Avid readers of JSoccer magazine (Japan’s number one quarterly football magazine in English!) have been following the ground hopping of Tokyo Fox for the last few issues which has taken in stadia from all over the country (Okinawa, Hiroshima, Kobe, Kashiwa, Kashima, Sapporo etc). There have been three parts to the series so far and I’m keen for a fourth one too. That will include Mito Hollyhock, the two featured in this post and hopefully I’ll visit a couple more during the Golden Week holiday coming up at the end of April.
At the end of last season and the start of this one, I have mostly been to lower league grounds but last Sunday myself and Jack (of Rambling Northerner fame!) ventured on over to Yamanashi prefecture to see a J1 side. Ventforet Kofu play at the Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium in Kofu which is a sizeable distance (135 km) away from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre. Takao lies about an hour away on the outskirts of Tokyo but even from there it was still nearly another 90 minute journey…plus a bus trip too!
From the bus drop-off point it was a nice walk down an avenue lined with cherry blossom trees (admittedly a little past their best!) leading to a big open green park space where many fans were relaxing before the match and enjoying the 26 degrees celsius sunshine.
Ventforet Kofu have been in the top flight since the start of the 2013 season and their stadium holds 17,000 people having been built in 1985. We purchased our tickets (¥2700) to sit along the side of the pitch as we really didn’t want to go behind the goal where the views are usually terrible given the penchant for running tracks circling Japanese football pitches.
10,472 were in attendance at what was one of the most wonderful settings with the stadium fringed by some beautiful mountains.
The opponents were Albirex Niigata who just happened to be the last top flight team I saw in action against my Kashiwa Reysol boys last July and they were far from impressive then! Unfortunately for the home team, that wasn’t the case last Sunday as they took their share of the spoils and deservedly so.
Final Score: Ventforet Kofu 0-2 Albirex Niigata
Back in early March, Jack and I (along with Scottish Neil) also went to watch SC Sagimihara play AC Nagano Parceiro on yet another sunny day. On the wall of the Sagamihara Gion Stadium were the picture of all the players but one stuck out and not just because he was a foreigner. His “I born to win” message, which he probably didn’t write, was the usual Japanglish nonsense!
Given what ex-Leicester boss Nigel Pearson said about a journalist at the end of the 2014-15 season, I was amused to see something called ostrich tacos on sale at one of the vendors but sadly the line was so long that I never got to sample one.
Jack can never resist a photo opportunity with a mascot or some plonker in a hat so when we saw the guy above promoting some company or other we both decided to get in on the act.
This match was far from memorable and only a bit of internet research reminds me that it was decided by a second half goal for the away team.
Final Score: SC Sagamihara 0-1 AC Nagano Parceiro
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