North London Rules (Football, At Least)

Chris Lockie
By Chris Lockie Last edited 25 months ago
North London Rules (Football, At Least)
Image by our own Matt Brown

Of course, many would argue that north London rules in every way imaginable over the grim wastelands of the south, but in the interest of keeping Londonist’s editorial team from slaughtering each other over an unwinnable debate let’s concentrate on football for now.

Arsenal and Tottenham currently lead the Londonist Football League, is the point, and happenstance has it that the two formidable enemies come face to face at the Emirates this very weekend. Children will cower in fear at their father's staggering abuse, hurled across a patch of grass at people they might nod to pleasantly should they pass them on a country lane. And we’re reminded of the words of Sir Bruce Forsythe:

“I'm mad about football, I support Spurs and Arsenal. I know this isn't supposed to happen but as a kid during the war Arsenal's ground was a searchlight base for German bombers so they used the Spurs ground and I grew up watching both teams.”

But what does that old sod know, eh?

Londonist Football League table

Team Games played Goal difference Points Points per game
Arsenal 11 13 25 2.27
Tottenham 11 10 20 1.82
West Ham 11 7 20 1.82
Leyton Orient 16 6 26 1.63
Millwall 16 1 25 1.56
AFC Wimbledon 16 1 25 1.56
Crystal Palace 11 1 16 1.45
Fulham 15 4 20 1.33
Brentford 15 -2 20 1.33
QPR 15 -2 19 1.27
Barnet 16 -3 20 1.25
Chelsea 11 -6 11 1
Charlton 15 -14 10 0.67
Dag & Red 16 -14 9 0.56

Neither club has played a London derby in the past month, while third-placed West Ham have beaten both Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Palace are tediously mid-table and October has provided few insights into their medium-term future. Says Yohan Cabaye of team mate Wilfried Zaha: "For me, Wilfried is a talented player. He needs to keep working hard to play every game." It’s a terrifying thought what sort of mental collapse Zaha might endure without such sturdy backing.

But spare a thought for Chelsea, who on current form would struggle against Crayford’s finest VCD Athletic, propping up an Isthmian league near you. By common consent Jose Mourinho is losing either the dressing room or his mind. Please don’t sack him, Roman — he provides no end of entertainment, and besides, we’re not sure the city can afford the compo.

Somehow, Chelsea are not the shittest team in London at the moment. That honour goes to Dagenham & Redbridge, who’ve played so poorly this season they’ve turned to the Essex Senior Cup in a desperate search for form. Fans have started chanting for manager Wayne Burnett to get the bullet, with Burnett responding that they’ve been ‘brilliant’. Probably better to keep schtum as far as the fans go, Wayne, though as we know, managers interacting with fans rarely goes wrong.

Charlton are also dreadful, bottom of the Championship save for our ever-irrelevant friends Rotherham. The Addicks’ October included a 3-0 home spanking at the hands of the improving Brentford, and the Charlton board reacted by sacking their 19th manager in 20 weeks, or thereabouts; Guy Luzon is no more, Karel Fraeye is now temporarily in charge and his CV is packed with Belgian clubs only Belgians have heard of. Results have not improved and the club is in a mess. The next manager will be chosen by lucky dip, so if you don’t want the job, don’t buy a programme.

What of fair play? Entertainingly, Chelsea have responded to their newfound haplessness by kicking and moaning their way to an impressive number of yellows and reds. West Ham aren’t far behind though, and Spurs have the most yellows per game of anyone, proving once again there’s bugger all link between petulance and success.

LFL disciplinary table

Team Yellow cards Yellows per game Red cards Discipline points per game
Chelsea 21 1.91 3 2.73
West Ham 17 1.55 4 2.64
Tottenham 26 2.36 0 2.36
Brentford 32 2.13 1 2.33
Millwall 34 2.13 1 2.31
Crystal Palace 21 1.91 1 2.18
Charlton 29 1.93 1 2.13
QPR 25 1.67 2 2.07
Fulham 25 1.67 1 1.87
AFC Wimbledon 21 1.31 2 1.69
Arsenal 12 1.09 2 1.64
Barnet 22 1.38 1 1.56
Dag & Red 22 1.38 1 1.56
Leyton Orient 20 1.25 1 1.44

Leyton Orient are the goody-two-shoes of the capital at the moment, their saintly progression through their new League Two home suggesting a possible return to the faraway lands of League One. There they will find Millwall, though the Lions are threatening the playoffs themselves thanks to the form of star turn Aiden O’Brien and an almost-unbeaten October, in which they had to travel to Peterborough, Sheffield and Blackpool, which is bang out of order for any London club, frankly.

QPR have been having a nightmarish time in London derbies of late, following up their 4-0 humbling at the hands of Fulham in September with a first league defeat to Brentford in 50 years. As was ever likely to be the case unless they were top all season, manager Chris Ramsey has been criticised by supporters, but a glorious saviour has emerged to surely mastermind a return to the Promised Land. That’s right — Colin is back.

Meanwhile the extra Shredded Wheat slipped into players’ breakfast bowls by Martin Allen seems to have done the trick at Barnet, whose four-match unbeaten run has propelled them to the safety of mid-table. Their October did begin with defeat to AFC Wimbledon, however, who are perhaps surprisingly clinging to Orient’s coattails at the upper end of League Two. The Dons play both the O’s and the Daggers in November, which could shuffle the Londonist Football League table some.

But it would be remiss of us not to close by returning to the imminent face-off between north London’s premier duo. Londonist fervently wishes for a game played in the correct spirit, with a focus on football rather than impotent rage and red-faced abuse. And for the love of Mike give the whole ‘yids’ thing a rest will you? It’s childish and you shame our city, regardless of which team you’re for.

Because remember, love conquers all, and no matter what happens, it could be worse.

Last Updated 06 November 2015