Issue #13 of J-Soccer; Japan’s number one English language football magazine hit the streets recently and, despite an inadequate knowledge of the game in this country, a certain Tokyo Fox managed to feature quite heavily throughout its pages.
My J-Soccer story began in late 1991 when Gary Lineker agreed to a two-year move to Nagoya Grampus Eight which would start the following year once he’d finished his Spurs contract. That was the first time I had ever thought about the J-League, and indeed Japan, but little did I know that that wouldn’t quite be the end of it! Crisp thief Lineker didn’t actually start playing for Grampus until the inaugural season in 1993 not that I was able to keep any track of what my hero was up to in the Far East.
A decade later and, having been absorbed by the 2002 World Cup, I first moved to Japan and whilst living in Matsudo (Chiba) I attended about half a dozen games for nearby team Kashiwa Reysol. Although they never achieved anything better than a draw and suffered a miserable season, I had formed a bond with them. I very much enjoyed the games as I could support the team without ever really having the deep emotional attachment that I have with Leicester City.
I have only seen them once (at a so-called “home” game in Tokyo in September 2007) since moving to Tokyo (via a six month period back in the UK) due to a mixture of distance, timing, work commitments, idleness and so on. In some ways I’d be better off changing team but, unlike one of my friends (who changed from FC Tokyo to Omiya Ardija because the formers kit was starting to resemble the colours of his teams rivals back in Britain!), I really couldn’t do such a thing.
I may have become a disloyal b*stard when it comes to truly following Reysol and the J-League in general but I’m always interested in hearing about it, and thanks to the medium of Twitter I have almost inadvertently become involved with some of the English speaking community who have a strong passion for football in this country.
As someone who is happy to contribute the odd article here and there to publications of my choice, I was keen to come up with something for J-Soccer magazine. My options were fairly limited though as I couldn’t write anything J-League related which is why I decided to write about the Japan Football Museum which I re-visited in my research for the story as, despite having been there three times before, the place is one which continues to update and change.
There’s a couple of other bits and pieces from me in this latest issue including my thoughts and feelings on Japan’s performance at this Summer’s World Cup in Brazil. The editor asked for a few lines to be penned on this matter but a paragraph turned into much more and before I knew it, I had reeled off a much longer review revealing my disappointment at how well the Samurai Blue fared in South America.
JSoccer magazine is available in print or as a Pay-What-You-Want PDF from jsoccer.com