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.

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