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.

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
Monday fixtures - yellow 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 5 July

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

Wednesday 6 July

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


Thursday 7 July

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


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

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

Saturday 9 July

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

Sunday 10 July

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

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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