Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fukatsu `ake! Sagan 3 - 1 Verdy

My Derby Hat. Where`s yours?
Verdy started off with Doi in goal and straight away Sagan were on the attack flashing two chances just wide in the first two minutes. Sagan were very much on the front foot for the entire first half and could have easily gone in for their tea and biscuits far more than two goals to the good. The first goal had a slice of fortune about it with initially a ricochet fooling Tsuchiya. The ball broke down the left, cross, bang, 1-0, "whirling windmill" celebration from Hayasaka.  Verdy had had a couple of chances themselves with Fukatsu having a goalbound header cleared off the line, but that was pretty much against the run of play. Hiramoto also tested the keepers reflexes with a low header, the keeper doing well to save.
Goal number two came with another mix up in defence with Tsuchiya and Fukatsu caught napping, Hayasaka again broke through and slotted past Doi. 2-0 and another "whirling windmill" celebration. 2-0 at half time and Kawakatsu tried to shake things up switching to a back three, bringing on Hirashige for his debut and taking off a quiet Yoshiaki Takagi. It worked for a while as well with Hirashige striking back for the Greens following a break from Hiramoto and a cross from Kikuoka. Another toe poke into the net from two yards and probably a bit of help from the covering defender. But a goal on your debut for your new club is good in anyone`s book. Verdy back to 2-1 were very much back in the game but shot themselves in the foot/head/undercrackers/ with a calamitous third. The ball was played back to Doi with Abe (I think) shepherding it back safely. They both thought the other was going to deal with it until Toyoda comfortably dealt with it for Sagan by bladdering it into the top corner. No doubt about it, an absolute stinker of a goal to give away and something that will give Kawakatsu bad dreams.
On a slightly unsavoury note, there were one or two  minor scuffles amongst the Verdy faithful at the end of the game. The players had come over to bow and apologise and after some heated "comments" directed towards the team a number of fans started pushing and shoving each other. Handbags to be sure but not what you want to see really.
In summary, 3 games, zero points, bottom of the league and the biggest game of the season coming up next. Are we gonna win? Blind faith says we are even though all rational thought spells a loss. Still,  FC Tokyo aren`t exactly tearing the league a new posterior either and who`d have thought we`d win last time? We did 2-1 after being battered for the entire game, I was there and the 89th minute winner in the pouring rain at the Olympic Stadium will live long in the memory. Conversely, if we get beat 6-0 on Wednesday, that particular memory will be banished in two seconds. Tokyo Derby, can`t wait...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Flags, Pikachu and Pestelence

The least disgusting picture of "pox"
It`s another giveaway for fans at the Tokyo Derby next week. The Boys will probably be giving 3 points away and also it`s Flag for Japan Day. Free flags to be fluttered by the first 15,000 through the door with a percentage from each "Flag Ticket" going directly to the Earthquake Relief Funds. Pikachu will also be in attendance and if things aren`t going well he could be given a run out for the last 15 minutes.
In an earlier post I harped on about a sales tax levied on all sports tickets bought from convenience store machines. I found yesterday that 7-11 doesn`t charge the 105円 on top of the ticket price. Family Mart may have the best slice of chicken flavoured grease and be the closest to work, but they lost a customer from this day forward. Also the one by work doesn`t sell my favourite beer. Convenient? A pox on the bosses of Family Mart!! I spit on you Sir Family of The Mart.
NB Lawsons also charge 105円 but they escape criticism as I rarely go there anyway. All hail 7-11!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Pirates of Ibaraki...Verdy 1 - Ehime 2

 Pieces of Eight.!The Pirates Of Ibaraki!
Opening Day at Komazawa yesterday and a glorious day of sunshine unfortunately not matched by what was on the pitch. All the merchandise that was available for the All For Verdy day against Mito was now available for free against Ehime. Free T-shirt, free scarf, free flag for the kids. Good work Verdy! Not so good was the printing on the back.....funny though as if you`re gonna have a spelling mistake you might as well make it a good one in my book.
The game was marked with a minutes silence before kick off in memory of all the victims of the earthquake. I`d like to say it was perfectly observed but to be honest it wasn`t. A bloke behind me was chatting away about his missed lunch and what he was gonna do with his kids for lunch, oblivious to what was going on, his just one of the mish mash of conversations in between the pockets of silence. Pretty disappointing but what can you do?
The game kicked off with Kawakatsu again going with Fukatsu in central defence with Tomisawa as defensive midfield with Kobayashi. Doi was on the bench suggesting he`s close to coming back with Goal Machine on his own up front. The game started with Verdy on the back foot and Ehime doing their best to unsettle the Verdy defence through strikers Josimar and Saito. The front pairing were to prove a real handful for the Verdy backline all day. Iio had just curled an effort wide when Ehime opened the scoring. Captain Tomisawa lost the ball just inside the Verdy half and the ball came to Saito who easily held off at least three Verdy challenges before slotting past Shibasaki in the Verdy goal. 1-0 to Ehime and worse was to come quickly for Verdy. Again an Ehime goal was follow a Verdy chance, Kawano this time firing wide from just outside the Ehime box. In the resulting passage of play Saito burst through the Verdy defense only to be felled by Kota Fukatsu in the box. Debatable penalty, the Ehime forward was probably looking for the call as he was already falling when the contact came.  Fukatsu recieved a yellow card and Josimar made no mistake from the spot beating Shibasaki`s dive to the right.
Crap Pirate
Verdy were to pull one back in the 35th minute through Tsuchiya following Kawano`s free kick from the right. The ball was swung into the six yard box and Tsuchiya was able to slide in to toe poke the ball home just in front of Hagihara in the Ehime goal.
Following this Verdy dominated possession but were unable to seriously test the Ehime keeper. Hiramoto had a free header in the box but could only direct it weakly into the arms of Hagihara. Kawakatsu tried to change things up bringing on Maranhao who was to flop to the ground on more than one occasion all to no effect. In fact it was Ehime who came closest to adding to the goal tally with a shot from Josimar smacking back off the cross bar. The game came to a conclusion with Verdy still pressing but it was one of those games where it seemed that Verdy could play all day and still never break through the Ehime defence.
As I said in one of the previous posts, we lost but I don`t really mind. The weather was good, the beers were cold, my son enjoyed himself, I caught up with some friends. That`ll do me.
Next up it`s Tosu away and then FC Tokyo. Two tough games and zero points if the Boys don`t get going quickly!! Onwards and Upwards the Boys march on!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Start, New Band, New Radio Tokyo Nerdy

All The Young provide the soundtrack for the re-start to the J-League this week readers. Shameless plug for a friend of a very good friends band. The song rocks and they`re from Stoke where I spent 10 years prior to coming to the `Pon. Qualification enough in my book. Lay back, relax and enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Trivial Pursuits

It`s back on next weekend......football is back, Verdy are back, Tokyo Nerdy 1969 is back. I`d LOVE to be able to give a big loud fuck off WE`RE BACK with bells, air horns and guitar solo`s but I can`t because in the last month for myself football has slipped way down the rankings of the important things in life.. Verdy will be playing at Komazawa Stadium against Ehime, I will be there with my son and a few friends cheering on the Boys in Green but seriously knowing that win, lose or draw, it REALLY matters not.
To be simply alive and at the stadium to be able to take in the game is an absolute blessing in itself. The thought of watching a game, having a beer with friends and catching up has become such a beacon of hope for myself (a person in no way seriously affected by the earthquake) that next weekend really can`t come round soon enough.
The J-League and all teams therein have made a superb effort since March 11th in helping the affected clubs and also (far more importantly); the communities to come to terms with the devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunami. In terms of "coming to terms with things" there are some things nobody can help with. For the children who have lost mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends; no amount of Charity Matches, Millions raised or Kazu Dances performed will bring loved ones back. Mother Nature is an absloute indomitable bitch at times and in times like these we are utterly powerless to defend ourselves. If Mother Nature decides to plant a 40 tonne ship on the top of a 30m / 3 storey building there is little any man,woman or child can do to survive.
However, for the people who did survive, for life to again be fruitful it, can`t be lived in a permanent state of desperation. And this is where football comes in. 90 minutes away from the troubles that have been thrown up since March 11th. Football can be a temporary band aid for the spirit of the nation, a temporary anaesthetic to the pain of what has happened. Vegalta Sendai and the other clubs can provide a release for the people of that devastated region. A chance to grieve communally, hold on to each other and hopefully fightback against the wave of destruction. Football in all it`s glorious triviality can come to the fore. I for one welcome football back into the life of the nation.
It has been mentioned elsewhere that the J-League has become more of a family since the carnage of the 11th. Many clubs have been working together to raise money and going out to help people in shelters bringing hope to the hopeless. I would go as far to say the whole nation has come together like no other time. The community spirit in Japan is second none that I have ever experienced anywhere in the world. The need to live with dignity, respect for others and helping those less fortunate has been magnified in these current turbulent times and the population of this nation has not been found wanting. To the soldiers dealing with the stomach churning task of (still) fishing bodies out of the sea, the countless volunteers manning soup kitchens, taking in orphans, to people providing logistical help dealing with all the aid coming in from all corners of the globe, the housewives wrapping endless boxes of supplies, the regular citizens organising toy fairs for the kids who have lost everything,  the volunteers driving their own trucks full of supplies, I say from the bottom of my heart that I am proud to be able to share in your generosity of spirit, your willingness to go the extra mile for the people who currently need it. I am proud to say I am part of Japan. I`m not Japanese and never will be in terms of ethnicity or citizenship but I feel as Japanese as the next man in terms of this current disaster. It could just as easily been my family washed away, crushed under a building or wandering hopelessly looking for me. I thank my lucky stars that it wasn`t but know that next time it could just as easily be mine. What goes around, comes around in this life and in that sense I will not be found wanting.
In terms of the usual vitriol contained within this site, don`t be surprised if some of it is turned down for a while. The former passions for both football and the hatred of the opposition has disapated somewhat. I`d like to buy Taira Inoue a beer and encourage him in his pursuits of scoring, thank him for his efforts  and hope that he is OK. I will welcome with open arms FC Tokyo fans to Ajinomoto Stadium, happy that they are all alive and able to do something as meaningless and fun as watch a football game. Football IS just a game and generally undeserving of the column inches it generates and definately undeserving of the negative passions it invokes in people, myself included. Call me a disgusting hippy if you like but I don`t think there can be a person who was been present in Japan since March 11th who hasn`t had his/her thinking changed.
There will be a lot of people at the games next weekend who have lost loved ones and there will be a lot of people who simply won`t be there ever again. For these people I say, we will continue the good fight, doing our best to bring a sense of normality back to your lives. With dignity, respect for your suffering and look forward to the day when you are all able to smile again. We stand with you all.