There are four league teams in Shizuoka prefecture; Azul Claro Numazu, Fujieda MYFC, Shimizu S-Pulse and Jubilo Iwata, and I’ve now been to all but the latter following a recent day trip to watch the first club mentioned on that list. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies, bright sunshine and even some Autumn leaves in the mountains fringing the stadium.
Having wolfed down my food at the floating restaurant I legged it over to the other side of the station (North Exit) to get the 11:35 am bus (360 yen) to the stadium from bus stop #2. It was actually a bit late so I needn’t have used so much energy! After 15-20 minutes on board, the bus arrived at the Shizuoka Ashitaka Athletic Stadium (or whatever it’s called!) and I bought my ticket (2000 yen) for the away end as I wanted to be with the FC Ryukyu fans again following memorable outings with them in Yokohama and Okinawa itself last Autumn.
With time to kill ahead of the 1pm kick off I wandered around outside and met the mascot who moments later was seen being pretty much attacked by a load of kids poking it and trying to remove the head!
As ever with Japanese stadia, there were a load of food stalls outside selling all manner of lovely looking food. There was even some kind of hand treatment stall and live dancing too which all adds to the atmosphere and spectacle.
Now I think about it, 2000 yen to sit or stand on a grass bank behind a goal at a J3 match is a little overpriced but I’m sure I’ve had to pay more to see football at this level before. As it was a nice day (no jacket needed!) though it was quite nice to be able to spread out as much as I wanted and as the game progressed and the sun moved so did I.
None of the FC Ryukyu fans I know were in attendance (travelling by plane from Okinawa for every single away match is a mean feat!) but there were just over thirty Kanto-based supporters gathered on the grass bank behind the goal including a few kids who seemed to be having a great time although that was not due to the football but just because they enjoyed rolling down the hill!
The match was settled by a penalty on 65 minutes but late injury time pressure from the Okinawan side almost brought an equaliser on two occasions. Firstly, a point blank header was very well saved by the Numazu goalie and then one was cleared off the line in the dying moments as the 2,014 people in attendance all held their breath.
Final Score: Azul Claro Numazu 1-0 FC Ryukyu
Bonus: Back on September 24th, Scottish Neil and I went to Yokohama to see a game but this was a far cry from the Nissan Stadium (which hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final) as it was a Kanto Soccer League (KSL) 5th tier game between Yokohama Takeru and Joyful Honda Tsukuba FC from Ibaraki prefecture.
Unlike many KSL stadia, this one actually has a stand and more importantly it doesn’t have a running track around it so ground-hopping hipsters like us were relatively impressed.
I can’t say I remember too much about the game other than there being three penalties for the rampant away side.
There were just a few hardcore Yokohama fans behind the goal whilst I guess all those in the stand were the family and friends of the players as well as a few neutrals. As you can see below, not everyone was transfixed by the action though!!
There was only one guy smoking in the whole stadium but bless him as he still went to the designated section for those who need their tobacco fix! In a country where smoking segregation is often quite abysmal this was almost comical given the lack of any non-smokers anywhere in sight of this section!
Having been to many of the J-League grounds from the top three leagues, the KSL may open up more possibilities for next season and beyond.
Final Score: Yokohama Takeru 0-5 Joyful Honda Tsukuba FC
Click here to read ‘Watching The Worst Team In J2 On A Cold Night In Gunma!’