Monday 18 July 2022

TLFG: 18-24 July 2022

After decades of waiting, I achieved a lifetime's ambition on Monday - I got to climb the Great Pagoda in Kew Gardens.

It was a thing of wonder for me as a child, standing 50m tall and totally shut to the hoi polloi that visited the botanical gardens.

However, while visiting on Monday, I noticed it was open and I could simply buy a ticket and go up.

I say simply, it's a hefty 253-step climb but the views are well worth it.

From the top, you can easily see Brentford's new stadium which is where I ended up the following day to watch the Women's Euros match between Germany and Spain - two of the tournament favourites. 

Actonians U9s doing a fine job as mascots for Germany

Although this was always going to be one of the biggest nights of the tournament, it was even more important in TLFG Towers as my daughter and her Actonians U9 team-mates were all set to be player escorts.

Dropped off four hours before kick-off, they were allocated Germany after losing a game of rock, paper, scissors to another group of girls who chose to represent Spain.

It turned out to be a fortuitous turn of events as they ended up meeting three former Germany internationals in the build-up - World Cup, Olympics and Euros (x3) winner Anja Mittag, current U17 coach and TV pundit Julia Simic and Jennifer Zietz who won the Bundesliga with Turbine Potsdam six times.

With shoes, socks, flags and clappers all autographed, the girls headed out onto the pitch to perform their duties.

Sadly because of Covid, they no longer have much direct interaction with the players and stand a few metres in front of them.To see photos of my daughter in the shadow of Alexandra Popp, Merle Frohms and eventual player of the match Marina Hegering was quite something. 

Given England's rivalry with Germany, it was weird to want them to win but when your daughter's representing them, then it kind of affects you that way.

Sheffield, Hilltop, Budapesti AK & Corinthian Casuals are taking part

Although Spain dominated all the possession, passing and shooting stats, it was Germany who still managed to win 2-0 and a final against the Lionesses now looks like a strong possibility.

Saying that, England now have a very challenging quarter-final against Spain and Germany have a tricky derby against a tough Austria side who don't concede many goals.

This second quarter-final is going to be at Brentford on Thursday and UEFA have put some more tickets on sale this weekend - I've got mine!

For many EFL clubs, this is the final week of pre-season so several have decent friendlies lined up.

We also have the incredibly unusual and highly intriguing Egri Erbstein Tournament to look forward to at the weekend but more on that in the 'Daily Digest' below. 


The highlights of the next few days include the UEFA Women's Euro 2022, 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.

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.

Tuesday 12 July

AFC Wimbledon v Reading @745pm - after drawing 0-0 with League One side Ipswich on Saturday, the Dons next welcome some Championship opposition. The Royals drew with West Ham in their last match. Tickets
Leyton Orient v Portsmouth @7pm - if you're after a slightly early kick-off, then this match at Brisbane Road could be for you. The O's enjoyed a 3-1 win over Spurs' U21 side on Saturday while Pompey won at Gillingham. Tickets UPDATE - NOW BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Sutton United v Woking @745pm - the U's rekindle an old non-league rivalry with the Cards on Tuesday night. Two titans of the Surrey football scene, they've won the county cup 28 times between them. As far as I can tell, this match is pay on the gate
Dulwich Hamlet v Millwall U23 @730pm - a crowd of over 1,600 made their way to Champion Hill to see the hosts draw with a young side from Arsenal on Saturday. You'd think there'd be a healthy attendance for this one too as the Lions are the nearest pro club to the Hamlet. Tickets
Haringey Borough v QPR U23 @815pm - actually playing on White Hart Lane (unlike Spurs), I always enjoy a visit to Coles Park. They've won their last three friendlies so come into this in reasonable form whilst the R's youngsters have yet to register a victory. This should be pay on the gate

A bit further afield
Gillingham v Crystal Palace @7pm - with the Eagles' first team on tour overseas, this should have largely been an U23 side. However, a significant number of the club's star players didn't travel as it's believed they weren't vaccinated for Covid so you could see the likes of Wilfrid Zaha, Christian Benteke or Eberechi Eze. Tickets
Stevenage v Derby County @730pm - relegated to League One and without manager Wayne Rooney who decided to move on, the Rams are beginning a new era under the ownership of property developer David Clowes. Tickets

Wednesday 20 July

Millwall v Hammarby @7pm - I think I'm right in saying that this is our first bit of European club action this summer. Hailing from Stockholm, Hammarby are currently 13 games into their league campaign and fifth in the table in the Swedish top flight. The Lions have therefore done pretty well to get them to come over at relatively short notice - the fact they share the same sponsor (Huski Chocolate), might have something to do with it. Tickets
Wealdstone v QPR @745pm - Grosvenor Vale will play host to the R's first team in what is the highlight of the Stones' pre-season. With many supporters having a soft spot for both teams, it's no surprise that the match has sold out
Bromley v Tottenham Hotspur U21 @745pm - after tough fixtures against Enfield Town and Leyton Orient, Spurs' youngsters face some National League opposition in their next game. Tickets
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @8pm - there's also a decent looking women's friendly taking place at Carshalton Athletic's ground.  The Dons should be one of the frontrunners in the women's fourth tier this season so a match against Pompey from the level above should provide them with a good test

Thursday 21 July

UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Quarter Final
Germany v Austria @8pm - after three capacity crowds in the group stage, Brentford's ground prepares to host its final game of the tournament and it's a decent one. This second of the four quarter-finals is a big derby between Germany, the most successful country in the competition's history, and neighbours Austria. Aside from England, the German side has been incredibly impressive, winning all three games and not conceding a goal. The Austrians have caused a bit of an upset by qualifying ahead of Norway but they've been very tough to beat and have only conceded one themselves. Germany should be strong favourites but I can see this possibly going all the way to penalties. Some extra tickets went on sale on Saturday


Friday 22 July

AFC Croydon Athletic v Brentford B @730pm - there are a couple of games on Friday night with this one featuring the Hamlet's new B side marginally the more interesting of the two


Saturday 23 July
Watford v Southampton @3pm - one of the more unusual games of the pre-season period sees the Hornets take on the Saints at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip. It is a first-team game for both sides but the pitch at Vicarage Road is being relaid and the game is being played here instead. Given the very limited capacity of 2,500, only supporters with a pre-existing Fan ID can get a ticket 
QPR v Crystal Palace @3pm - when I first heard the R's big pre-season home game was going to be against Palace Reserves I was pretty disappointed. However, as I mentioned above, the players that the visitors have to choose from are actually pretty impressive so this could be quite a bit better than I first thought. Tickets
Millwall v Ipswich Town @3pm - after the excitement of welcoming European opposition to The Den earlier in the week, the Lions come down to earth with a far more mundane opponent from League One. The Tractor Boys have won on two of their last three league visits to this part of London but it's been nearly four years since they were last in the neighbourhood. Tickets
Charlton Athletic v Swansea City @3pm - a bit of a random one but if you're a fan of either club or want to tick The Valley off your list, then you're in line for a good afternoon. Tickets
AFC Wimbledon v Oxford United @3pm - again, nothing too exciting about this one but it gives you the chance to check out Plough Lane which must be among the finest stadiums in the fourth tier. Tickets
Dagenham & Redbridge v Leyton Orient @3pm - in east London there's a local derby to look forward to. These sides were playing each other in the National League until fairly recently so it should be close here. Tickets
Egri Erbstein Tournament
One of the undoubted highlights of the whole pre-season period is this tournament taking place over the whole weekend in Tolworth. It all kicks off at midday when hosts Corinthian Casuals take on Hilltop in the first semi-final before Hungarian club Budapesti AK play Sheffield, the oldest football club in the world, at 4pm. Tickets are available by the day or for the whole weekend
A bit further afield
Luton Town v West Ham United @3pm - if things had gone better for the Hatters in the play-offs then this would've been a Premier League fixture this season but sadly it didn't. If you haven't been to Kenilworth Road, you really must - it's old, unique and not likely to be around for too much longer. Tickets
Reading v Brighton & Hove Albion @3pm - there's set to be some more Premier League talent on show in Berkshire where the Royals welcome the Seagulls. Tickets
Just beyond the M25's Essex border, Billericay Town are hosting back-to-back games featuring their women's and men's teams. First up, the women take on WSL side West Ham United at 130pm before the men's side play Tottenham Hotspur U21s at 630pm. This late kick-off gives you the chance to pair it with a 3pm game on the east side of town if the women's match isn't for you. Tickets
Sunday 24 July
Egri Erbstein Tournament
The action gets underway at 12pm as the losers of the two ties on Saturday meet in a third-place play-off. The final will take place at 4pm. As mentioned above, tickets can be bought by the day or for the whole weekend
Cray Wanderers v Maidstone United @3pm - it's definitely a day for football historians in London. If you can't watch Sheffield, the oldest club in the world, playing in the Egri Erbstein Tournament then you could head south-east to Bromley to watch Cray who are the oldest club in the capital. They face a tough match against the fifth-tier Stones.UPDATE - MATCH OFF
Fulham v AFC Wimbledon @2pm - the pick of the women's action, in my opinion, is this derby at Motspur Park. In men's football you'd have the Cottagers as strong favourites but in women's football, it's the Dons who play at a higher level

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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