Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Daniel Reports: My First Match

I had the chance to take in my first J-League match this past weekend as I was lucky enough to spend some time in Japan. After a little planning I navigated my way from home base in Nerima, Tokyo, through to Omiya Station. Immediately I got the feel that the surrounding area has a passion for the team with the various flags and posters in shop windows, etc. After walking through the area I managed to pick up some Ardija swag from the Orange Square store located close to the main approach to the Stadium. In comparison to other leagues I've spectated in the past, J-League merchandise is extremely expensive, but quite tasteful. I opted for the cheaper "non-official" jersey and a scarf. With 8,200 yen spent on two scarves and a shirt, I felt ready to blend in for the upcoming match.

On match day, I couldn't believe the number of FC Tokyo supporters I had to stand with on the train from Ikebukuro station. As a Toronto FC supporter, we have seen a maximum away support of only a meager 300 come to support their team. I could tell we would be in for a decent atmosphere at NACK 5 with the abundant traveling support. The old familiar feeling came to me as we approached the stadium, that feeling of fever pitch every supporter feels on match day. Seeing the orange army walking up through Omiya Park gave me a special buzz, as being so far away from home I still felt like I belonged.

Luckily I managed to find a decent spot in the home end standing section. With an Asahi and the worst Japanese food I had been subjected to all trip, I almost felt at home. I was shocked to meet up with Agent Orange and Orange Man as well as another Omiya supporter from our blog. I would like to once again personally thank these guys for their warm hospitality as well as a little insight into the match.

The support was quite good in the Omiya end a lot of very familiar renditions of Omiya songs and chants were quite easy to pick up as the game went along. The flags were quite well done and it was nice to see most people involved. For a guy who quite regularly likes to sing and make an ass of himself, I was impressed. The match itself was probably one to forget for most fans - Tokyo took advantage of Omiya's weaknesses and also a lot of calls went against Ardija. Still, the game was one to remember for me. I can now consider myself a fan of the team and I will follow them and hopefully become a ticket holder, with all being well with a move to Japan in the future. Until next time.

Many thanks indeed to Daniel for providing the pictures and this account of his first ever Squirrels match. A full gallery of his photos from the occasion can be found on Flickr, here.



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