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Sunday, 25 May 2008

Shimizu S-Pulse, I Hereby Crown Thee Kings of Shizuoka! S-Pulse 4-2 Jubilo

The scoreboard says it all at Derby Day 2 of 4

Leaving home at 8:30am on a Sunday for football is wrong. Just so, so wrong. More so that I was leaving a nice warm futon behind to head out into the torrential rain and gusting winds that were whipping Shizuoka. Having made it to the stadium with my umbrella only once turning inside out, I was in surprisingly good spirits, and as the UK Ultras gradually congregated behind the goal, we were more than ready for our Nabisco Cup derby day.

The rain had been coming down since 8pm the previous night, but the clouds parted at 11am and Nihondaira's pitch looked amazingly good given the showering it had endured. The weather seemed to put off a good couple of thousand fans, as despite having sold over fifteen thousand tickets, less than thirteen thousand bothered turning up. Those who found better things to do missed out on a classic derby clash, with six goals and all the action you could shake a stick at. Most importantly, S-Pa came away with all three points, leaving Jubilo as good as out the competition, and us as good as through to round two:

Group B after Sunday

S-Pa opened the scoring on 14 minutes with a stroke of genius from Hara, who with a couple of perfect touches, knocked the ball over Matsui in the Jubilo goal and then ran it into the net. 1-0 to the 'Pulse, and more looked like it was coming. More came, but not for us - on 36 minutes a sweeping move from the visitors cut us to pieces, and ended in a clinical finish from Cullen. 1-1. A unique characteristic of J. League crowds is the ability to not let an away goal interrupt their chanting. So it was as Jubilo pulled level: while me and Fuz slouched back amid a shower of four letter words, the singing thousands around us didn't even break stride. Total respect to J. crowds - a goal against hits like a Doc Marten boot to the bollocks, and it must take a huge power of will to not give the away fans the satisfaction of seeing you gutted. I certainly can't manage it. I need a good thirty second break to abuse the keeper / defender / ref / weather, take five or six deep breaths, tell myself we can come back, and then force myself to get back behind the team.

After the break it all got a little hazy as the beer started taking hold. The tension of a derby is dispersed in direct correlation to the number of beers consumed, and after number five (or was it number six?), the edge was nicely taken off the fear of losing. We needn't have worried so much though, as on 49 minutes a reckless challenge in the box resulted in this:

Minutes after the above made it 2-1, it was 3-1 with another great finish, this time from Nishizawa. Jungo made it 4-1 with 15 minutes to go, and when we let our guard down to allow the 40 year old Gon to head a late goal, it was far from enough to bring Jubilo back into it. Despite a depleted team due to international call ups and injuries, we crushed Jubilo to claim our sixth win from ten derbies, leaving the blues wondering where their next derby victory is coming from. More worrying for Jubilo must be their upcoming relegation battle. It's still early days, (and we're none too cleverly placed ourselves) but with four defeats on the spin, things are looking pretty grim for Iwata.

Aside from the usual happy tidings that come with a resounding derby win also came the good news that not only Omae Genki, but also Marcos Paulo made their débuts today:

Omae God!

Omae looked distinctly more spritely than the Brazilian, but by the time this was all happening, I was having trouble focussing on what was going on on the pitch. The combination of such an early start, the torrential rain which turned into muggy, sticky sunshine, the countless beers, and the celebrations at hammering our bitter rivals were starting to take over. We went on to to run out 4-2 winners and now only need a point against Tokyo on Saturday to secure our route to the knock out stages. After that we even have the gloating opportunity of an away day at the Yamaha Stadium with us through and them out - fingers crossed, eh!

One team in Shizuoka!

Kings of Shiz!



dokool said...

Glad to hear that we both had good days ;-)

So that's a yes for you coming to Matsumoto?

Shizza said...

A perfect day! You simply can't beat hammering your local rivals!

Saturday is sorely tempting, but I will probably end up watching it on the big screen in the S-Pulse shop. It's a little too far, and also my better half is starting to lose patience with football dominating so many of my weekends!

dokool said...

Boo, come and join me in the hinterlands of Nagano! Your better half needs to understand the character-building experience of away trips =P

Shizza said...

I've tried that line before! :-D To be fair, she's trudged all the way up to Saitama and Yokohama in the past, and she's not even an S-Pulse fan, so I'll forgive her Nagano! ;)

Fuz said...

God, at least Shizza's better half likes football... even getting mine to the 'daira is a challenge! Doesn't pay any attention to the game, but he makes a good beer lacky, right Shizza?