Sunday 25 June 2023

TLFG: 26 June - 2 July 2023

Are we back already? Yes, I believe we are.

After what seems like a very short five-week break, TLFG is back and I know some of you have been out watching some of the really early pre-season games already - well done you!

The only football I've seen recently was my daughter's U10 match in a scorching Hyde Park a couple of weeks ago.

Later that day, I went to my first Actonians end-of-season awards do where it was a privilege to present the Supporters Player of the Year award to Japanese star midfielder Natsumi Kanno.

Sadly, she's returned home now and will be a big loss next season.

Tickets for the Emirates Cup are on sale now

However, the news of losses got even bigger earlier this week when the club's most successful manager Danny Harrigan announced he was stepping down too.

Also a coach at QPR's Academy, it will be interesting to see where the young coach's career takes him next.

Apparently a replacement has been recruited but the official announcement has yet to be made.

Anyway, most of you are here for much bigger things than that and I'm happy to say that you've got a very decent selection of matches to choose from this weekend with Charlton Athletic the first EFL club to return to action - more on that below.

For those of you wanting to see a Premier League team, you'll have to wait until the 11 July when Crystal Palace travel to Barnet. Tickets are a very reasonable £12 and are available now.

After that there's nothing until August as most top-flight clubs will be on tour in North America, Asia and Australia.

When they do return, Arsenal will play Monaco at the Emirates while Brentford face Lille at the GTech.

At the time of writing, only tickets for the Arsenal game on 2 August are available.

I don't think I've got a lot more to add at this point other than to thank Markus U, Scott T and Georgina B for their generous donations to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - I really, really appreciate it.

Lastly, the match map was last revised on Wednesday so check all details before you travel and if I've missed anything please let me know.


Pre-season makes a 'soft launch' this week with a relatively small amount of teams returning to action. To give you more choice, I've included a few games outside TLFG's catchment area too. 

I had originally included England's friendly with Portugal in Milton Keynes ahead of their trip to Australia for Women's World Cup but the match has now sold out so didn't see much point including it.

The highlight is the south-east London derby between Welling United and Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

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.

Friday fixtures - black pin
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

In the following section, I list 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.

Friday 30 June

Southall v Shepherds Bush @730pm - the first match back after the break actually takes place outside TLFG's catchment area, just to the west of London. After several years groundsharing at Ashford Town, the 'All have decided to move and will spend the 2023/24 season playing at Burnham's ground near Slough which has a 3G pitch. A solid top-ten finish on their return to the eighth tier was something to be proud of and they'll hope to improve on that again this year. Shepherds Bush finished as runners-up to Clapton CFC in the Middlesex County League (11th tier) to miss out on promotion but must surely be favourites this time round. The visitors have also announced a new groundshare this season - Preston Park, home of Harefield United


Saturday 1 July

Welling United v Charlton Athletic @3pm - the biggest match of the opening weekend of pre-season in London must be this one. The League One Addicks become the first of the 92 to entertain us this summer as they travel to local National League South side Welling. The Wings had a largely uneventful 2022/23 season and finished in midtable. Tickets are £15 for adults and a probably worth buying in advance
AFC Croydon Athletic v VCD Athletic @2pm - sensational news broke in midweek that Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha and top rapper Stormzy had bought the Rams. This will be the first game of their ownership and it comes against fellow south Londoners VCD who suffered relegation from the Isthmian League last season
Bedfont Sports v Hanworth Villa @3pm - there's another derby over near Heathrow to enjoy too. The hosts had a season to forget and ended up getting relegated from the Isthmian League South Central down to the ninth tier. Elsewhere in the same division, newly promoted Hanworth made it to the play-offs after an amazing late run and should start as favourites
Broadfields United v Hadley @11am - the hosts, who play in the ninth tier, welcome Southern League opposition to Tithe Farm. The early kick-off means you'll easily be able to see more than one game on Saturday
Frenford v Redbridge @3pm - after being top of the ECL Division 1 South pretty much all season, Frenford just pipped Basildon Town to the title by one point to secure promotion to the Essex Senior League. Local rivals Redbridge finished second in that league and secured promotion back to the Isthmian League via the play-offs
Romford v Harlow Town @2pm - the visitors had some serious problems last season and pulled out of the Southern League mid-season. Thankfully they're back, albeit two divisions lower. Romford had an uninspiring campaign in the Essex Senior League and will hope to improve on their 14th-placed finish. UPDATE - Please note, the kick-off time has been moved back to 2pm and there is now another game at 430pm between Barking and Lewisham Borough at the same venue
Clapton CFC v Woodford Town @230pm - CCFC won the Middlesex County League last season to secure promotion to the 10th tier. On Saturday they welcome Essex Senior League side Woodford who will hope to be among the title contenders after a strong 2022/23. If you're new to London, this match is being played at the Old Spotted Dog which is the city's oldest football ground 

A bit further afield
Badshot Lea v Aldershot Town @3pm - after a thrilling title race with Raynes Park Vale, the Baggies eventually finished second but it was still enough for promotion to the Isthmian League. Their pre-season begins with this match against National League neighbours Aldershot
Bowers & Pitsea v Hashtag United @3pm - the Tags continued their rise through the divisions last season and now find themselves playing in the seventh tier for the first time. On Saturday they play their landlords who suffered relegation from the Isthmian Premier last season
Burnham v Slough Town @530pm - there's another derby just to the west of the city where CCL club Burnham welcome National League South opposition. The late kick-off means you should just about be able to combine this with the match at Bedfont Sports, although you'll need the traffic to be kind to you
Punjab United v Ebbsfleet United @1045am - if you want a really early kick-off, then this game in Kent could be for you. SCEFL side Punjab welcome neighbours Ebbsfleet who are now back in the National League


Sunday 2 July

Edgware & Kingsbury v Hendon @2pm - there are only two games on Sunday that I'm aware of but I'd be very happy to go to either. First up is this groundshare derby between a side in the ninth tier and one in the seventh. Playing for the Jeffrey Over Memorial Cup, this should be well worth 90 minutes of your time
Brentford Women v Haywards Heath Town @3pm - if women's football is more your thing, then get yourself to Bedfont Sports to see the sixth-tier Bees welcome the recently renamed Haywards Heath Town (formerly Crawley Wasps) who suffered relegation from the third tier last season

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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