Sunday 15 January 2023

TLFG: 16-22 January 2022

Well, well, well - what a week I've had.

After missing out on all the Christmas action, I had one of the best football experiences of my life!

On Monday morning, I set off with a group of friends and flew to the Basque country after being invited by some of the directors of Athletic Bilbao.

We were treated like kings.

Picked up from our hotel, we were driven to their start-of-the-art training ground at Lezama where we were given a full tour of the 13 hectare (32 acres) complex.

Our comprehensive tour of Lezama took us onto the roof terrace

We saw the training pitches, the swimming pool, gym and canteen. We even went on the roof terrace!

And that was just the first team area. We then went on to look around the academy and women's team facilities where several players were in the process of training and also met former captain Carlos Gurpegui, a veteran of over 300 games, who led Athletic to the Spanish Super Cup in 2015.

After this we were taken back into town to visit the club's HQ which sits in an old silk trader's house near the river.

It was quite simply stunning with valuable Basque art on the wood panelled walls which went all the way up to a glass ceiling.

With this part of the trip over, we walked to San Mames where we were treated to a night in the President's Box watching their La Liga game against Osasuna.

Athletic and Osasuna do battle at San Mames

Whilst there, we were introduced to the recently elected president Jon Uriarte which was quite a privilege.

After enjoying some metaphorical prawn sandwiches, we took our seats for what turned out to be a "good 0-0" with the hosts having enough chances to win comfortably.

The following day we headed back to San Mames for a tour of the museum and the stadium itself.

Again our contacts came through and the museum's director took us on a tour with a very knowledgeable young lady acting as translator.

The exhibition was really immersive and packed with things to see and buttons to press.

Did you know that Athletic are one of only three sides, alongside Barcelona and Real Madrid, to have never been relegated from the Spanish top flight which began in 1929?

Did you also know that they've achieved this by only fielding players of Basque heritage? Around 80-90% of their current first team came from their academy which is staggering when you think how competitive they are.

On the tour with Dulwich Hamlet legend Francis Duku

After leaving the stadium, we did a brief bit of non-football sightseeing.

With the Guggenheim and several other high quality museums to enjoy, this clean and vibrant city has a lot going for it.

The people were friendly, English was fairly widely spoken and the food and drink were great too.

I've certainly got myself a La Liga club to support now and I heartily recommend you make a trip there too.

Hopefully I'll be able to go into a bit more detail about this trip in the coming weeks and with a bit of luck I'll be able to get out there again.


The highlights of the next few days include a high-profile friendly and games in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Trophy, FA Vase, FA Youth Cup, Women's Super League, Women's Championship 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.

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

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 16 January

Premier League 2
Crystal Palace v Fulham @7pm - the week gets underway with some U21 football at Champion Hill, home of Dulwich Hamlet. The Eagles will move into third if they win, just a point behind leaders Manchester City


Tuesday 17 January

National League
Barnet v Yeovil Town @745pm - a game of importance at either end of the table. With a decent unbeaten run starting to build, the Bees now have the top four in their sights. The Glovers are only five points above the relegation zone so defeat could leave them in a very precarious position
Dagenham & Redbridge v Eastleigh @745pm - if Barnet slip up, then the Daggers have the chance to catch them as they're only three points behind. If they lose, then Eastleigh will catch them - our local clubs have little room for error
Wealdstone v Oldham Athletic @745pm - I'm sure there's quite a few Stones fans who are still pinching themselves that they're playing week in, week out against sides like Oldham. The Latics were a Premier League side as recently as 1994 but have suffered all kinds of off-field trauma since. This is the first season they've spent in non-league football and they've struggled. However, they've started to pick up some points and they're out of the relegation zone

FA Trophy Fourth Round
Harrow Borough v FC Halifax Town @3pm - postponed from Saturday, seventh tier Boro haven't been this far in the competition since they got to the semi-finals in 1983. As a result this is quite simply a huge game for the club and will be the biggest match they've hosted since Chesterfield visited in the FA Cup in 2010. The Shaymen made the National League play-offs last season which means they play two levels above Harrow and will start as big favourites. Tickets

Professional Development League
QPR v Charlton Athletic @7pm - if you fancy a slightly earlier start, this U21 match at Hanwell Town could be the one for you. A short walk from Perivale Tube station and just off the A40, this is one of London's more accessible grounds

London Senior Cup Second Round
Hendon v AFC Wimbledon @745pm - last week it was Erith & Belvedere who made all the headlines in this competition as they hosted a Brentford side which included Romeo Beckham. To top it all, his father David made an appearance in the crowd. There's unlikely to be any such stardust at Silver Jubilee Park for this but given their struggles in the league, the Greens will probably welcome this distraction

SCEFL Challenge Cup Third Round
Stansfeld v Glebe @745pm - if you're in south-east London then you might like the look of this groundshare derby. Stansfeld are the tenants, are higher in the league than Glebe but they can't buy a win at the moment - it should be close

Wednesday 18 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Manchester United @8pm - a run of five consecutive league wins has seen the visitors surge up to third in the table, just a point behind Manchester City who they beat on Saturday. Palace have games in hand on all around them which if won could lift them into the top half. However, given current form, they'll do well to get anything here. Tickets are not available to non-members

Premier League Cup
Arsenal v Burnley @7pm - the Gunners' U21 team welcome their counterparts from Turf Moor to Meadow Park, home of Boreham Wood. These matches are often free but never more than £5

Middlesex Premier Cup Quarter-Final
Park View v Enfield Borough @745pm - for me, the best non-league option of the night is this cup match between two north London clubs. Being played at the New River Stadium on White Hart Lane, just across the road from Haringey Borough, these sides are currently in midtable in the tenth tier ECL Division 1 South


Thursday 19 January

FA Youth Cup Fourth Round
AFC Wimbledon v Leeds United @7pm - with wins over Lewes, Swindon Town and Leyton Orient, the Dons' U18 side have made good progress. Now they welcome Leeds to Plough Lane for their toughest test yet. Tickets are £5


Friday 20 January

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Manchester United @7pm - get your weekend underway with some U21 football at the Hammers' Rush Green facility near Romford. It's usually £5 to get in but check all the details on the day

Essex Senior League
Woodford Town v Enfield FC @745pm - the best non-league option appears to be this cracker between two of the top four in the ESL. Usually well supported at home, Woodford should draw an even bigger crowd than normal for the visit of the leaders


Saturday 21 January

Premier League
West Ham United v Everton @3pm - one of the most important games of the weekend takes place at the London Stadium where two of the bottom three meet for a relegation six-pointer. Locked together on 15 points alongside bottom club Southampton, it really doesn't get much bigger for the clubs involved. Some tickets are available via the club's exchange service
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United @530pm - after back-to-back games against Chelsea and Manchester United, the Eagles next face another title contender in what looks like being an incredibly tough week. With only one defeat in six against the London club, Newcastle should start as favourites. Tickets are not available to non-members

QPR v Swansea City @3pm - locked together in midtable only a point apart, this looks like being a cagey encounter. Both sides are models of inconsistency so they could both do with a win. The R's fought back from 2-0 down to draw at Reading on Saturday whilst the Swans won at Sunderland. Tickets
Watford v Rotherham United @3pm - the Hornets kept their promotion bid on track with a comfortable 2-0 win over struggling Blackpool. On paper, you'd expect them to despatch the Millers with relative ease too but they surprised many by thrashing Blackburn 4-0 on Saturday. Tickets

League Two
Sutton United v Crawley Town @3pm - after a recent uptick in form, the U's returned to losing ways at promotion-chasing Salford. The visitors are four without a win and could end up in the bottom two if they lose heavily here. Tickets

National League
Bromley v Aldershot Town @3pm - if results go their way in midweek, the Ravens will have the chance to move into the play-off places with a win here. A run of four straight wins has seen the Shots slide down the table and they're now just four points above the relegation zone

National League South
Dartford v Taunton Town @3pm - my pick in the sixth tier, I suggest going to watch the Darts as they continue their push for the NLS title. Three points clear of local rivals Ebbsfleet but having played three games more, they badly need to win this game against one of the division's strugglers MATCH OFF

Isthmian League Premier Division
Aveley v Cray Wanderers @3pm - head to Parkside for my match of the day in the seventh tier. The hosts were top earlier in the season and with only five points separating first from sixth, they're currently fifth and still very much in contention. Cray could well be joint top by the time this game kicks-off so it could be a real humdinger!

Isthmian League South Central
Tooting & Mitcham United v Walton & Hersham @3pm - we've got an ampersand derby at Imperial Fields where teams at opposite ends of the table badly need to win. The Terrors have had a very disappointing season and having recently spoken to one of their longest-serving fans, optimism is in short supply. The Swans slipped to third after having their match postponed on Saturday so they'll be keen to make up the ground on Basingstoke Town who moved ahead of them

FA Vase Fourth Round
This knockout competition for clubs in the ninth and tenth tiers with its final at Wembley is down to its last 32 clubs. There is one tie locally:

Egham Town v Peacehaven & Telscombe @3pm - the Sarnies made it to the last 32 last season too and will look to win here to set a new club record for progress in the competition. Currently third in the ninth tier CCL Premier North, they look very evenly matched against Sussex club P&T who are fifth in the parallel Southern Combination MATCH OFF

CCL Division 1
FC Deportivo Galicia v Berks County @3pm - FCDG kept the pressure on leaders Langley with a 2-0 win over Rayners Lane on Saturday. They're back at home again this weekend against another one of their promotion rivals. It's a wonder that Berks are where they are as they've barely played in the last couple of months


Sunday 22 January

Premier League
Arsenal v Manchester United @430pm - the week comes to an end with a real clash of the titans at the Emirates. With both sides winning their big derby matches this weekend, they became the top two in the Premier League's form table. The Gunners' victory at Spurs means they're now eight points clear and starting to look more and more like champions. However, their one league defeat this season came against an out-of-sorts United side at the beginning of September. Erik ten Hag has made the Old Trafford outfit a far better team since then so this really should be some game. Tickets are not available

Premier League 2
Fulham v Chelsea @230pm - there's a random bit of U21 action at the Cottagers' training ground in Motspur Park on Sunday afternoon. Please check the club's website for admission details  

FA Women's Super League
Chelsea v Liverpool @1230pm - Sam Kerr scored a priceless 89th-minute equaliser at The Emirates on Sunday to deny Arsenal the chance of catching them at the top. The Reds, on the other hand, lost heavily at Manchester United to stay in lower midtable. Although a home win looks almost certain, Liverpool inflicted Chelsea's only league defeat of the season back on the opening weekend
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City @2pm - Beth England scored on her Spurs debut but it was not enough as they lost 2-1 at Aston Villa. The loss means they're now bottom of the form table after Leicester picked up their first win of the season against Brighton on Sunday. If Tottenham don't win here, some serious questions are likely to be asked of coach Rehanne Skinner MATCH OFF

FA Women's Championship
Charlton Athletic v Lewes @2pm - the Addicks saw their game at Blackburn postponed this weekend and they fell five points behind leaders London City Lionesses as a result. If they eventually win that game in hand, then they'll be right back in the title race. Lewes got a useful win at Southampton which means another three points here could put them in the top five

FAWNL Cup Quarter-Final
Watford v MK Dons @2pm - with wins over Norwich City, AFC Wimbledon and Hashtag United, the Hornets have beaten the best that the division below them can offer. Now they go up against a team from the same division as themselves. Being played at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip, the hosts should start as firm favourites

FAWNL Division 1 South East
Actonians v Cambridge United @2pm - sitting just behind the leading trio mentioned above are the A's. Danny Harrigan's side played their first match for five weeks on Sunday and came away from Champion Hill with a very satisfactory 2-0 win over Dulwich Hamlet in the Capital Women's Cup. Cambridge sit a couple of points behind them in the table and come into this on the back of two straight defeats. Last season, Actonians beat them 7-0 on aggregate over the two games but I think it will be a bit closer this time

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!

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