The trade off was babysitting for the whole of Sunday. It was a deal I took very little time to think about.
My run had a football theme to it this week as I ventured a couple of miles south to the leafy banks of the Thames and Bishops Park. For non-locals, this is right next to Fulham's Craven Cottage ground and the run takes you along the back of the Putney End.
With that done, I prepared for my afternoon entertainment which for once saw me take my own advice and head off to a game in TLFG's Top 10.
At long last I made my first visit to Park View Road the home of Welling United. However, it wasn't them I watched but groundsharers Erith & Belvedere who had a huge cup match against North Shields.
The cup in question was the FA Vase which had reached its quarter-final stage. This meant the teams were only two rounds from a very memorable trip to Wembley.
With leagues regionalised at this level, clubs like these would never play each other without the Vase so it was a big deal in every sense.
For overseas readers, North Shields is in the north-east near Newcastle. Consequently their players and fans would need to make a 500+ mile round trip to take part.
The opening exchanges were cagey and the first half ended goalless with few great chances for either.
Things opened up a bit for the visitors after the interval and two goals before the hour mark put them in total control. Two or three shots from distance late on were the best the Deres could really muster and they duly bowed out.
|North Shields celebrate victory with their fans|
Of the 503 crowd, the visitors must have brought about 150-200 but were by far the more vocal and created all the atmosphere. Their team played well and deserved a place in the semi-finals.
This year's final will see North Ferriby United play Wrexham.
Very well done to the aptly named Villagers from the Conference North. They come quite literally from a village near Hull with a population of only 3,893 (2011 Census) so filling Wembley might be tough.
I'm hoping the Dragons will bring a few though. They were a League One side not all that long ago so it will be a real David v Goliath contest which I'm looking forward to.
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Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.
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 (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Orange pin - Thursday fixtures
Claret pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures
Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.
1. West Ham United v Chelsea - just three days after winning the League Cup at Wembley, the Blues travel to Upton Park to face the Hammers. The rivalry between these two from opposite sides of the capital is fairly intense. However, the east Londoners have a pretty poor record against the Stamford Bridge outfit and appear to be running out of steam. Winless in five in the league, Sam Allardyce's side come into this on the back of a comprehensive 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace who played the last 20-odd minutes with 10 men. Chelsea are five points clear at the top and start as big favourites. (Premier League, Wednesday 4 March, 745pm. Ticket info)
4. Leyton Orient v Bristol City - the O's looked like a lost cause a couple of weeks ago but suddenly it's all changed. Cramming in four games since then, the east London club have won three of them to climb to within a point of safety. On Tuesday night that could all end when the league leaders come to town. The Robins aren't in exceptional form at the moment but are eight points clear after squeaking past midtable Rochdale on Saturday. They shouldn't be complacent here either as Orient managed to hold them to a 0-0 draw at Ashton Gate back in August. (League One, Tuesday 3 March, 745pm. Ticket info)
6. Barnet v Forest Green Rovers - having been top pretty much all season it must have been really disappointing for Bees fans to see their team fritter away a sizeable lead and get caught by Bristol Rovers last week. Wins for both this weekend meant the status quo was maintained with the West Country side two points ahead. This week's challenge comes in the form of another team from way out west who look similarly impressive. With a record equal to that of the leaders over the last 10 games, Forest Green have earned a place in the top five but have to keep winning as they have played more games then all those around them. Barnet have won their last five against Forest Green so will still fancy their chances. (Conference National, Saturday 7 March, 3pm. Ticket info)