Monday 15 July 2024

TLFG: 15-21 July 2024

Well it's the morning after the night before and the wait for England glory continues.

Hand on heart, I had very little expectation that we'd beat Spain and was very happy we'd simply made it to the final.

During my lifetime, reaching a semi-final was about the best a fan of the Three Lions could hope for so to make not one but two Euro finals in a row marks huge progress.

Given our performances in this tournament and the relative ease of the draw, we didn't really deserve to win either.

Spain won all seven of their games and beat the likes of Croatia, Italy, Germany and France on their way there which is incredibly impressive.

What happens next for England boss Gareth Southgate remains to be seen but I think the general consensus favours his departure.

QPR play Spurs at Loftus Road on Saturday - tickets

I am one of those who has defended him against his detractors in recent years as his record speaks for itself no matter the style of play.

However, with eight years and over 100 games in the hot-seat the time feels right for a change.

Talking of change let's move onto what's going on in London.

We're now into the third week of pre-season and things are really hotting up with numerous Premier League and EFL clubs playing friendlies this week - more on that below.

Hopefully I'll get out to at least one match but we'll see.

Oh yes, before I forget, we also announced the date for this season's Non-League Day - it's going to be on 22 March 2025 so put it in your diary.

Aside from the football, the last few days have been quite emotional in our household with my eldest daughter getting the lead in her primary school production of Annie.

She's had a few challenges in the last couple of years so to see her take centre stage and sing her heart out had me crying all the way through!

She's now off on her school residential and spending several nights away from home for the first time - another big moment.

Thanks as always for all your messages offering match and club info and advice about another trip I have coming up - Balham, Nick, Martin and Steve it's hugely appreciated.

Also many thanks to Nicholas G from Putney for your donation to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund - I hope you enjoyed your visit to Boreham Wood to watch Arsenal.

THE WEEK AHEAD

This week things really get going with a number of Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two clubs in action.

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin


    
TLFG DAILY DIGEST
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 15 July

Friendly
Erith & Belvedere v SE Dons @7pm - the only game in the London area on Monday would appear to be this one. The Deres are back in the ninth tier after a disappointing season in the Isthmian League. Here they welcome a side who are new to the 10th tier after making the move from Sunday football. They have formed a relationship with Forest Hill Park whose place they have effectively taken in the SCEFL - I'm not sure of the ins and outs of it and you can do your own digging if you're interested. The match is being played at the Queen Mary University Sports Ground in Chislehurst so don't expect much in the way of spectator facilities
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Tuesday 16 July

Friendlies
Wealdstone v Notts County @730pm - Stuart Maynard was doing so well with the Stones that the League Two Magpies swooped in and made him their manager in January. On Tuesday he brings them back to Grosvenor Vale for this high-profile friendly against the National League club. Tickets are £10
Enfield Town v Arsenal U21 @745pm - after losing 3-2 to a development side from Spurs on Saturday, the Towners next welcome the Gunners who won 4-2 at Boreham Wood the same day. The hosts are about to embark on their first season in the sixth tier and will look to impress. Tickets are £10
Welling United v Leyton Orient @745pm - the Wings began their pre-season campaign with a 3-1 win at Sittingbourne on Saturday whilst the O's recorded an impressive 2-1 win over Scottish club Hearts at Tynecastle. The League One side have this and a match at St Albans City both listed as first-team games on Tuesday night so don't expect a full-strength side at either. Tickets are £10

A bit further afield
If you're prepared to travel beyond the M25 then a few other matches have caught my eye. As mentioned above, League One Leyton Orient are sending a squad to St Albans City. League Two Bromley are heading down to Kent to play Tonbridge Angels. If you're happy to head to Hampshire then Championship new boys Portsmouth are at local non-league side Gosport Borough and Lewes entertain Crawley Town in an all-Sussex affair at the legendary Dripping Pan which is always worth a visit

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Wednesday 17 July

Friendlies
Metropolitan Police v AFC Wimbledon @715pm - the Met took voluntary relegation to the eighth tier before the start of last season and found it a bit of a struggle but managed to keep their heads above water. With Imber Court located in East Molesey in south-west London, games against the Dons were always classed as derbies, particularly when they were based at Kingsmeadow. Listed as a first-team game on the League Two club's website, it will be interesting to see how strong a side they field given the gulf of four divisions which now separates the two. Tickets are £8 and it's cash only on the turnstile and the tea bar
Sutton Common Rovers v Sutton United U21 @745pm - of the other games on Wednesday, this derby has to get a mention. After some time groundsharing at AFC Whyteleafe, SCR are starting a new era at Carshalton Athletic. With Sutton United's first team in action at Hornchurch the night before, don't expect to see many of them on show here
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Thursday 18 July

Friendlies
Erith & Belvedere v Erith Town @745pm - of the three matches on offer in the London area, this derby tops the bill for me. Last season these sides experienced highly contrasting fortunes with the former getting relegated and the latter promoted meaning they've swapped places in the pyramid with the Deres back in the SCEFL and Dockers up in the Isthmian League
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Friday 19 July

Friendly
Barking v Brentwood Town @745pm - the Blues made it to the Essex Senior League play-offs last season and will hope to go one better this year. Essex club Brentwood play a level above and were a penalty shoot-out away from promotion to the seventh tier so they too will be looking to challenge again

A bit further afield
I think I'd be right in saying that our first sighting of a Premier League club in action will take place on Friday when Southampton make the short journey to National League club Eastleigh. Elsewhere that night two Championship sides are also taking to the field with Portsmouth travelling to Havant & Waterlooville and Oxford United taking on neighbours Oxford City

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Saturday 20 July

Friendlies
QPR v Tottenham Hotspur @3pm - I don't think it would be incorrect to say that the biggest match of pre-season so far is taking place a few metres from my home on Saturday. With the R's successfully avoiding relegation from the Championship under new boss Marti Cifuentes last season, the fans' hopes are high for a decent 2024/25 campaign. A training camp in Girona yielded two wins against unheralded opposition, so this match against Ange Postecoglu's side will see a huge step up in class. Spurs finished fifth in the Premier League and will head to Loftus Road on the back of a midweek trip to Edinburgh to play Hearts. Tickets
AFC Wimbledon v Brentford @1pm - the Bees begin their pre-season campaign with a trip to Plough Lane to play the League Two Dons. After impressing in their first seasons in the Premier League, Thomas Frank's side found things a bit of a struggle last season finishing 16th. One of the reasons for that was star striker Ivan Toney's lengthy ban for gambling. Given England's run to the Euro final, it's highly unlikely he'll be involved here. Tickets
Dagenham & Redbridge v West Ham United @3pm - there's a feast of Premier League sides in action on Saturday with the Hammers also gracing us with their presence in this east London derby against the Daggers. Julen Lopetegui is now in the West Ham hot-seat after David Moyes' departure so it will be interesting to see how he changes things. The hosts missed relegation from the National League by four points last season so an improvement will definitely be sought. Tickets
Wealdstone v Millwall U21 @3pm - after the visit of Notts County on Tuesday, Grosvenor Vale next welcomes the Lions' development side. Millwall's youngsters won the Professional Development League the season before last and made the final again in 2023/24 so they should provide a decent workout for the hosts. Tickets
Brentford U21 v Sutton United @4pm - being played at the Bees' new Wheatsheaf Park facility, formerly the home of Staines Town, this is definitely one for groundhoppers who want to tick it off their list. I think you have to have a ticket in advance to enter the ground but they are readily available online. Tickets

A bit further afield
Outside the M25, Championship club Watford head to Kent to play Gillingham. For a day at the seaside, head to Bognor Regis Town who entertain Portsmouth. In Sussex, Crawley Town make the short journey east to play East Grinstead Town and in Hertfordshire, St Albans City welcome a development side from Tottenham Hotspur

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Sunday 21 July

Friendly
Welling United v Erith & Belvedere @3pm - there's an extra men's game on Sunday in south-east London where we have a groundshare derby between the sixth-tier Wings and ninth-tier Deres

Women's friendlies
The match between London Bees and AFC Wimbledon at The Hive complex in north London tops the bill on Sunday. Dulwich Hamlet and Clapton CFC both have home games too which should attract reasonable crowds. Personally, I'm hoping to be at Actonians Reserves

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!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below, via X/Twitter or even by good old email.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here 


Monday 8 July 2024

TLFG: 8-14 July 2024

Greetings and welcome to TLFG's guide to week two of pre-season in the capital.

The programme of what's available to watch is increasing as more clubs field sides.

But before we talk about the week ahead, how was the one just gone?

On Saturday I met up with fellow QPR fan Andy R and headed down to leafy Surrey to the affluent commuter town of Farnham.

Just beyond Aldershot, around an hour from central London, I knew it was a wealthy place but even I was unprepared for how nice it was.

With immaculate parks, old buildings and very attractive main streets, it was easy to see why the average property price is over £500,000. 

The oldest club in London will play the oldest club in the world on Saturday

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was MP here until Thursday when a boundary change saw Farnham move to another constituency which, despite Labour's landslide win, still returned another Conservative candidate in Greg Stafford.

Overall you get the picture.

So what of the football team?

In recent times, Farnham Town have started to receive a lot of investment and last year they won the ninth tier CCL Premier South title by an enormous 29-point margin.

Crowds are unsurprisingly up and things look very promising as they head into the new season in the Isthmian League.

On Saturday they welcomed a development side from QPR for a friendly.

The Memorial Ground is like no other I have ever been to and it's no way near as neatly manicured as the rest of the town.

With a grass bank rising above the pitch at one end, the Clock End is probably the most notable feature of the stadium and gives it a lot of charm.

The other two sides are very narrow and the other end is closed off completely which was a bit disappointing but explains why it only has a capacity of 1,500.

With most of QPR's U21 side on tour with the first team in Spain, the London club fielded a very young team and it was no surprise that they found the challenge of such a good non-league team to be too much for them.

Two goals in each half saw the hosts win 4-0 and former R's goalkeeper Marcin Brzozowski barely had a save to make as they cruised to victory.

I don't think either side learned a lot from this game but Farnham's coffers certainly benefited from the 1,200+ attendance.

On Sunday, family commitments meant I couldn't get to Actonians' first friendly against Billericay Town but I heard positive reports from friends who did.

Women's football is going through a very strange summer with the top clubs making big signings and embracing professionalism whilst some clubs in the second tier and below are starting to struggle to keep up, with Reading the biggest casualty so far.

After all the euphoria of winning the Euros in 2022, the push to grow the game is understandable but I think it's being done at an unrealistic pace.

In the men's game you need crowds of at least 2,000-3,000 to sustain a pro club and only the top eight in the WSL comfortably achieved that last season. Three just about managed it and West Ham United fell short to finish bottom of the attendance table.

When you also consider that tickets are really cheap too (I paid £15 when I went to games at Arsenal and Tottenham last season), the wages paid are going to be low (they are) or subsidised.

Last season in Actonians' fourth-tier division, the clubs who paid their players finished in the top three positions. The cash did give them that relative success but was it well spent? The next three teams, who were all amateur, weren't a million miles behind and only the champions got promoted.

Huge investment has gone into London City Lionesses in recent weeks which is exciting for an independent women's club but without the connection to a men's team, how quickly will they be able to grow?

Lastly, good luck to England who appear to have lucked their way to the semi-finals of the Euros despite some truly turgid performances.

They play the Netherlands on Wednesday night and most non-league clubs will be hosting screenings so you can help support your local one by going along and having a drink or two while you watch.


THE WEEK AHEAD

This week we've got matches featuring sides from the second tier and below with Championship club Watford topping the bill.

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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - turquoise pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin


    
TLFG DAILY DIGEST
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 8 July

Friendly
Aveley v Dagenham & Redbridge @745pm - the week begins with a decent derby match on the east side of town. Last season saw the Millers move up to the sixth tier for the first time and they did superbly well to make the play-offs. The Daggers play in the division above and will be hoping for at least a top-half finish in 2024/25
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Tuesday 9 July

Friendlies
Hornchurch v Leyton Orient @745pm - the Urchins were crowned Isthmian League champions last season to return to the sixth tier. They begin their pre-season preparations with this match against their local League One side so a good crowd should be in attendance. Tickets are a very reasonable £5
Dulwich Hamlet v Crystal Palace U21 @745pm - the Hamlet made the short journey to Rotherhithe on Saturday to play ninth tier Fisher. The sides produced an entertaining 2-2 draw. On Tuesday they welcome a development side from Selhurst Park for whom this will be their first match of pre-season. Tickets

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Wednesday 10 July

Friendly
Boreham Wood v Watford @6pm - the Hornets become the biggest club yet to take to the field as they travel to near neighbours Boreham Wood. The Championship club will be looking for a big improvement on their 15th-place finish last season. The hosts suffered even greater disappointment as they got relegated to the National League South and they'll want to be among the frontrunners this time. This match has an earlier kick-off time to allow fans to watch the England game at 8pm. Tickets
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Thursday 11 July

Friendlies
There are four matches featuring some of the capital's lower-ranked non-league clubs on Thursday. Brook House, Erith & Belvedere, FC Elmstead and North Greenford United all play host although only the latter will be using their own ground - please confirm all details on the day

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Friday 12 July

Friendly
Hanwell Town v Brentford U21 @730pm - the Geordies have an attractive game against a young side from their local Premier League club. They met last July too and on that occasion beat the Bees 3-0 so I'm sure they'll want some more of the same as they prepare for their Southern League campaign. Tickets

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Saturday 13 July

Friendlies
Hornchurch v Bromley @3pm - after playing Leyton Orient in midweek, the Urchins next welcome League Two new boys Bromley to Bridge Avenue. The Ravens will head to east London on the back of a behind-closed-doors friendly against Millwall on Tuesday. Tickets
Boreham Wood v Arsenal U21 @3pm - the Wood always manage to compile an attractive pre-season programme. A game against the Gunners is always a given as Meadow Park is the venue for many of the Premier League club's women's and youth games. With many of Arsenal's first team on Euros duty or recovering from it, this will only be a development side. Tickets
Enfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur U21 @3pm - elsewhere in north London, the Towners welcome a development squad from Spurs. Located just down the road from Tottenham's training ground and hosting the occasional U21 game for them, the hosts have a good relationship with their illustrious neighbours. Tickets
Wingate & Finchley v Peterborough United U21 @3pm - it's all go on the north side of town where Isthmian League W&F are also set to enjoy a visit from pro opposition. Although one of the smallest clubs in the seventh tier, they made it to the play-offs last season and will hope they don't become one-season wonders. Tickets will be available on the gate
Cray Wanderers v Sheffield @3pm - for fans of football history this is a match not to be missed as the oldest club in London welcome the oldest club in the world to their new stadium at Flamingo Park in Sidcup. Contesting 'The Heritage Cup' this should be some occasion and will hopefully draw a great crowd. Tickets

A bit further afield
If you want some pro-on-pro action and you're prepared to do a bit of travelling beyond London's borders then there are two good options within easy reach of the capital. First up at 1pm, Gillingham welcome Millwall whilst at 3pm we have the Hertfordshire derby between Stevenage and Watford

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Sunday 14 July

Friendlies
It's all about women's football on Sunday with a clutch of games taking place around the capital. Fourth tier Actonians and London Bees take on lower-league opposition whilst divisional rivals Real Bedford travel to Dartford in the most notable matches of the day

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!

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below, via X/Twitter or even by good old email.

Has this blog been helpful? Donate to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund here