Friday, 2 May 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Derby Day comes but twice a year - or four if you're drawn together in the League Cup. A year to the day since we ran out to an orange and white stadium packed to the rafters, so it will be again. Cast eyes left for today's Japanese lesson: 完売 (kanbai) = SOLD OUT. Three days before showtime there was not a ticket to be had, save for at a price on Yahoo Auctions. The 20000 capacity at Nihondaira will again be tested to the limit, no doubt making some wonder why, with the 50000 seater Ecopa down the road, we don't play the game there. The reason is simple, and it's a good one: It's so far "down the road" that it's a mere stone's throw from Iwata City. Like last year, we'll be able to make full use of home advantage, as 18000 oranges voices drown out the murmurs which will occasionally emanate from the away end.

I'm a big fan of manipulating statistics to prove my point, but a quick glance over recent meetings reveals not much effort is needed to show we've got reason to be confident. Going into tomorrow we're unbeaten in four with an aggregate score of 8-1. We saw off Jubilo both home and away last year, and have won six of our last ten meetings with two ending in draws. Need some more? With Kenta at the helm, we've lost just one derby from seven, winning four. We've not lost a home derby in five years (and while I wasn't there the last time we got turned over, I'm pretty sure the ref was on their side and that we woz robbed).

In reality, Jubilo will also fancy their chances. Since JaeJin left, we're without the man who last year almost single-handedly ended their Derby Day dreams, and the blues are also on a good run of form with Gilsinho slamming in the goals. One thing the visitors won't be looking forward to is returning to the cauldron that Nihondaira unquestionably is when it's full to bursting:

The Good:

Expect more choreographed fun and games tomorrow!

The Bad:

An impassioned plea on the official club homepage warns against a repeat of the above, even hinting at disciplinary action from the J. League. I say ya boo sucks to that. Home advantage is all about intimidating the visitors, derbies are all about riling your opponents, and that's all this is. Everyone knows not to cross the line by physically attacking the coach, so it's all good clean fun in my eyes.

The Ugly involves a certain member of the UK Ultras falling drunkenly off his seat into the person in front. Fortunately no video exists.

So if you're still ticketless, too bad. The forecast points to sunshine, the stadium's going to be heaving, and Jubilo are once again entering the lion's den as lambs to the slaughter. My prediction? 3-0 to the mighty oranges. :)

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