There has been some debate in recent years about whether having a 55 year old playing in the J-League is good publicity for football in Japan or whether it makes people take it less seriously! The question of him playing and perhaps “devaluing the league” has been a little less in question this season though as King Kazu has dropped down to the fourth tier which is known as the JFL (Japan Football League) where he has been playing on loan for Suzuka Point Getters.
Kazuyoshi Miura, to use his real name, is something of an icon in Japan and has had a very, very long club and international career starting off in Brazil way back in 1986. He has also played in Italy, Croatia, Australia and of course Japan.
When Chris (a.k.a. Mr Lost in Football Japan) asked me if I wanted to go and see him possibly play at a match in Tokyo I jumped at the chance. Sitting on the grassy banks under the cherry blossom in the sunshine with a few drinks whilst seeing King Kazu play seemed rather appealing but it didn’t exactly happen like that!!
My original plan was to cycle to the Musashino Athletics Stadium but when I woke up on the morning of the game the weather forecast had changed overnight from cloudy to rainy! As I was getting ready to leave and take the train it did become a little brighter outside and I then got distracted by something at home, and not wanting to be late in meeting Chris, I decided to cycle and just deal with whatever the weather threw at me.
As it was, it started raining lightly within a few minutes of leaving the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi-ku, and gradually got heavier and heavier. Not good news as it was a 60 minute ride! The only real thing of interest en-route was a Japanese hot-pot vending machine which was something I’ve never seen!
The street leading towards the stadium was actually lined with cherry blossoms, and one can only imagine how beautiful it must have looked a few days earlier when they were in peak bloom.
If it hadn’t been for a few blue Musashino flags flapping about in the wind I’d have maybe not even noticed that a football ground was in the vicinity as all I could see was a load of grey scaffolding and construction. However, this is how you enter the municipal stadium!
Musashino are a proud amateur club that was founded way back in 1939 as the club side of Yokogawa Electric Corporation. The club has gone through a number of name changes, and there’s not too much to show for eight decades of history beyond producing the former Japan national striker Tadanari Lee who went on to play briefly for Southampton amidst spells with Kashiwa Reysol, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Urawa Reds.
Once I’d met up with Chris, we headed in and sought a little bit of protection via the trees and so headed for the top of the bank in the corner behind one of the goals.
The place was beginning to fill up nicely as kick-off approached, no doubt due to the Kazu factor. There was still a lot of space yet three guys came and stood right in front of us. On a terrace in normal conditions that’s fair enough but when you’ve got a big umbrella above your head it’s really not on. Thankfully they left that spot at half time and moved elsewhere!
That wasn’t the only moment of outof-character behaviour from the locals (who are often quite shy when it comes to sitting next to foreigners on the train or wherever!) as one guy came and stood right between Chris and I who were only standing a couple of metres apart at that point. This time I reacted straight away as if to say what the hell are you doing and he got the message and moved away a little.
The first half was completely uneventful and I don’t think there was a single shot on target. Rain didn’t dampen the spirts of one boy though who was rolling around on the wet grassy bank without a care in the world!
The second half was much better (not such a difficult task really!) and there was some goalmouth action at both ends but it was the away team who managed to put the ball in the net thanks to Mark Ajay Kurita in the 72nd minute. Given the poor weather conditions, and Kazu not moving from the substitute bench, I really did think it had scorless draw written all over it.
The final ten minutes or so were the best of the match as the home side put the pressure on Suzuka but couldn’t put their chances away.
As for King Kazu, well he never made an appearance which was a shame for the crowd of 2,006 people. I guess there were many, like us, who had gone in the hope of seeing him in action. Tokyo Musashino United must’ve been happy though as was their highest attendance since their promotion push in 2019 when an incredible 5,284 people crammed into the athletics ground!
Final Score: Tokyo Musashino United 0-1 Suzuka Point Getters
- It seems the guys from the YouTube channel J League Journeys were also in attendance and have made this video about the match.
Bonus: Two weeks prior to the above match was a match billed as the ‘Tokyo Classic’ which fans of the capital city’s biggest team FC Tokyo will have raised an eye brow or two at!
The green side of the capital share the 50,000 all-seater stadium with FC Tokyo but usually only fill about 10% of that. It’s way too big for them and the atmosphere suffers because of it. The aforementioned King Kazu played for them (as did “Pele”) albeit when they had a different name before the inception of the J-League in 1993. Tickets for this one were free, and it was an alright game with a couple of nice moves to create the home side’s goals.
Final Score: Tokyo Verdy 2-1 Machida Zelvia
Click here to read ‘Fourth Tier Football Frolics’
Click here to read ‘What Watching Football In Japan Is Like Now’
Click here to read ‘Fun & Excitement Are Never Too Far Away When Watching This Non-League Japanese Team!’
Click here to read ‘Watching J-League Football On A Very Rainy Night Up In Yamagata’