Friday, 19 November 2010

Michael Hudson: I Wouldn't Mind Seeing Them At Home

GGOA is very pleased to present this contribution from Squirrels and Newcastle United supporter Michael Hudson, who blogs as The Accidental Groundhopper and who can be followed on Twitter @DolphinHotel...

As Naoki Ishihara would no doubt agree, if you’re going for a goal then timing is pretty much everything. On the day I chose to show off Ardija, mine could hardly have been much worse. It was a cold, grey October afternoon and as we gathered on the platform none of us were particularly looking forward to the snail-paced local train ride to Tobitakyū, where the Squirrels were due to play against Tokyo Verdy.

“Who’s this team again?” asked Mark, a Sheffield Wednesday fan still glassy-eyed from the night before, “and why do you support them?” “How far’s the ground from the station?” moaned Richard, who claimed to support Swansea City but who, rather worryingly, had once attempted to talk me into watching a game of rugby. “Look at the sky,” said Patrick the West Ham United fan. The morose expression on his face suggested it wasn’t bubbles he was worried might start to fall.

At the station exit for the Ajinomoto Stadium we met up with Declan, an Arsenal supporter whose major contribution to humanity had been to introduce me to Ardija in the autumn of 2004. He went off to buy some tickets, we to stock up on super strength Chu-hi, the alcoholic drink of choice for the underpaid English teacher in Tokyo. After Omiya’s calamitous 4-0 trouncing by Kashiwa Reysol in their previous home game, I had an idea some pre-match fortification might come in handy.

I wasn’t wrong. Kashiwa had been the tip of five successive defeats which, with only six games to play, had left Ardija in their usual precarious end of season position. Second from bottom of the league, coach Yasuhiro Higuchi’s team were nervy and completely devoid of confidence. Verdy, being Verdy, were every bit as bad. It was a dire, dire game - the kind that was only ever going to end in a goalless draw or a scrappy 1-0 win. So when Diego slipped past young Squirrels debutant Taishi Tsukamoto with just eight minutes left, you knew there was no prospect of Omiya coming back. The fact that it came just moments after Shin Kanazawa had squandered Ardija’s first real chance of the match only made matters worse.

When the final whistle went, eleven orange shirts slumped to the ground, picked themselves back up and came over to bow to the crowd. “Oh, Ardija,” the away end sang defiantly, as the few thousand Verdy started making their way back home. “God, that was awful,” said Patrick, tidying away some discarded cans of beer. “When are they playing again?” asked Mark. “I wouldn’t mind seeing them at home.” No matter how badly they play, Omiya Ardija still have a way of doing that to you.



lottedec 19 November 2010 at 17:02  

I might be wrong, but as the aforementioned Declan I`m almost sure that this game was against FC Tokyo rather than Verdy . . .

This is a great blog, btw!!

Furtho 19 November 2010 at 17:37  

Declan, welcome and many thanks for the kind words. If you're able to stick around, that would be great.

The match Michael writes about was against Verdy, though!

lottedec 19 November 2010 at 17:38  

Oh, actually I`ve just realised that it was Verdy that day; mea culpa! I`m confusing that game with the epic 3-2 loss to FC Tokyo the same season!

How could I have doubted you, Mike? I seem to remember you saying at the time it was `just like a relegation six-pointer at home` . . .

Michael 19 November 2010 at 19:05  

Sadly, there was nothing epic about this particular game. Except, perhaps, for Mark's hangover.

Nerdy 19 November 2010 at 21:27  

I remember this game too I thought Verdy might stay up after this win....wrong.

Furtho 20 November 2010 at 06:43  

It did look like the tide was turning in your favour, Nerdy. But in the next two games we pulled off wins against JEF (including Chikara Fujimoto's unbelievably dramatic twice-taken penalty, after Klemen Lavric was pulled up for encroachment) and Kawasaki (including Lavric's brilliant volley), while at the same time you got just a point from Kyoto and Kobe. Omiya have of course gone from strength to, er, strength in the subsequent couple of years.

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