Wednesday, 17 July 2013

9 match unbeaten run ends in injury time away to Hiroshima

Champions and current 2nd place team Hiroshima kept going in a fairly even match with chances for both teams but a slight error in judgement from Jin-Hyeon in the 95th miniute delighted the home crowd. Prior to the game this was billed as a battle between Cerezo's Kakitani and Sanfrecce's Sato both of whom are in double figures for goals this season and both missed chances to add to their tallies. We remain in 6th and face Sagan Tosu who are just above the relegation spots in 15th at home on Wednesday. In other news Zaccheroni has named Yamaguchi, Ogihara and Kakitani in his East Asian Cup squad so let's hope they can win their first caps for the national team. The cup means a short break in the J1 schedule during which we will be facing the travelling Manchester United pre-season friendly circus. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Consistency in the league but knocked out of the Nabisco Cup

Zaccheroni was at Kincho for this one as he saw Kakitani put us ahead with a typically cool finish after he was put through superbly by Minamino who did enough to ensure he'll be starting a few more games this season. We looked fairly comfortable despite Yokohama hitting the woodwork on a couple of occasions. Yokoyama came in to fill Ogihara's defensive midfield position and did really well alongside Yamaguchi. Yamashita worked hard in a defence that looked happy to tackle for once. Jin-Hyeon was taken off just after the hour mark after a clash of heads, something similar happened to him a couple of seasons back and he was ruled out for a few weeks, but he should be back for our next game this time. Simplicio picked his spot from outside the box to wrap up the win despite Marquinhos's late header. Looking good in J1 then although we limped out of the Nabisco Cup Quarter finals that hasn't affected our run in the league. Next up is Hiroshima away.

No, no, no! No nicknames on kits please "Bomber"

Yokohama fans brought the noise and someone had a cymbal to accompany the drums

13272 in attendance as a few sections were sold out


Tatsuya's Tale part 1

Hi My name is Tatsuya. I'm 24 years old. I quit my job and came to England to play football. I've played football in level 4 in Japan. When I arrived England, I didn't belong to any team. So I needed to look for teams first. I walked around to find a team everyday. Then I found 2 teams. The first team was Wembley FC. This team was in the news last year because they got some very famous old players to play in the FA Cup last season. So I met Claudio Caniggia who played with Maradona for Argentina in the World Cup and also Terry Venables who played for Chelsea and managed FC Barcelona. I didn't know who they were. When I found out I was surprised! Also I was surprised when I arrived training ground, although they are amateur team, they have a small stadium.

Then my first training started. I was nervous. Because I don't understand English yet. But I tried desperately to understand. I think technique is no problem for me. But everyone is bigger than me. Also very muscular. So I have to move more quickly. Also physical contact is more severe compared to the J-league! I have not seen anything like it in Japan.

The second team was Wingate&Finchely FC. This team is level 7 in England. They also have a stadium. Also If we want to watch the game, even level 7 we have to pay money! My first goal is to play in level 7 in England. So I want to play in this team next season.

But level 7 is a higher level than my team in Japan. Physical contact is more severe, also the playing speed was very fast. So I have to move while thinking very quickly.

But I could play well. I think I will show my strong points. But I have to train more. I haven't yet reached my final goal. I also tried to play for Barnet FC which is level 4 in England. There Edgar Davids is Player-manager. So I asked him if I could play. Then he said to me 'Are you serious?' So I said 'Yes'

Then he read my CV carefully. But I didn't play. But he read my CV. So maybe he knows about me!

I've been in England for 2 months now.

England is the best football country. Everyone plays football in the park everyday. So I can play football everyday. I'm happy to play football in such a country. From now I'm going to play football!

次のチームはWingate&Finchely FCです。このチームはイングランドの7部で、専用のグラウンドはもちろん、試合観戦には入場料が必要なくらいです。僕の第一目標は、イングランドの7部でプレーすることです。しかし7部といっても、日本で所属していたチームよりもレベルは高いと思います。競り合いも激しい上に、動き出しの速さ、考えるスピードも速く、いかに考えながら素早くプレーできるかを求められましたが、初練習の時、調子がすごく良く、自分の長所をアピールすることができたと思います。しかし僕の最終目標はここではないので、もっとトレーニングに励まなければなりません。実はもうひとつ、バーネットFCというチームを見つけたんですが、国内4部のプロチームで、駄目元で行っちゃえと思って履歴書持って行ったんですが、そこにはあの元オランダ代表のダーヴィッツ選手が選手兼監督でいました。ビビりながらもダーヴィッツ選手に話しかけここでサッカーがしたいと言うと、最初「お前マジか⁈」みたいな感じでした。まぁたしかにそうなるなと思いながらも「マジです!」と答えると、丁寧に僕の履歴書を読んでくれました。そこから色々あったんですが結果的には練習参加はできませんでした。でもまたいつか挑戦したいと思います。
イングランドに渡って2ヵ月が経ち、いつも思うことですが、さすがサッカーの母国だなと。なぜなら公園に行けば、必ず誰かがサッカーをしているからです。なのでサッカーがしたければ公園に行き'I want to play football'と言えば誰でもサッカーができます。そんな国でサッカーができることが幸せです。では練習にいってきます!

Early doors of the decade may be best for part-time Vale supporters

English: Micky Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Vale Park, home of Port Vale F.C., July 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you want to enjoy being a part-time supporter of England’s Port Vale Football Club (like I am) – the best time to do so tends to be in the early years of a decade.

I know football fans are weird about lucky pants, shirts, hats, socks etc – but what about times .

For a long time a group of us at Port Vale used to miss the kick-off in an apparent protest at the Saturday kick-off time being moved from 3.15pm to 3.

It probably actually had more to do with staying in the pub longer than protesting but it was a bit shameful the number of times all the turnstiles were shut and we had to pay a late gate and go down the tunnel just as the players were coming off for half-time.

However, the 2012-2013 season proved to be one of those early decade delights (some statto will probably prove all this is nonsense) as Vale were promoted from League Two to League One (really the Fourth Division to the Third Division).

They also finished as top scorers in the English divisions with the top individual goal scorer all divisions – local boy Tom Pope (a bit like a bargain basement Shinji Kagawa really).
Next time a Cerezo fan is in England we are obliged to pay a visit to Burslem

Port Vale fans collected the money for club legend Roy Sproson's statue for 10 years
Despite these stats, as usual, Vale did not give us a smooth ride as ‘easy’ games were lost and goals given away at the death. To keep the roller coaster going they would also win 5-2 at Fleetwood and beat Burton Albion 7-1 at home. You never knew for certain which Vale would turn up.

After topping the division and then slipping Vale secured elevation to the next division against promotion rivals Northampton Town with a last minute own goal by former Vale player Lee Collins in a 2-2 last home game of the season.

In fact the ‘Law of the Ex’ – which holds that ex-players coming up against you always stop you winning (keeper’s/defenders) or score the goal that beats you (anyone really – was truly reversed by Lee and by Burton’s ex-Vale keeper Stu Tomlinson in that thrashing at Vale Park.

This was a season started with the club in administration with a mysteriously abandoned takeover leaving manager Micky Adams with uncertainty over everyone’s contracts – and even if there would be a club to finish the season.

After most players agreed new revised contracts and the ground finally got safety certificates (following hard  work by the fans) the first non-friendly fixture ended in a 3-1 Capital One (League) Cup defeat – albeit against Championship side Burnley.

Vale also lost a behind-closed-doors friendly (because of the lack of safety certificates in the chaos at the club) to Coventry City of League One.
Things looked better after a 3-0 first home win over Barnet but then there was the 2-0 defeat at Accrington corrected by a 3-1 win at Morecambe.
We were travelling around Japan to miss a truly purple patch as Vale won 2-0 in the Johnsons Paint Trophy (we call it the underpants or Paint Pot cup unless we win it) at Tranmere, beat Rotherham 6-2 at home, won 3-1 at Plymouth and 5-2 at Fleetwood.
Of course the biggest home crowd of the season – 6,978 – turned up to see now-promotion rivals Gillingham win 2-0 at Vale Park.
Winter saw a series of wins and draws punctuated by the occassional defeat take Vale to the top end of the table with Tom Pope banging in the goals and keeper Chris Neal producing excellent form behind the defence.
October also saw the administrators name Sheffield businessman Paul Wildes and partner Norman Smurthwaite as preferred bidders to take the club out of administration.
Inbetween Vale had gone to old rivals – and bogey team – Walsall in the Paint Trophy and gone 2-0 down, come back to 2-2 and then won it with a penalty converted by young rookie keeper Sam Johnson after all outfield players on both sides had taken penalties in the shootout. Amazing.
Micky Adams was named League Two Manager of The Month and Tom Pope player of the month.
Even the programme front covers looked incredibly good with fantastic retro artwork by US artist Paine Proffitt from Burslem’s Barewall Art Gallery.
The back covers were not as impressive as Vale’s small squad took up much less space than their opponents – a result of administration, lack of money and restrictions on transfers in.
It couldn’t go on could it? Yes it could and by December the Vale fans’ excellent fanzine ‘Derek I’m Gutted’ was headlined ‘Another New Era”.
Inside ‘Derek’ led off: “Second in the table, still in the FA Cup, a mere three successful ties away from Wembley in the Paint Pot Trophy (aka the JPT) , and a brave new world about to arrive in the form of Paul Wildes’ takeover.”

Actually the takeover followed the usual winding Vale road of delays for FA clearance but the small squad of players had kept up the good work and the statue of the Vale player who had played the most games for the club – Roy Sproson – was finally unveiled after many delays.
The takeover went through hours before a 4-0 home win over Bristol Rovers and then goal-machine Pope signed a one year extension to his contract.
All was not smooth sailing though as. About 3,000 Vale fans went to League One Sheffield United in the FA Cup to see Vale lose a 1-0 lead in the 90th minute and concede another to lose the tie in the 95th minute.
A second cup exit came with a 2-0 home defeat in the Paint Pot against Bradford City. To be fair City were on a bit of a cup binge – beating Premiership Arsenal, Aston and Wigan in the League (Capital One) Cup before losing to another top tier team – Swansea – in the final at Wembley.
The New Year started badly with a 2-0 home defeat to Fleetwood (yes the same Fleetwood where Vale went to win 5-2 earlier in the season) but Micky Adams started to bring in players at last – in the shape of experienced centre half Darren Purse and ex-Vale (and ex-LA Galaxy and Trinidad and Tobago international) Chris Birchall.
A 4-0 home win over Plymouth was followed by the arrival of controversial striker Lee Hughes after he was released by Notts County. Fans somewhat ambivalent in view of him serving jail time for causing a death with his driving.
At Gillingham Vale got revenge for their home defeat with a 2-1 win before left back Danny Jones arrives from Sheffield Wednesday and the pattern continues of wins and draws punctuated by disappointing draws and defeats.
As the end of the season approaches Vale fans outnumber the home fans at Rochdale but concede a last minute goal for a draw and then it is on to the drama against Northampton.
English: Vale Park, Burslem.
English: Vale Park, Burslem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much joy as promotion is secured but that nagging feeling that all may not be well as Paul Wildes walks away from the club in the close season after disagreement with Norman Smurthwaite (Papa Smurf) and Norman is left running the show.
Most players have agreed to stay at the club  except for club captain Doug Loft (at the time of writing) and Vale fans are looking forward to the higher division and games against local and local(ish) teams such as Wolves, Walsall, Coventry and Shrewsbury. It is still early the decade so perhaps it might not be quite the right time for the part-time supporter to disappear.