Sunday, 29 May 2016

S-Pulse 8 (Eight) - 0 Gunma


S-Pulse, you never fail to surprise me.

Given our recent turgid form, who saw this coming? Nobody, that's who.

Ladies and gentlemen, you just witnessed S-Pulse history: our largest ever win. That's also the J. League records equalled for most goals scored without reply, and the biggest margin of victory. As for J2, that's the biggest victory of all time.

What a game. As I mentioned at half time, it was a one-sided onslaught. Men versus boys. Only one team had turned up. The most pleasing aspect though was how at 4-0 with 45 minutes still to play, we didn't let up. We didn't rush, we weren't frantic, but nor did we take our foot off the pedal. People often joke about their team "could have had ten", but we genuinely could have.

Omae and Tese in particular ran riot, simply impossible for Gunma to deal with, but nobody had a bad game. Murata scored a fantastic chipped goal, the afternoon's 7th, which turned the match from a thrashing to a rout. It set the stadium well and truly into party mode, each of us in orange hoping the game would never end.

With Kakuda back, Tese on fire, Omae full of confidence and banging them in, we finally showed what we're capable of. When three of our young guns entered the fray, starting with Ishige just past the hour, each brought something to the table. Kaneko, the last on with 10 minutes to play, even got on the score sheet, netting the 8th.

Sure, Gunma were pretty terrible, but we took full advantage, and did what no other J. League team has done in 13 years - score 8 and concede none. This will hopefully prove to be our waking up from a not-especially-great first third of the season. Of course, it is ultimately only three points, so onwards and upwards starting with Mito away next week. Bring it on!
Decent away following
 Gunma manager (white shirt) had some explaining to do after the game
There were no shortage of tears from Gunma players and fans 
 Kobayashi and co, thank you
 Kachiloko time!
Tese - Our best number 9 in years 
You don't see that everyday 
Celebratory yakiniku. 8 beers in 90 minutes? Stage Clear!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Season 2016 Highlights


I really should have thought of doing this as soon as highlights became available officially on YouTube a while back. Better late than never. I'll update this after each game.

1) S-Pulse 0-0 Ehime FC
February 28th 2016

2) V-Varen Nagasaki 0-3 S-Pulse
March 6th 2016

3) S-Pulse 0-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
March 13th 2016

4) S-Pulse 0-2 Sapporo
March 20th 2016

5) Yamagata 0-1 S-Pulse
March 26th 2016

6) Kumamoto 0-2 S-Pulse
April 3rd 2016

7) S-Pulse 0-2 Cerezo Osaka
April 9th 2016

8) S-Pulse 2-2 Kamatamare Sanuki
April 17th 2016

9) Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-2 S-Pulse
April 23rd 2016

10) S-Pulse 4-1 Zweigen Kanazawa
April 29th 2016

11) Kyoto 2-1 S-Pulse
May 3rd 2016

12) FC Gifu 1-1 S-Pulse
May 8th 2016

13) S-Pulse 0-1 Tokushima
May 15th 2016

14) Tokyo Verdy 2-1 S-Pulse
May 22nd 2016

15) S-Pulse 8-0 Gunma
May 28th 2016

16) Mito HollyHock 0-0 S-Pulse
June 4th 2016

17) FC Machida Zelvia 1-2 S-Pulse
June 8th 2016

18) S-Pulse 3-0 Yokohama FC
June 12th 2016

19) S-Pulse 1-1 JEF United Chiba
June 19th 2016

20) Renofa Yamaguchi 0-4 S-Pulse
June 26th 2016

21) Fagiano Okayama 2-2 S-Pulse
July 3rd 2016

22) S-Pulse 4-0 Roasso Kumamoto
July 10th 2016

23) Ehime FC 2-2 S-Pulse
July 16th 2016

24) S-Pulse 0-1 Tokyo Verdy
July 20th 2016

25) JEF United 3-4 S-Pulse
July 24th 2016

26) S-Pulse 2-0 FC Gifu
July 31st 2016

27) Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 3-2 S-Pulse
August 7th 2016

28) S-Pulse 2-0 V-Varen Nagasaki
August 11th 2016

29) S-Pulse 2-2 Renofa Yamaguchi FC
August 14th 2016

30) Yokohama FC 0-2 S-Pulse
August 21sth 2016

31) S-Pulse 3-1 Montedio Yamagata
September 11th 2016

32) S-Pulse 2-1 Mito HollyHock
September 18th 2016

33) Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 S-Pulse
September 25th 2016

34) Cerezo Osaka 1-2 S-Pulse
October 2nd 2016

35) S-Pulse 2-0 FC Machida Zelvia
October 8th 2016

36) Zweigen Kanazawaa 0-3 S-Pulse
October 16th 2016

37) S-Pulse 2-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
October 23rd 2016

38) Thespakusatsu Gunma 0-4 S-Pulse
October 29th 2016

39) S-Pulse 4-1 Kyoto Sanga
November 3rd 2016

40) Kamatamare Sanuki 1-2 S-Pulse
November 6th 2016

41) S-Pulse 2-1 Fagiano Okayama
November 12th 2016

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Hi J2, Nice to Meet You! (S-Pulse 0-0 Ehime)


4 subscribers? Hell yeah, I'm a YouTuber now.

With thanks for all the feedback. Very much appreciated. This little project was decided upon almost as I walking to the shuttle bus, so for something so off the cuff, I think it turned out OK.

Following encouraging comments, a follow up for the Matsumoto home game on March 13th in now in pre-production (ie: I'm thinking about buying a selfie stick). These won't happen every week, or even every home game, but they might be a fun way to document the year instead of just writing about it.

If you actually want to see the game instead of me waffling on half cut, here you go:

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Up on Year Number 9


While trying to think up a '9' related header for this post, the only thing that kept repeating in my mind was Bryan Adam's late 90s soft rock classic. As a result, this post is best enjoyed as it was composed: the Groover from Vancouver providing the background beats.

So anyway, why 9? Because, believe it or not, 2016 marks the ninth year we've been doing this. 
Stop us if we're boring you
Posts slowed down since Twitter took over a few years back, and became a crawl over the last 12 months. Who can blame us? Watching S-Pulse under Oenoki's reign was a thoroughly miserable experience. But we've been doing this too long to let a little relegation stop us, so on we soldier into 2016, full of a lovable, boyish sense of hope. (Now playing: Best of Me)
A year watching Oenoki's S-Pulse, summed up in one face

A lot's happened since 2008, not least Twitter's arrival. Employing the little blue bird means much less needs to posted on here, with much more getting much further, much more easily than a blog can accomplish. More relevant to the actual content of this site is the agreement I struck with S-Pulse. Match reports going up on the official home page made it pretty redundant having them here as well. Even if it meant I could rant and rave a bit more, I get that done on Twitter anyway, so there's little point in having a second report here. (Now playing: 18 Till I Die)

If last season was an unintentional practice run (and there was little in the way of hoards clamouring for a return to weekly match reports), then this year it's official; we're not bothering with team listings, substitutions, and match summaries. We'll be more active than last year, but will focus more on the adventure than the details.

We're in J2 then, but with a whole load of new teams to visit or, if the Sunday kick offs prove prohibitive, at least welcome to Nihondaira. One way or the other, it's going to be journey. You can bemoan the lack of in-match spontaneity in Japanese football fan culture, but it provides no shortage of colour and entertainment, with each club unique. I can't wait to see how Renofa or Machida roll. (Now playing: All I Want is You

In the J. League the term derby has been entirely reimagined to serve a purely publicity related function. Two teams wear the same colour? It's a derby. Two teams start with the same letter? It's a derby. I shit you not. I've been here so long I have to remind myself how ridiculous it is, but then it's all part of what makes the J. League such a fun ride. Two of the nation's top producers of oranges go head to head? Opening week at Nihondaira,  I present you "The Mikan Derby" Why the hell not? I'm amazed it wasn't picked up on by the marketing bods, to be honest. (Now playing: There Will Never be Another Tonight)
Ehime - what you got?
Bring it on, then. One week tomorrow I'll be back up the IAI, staring out at a snow-capped Mt Fuji, but no doubt finding something or other to moan about. Regardless, I'll hopefully be witnessing the seeds being sown of a long overdue enjoyable season. You never know, when the curtain comes down in November, maybe it will even have been a successful one.

Now playing: Can't Stop This Thing We Started - ain't that the truth. Happy New Year and Forza S-Pulse, mother fuckers!!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Ten Best Performing Teams in J. League History


A recent Brazilian publication reminded me to update our annual J. League club ranking. Their list, while using a different points system, ultimately came out eerily close to our own. I've reproduced it below.

First, a few quick points. I'm now calling the list the best performing teams. Reason being, my ranking isn't just about trophies. If you finish the league 2nd then you were one of the best teams in the land, even if you didn't win the title. And how else could I rig it so S-Pulse can poke their noses in? Second, for this year's 1st and 2nd place league points I simply used 2015's combined stage league table. Gamba get nothing for coming third or beating Urawa in the play off semi final.

Thirdly, deciding the league 1st and 2nd place points in this way creates an inconsistency. For 1993 to 2004 (1996 excluded) I used the teams from the championship play off game. Time permitting, I'd like to go back and amend those years to award the two best teams from the year-long table. I suspect the list wouldn't change a huge amount, save perhaps for Kashiwa's winning of the combined 2000 table and the points that would bring. The league format at the time prevented them from even joining the play off.

Still awake at the back? Good, because we're ready to go. Points are awarded as last year:

League title: 3 Points
League runners up: 1 Point
Cup win: 2 Points
Cup runners up: .5 Points
Relegation: -1 Point
Time spent in lower division: -.5 per year
So here you go, the ten best performing teams in J. League history:

1) Kashima Antlers 43.5
2) Gamba Osaka 21.5
3) Yokohama F. Marinos 20 
-) Jubilo Iwata 20
5) Urawa Red Diamonds 16.5
6) Tokyo Verdy 11
7) Sanfrecce Hiroshima 10.5
Nagoya Grampus 10
9) S-PULSE 9.5
10) Kashiwa Reysol 7

The most notable change this year being Gamba's rise to second. Another cup win moved them above Marinos and Iwata, but while their rise up the list comes off the back of recent trophies, it's worth remembering that since 2002 they have also finished J1 in 3rd place seven times. Impressive.

Hiroshima continue their relentless surge upwards with a third league title in four years, while Antlers maintain a seemingly insurmountable lead at the top following yet another cup triumph. Verdy drop another half point ahead of 2016 in J2, and S-Pulse also take a hit following relegation and the upcoming season in a lower league.

Make of it what you will. It isn't perfect, and if you want a professional opinion then here's what the Brazilian media arrived at:

1) Kashima
2) G. Osaka
3) Iwata
4) Yokohama F. Marinos
5) Verdy
6) Urawa
7) Sanfrecce
8) Reysol
9) Nagoya
10) Yokohama Flügels

Pretty close, all told. I don't know what criteria was used, but they still have Verdy on considerably more points than Urawa, so perhaps they didn't penalise years spent playing at a lower level in the same way I did.

There you go then, mates! Same time next year. :)