Multiple matches on television has long been a common way of life for many football fans. It used to be just the World Cup when you could consume 2-3 games on the telly in one sitting but these days it’s possible to do such a thing on most days of the week if you so wish.
Watching back-to-back matches on the TV is one thing but taking in two live games on the same day is another. That is exactly what Scottish Neil (he of Shirokuma blog fame!) and I did recently though. Back on Sunday 29th May, Kanagawa prefecture was playing host to two J1 games which, with staggered kick off times, meant we could attend them both. Furthermore, it was the Champions League final that morning (3:45 am KO Japan time) so all-in-all it was a full-on football packed day. I did get some rest before and after that European final but it was shorter than expected due to extra time and penalties between the two Madrid teams.
First up was the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama and outside the ground there were a couple of food vendors selling British food so even though I wasn’t that hungry I didn’t want to let the opportunity of eating a sausage roll (400 yen) pass. The FootNIK pub van and the Malin’s one next to it were both selling fish and chips and some other British dishes but they will have to wait for another time though I guess.
This stadium hosted the 2002 World Cup Final and is the home ground of Yokohama F. Marinos whose most famous player is the ex-Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura. There were also some cardboard cut-out Manchester City players on show as for a couple of years now Marinos have been part of the City Football Group, the holding company of Manchester City, which has also invested in Melbourne City and New York City.
Marinos are the team that Neil lends his support to in Japan and they were up against my Kashiwa Reysol boys. He’d managed to get a couple of free tickets from a friend so I sold my soul in the name of a freebie and decided to accompany him in the home end rather than being with my brethren. I was happy to basically take this game easy and almost sacrifice it in terms of conserving energy ahead of the later game at Shonan BMW Stadium in Hiratsuka.
My last visit to the Nissan Stadium back in September last year was a pretty drab affair decided by a late winner but this was a much better game between two sides that I last saw face off back in 2007 at the National Stadium when Reysol came away with their share of the spoils. It wasn’t to be this time though. Despite having the slightly better half and hitting the post (then hitting the back of the goalie and rolling agonisingly across the face of the goal) it was the home side who struck first just before the break when a Nakamura corner kick was headed in.
Two more goals, also both from Nakamura corners, followed in the second half to give Marinos a rather flattering 3-0 win in a match which was actually quite evenly balanced. However, there’s only one stat which is important at the end of a match and that is of course goals scored.
We didn’t hang around too long after the final whistle to witness the usual (and very novel in my experience) Marinos umbrella celebrations as we had to get to a different part of Kanagawa for our second live J-League match of the day.
Click here to read ‘Two J-League Matches In One Day Pt II’
Click on the links below to read about other trips to J-League stadiums in recent times: