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 



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