Make time to visit the ‘other’ London football clubs

If you’re from overseas and want to expand your horizons beyond Arsenal, Spurs or Chelsea, then here are some alternatives for your London football weekend. It’s definitely worth exploring the other London football clubs.

Home tickets at London’s big three football clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur – can be tough to come by and can be costly, even for a match against unattractive opposition.

 

The best way to access these clubs is mid-week early season for European group matches or League Cup fixtures. For the League Cup, you may well see a B-team.

 

However, there is plenty more football to be seen in London for less money and often with a much better atmosphere.

 

Here are the best of the rest football clubs that London has to offer:

 

West Ham United

 

The Hammers moved out of their Boleyn Ground (Upton Park) home at the end of Season 2015-16 and now play at the Olympic Stadium, or “London Stadium”. Its capacity nudges an impressive 60,000, almost putting West Ham in the Arsenal bracket.

 

Stratford is well connected to Central London via the Central Line.

 

More info: www.whufc.com

West Ham's Boleyn Ground, Upton Park. The club moves to the Olympic Stadium for 2016-17 season.

West Ham’s old Boleyn Ground, Upton Park. The club moved to the Olympic Stadium for 2016-17 

Crystal Palace

 

There’s never a dull moment for Crystal Palace fans. The club is currently a mid-table Premier League outfit, but traditionally The Eagles have fluctuated between the top two tiers of English football.

 

Crystal Palace FC is based in Selhurst, in the seemingly endless, green-and-grey of South London suburbia. The tight 26,000-capacity Selhurst Park stadium fills up when the big teams visit but you should be able to get a ticket to other games. Selhurst Park is a proper old-fashioned English red brick stadium, so you are guaranteed good football, an authentic London experience and – unlike so many all-seater English grounds – a decent atmosphere.

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The Holmesdale Stand has its own ‘ultras’, the ‘Holmesdale Fanatics’.

 

More info: www.cpfc.co.uk

Under the lights at Crystal Palace FC v Spurs, Jan 2016

Under the lights at Crystal Palace FC v Spurs, early 2016

Fulham

 

Arguably the most scenic ground in English football, any lover of football tradition should make a pilgrimage to Craven Cottage. The vintage Victorian Johnny Haynes stand contains wooden seating, and there really is a cottage in one corner. Unfortunately, the infamous statue of Michael Jackson – who once attended a match here as a guest of then-owner Mohamed Al-Fayed – has gone.

 

Craven Cottage is right next to the River Thames. During a lull in the action on the pitch your attention will be drawn towards the rowboats and wildlife on the water.

 

Tickets are easy to come by except for West London derbies against Queens Park Rangers or Brentford, or cup matches against bigger teams.

 

More info: www.fulhamfc.com

Fulham's historic and picturesque Craven Cottage

Fulham’s historic and picturesque Craven Cottage

Queens Park Rangers

 

Rangers’ big spending is over and the Super Hoops are back at their natural level – an upper/middle second tier club. However, there is nothing quite like a night match at Loftus Road under the lights. The atmosphere in the Ellerslie Road stand can be pumping, although you compromise with the odd pylon blocking your view of a potential crucial area of the pitch.

 

For a clear view, sit in the South Africa Road stand. It’s more expensive and far more sedate, but nowhere near as much fun. For more, read our guide on how to visit Queens Park Rangers.

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More info: www.qpr.co.uk

QPR blue sky

QPR’s Loftus Road stadium in Shepherd’s Bush

Charlton Athletic

 

Aside from a relative period of calm in the Alan Curbishley years (1990s-2006), Charlton Athletic always seems to have been something of a crisis club. The turmoil spilled over in March 2016 when fans pelted the pitch with beach balls in a protest over ownership.

 

Back in its spiritual home, The Valley, near the Thames Barrier, it is easy to get tickets for Charlton Athletic. Even when the club was in the Premier League (a distant memory) tickets were reasonably priced and easy to come by.

 

Charlton’s usually a polite club and it’s easy to tie in a match here with a visit to leafy, historic Greenwich.

 

More info: www.cafc.co.uk

 

Millwall

 

Millwall is a million miles away from the bad old days of the 1970s and ‘80s, when it had a massive hooligan problem. The club moved to the attractive all-seater New Den in 1993 and things have calmed down, although there is still an edge.

 

Millwall FC is fairly central in South Bermondsey, one stop south of London Bridge station.

 

More info: www.millwallfc.co.uk

The New Den Millwall

The Den, Millwall FC

Brentford

 

You have to respect any club with a pub on each corner of its ground. Brentford is right out in the wilds of West London, across the river from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Get the train out here because the roads are horrendous.

 

Unfortunately, ‘The Bees’ plan to move away from Griffin Park so make sure you get to this cosy old ground while you can.

 

More info: www.brentfordfc.co.uk

 

AFC Wimbledon

 

Most English football fans will have a soft spot for AFC Wimbledon. The old ‘Crazy Gang’ of Wimbledon – who beat the mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup final of 1988 – eventually were moved to Milton Keynes to become the ‘MK Dons’.

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Fans clubbed together and got the new AFC Wimbledon up and running in South-West London, renting non-league Kingstonian’s Kingsmeadow ground as the club rose through the divisions.

 

Now a football league club, AFC Wimbledon aim to move back to the former incarnation’s spiritual home of Plough London, Wimbledon, in the coming years.

 

Take the train from London Waterloo to Norbiton. Kingsmeadow is a classic non-league ground with a friendly atmosphere.

 

More info: www.afcwimbledon.com

Action at Kingsmeadow, current home of AFC Wimbledon.

Action at Kingsmeadow, current home of AFC Wimbledon.

Leyton Orient

 

Close to West Ham’s new ground at the Olympic Stadium, Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium is as authentic an East London football experience as you could wish for.

 

Don’t expect a big crowd or an electric atmosphere here but you will get a whole lot of heart. Leyton Orient is one of those old-fashioned ‘honest’ clubs, and makes a change from its more illustrious neighbours.

 

More info: www.leytonorient.com

 

Brisbane Road, home of Leyton Orient

Brisbane Road, home of Leyton Orient

 

Barnet

Way up in the seemingly endless north-west suburbs, you can visit fourth-tier Barnet at The Hive Stadium in Edgware. The Bees used to play at Underhill, a cosy little ground famed for its slope before moving to its new £11 million stadium in 2013.

 

More info: www.barnetfc.com/ 

 

Dulwich Hamlet

 

Guess what? There is a fledgling ultra movement in the English non-league! If you want a really interesting experience, get the train to the leafy suburb of East Dulwich. Here, Dulwich Hamlet of the Ryman Premier (seventh tier of English football) attract a comparatively large and boisterous crowd, led by its ultra group, The Rabble. For more on Dulwich Hamlet, check out our podcast with the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust.

 

The beer’s good here, too.

 

More info: www.dulwichhamletfc.co.uk

 

Dulwich Hamlet's 'Rabble'

Dulwich Hamlet’s ‘Rabble’

This post originally appeared on VisitFootball.dk.

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