Sunday, 18 December 2022

TLFG: 19 December 2022 - 8 January 2023

Welcome and all to TLFG's Christmas/New Year Special.

I started writing this just after kick-off in Sunday's World Cup Final and am just finishing it nearly eight hours later.

There was one terrible moment shortly before publication when I thought I'd lost the lot but it was all being obscured by a dodgy bit of code which I removed and managed to get it all back - thank goodness!

If you've never read one of these festive specials, I've covered everything until the 8 January - which is the next three weeks.

The schedule is packed with great games in several top competitions and there are loads of derbies.

Christmas is a great time to watch football in London

I could easily fill this section with a review of the year and probably should do but I'm too tired and need to get up at 5am for work.

My personal highlights were:

1) winning a National Game Award for my work on Non-League Day (NLD)

2) seeing BBC's Football Focus dedicated to NLD when it took place in March

3) getting to see my daughter be a mascot for Germany for their match against Spain at Brentford in the Women's Euros 

4) taking her to the final for that historic Lionesses' win at Wembley

5) being approached by the directors of a La Liga club to go and speak to them about NLD - more on that in the coming weeks


That's my five - what were yours?

On other matters, thanks again for all the messages of concern about my lack of heating and hot water after my boiler failed.

I'm afraid to say that a week later, nothing has changed.

After lots of toing and froing, we discovered we need a new one and it's supposed to be coming on Tuesday - thankfully things are set to be warming up considerably tomorrow.

Lastly from me, have a great holiday period, enjoy your football, thanks a lot for reading and I hope to catch up with you all again in 2023.

THE WEEKS AHEAD

The highlights of the next three of weeks include the return of the Premier League, the FA Cup Third Round, games in the EFL, National League, FA Trophy, Women's Champions League and Women's FA Cup and many other games in our local non-league and women's competitions.

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.

19-23 DECEMBER MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



26-30 DECEMBER MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



31 DECEMBER-1 JANUARY MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin


2-6 JANUARY MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin


7-8 JANUARY 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 19 December

Premier League Cup
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @1pm - the week begins with this U21 game at Dulwich Hamlet's Champion Hill ground, well in theory it does. Several matches have been postponed here over the last week because of the cold weather so hopefully the pitch will recover in time but check Palace's social media outlets for the latest

Isthmian League Cup Fourth Round
Carshalton Athletic v Walton & Hersham @745pm - one game which should definitely be on is this cup match on Carshalton's artificial pitch. The hosts should start as favourites but W&H are one of the top teams from the level below so should be more than capable of holding their own

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Tuesday 20 December

FA Trophy Third Round
Barnet v Plymouth Parkway @745pm - with the inclement weather causing the postponement of many games on Saturday, most of the Third Round is now being played on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Trophy is a national knockout competition for clubs in the fifth to eighth tiers with its final at Wembley. At this stage, the ties are still regionalised but despite that, the visitors still face a lengthy journey up from Devon. Playing two divisions below Barnet, Parkway will do very well to get through this tie
Dagenham & Redbridge v Uxbridge @745pm - although the Reds face a much shorter trip across town, they face an even bigger challenge in playing a team from three divisions above them. For an eighth-tier team to get this far in the competition is a huge achievement but it will be close to miraculous for them to go much further

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Weymouth @745pm - if Palace's youngsters don't make too much a mess of the Champion Hill pitch on Monday, then this important match at the wrong end of the NLS South table should be worth a watch. Only three points apart and in the bottom six, both badly need to win
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Wednesday 21 December

Friendly
Tottenham Hotspur v OGC Nice @7pm - with the Premier League five days away from returning, Spurs host this friendly against French opposition as they look to warm-up for the restart. With several Tottenham players in action in the World Cup Final, there will be some notable absentees. Tickets are on general sale for between £5-15 with proceeds going to local foodbanks

EFL Cup Fourth Round
Charlton Athletic v Brighton & Hove Albion @745pm - it's hard to believe but the Addicks are the last London club left in the competition. As a League One side, that's quite a feat. With a quarter-final place now just 90 minutes away, they face Premier League opposition from Sussex. They've been having a poor time in the league this season, so this cup run has been the high point. Tickets are available for £10-15

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Stansted @745pm - of the non-league games on offer, my personal choice would be this match between two of the top eight in this league. In all honesty, neither are likely to challenge for the title but the visitors could end up in the top four with a win

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Thursday 22 December

UEFA Women's Champions League
Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain @8pm - one of the biggest games of the group stage sees two of the best clubs in women's football meet at Stamford Bridge. A little bit of the edge has been taken out of the game by the fact that they've both qualified for the knockout stages already but first place is still up for grabs, just about. The Blues are currently three points clear of PSG with a goal difference that's six better than their opponents so only a total thrashing will see them finish second. Tickets are available from £9

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Friday 23 December

Essex Senior League
Barking v Romford @745pm - the last match in London before Christmas is this groundshare derby in the ninth tier. Barking are the landlords and will be eyeing a place in the top four with a win here

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Monday 26 December

Premier League
Brentford v Tottenham Hotspur @1230pm - with Christmas and the World Cup behind us, the Premier League returns and we have a decent selection of derby games staggered across the day. With few players going deep into the tournament in Qatar, the Bees should be the fresher of the two. On paper, however, Spurs should win and a glance at the record books shows they haven't lost to Brentford since 1948! Tickets are not available to non-members
Crystal Palace v Fulham @3pm - next up we've got this match between two very evenly matched teams. Level on points in midtable, both played friendlies this weekend with Palace beating Real Valladolid 2-1 on Friday and the Cottagers drawing 1-1 with West Ham. The hosts are unbeaten in five against Fulham and with home advantage, should extend that record. Tickets are not available to non-members
Arsenal v West Ham United @8pm - lastly it's time for the league leaders to return to action. With only one defeat this season, the Gunners find themselves five points clear coming into Boxing Day and should be confident of staying there given the Hammers' poor start. With only four wins from 15, the east London club could well end the day back in the relegation zone. Tickets are not available to non-members

Championship
Watford v Millwall @12pm - if you can't get into any of the above, which seems highly likely, then you should still be able to get a ticket for this. Although not having it all their own way, the Hornets are very much in the promotion mix and will climb to third if they win this. The Lions have had a decent start and will return to the play-off spots if they come out on top. Tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @3pm - having suffered three consecutive league defeats, the Addicks find themselves just four points above the relegation zone. Although Posh are among the contenders for a play-off place, they're in even worse form so there is hope. Tickets

League Two
AFC Wimbledon v Newport County @3pm - now unbeaten in eight league games, the Dons have climbed into the top half. Their Welsh opponents have been far less consistent and are drifting around in the doldrums of lower midtable. Since their formation in 2002, the London club have only lost twice to Newport and are unbeaten against them at home. Tickets

National League
Barnet v Boreham Wood @3pm - the game of the day in the fifth tier is this north London derby. These two suburbs are very close together so it's a bit of a shame that Barnet now play their games at The Hive some way from their geographical home, over the border in the London Borough of Harrow. Despite this, it should be a decent game with both sides in the top eight and targeting a play-off spot at the very least. Tickets

National League South
Dulwich Hamlet v Dover Athletic @3pm - this is the only game in the sixth tier. It's not one of the most eye-catching of the day but Champion Hill is usually a fun place to spend an afternoon so if you're in that part of south London, don't hesitate to get down there. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Potters Bar Town @3pm - head north for the match of the day in the seventh tier where we have another derby to savour. PBT were top for a large part of the season but were left stunned when manager Sammy Moore suddenly resigned last month to take over Faversham who are bottom of the division below. The Hertfordshire club's form has unsurprisingly faltered in the weeks since and they're down to third. The Towners are often there or thereabouts and could move into the top four if they win and other results go their way. Tickets

Isthmian League South Central
Southall v Northwood @3pm -  it's been a quite amazing first half of the season for the visitors. Rarely breaking into the top 10 over the last few years, Northwood have been top for a while. However, with two defeats in their last three, Walton & Hersham are now only a point behind. The 'All are back at this level for the first time in many years and are acquitting themselves well in eighth

SCEFL Premier
Erith & Belvedere v Erith Town @2pm - it's derby day in Erith, meaning there's only one place to be in the ninth tier. To top it all, they're both in the top four with the hosts top and seemingly running away with it. As we reach the halfway point of the season, the Deres are already 20 points clear but the Dockers could cut that lead to seven points if they win all of their five games in hand

ECL Division 1 South
Frenford v Barkingside @11am - another London side to be having a great campaign are Frenford who currently lead this division and have three games in hand on their nearest challengers. Local rivals Barkingside are down in the bottom four and will do well to get anything from this. Note also the early kick-off time which allows you to see at least two games on Boxing Day

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Tuesday 27 December

Premier League
Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth @530pm - having lost three games in a row, the World Cup break came at a great time for the Blues. Down to eighth and now 16 points behind leaders Arsenal after only 14 games, this is unlikely to go down as one of Chelsea's best seasons. The Cherries returned to the top flight in the summer and are doing much better than many expected. Their fans also arrive with the knowledge that they won 1-0 on their last visit in 2019, the season they ended up getting relegated. Tickets are not available to non-members

League Two
Leyton Orient v Stevenage @1230pm - one of the most important matches of the whole Christmas period is this one between the top two in the fourth tier. With Stevenage seeing their match postponed on Saturday, the O's took full advantage with their win over Sutton putting them seven points clear. A win here would put them 10 points clear but the best part of 20 points clear of the play-off places. Very unusually for a game at this level, it's sold out 

Isthmian League Premier Division
Corinthian Casuals v Aveley @1pm - the best non-league option is this seventh-tier match which is of importance at either end of the table. Essex club Aveley have spent some time at the top this season but have dropped to fifth. However, the table is incredibly tight with only four points separating the sides between second and eighth. Casuals, on the other hand, are in the bottom four and scrapping for every point they can get
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Wednesday 28 December

Isthmian League South East
Sutton Common Rovers v Marlow @745pm - there are three non-league games on Wednesday with this eighth-tier match being the pick. SCR aren't having a great season since their move to groundshare with AFC Whyteleafe and are in the bottom six. Marlow, though, are third and very much in the hunt for the title, particularly if Northwood continue to wobble

Essex Senior League
Buckhurst Hill v Woodford Town @745pm - being branded locally as the first ever Roding Valley Derby, this ninth-tier match between two local rivals in north-east London should be well worth a look. It's free for Leyton Orient season-ticket holders too
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Thursday 29 December

Championship
QPR v Luton Town @6pm - there's an good selection of EFL action on Thursday with this one getting us underway at an unusual time. There's little love lost between these two sets of fans and one Luton supporter was left in hospital with serious head injuries after being assaulted outside my father-in-law's restaurant following last season's match. I remember unsavoury incidents when I started to going in the '80s too. On the pitch, the R's moved back into the top six after winning 1-0 at promotion rivals Preston on Saturday to give new boss Neil Critchley a great start. The Hatters are down in 15th but the table is so tight that they're only four points behind QPR. Tickets
Millwall v Bristol City @745pm - as mentioned above, the Lions have made a decent start but have probably drawn too many for their liking. A win at Watford on Boxing Day will probably put them back in the top six but they won't be far off whatever happens. City are having another disappointing campaign. A club with big potential, they just can't quite get it right and are only three points above the relegation zone. Tickets

League Two
Sutton United v Gillingham @745pm - after the highs after last season, it's been more about consolidation for the U's this time round. Seven points adrift of the play-offs and 12 points clear of the relegation zone, they're about as midtable as they can be. The Gills are rock bottom with only two wins from 20 games and should be beaten. Tickets
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Friday 30 December

Premier League
West Ham United v Brentford @745pm - as we move well into the second week of this blog, writing accurate previews becomes a lot harder, almost meaningless. Nonetheless, this is a derby and worth watching for that reason alone. Last season, Brentford won here to really announce themselves on the Premier League stage. On current form, they could do it again. As it stands, some tickets are still available
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Saturday 31 December

Premier League
Fulham v Southampton @3pm - the final match of the year takes place at Craven Cottage and it's one the hosts should win. The Saints are second from bottom at the time of writing and now under the stewardship of new boss Nathan Jones who arrived from Luton last month. Although they're struggling this season, they're unbeaten in four against Fulham. Again, some tickets do seem to be on general sale
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Sunday 1 January

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa @2pm - the new year gets underway with some top-flight action at the THS. I would expect that both sides' World Cup stars, including several from the final, will be back in their respective squads so that should make it worth watching if nothing else. At the time of writing Spurs are fourth and Villa are climbing the table under Unai Emery. Tickets are not available to non-members

Championship
Millwall v Rotherham United @3pm - the Lions are back in action again on Sunday afternoon and should see this as a good opportunity to pick up three points. Back in the Championship after promotion, the Millers are finding life tough and currently sit just two points above the relegation zone. Tickets

League Two
Sutton United v AFC Wimbledon @3pm - if it was me, my choice would probably be this great looking south London derby. Earlier in the season, the U's won the reverse fixture 1-0 at Plough Lane so will be looking to keep hold of the local bragging rights. Tickets

National League
Bromley v Southend United @3pm - with only one win from their last five, the Ravens' promotion bid has slipped a bit. Still only three points off a play-off spot, they can get right back in it if they can beat the sixth-placed Shrimpers. Tickets

National League South
Dartford v Ebbsfleet United @3pm - undoubtedly the non-league match of the day is this one between the current top two in the NLS who are only separated by goal difference. To top it all, it's also a local derby. Tickets 
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Monday 2 January

Premier League
Brentford v Liverpool @530pm - the biggest game of the day is its last. At the time of writing, it seems very strange to say that only three points separate these two clubs in midtable. Last season, the Bees fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw against a better Reds side than the one they currently have so who knows what will happen here? Tickets are not available to non-members

Championship
QPR v Sheffield United @8pm - after the big game against Luton, the R's then welcome title challengers from Yorkshire. One of the highlights of Michael Beale's brief spell in charge of QPR was their 1-0 win at Bramall Lane in early October. Whether they can repeat the feat here remains to be seen. Tickets

National League
Boreham Wood v Barnet @3pm - it is a custom in the National League to play the same opponent, usually your most local one, on Boxing Day and New Year's Day (or just after) so you already know this is decent local derby. One fact to note - since Boreham Wood won promotion to the fifth tier in 2018, they've only lost one of the 10 games they've played against Barnet in all competitions. Tickets

Isthmian League Premier Division
Aveley v Canvey Island @3pm - there are several great looking derbies in the seventh tier but I've set myself the challenge of only recommending one at this level and this just edges it for me. At the time of writing, both sides are in the top six and getting decent attendances. Playing only a few miles apart in Essex, it should generate a decent amount of interest on the east side of town. The matches at Haringey Borough, Hayes & Yeading United, Hornchurch and Kingstonian are also well worthy of a mention

Isthmian League South East
VCD Athletic v Cray Valley PM @3pm - the south-east London derby at The Oakwood should be well worth 90 minutes of your time. Both in the top seven at the moment, neither are out of the title race yet

SCEFL Premier
Erith Town v Stansfeld @3pm - it looks being a very tough festive period for the Dockers who play the leaders on Boxing Day and follow it up by hosting the club in second soon after
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Tuesday 3 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Newcastle United @745pm - the Magpies were the Premier League's form team going into the World Cup and were probably disappointed to have to stop. As a result, this match against the current league leaders should be one of the finest of the next few weeks. Tickets are not available to non-members

Essex Senior League
Buckhurst Hill v FC Clacton @745pm - your alternative is this ninth-tier match towards the north-eastern end of the Central Line. Clacton are third at the time of writing and the hosts could be in the top four themselves by the time this come round
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Wednesday 4 January

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur @8pm - the Eagles are unbeaten in four against Spurs at Selhurst Park. Last season they recorded a solid 3-0 win, helped in part by the fact Tottenham were down to 10 men for the last half an hour or so. Tickets are not available to non-members
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Thursday 5 January

Premier League
Chelsea v Manchester City @8pm - normally one of the biggest matches of the season, Chelsea's poor form means this isn't quite as big as it could or should be. Much will depend on how well they handle Erling Haaland, the division's top scorer. Tickets are not available to non-members
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Friday 6 January

Premier League 2
Fulham v Manchester United @7pm - get your weekend underway with a bit of U21 action at the Cottagers' Motspur Park training ground

Essex Senior League
Barking v Athletic Newham @745pm - if you prefer a bit of ninth-tier action instead then you've got an east London derby to enjoy at Mayesbrook Park
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Saturday 7 January

FA Cup Third Round
The Third Round of the FA Cup is one of the highlights of the football season as all the biggest clubs in the land enter the draw alongside the survivors from the earlier rounds, often including non-league sides. There are five ties in the London area:
Crystal Palace v Southampton @1230pm - the action begins at lunchtime with this all-Premier League affair. When it comes to the FA Cup, the Crystal Palace area is most famous for hosting the final between 1894-1914. The club themselves have made the final twice but never won it. In that respect, the Saints have a more successful record with one win from four final appearances. Unlike most matches at Selhurst Park, tickets will probably go on general sale on 21 December
Tottenham Hotspur v Portsmouth @1230pm - at the same time on the north side of town, two sides with pretty impressive cup records meet at the THS. With eight wins from nine final appearances, Spurs are the fifth most successful club in the competition's history. As someone born in the '70s, it seems almost unthinkable that their last title came way back in 1991 but that's the case. With two wins from five appearances, third tier Pompey last won it under Harry Redknapp in 2010. As it stands, tickets are not on general sale
Millwall v Sheffield United @3pm - two Championship sides go toe-to-toe in one of the mid-afternoon kick-offs. The Blades have won on their last two visits to The Den and will start as favourites here. Tickets
Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley @3pm - one of only three non-league clubs left in the competition, The Wood should worry any EFL team. Famously making it all the way to the Fifth Round last year, League One strugglers Accrington could be in for a tough afternoon. Tickets
Brentford v West Ham United @530pm - for the second time in little over a week, these two London sides meet again. The Bees are one of the only Premier League teams not have made it beyond the quarter-finals but it's no great surprise when you consider most of their time has been spent outside the top flight. The Hammers, on the other hand, have won it three times. As it stands, membership is required to get tickets

League One
Charlton Athletic v Lincoln City @3pm - at the time of writing there's not much I can say about this other than neither of these midtable teams look set to be troubling the promotion chasers this season. Tickets

League Two
Leyton Orient v Doncaster Rovers @3pm - as previously mentioned, the O's are having a great season but they need to be wary of Donny who are on course for a play-off spot and might well be in the top six by the time this comes around. Tickets

National League
Wealdstone v Eastleigh @3pm - in my opinion there's no standout fixture in the fifth tier so I'll give the Stones a mention. These teams are just a point apart at the time of writing and on the cusp of the play-off places. Tickets

Southern League Premier South
Harrow Borough v Weston-super-Mare @3pm - with Dulwich the only sixth-tier team in action and having given them a mention already, I'm going to move swiftly on to the seventh tier where again there isn't a standout game. I've gone for this as it features Harrow, my favourite non-league club, and WSM who are currently top so should be worth checking out. Tickets

Isthmian League South Central
Walton & Hersham v Marlow @3pm - at the time of writing, these two are second and third in the division so this could produce a real cracker of a game!

CCL Premier North
Egham Town v Edgware & Kingsbury @3pm - the top two London clubs in the division, as it stands, could produce one of the games of the day in the ninth tier

CCL Division 1
Bedfont v FC Deportivo Galicia @3pm - two of the top five who play at grounds which lie right next to each other. FCD are only three points off top spot at the time of writing
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Sunday 8 January

Women's FA Cup Third Round
Charlton Athletic v MK Dons @12pm - postponed from before Christmas, several delayed ties will be played on Sunday. The Addicks play a level above their opponents so should start as favourites
London City Lionesses v Portsmouth @1pm - it's second tier against third tier again at Princes Park. The winners face a trip to Spurs in the next round
Crystal Palace v Watford @2pm - there's a similar match-up at Hayes Lane but in this case, the Hornets are pushing for promotion from the third tier and should be seen as dangerous opposition for the Eagles


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!

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2-6 JANUARY MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin




3 comments:

  1. Dulwich Hamlet vs Farnborough on Sat 7th , 3pm too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Somehow only just stumbled across this (football fanatic resident). Fantastic resource and really structured - thank you.

    ReplyDelete