding off at the keyboard as I write this.

As a result, there's no 'Daily Digest' for now but the match maps are available.

Another fun day out at Wembley for the Women's FA Cup Final

The amount on offer has plummeted this week and I've included a few notable games taking place outside the capital to keep you interested.

OK, that's it for now - hopefully, I'll be able to add a bit more as the week progresses.


UPDATE - THE 'DAILY DIGEST' IS NOW UP (SEE BELOW)


THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include the final round of games in the Premier League, Non-League Finals Day and several county cup finals 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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise 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.

Tuesday 17 May

Kent Senior Cup Final
Dartford v Folkestone Invicta @745pm - withy very little on in London this week, I've included a few games outside the M25 including some decent county cup finals. First up is this one which is being played at Chatham Town's ground which can be reached on a high-speed train from St Pancras in just 40 minutes. The Darts are the current holders and should start as favourites as they play a level above Folkestone. Adult tickets are £10 and MUST be bought online in advance

Surrey Senior Cup Final
Dorking Wanderers v Kingstonian @745pm - it's a very similar scenario in Surrey where a top NLS side take on a club from the Isthmian Premier. To make things even tougher for the K's, the match is being played at Dorking's ground. Wanderers have become a real force in recent years but have never been to the final whilst Kingstonian have won it 11 times. Tickets are £12 MUST be bought online in advance

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Wednesday 18 May

London Senior Trophy Final
AFC Cubo v Tooting Bec @730pm - the much delayed LST final is here and being played at Carshalton Athletic's ground. Tooting Bec play a level above Cubo and should start as favourites. Adult tickets are £7.50 and can be bought online or on the gate

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Thursday 12 May

Premier League
Chelsea v Leicester City @745pm - after the disappointment of losing another cup final to Liverpool on penalties, the Blues now have to make sure they don't lose their place in the top four which has looked nailed on for months. If Arsenal win at Newcastle on Monday, they'll be just one point behind and Spurs will be two back. In other words, victory here will be enough for a Champions League place but a loss will put it all at risk going into the final game on Sunday. By their recent standards, the Foxes have had an underwhelming season but a top-eight finish is still possible. Tickets are not available

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Saturday 21 May

League One Play-Off Final
Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers @3pm - finishing fifth and sixth respectively, these clubs have somewhat defied the odds to make it to Wembley for this game. About as much of a David v Goliath contest as it's possible to get at this level, the Mackems are way too big a club to be playing in the third tier and easily sold their allocation. Gareth Ainsworth has been in charge of Wycombe for 10 years now and has done a superb job to put them on the verge of an instant return to the Championship after getting relegated last season. The last match between them in January ended in a 3-3 draw. Tickets are currently only available from Wycombe's ground and you need to prove local residency

National League South Play-Off Final
Dorking Wanderers v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - the hosts end the week and their season with another big game at Meadowbank. Having finished as runners-up to Maidstone United and successfully seen off Oxford City in the play-off semis, they now have home advantage in a game that could propel them to the highest level in their history. Ebbsfleet have spent a number of seasons in the fifth tier but took only a point off Dorking during thge regular season and got thrashed 5-1 on their last visit to the Surrey town in January. Ticket news will be announced on Monday afternoon

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Sunday 22 May

Premier League
Arsenal v Everton @4pm - the final day of the Premier League season has arrived and there's still plenty to play for, certainly at the time of writing. Whatever happens in midweek, the Gunners will still be fighting to secure a place in the top four by the time this comes round. If the Toffees lose or draw with Crystal Palace on Thursday, then they'll still be looking to avoid the drop. Tickets are not available
Brentford v Leeds United @4pm - the Bees' win at Everton on Sunday took them up to 11th and means that a win here could see them finish in the top half, an almost unthinkable feat at the beginning of the campaign. They also now have a huge say in the fate of Leeds who could well go down if they lose here. Tickets are not available
Chelsea v Watford @4pm - if the Blues beat Leicester on Thursday then this match will simply determine whether the Hornets finish 19th or bottom. However, if they don't, then this could become an incredibly tense battle to stay in the top four. Tickets are not available
Crystal Palace v Manchester United @4pm - the Eagles have comfotably avoided any struggles this season and could still finish in the top half with a win here. After finishing second last time, United have had a disastous season by their very high standards. They need to win just to hold on to sixth - a seventh-place finish would be their worst since 2013/14. Tickets are not available

Non-League Finals Day
At Wembley, one ticket will get you access to both the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals which are played back-to-back. The Vase is a national knockout competition primarily for clubs in the ninth and 10th tiers whilst the Trophy is for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers. Tickets could usually be bought from Wembley either online or in person on the day but the official site is saying it's sold out which suggests all neutral tickets are gone so go to one of the participating clubs to secure one. Bromley seem to be the best source of tickets at the moment

FA Vase Final
Littlehampton Town v Newport Pagnell Town @1215pm - neither of these ninth-tier teams have ever made it to this final before. On paper, Littlehampton should start as favourites as they won the Southern Combination title this year whilst Newport Pagnell could only manage fifith in the parallel United Counties League but are the leagues of the same quality? Sunday could give us some indication. It's interesting to note that Littlehampton got thrashed 5-0 by Athletic Newham in one of the earlier rounds but got reinstated after the London club fielded an ineligible player. Personally I'll be rooting for NPT where my uncle lives and my Mum did too until she died

FA Trophy Final
Bromley v Wrexham @415pm - London club Bromley will hope to go one better after losing the 2018 final to Brackley Town. They come into the game as underdogs after finishing 10th in the National League whilst Wrexham were runners-up. This could be to the Ravens' advantage as the Welsh club will surely have an eye on the play-offs which they will no doubt want to win more than this. However, promotion and this cup would be a huge achievement

GLWFL Finals Day
The Greater London Women's Football League is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has a hat-trick of finals taking place at Bedfont Sports starting at 11am and going on throughout the day, possibly into the early evening. Clubs including Brentford B and Clapton CFC will be on show during what looks set to be a veritable feast of women's football 






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.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

TLFG: 9-15 May 2022

We're now well into May and the season is winding down fast.

The EFL regular season has now finished in all three divisions and we're already into the play-offs.

All we're really left with now is the Premier League and National League, with the latter concluding this weekend.

Overall, I don't have a lot of matches to offer you this week but those that are on are hugely significant.

Apart from anything else, it's FA Cup Final weekend with Wembley hosting the men's final on Saturday and the women's game the day after.

I'm going to the women's final on Sunday and am really rather looking forward to it as it should be the closest one I've been to yet. It surely can't be more disappointing than the last one where Arsenal just didn't turn up and got beaten with ease by Chelsea - more on all that below.

My daughter's first post-match interview

My football week took me to Loftus Road again on Tuesday to watch QPR U23s beat Wigan 3-2 in a very entertaining game - although the school run meant I had to leave about 10 minutes early and miss the R's thrilling late comeback.

Then on Saturday, I headed down to Feltham where my daughter took part in a 'Football Welcomes' event put on by Amnesty International where she played with her Actonians team-mates alongside a load of girls from Afghanistan.

It was a lot of fun and the goody bags and lunch were great - she even did her first post-match interview and was complimented on her performance by the journalist.


THE WEEK AHEAD

The highlights of the next few days include games in the Premier League, FA Cup and National League. 

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
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin
Monday fixtures - yellow 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 9 May

Premier League 2
Crystal Palace v Derby County @7pm - it's all about youth and development football on Monday with this U23 match at Selhurst Park topping the bill. Adult tickets are £5

Isthmian Development League Final
Haringey Borough v Hastings United @730pm - the best of the Isthmian League's U23 talent do battle at Aveley's Parkside ground on the far eastern side of town

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Tuesday 10 May

National League
Bromley v Altrincham @745pm - as we enter the final week of the NL season, this has become a dead rubber as both teams will finish comfortably in midtable. For the hosts, it's now all about building momentum ahead of the FA Trophy Final against Wrexham at Wembley on 22 May

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Wednesday 11 May

Premier League
Watford v Everton @745pm - the Hornets confirmed relegation with defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday, a result that takes a lot of the edge off this fixture. The Toffees are still only one point above the relegation zone but have taken 10 points from their last five games to give them more than a fighting chance of staying up. Tickets are available

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Thursday 12 May

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @745pm - the North London Derby is always a huge occasion but this is one of the biggest for a while. With the sides fighting for fourth and the riches of a Champions League place, there are literally millions of pounds at stake. If the Gunners win, they'll go seven points clear of Spurs and seal that place in Europe with two games to go. If Chelsea drop points at Leeds, then it won't all be over for Tottenham but it would be incredibly difficult so they really must avoid defeat here. Tickets have sold out

National League South Play-Off Eliminator
Dartford v Chippenham Town @745pm - top for a time earlier in the season, the Darts ended up finishing fourth and will now play Chippenham in this eliminator. The winners will travel to Ebbsfleet United on Sunday for the semi-final. You're advised to buy a ticket in advance
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Saturday 14 May

FA Cup Final
Chelsea v Liverpool @445pm - comparable to the Super Bowl, arguably the highlight of the English football calendar is here again. Somewhat diminished in its importance since the advent of the Premier League, this grand old competition seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance in recent years and long may it continue. The Blues have now made it to five of the last six finals, winning in 2018. That took them to a total of eight wins from 15 appearances. In my head, I thought the Reds would have an even better record but they've only managed seven wins from 14 with their last triumph coming way back in 2006. On current form, they have to start as favourites here. Tickets have sold out

MCFL Premier Division
Clapton CFC v Wilberforce Wanderers @3pm - the next biggest crowd of the day will almost certainly come at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow where the Tons should pick up a home win over the bottom club in what I believe is their last game at the venue before moving back to their spiritual home at the Old Spotted Dog in Forest Gate. As a result, it's all-ticket so you must get one in advance

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Sunday 15 May

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley @12pm - provided Arsenal and Chelsea don't both win in midweek, Spurs will still have a shot at the top four coming into this. However, with Burnley fighting for every point they can get to stay up, it's not going to be easy. The omens look good for Tottenham though as the Clarets lost 5-0 and 4-0 on their two visits to the THS since it opened in 2019. Tickets have sold out
Watford v Leicester City @2pm - at the time of writing, the Foxes still aren't mathematically safe from relegation although a win against bottom club Norwich on Wednesday will be enough to make sure. Realistically, they won't go down so there's really very little to play for here. With the pressure off, this often leads to some very entertaining games. It is worth noting that final league position, even in midtable, can lead to a huge difference in prize money with the side coming 10th banking around £20m more than the one that came 14th last season. Tickets are available
West Ham United v Manchester City @2pm - this weekend's results saw City go three points clear at the top with three games to go, meaning the title is now theirs to lose. Both they and their main challengers Liverpool have midweek games so it's hard to write an accurate preview here but if the Reds lose at Aston Villa and Pep Guardiola's side beat Wolves then Jurgen Klopp's men will be left hoping for miracles. The Hammers' form at the business end of the season has dipped badly and the loss to Frankfurt in Europe must have been really disappointing. However, they bounced back with a resounding 4-0 win at Norwich to mean they're still on course for a top-six finish and another year in European competition. Tickets are all gone bar re-sale so check to see if any come up 

Women's FA Cup Final
Chelsea v Manchester City @230pm - cup final weekend concludes at Wembley with the women's final on Sunday afternoon, which is where I'll be with my daughter. At the last count on Wednesday, over 40,000 tickets had been sold which suggests the record of 45,423 could be beaten. I've been going to these since 2018 and this is probably the one I'm most excited about as it pits the newly crowned WSL winners against the League Cup winners. City finished third but only because the first part of their season was ruined by injury. The latter half of the season has seen them surge up the table and they come into this on a hot streak of form that has seen them win their last 13 games, scoring 46 goals in the process - 25 of those have come in their last five. Their last defeat was a 1-0 loss to Chelsea at Kingsmeadow in February but they beat the Blues a month later in the League Cup Final. Personally, I think and hope City will win here too. Tickets are available and at very reasonable prices too

National League
It's the final day of the regular season in the fifth tier and as far as our local clubs are concerned, it's all about the battle for the last play-off spot 
Dagenham & Redbridge v Wrexham @3pm - the Daggers are one place and three points behind Chesterfield who currently occupy seventh. To have any chance of going up, they have to beat Wrexham who are going for the title and hope that the Spireites lose to Woking. Anything else and it's all over. Surprisingly, this match is not all-ticket but I'd strongly advise you to buy in advance to make sure you get in
Boreham Wood v Solihull Moors @3pm - the Wood are also in contention for seventh but that will all end if they lose their midweek game in hand at Grimsby. For Solihull, it's all about making sure they finish third so they can get a bye to the play-off semi-finals and home advantage. Tickets are available
Barnet v Bromley @3pm - in the other games of the day, there's a London derby to enjoy at The Hive. There's little riding on it and the visitors could rest players ahead of the FA Trophy Final the following weekend. Tickets are available

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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.