Sunday 23 July 2023

TLFG: 24-30 July 2023

Greetings one and all and welcome to the latest edition of TLFG as pre-season approaches its climax.

Not only that but some of our local leagues in the ninth and tenth tiers get going this week with the first matches on Friday night.

There are a great selection of friendlies around town and some really good ones in the surrounding counties too.

So what have you been to see?

My Friday morning was spent at Actonians HQ where they welcomed assembled media guests.

Ellen White pays a visit to Actonians on Friday morning

A team from BBC Breakfast were the main protagonists though as they did some Women's World Cup coverage featuring the club's U10 and U11 teams who are among some of the sides who have benefited from National Lottery funding.

England's record goalscorer Ellen White was on hand to answer a few questions, have a kickaround with the kids and sign some autographs/do a few selfies.

Reporting at 6am, we were there until after 10am as the girls and parents had a fun but exhausting morning.

I finished the week by travelling down to south-east London to see Actonians take on a Charlton Athletic U21 side at their Sparrows Lane training ground.

Croydon celebrate their 70th anniversary on Saturday

Given the League One club have been in all kinds of trouble off the pitch over the last few years, I was really impressed with the facilities and the sheer size of the place - the walk from the entrance gate to the training pitch we were on must have been around 1km.

If you're not fully across the world of women's football, the Addicks play in the women's second tier and Actonians the fourth.

The gulf in ability and resources between each tier in the women's game is sizeable hence the reason the hosts were fielding an U21 side and not their full team.

The game itself was very evenly fought for the first 20 minutes but then the hosts managed to take control.

With Charlton able to field a completely different XI in the second half, their higher energy levels gave them even more of an advantage.

I think the final score was 7-2 but there were loads of chances and it could have been way more as both sides hit the woodwork a number of times.

For what is effectively an amateur side (I think they get expenses), the A's gave a good account of themselves and it was encouraging to see a number of new players do really well.

Next Sunday they host Watford, another Championship team, so they can expect another challenging afternoon.

It was also great to meet TLFG reader James A who hails from that part of the world and came down to enjoy proceedings, hopefully we'll meet at another game soon.

I've also had some nice messages from Kelvin W, Neil A, Frank L and Tomas R this week as they've discussed where they're going and asking for advice about future visits - keep 'em coming as I love to help.

My next game is hopefully going to be Actonians' next friendly against Watford on Sunday at Gunnersbury Park but with the family heading off on holiday the next morning, I might be 'advised' to stay home - we'll see.


There are friendlies to be enjoyed every day this week with clubs at all levels and several from overseas in action.

Outside London, I've included some extra games featuring pro clubs that might be of interest too.

However, please be aware that there's a rail strike on Saturday 29 July which won't affect London Underground services but will severely impact all national rail services.

As a result, leaving the capital is only advisable if you've got a car as many coach services will already be booked up.

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 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 24 July

Redbridge v Newbury Forest @745pm - all roads lead to Mayesbrook Park on Monday night after this game originally scheduled for Tuesday got brought forward. It's good that they did as groundhoppers can now watch a match in London every day this week. These two normally groundshare at Oakside a little to the north. Following their recent promotion, Redbridge now play two levels above their opponents

Tuesday 25 July

Millwall v Charlton Athletic @745pm - the biggest game of the night sees these two south-east London rivals meet in a fixture that raised a few eyebrows when it was announced. They are geographically closer to each other than they are to any other EFL clubs (less than four miles apart) and there have been some feisty games between them. The Lions have dominated in recent years and haven't lost a competitive game to the Addicks since 1996. Given they play a level above Charlton and have home advantage, they should start as favourites. Tickets are £10
AFC Wimbledon v Portsmouth @7pm - elsewhere in south London, the Dons welcome League One opposition to Plough Lane. After drawing 1-1 with QPR on Saturday, they'll fancy their chances of at least matching that result against Pompey. Tickets are £10
Dagenham & Redbridge v Leyton Orient @745pm - after drawing the east London derby with a strong West Ham side on Saturday, the Daggers can look forward to another match against local opposition on Tuesday. Now in League One, the O's were in the same division as the hosts as recently as 2019 and haven't won on their last three visits to the Chigwell Construction Stadium. Tickets are £13

A bit further afield
Woking v Sutton United @745pm - the pick of the action beyond the M25 for me is this match between two former National League rivals. This Surrey commuter town is less than 30 minutes by train from Waterloo station so is quick and easy to get to. The visitors are about to embark on their third season in League Two and last year, the Cards came very close to joining them. Tickets are £12


Wednesday 26 July

Unusually, this is the quietest day of the week with 10th-tier teams Hillingdon Borough and NW London hosting games. In east London, recently promoted Barking Women welcome Billericay Town to Mayesbrook Park. UPDATE - Sutton Common Rovers and British Airways have also announced friendlies for this night which have now been added to the match map

Thursday 27 July

Kingstonian v Chelsea U18 @745pm - the K's only pre-season game at their Imperial Fields home comes against a young Blues squad. Having narrowly avoided relegation from the Isthmian Premier in 2022/23, they'll be hoping for much better this season
Erith & Belvedere v Hastings United @745pm - the Deres won the SCEFL title last season to move back up to the eighth tier. On Thursday they take on one of the bigger clubs in the division above

Friday 28 July

Dulwich Hamlet v Millwall U21 @745pm - with their grounds around two miles apart, it's fair to call this a derby of sorts although I've no idea if they've played a competitive game against each other ever. With average crowds of 2,460, the Hamlet were the second best supported non-league club in London last season but still suffered relegation to the seventh tier. Conversely, the Lions' U21 side won the Professional Development League title after a very impressive season. Tickets are £12.80

Essex Senior League
Romford v Saffron Walden Town @745pm - there are some other good friendlies between non-league sides on Friday but why watch one of those kickabouts when you can watch the first competitive league match of the ESL season? Both these sides finished in midtable last season. This is being played at Barking's ground

ECL Division 1 South
May & Baker v Barkingside @745pm - the action also gets underway in this tenth-tier division too. The hosts finished eighth last season to miss the play-offs by eight points whilst the 'Side ended up in midtable. This is being played at Aveley's ground


Saturday 29 July

Millwall v Fortuna Sittard @1230pm - the most eye-catching friendlies usually take place in the final week of teams' pre-seasons and for the Lions, that's definitely the case. Finishing midtable in the Dutch top flight last season, the Fortunezen should provide a great workout for Gary Rowett's side. Tickets are £10
Charlton Athletic v Aberdeen @1pm - elsewhere in south-east London, the Addicks welcome Scottish opposition to The Valley. The Dons had a great 2022/23 and finished third in the Premiership, giving them a place in the Europa League. Tickets are £12
Boreham Wood v Arsenal XI @3pm - the Wood play host to the majority of the Gunners' U21 and women's games throughout the season and I'm sure a friendly against them is part of the deal. With the first team playing Barcelona in California two days before this, there's virtually zero chance you'll see any of them in action here but the youngsters they do have should be well worth a watch. Tickets are £15
Barnet v Cambridge United @3pm - unbeaten in their five pre-season games so far, the Bees take on League One opposition at the Hive in their final friendly. Cambridge avoided relegation on the final day of the season and will be another one of the clubs looking to have a much better campaign. Tickets are £12
Bromley v Crawley Town @3pm - after beating Millwall's U21s on Saturday, the Ravens next play Dartford before entertaining more EFL opposition on Saturday. Crawley have won all of their pre-season games bar the home match against a strong Crystal Palace side who beat them 4-0. Tickets are £15
Dagenham & Redbridge v Gillingham @3pm - the Daggers' final home game of pre-season sees them welcome League Two opposition from the other side of the Thames. Neil Harris's Gills side enjoyed a 5-0 win at Dartford on Saturday. Tickets are £13

A bit further afield
Travel advisory - sadly there is a rail strike on Saturday which means travel beyond London's borders should really only be undertaken by car or you could get stranded

AFC Bournemouth v Atalanta @3pm - tickets for Premier League games at the Vitality Stadium are usually very hard to get because it is so small. Tickets for friendlies like this one against Serie A opposition are usually your best bet of visiting the ground. Tickets are £18
Norwich City v Olympiacos @3pm - the Canaries welcome one of the biggest clubs in Greece to Carrow Road on Saturday. Finishing third in the regular season and play-off round, the Greek giants will play in this season's Europa League
Southampton v AZ Alkmaar @3pm - with Fortuna Sittard heading to Millwall, there's further Eredivisie presence at St Mary's where the Kaaskoppen pay a visit. They managed a top-four finish in the Netherlands last season so the Saints will have to be on their game to win. Tickets are £15 in advance and £20 on matchday
Oxford United v QPR @3pm - these two met at Wembley in the 1986 League Cup Final. It was a huge occasion for both clubs as neither made it to many finals and it was underdogs Oxford who comfortably won 3-0 in a devastating day for R's fans. As a result, there will always be a bit of history between the two. With only one competitive game between the two in the 21st century, which QPR won two years ago, chances to play have been limited to friendlies like this. Tickets are £12

Essex Senior League
West Essex v FC Clacton @3pm - the visitors were the only club to finish in the top four last season who are playing in London on Saturday. The hosts, who play at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow, won more than they lost and ended up in tenth

SCEFL Premier Division
Welling Town v Rusthall @3pm - it's hard to pick a standout game in this division but I've gone for this as it's the first for the Boots following the announcement of their new groundshare with Phoenix Sports which brings them back into London

70th Anniversary Match
Croydon v Tooting & Mitcham United @3pm - the Trams have been building up to this match for a while and have loads going on for all the family at the Croydon Arena. With local rivals AFC Croydon Athletic recently receiving significant investment from high-profile backers, reaching out to new fans is now more important than ever


Sunday 30 July

Actonians v Watford @2pm - it's all about women's football on Sunday with the fourth-tier A's welcoming Championship opposition. The Hornets won promotion back to the second tier last season and will provide formidable opposition to Harry Berkeley's team who were given a tough workout by Charlton on Sunday. Being played at the Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub, admission will be free
Dulwich Hamlet v Oxford United @2pm - edged out by Watford in the battle to get out of the third tier, Oxford should have too much for the Hamlet if they send a strong side to Champion Hill
Fulham v London Bees @230pm - although they came third in the fifth tier last season, the Cottagers finished 22 points behind champions Worthing to miss promotion by a considerable margin. On Sunday they welcome a club who narrowly missed relegation from the third tier. The Bees crushed Southampton WFC 5-1 on Sunday and will fancy themselves here 

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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1 comment:

  1. James whereabouts is the Sports Hub in Gunnersbury Park as I might be able to get to the match with Watford next Sunday. Thanks for any help you can give me.