Outside the Box: England fans frustrated as Thai friendly remains on hold

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The Independent Online

Five months after announcing that England will play a friendly in Thailand next June, the Football Association have still not confirmed the exact date, causing widespread frustration among fans wishing to book flights and accommodation.

The game is nominally to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the King of Thailand's accession to the throne but, more importantly, it continues the buttering-up of Worawi Makudi, the Thai member of Fifa's executive committee, which is deciding who will host the 2018 World Cup. The former England captain Bryan Robson is Thailand's manager and the FA have already sent Fabio Capello there for a coaching seminar. The British ambassador has even visited the Thai prime minister to ask for the country's support in backing the bid.

Time for clubs to get Low down?

Any Midlands clubs looking for something a little different should check out Yee Ming Low, a 19-year-old Malaysian student at the University of Derby who now holds three world records for balancing a football on his head: longest distance travelled (11.129km); fastest mile (eight minutes); and fastest 100 metres (23 seconds). The first two talents would surely be useful for giving team-mates a rest and the third could, say, lead a quick break out of defence. At worst, frustrated defenders would pretty soon concede a free-kick for bowling him over. In studying three years ago for a football diploma in Manchester, Yee took part in a training session with Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville but obviously failed to convince them of the virtues of his method of getting a ball from one end of a pitch to the other. To be fair, he does admit: "After 30 minutes or so, the head and neck can go numb, so I have to concentrate very hard."

Matt finish wins the pools

The 263 loyal souls who attended Clitheroe's 2-2 draw with Fylde in the Evo-Stik League Division One North would have had no idea that the game would bring about a piece of history: it turned out to be the result that gave Michael Elliott, a 56-year-old Kentish man now living in Scotland, Britain's first pools win of more than £3million. He acknowledged his debt to Fylde by meeting Matt Walwyn, the teenaged striker whose two late goals earned the draw, which was the eighth out of ten selections from the English, Scottish and Spanish leagues that all ended 2-2.

Make it a Non-League Day to remember

Clitheroe and others will be pleased to learn that although there was no repeat during last week's international break of September's Non-League Day, in which supporters of clubs without a match were encouraged to visit their local non-League side, the organisers are keen on a repeat at some stage next year. Mike Bayly, the unpaid commercial director of Wingate and Finchley FC, says: "Objectively speaking, not all clubs benefited as much as we may have hoped, but there were countless stories of new fans turning up at grounds all over the country." Bayly is hoping to co-ordinate better advance publicity next time and would ideally like a sponsor for the existing website, which has now been frozen. One idea is for clubs to involve local schools, offering free entry. Another is for Premier League and Championship clubs to publicise games, as Millwall did last month in encouraging supporters to watch fellow south Londoners Fisher Athletic, which brought a good response. Fortunately those who turned up were on their best behaviour.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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