Japanese Non-league Football News

Alarm Bells Ring As Grulla Committee Resign En Masse
Ambitious Tohoku League outfit Grulla Morioka are in crisis, following the resignation of their entire executive committee at an extraordinary general meeting held in Morioka just before Christmas. This has left supporters fearing that players will leave the club and render useless any promotion challenge that Grulla might be able to put together for 2006.

These dramatic events come a month after the team's failure to win a place in the JFL, having finished joint top of the Tohoku League Division 1, famously tied dead level with TDK Akita. But coach Shinichi Muto subsequently handed in his own resignation - as reported here on JNFN - and fans will be fearing that the collapse of Okinawa Kariyushi in comparable circumstances may end up being repeated in the north.

23 Dec 05 - Laughs aplenty at the Grulla Morioka EGM

Laughs aplenty at the Grulla Morioka EGM

FC Horikoshi - Fan Suggestions To Decide New Name
Gunma prefecture's FC Horikoshi are currently asking for fans' suggestions for a new team name as they aim for a J-League place in the coming seasons. Horikoshi, who finished eighth in 2005, are one of several JFL sides keen to make the step up to J2 and regard the adoption of a new name as a further stage in their development to becoming a pro club. All suggestions are to be sent to the club by 7th January and the person making the winning proposal will be presented with a season ticket for life.
Chukyo University Men Move To The Big Time
Having run Shizuoka FC so close in the league campaign of 2005, two players from Tokai League Division 1 side Chukyo University have now made the jump to the pro ranks of the J-League itself in the close season shuffling of squads.

Tsutomu Matsuda is a 22-year-old centre back, formerly part of the youth set-up at Nagoya Grampus 8, who moves all the way to J1 with shock newcomers Ventforet Kofu. Going back to his old hunting ground, meanwhile, is midfielder Ryosuke Amo, returning to Tokushima Vortis having previously been a youth player at the Shikoku-based J2 club.
Tohoku League Division 2 (North) - Prefectural Play-offs 2005
平成17年 度北東北3県 県リーグチャンピオン決定戦

06/11/2005 Fuji Club 2003 (Iwate prefecture) 4-0 TDK Shinwakai (Akita)
13/11/2005 TDK Shinwakai 1-2 Hachinohe Kogyo High School OB (Aomori)
20/11/2005 Hachinohe Kogyo High School OB 0-5 Fuji Club 2003

Fuji Club 2003 and Hachinohe Kogyo High School OB are therefore promoted to Tohoku League Division 2 (North) for 2006.

Tohoku League Division 2 (North) - Promotion / Relegation Play-off

平成17 年度東北社会人サッカーリーグ2 部北部リーグ入替戦結果

27/11/2005 Sanno Club 3-4 TDK Shinwakai

TDK Shinwakai are therefore also promoted to Tohoku League Division 2 (North) for 2006.
Ego Goes To Ehime
Attacking midfielder Kenichi Ego has made the move from JFL side SC Tottori to J-League new boys Ehime FC. 26-year-old Ego began his career with Nagoya Grampus 8's youth side before attending university and subsequently made a single J-League appearance during 2002 for Ventforet Kofu. He then spent three years with Tottori as a first-team regular, scoring eighteen goals in eighty games.

03 Jan 06 - Kenichi Ego heads for the big time

Kenichi Ego heads for the big time
Chugoku League Promotion / Relegation Play-off

11/12/2005 Yamaguchi Teachers 3-3 New Nippon Oil Mizushima
18/12/2005 New Nippon Oil Mizushima 2-2 Yamaguchi Teachers

Yamaguchi Teachers therefore remain in the Chugoku League for 2006

26 Dec 05 - Yamaguchi Teachers

Somewhere in the far distance, Yamaguchi Teachers take on New Nippon Oil Mizushima
SC Tottori - In J2, 2008
SC Tottori have announced their intention to aim for J2 membership in 2008. The team finished in twelfth place in this season's JFL, an improvement on last year's fourteenth but neverthless below the eighth spot that had been set as a target at the beginning of 2005. Conformation of their ambition, however, does not come as an surprise, although it was expressed in terms of being a modification of the club's objectives.

These aims have until now revolved around matters such as the promotion of sportsmanship through competition, the development of sport and of friendship between members of the club - but now encompass matters more broadly beneficial to the people of Tottori prefecture, in the sense that the club seeks to act as a focus for their hopes of success.

20 Dec 05 - I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky...

I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky...

2006 will therefore see SC Tottori redouble its efforts to provide a sponsored training programme for kids in the area, as well as working towards the development of a corporate body with the financial ability to support J-League activity. The Tottori Bird Stadium is already in place as a suitable facility for use at J-League level, but some work will nevertheless still be required to enable J2 football to be played there regularly. Training areas will also be need that can support an increased amount of use.

19 Dec 05 - SC Tottori line up before their last JFL game of 2005, against Sony Sendai

SC Tottori line up before their last JFL game of 2005 against Sony Sendai

The most important aspect, however, is of course finiancial. Sponsorship raised for the club in 2005 about 13,000,000 yen - whilst 300,000,000 is generally thought to be a suitable equivalent figure for a J2 team. The club management are therefore working towards a position where they can absorb additional costs of 50,000,000 yen by the middle of January 2006.

But despite the extra financial pressures, a club spokesman expressed the view that the project of bringing J-League football to one of Japan's quieter prefectures - on the Japan Sea coast, near the southern end of Honshu - would be worthwhile. "We think that this is something that will benefit people living in Tottori prefecture," he said "There will be sacrifices required over the coming years and so we ask for the co-operation and support of everyone."
FC Gifu Strengthen Squad With Experienced Ogura
FC Gifu have signed striker Takafumi Ogura from J1 new boys Ventforet Kofu, as they prepare for the 2006 season - their first in Division One of the Tokai League. Ogura is 32 and has enjoyed a lengthy J-League career with Nagoya Grampus 8, JEF United, Tokyo Verdy 1969 and Consadole Sapporo, as well as having spent a brief loan spell with Excelsior Rotterdam in Holland. 2005, however, has seen him to an extent squeezed out at Kofu by the likes of Bare and Taro Hasegawa. Gifu will be hoping that his experience will aid them in their league matches with local giants Shizuoka FC and Chukyo University, as they seek to move as quickly as possible to the JFL.

13 Dec 05 - Takafumi Ogura, ex-Ventforet Kofu

Takafumi Ogura, ex-Ventforet Kofu

But Ogura is far from being the only player on Gifu's books who has spent time in the J-League and, indeed, is actually the fifth such striker to move to the ambitious outfit. Yasuyuki Moriyama is probably the best known of the other players, having made his debut for Grampus in 1993 and going on to score more than sixty goals for the club before moving on to Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Kawasaki Frontale as well as Sapporo. 26-year-old local boy Hiroshi Morishita, meanwhile, started his career with Shimizu S-Pulse and, moved up north to Montedio Yamagata, returning subsequently to his home prefecture to play in local non-league. Ryohei Nishiwaki also appeared for Yamagata, although he began with JEF United and has also played in Germany with Bruckhausen.

16 Dec 05 - Yasuyuki Moriyama

Yasuyuki Moriyama celebrates promotion with FC Gifu fans

As the local big side, however, Nagoya have been the richest source of players for Gifu, with midfield quartet Naoki Hiraoka - a hat-trick hero in the match that clinched promotion against Toyota Automatic - Ryuji Kitamura, 24-year-old Masahiro Iwata and experienced Mitsutoshi Tsushima all having turned out for Grampus. Defensive lynchpin Tetsuya Ito is a 35-year-old with a CV that includes spells with Yokohama F Marinos, Hiroshima and FC Tokyo.

16 Dec 05 - Tsushima

Yet another ex-J-Leaguer, Mitsutoshi Tsushima

A squad boasting such a degree of firepower nevertheless only scraped promotion by virtue of a goal difference only one superior to rivals Fuyo Club and one of the most interesting aspects of the 2006 Regional League season will be to see how the players can mesh together and compete, with an eye on a place in the JFL at the end of the year. As such, Gifu would no doubt consider themselves to be in competition not only locally with Shizuoka and Chukyo University, but also on a national scale with the likes of Grulla Morioka and V Varen Nagasaki. Time will tell which of them proves to be among the next wave of J-League teams.
Kyushu Prefectural Leagues Promotion Play-offs 2005

14/01/2006 Match A - Sasebo SC (Nagasaki prefecture) 0-2 Nobeoka City SC (Miyazaki)
14/01/2006 Match B - Osumi NIFS United (Kagoshima) 4-1 Oroku Club (Okinawa)
14/01/2006 Match C - Kumamoto Teachers Group (Kumamoto) 3-0 Kyushu INAX (Saga)
14/01/2006 Match D - Yabakei FC (Oita) 1-2 Nanakuma Tombies (Fukuoka)

13 Dec 05 - Sasebo SC in white have just beaten FC Amigo 9-0 in their Nagasaki League game

Sasebo SC in white beat FC Amigo 9-0 in their Nagasaki League game

15/01/2006 Nobeoka City SC 2-3 Osumi NIFS United
15/01/2006 Kumamoto Teachers Group 1-2 Nanakuma Tombies

15/01/2006 Osumi NIFS United 3-1 Nanakuma Tombies

Osumi NIFS United and Nanakuma Tombies are therefore promoted to the Kyushu League for 2006.
FC Kariya Announce Coach
FC Kariya - the JFL side previously known as Denso - have announced that their coach for 2006 will be local lad and former Nagoya Grampus 8 midfielder Nariyasu Yasuhara.Yasuhara, 37, joined the Toyota club in 1992, progressed to Grampus in the early years of the J-League and played a handful of games in the fledgling J1 before moving in 1995 to South America and River Plate. He later returned to Japan and coached in local high schools while on the books at Denso.

12 Dec 05 - The not in any way camp Nariyasu Yasuhara

The not-in-any-way-camp Nariyasu Yasuhara
Tochigi SC - Best 10 Events Of 2005!
JFL club Tochigi SC have announced their official top ten list of the best club events of 2005, as follows:

1. Finishing the league season in fourth place
2. Winning nine consecutive games to go top of the table and so be one of the Emperor's Cup seeded teams
3. Making an official statement about preparing the club for J-League entry
4. Completing the transfer of Manabu Wakabayashi to J1 side Omiya Ardija
5. Midfielder Toshiaki Hotta getting into the JFL's Best Eleven team of the season
6. Beating Honda FC 3-2 at home
7. The increase in the number of fans attending home matches
8. The performances of new players defender Toru Yamazaki and midfielders Takashi Nakagawa and Kentaro Yoshida
9. Goalkeeper Akihito Hoshi
10. Midfielder Yasuyuki Yoshimi's time out injured coming to an end

08 Dec 05 - Tochigi SC's Toshiaki Hotta

Star midfielder Toshiaki Hotta
Shikoku League Promotion Play-off Results 2005
10/12/2005 Tokushima Vortis Caballos 3-0 R Velho
10/12/2005 FC Yanagimachi 0-2 Hisaeda FC

11/12/2005 Tokushima Vortis Caballos 5-2 Hisaeda FC
11/12/2005 Tokushima Vortis Caballos 5-2 FC Yanagimachi
11/12/2005 R Velho 1-4 FC Yanagimachi
11/12/2005 R Velho 3-4 Hisaeda FC

Final Ranking

1. Tokushima Vortis Caballos 9pts (GD +9)
2. Hisaeda FC 6 (-)
3. FC Yanagimachi 3 (-2)
4. R Velho 0 (-7)

Tokushima Vortis Caballos and Hisaeda FC therefore qualify to participate in the final promotion play-off with Showa Club and Sanwa Club, as follows:

29/01/2006 Showa Club 1-0 Tokushima Vortis Caballos
29/01/2006 Sanwa Club 6-5 Hisaeda FC

05/02/2006 Tokushima Vortis Caballos 2-0 Showa Club
05/02/2006 Hisaeda FC 2-2 Sanwa Club

Sanwa Club therefore retaing their place in the Shikoku League for 2006, while Tokushima Vortis Caballos are promoted from the Tokushima Prefectural League.
Mitsubishi Mizushima Look Back
Reeling from their last place finish in the JFL, newcomers from the Chugoku League Mitsubishi Mizushima have been looking back at the club's first ever season in the third tier of Japanese club football, describing it collectively as having been "an ordeal". With two wins and two draws in thirty matches, the Okayama prefecture-based club ended up with just eight points and indeed on two separate occasions during the campaign they endured an eleven-game losing streak. Having begun the year with four defeats, Mizushima then scraped a 4-3 thriller at Honda Lock, thanks in the main to a hat-trick from star striker Daisuke Matsuoka. This triumph was then followed by draws against Denso and SC Tottori, and it seemed for a brief period as if the club was finding its feet. But it was a false dawn indeed, and only one more match throughout a long season resulted in anything other than a defeat.

09 Dec 05 - Long-suffering Mitsubishi Mizushima fans cheer on the lads

Long-suffering Mitsubishi Mizushima fans cheer on the lads

In the preceding close season, however, the squad had been increased, with the overall staff of the club swelling to as many as fifty people. On the playing side, a policy was adopted of selecting for each match whichever squad members were at the peak of fitness and it appears that this idea instead brought about a lack of understanding amongst the players, as no-one was allowed to develop experience of playing the system - "man for man, we're not at a lower level to other teams in the JFL," commented defender Kazunori Miyake. "Our problems this year have related to team strength and organisation." A further difficulty came about due to the fact that a large number of the players are employees of Mitsubishi Motors and have found it physically very demanding to cope with playing JFL football on top of ten-hour night shifts in the factory. Mental problems, too, came about because in 2004, the team were regarded in the Chugoku League as invincible and naturally found it disheartening to move into a situation where wins were so much harder to come by.

09 Dec 05 - Kentaro Tsuchiya gets in a shot against Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo

Kentaro Tsuchiya gets in a shot against Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo

During the second half of the season, a tactical change was made to pack the midfield more and so aim towards a more attacking style and, although results failed to improve, the players felt that they were more able to get into attacking shapes and put the opposition under pressure, with players such as Matsuoka and midfielder Toshiya Yamashita coming to the fore. "We have to use this season as an experience, a learning curve," said Yuuki Watanabe, vice-captain and a member of the over-stretched Mitsubishi defence. "It's important that we improve the quality of our training, because next season there are two more teams in the JFL and there's the threat of relegation in an eighteen-team league. 2006 is a really vital year for us."

12 Dec 05 - A very very rare moment of triumph - the win over Yokogawa Musashino

A very very rare moment of triumph - the shock win over Yokogawa Musashino
JFL Best Eleven, Player of the Year
The JFL have announced their Best Eleven team of the year for 2005, with players from six different clubs winning a place in the side. Champions Ehime FC and runners up YKK AP are each represented by three players - including overall Player of the Year, Ehime midfielder Kazuhisa Hamaoka - while Hiroki Kishida, YKK AP's young striker, won Rookie of the Year. Alo's Hokuriku's fine defensive record sees them take up two of the back four positions and Honda FC, who slumped to a disappointing fifth place finish, have star midfielder Jun Uruno included alongside Tochigi SC's Toshiaki Hotta and the league's top scorer - Hirokazu Otsubo of Sagawa Kyubin Osaka also finds a place in the team.

08 Dec 05 - Oh, very smart, gentlemen

Oh, very smart, gentlemen

08 Dec 05 - Takuji Miyoshi wins a header for Alo's against Nagoya Grampus 8

Takuji Miyoshi wins a header for Alo's against Nagoya Grampus 8

GK - Keisuke Hada (Ehime FC)
DF - Yuki Hamano (YKK AP)
DF - Tomoya Hanamori (Ehime FC)
DF - Rikiya Kawamae (Alo's Hokuriku)
DF - Takuji Miyoshi (Alo's Hokuriku)
MF - Jun Uruno (Honda FC)
MF - Takeshi Ushibana (YKK AP)
MF - Kazuhisa Hamaoka (Ehime FC)
MF - Toshiaki Hotta (Tochigi SC)
FW - Mitsuru Hasegawa (YKK AP)
FW - Hirokazu Otsubo (Sagawa Kyubin Osaka)

08 Dec 05 - Keisuke Hada scares off opposing strikers

Ehime keeper Keisuke Hada scares off opposing strikers
Hokushinetsu League Division 1 & 2 Promotion / Relegation Play-off
第29回地域リーグ決勝大会北信越リーグ 1部2部入れ替

06/11/2005 Niigata University of Management 2-2 Shinjo Club

Niigata University of Management
therefore remain in Hokushinetsu League Division 1 for the 2006 season
Play-offs - Final Stage Review

With two of the favourites and two dark horses having made it through from the Regional League Championship Winners Play-off First Round, the eyes of all fans of the non-league game in Japan have been on the Momotaro Stadium in Okayama over the weekend, to see Kyushu's FC Ryukyu and Rosso Kumamoto battle it out with JEF United Amateurs from Kanto and Kansai's Banditonce Kobe for the three available spots in the JFL for 2006.

Friday saw JEF United Amateurs take on and beat Banditonce, their former Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo forward Higuchi putting them ahead just before half time and Saito making it 2-0 with nine minutes to go. The second game on the same day, however, was the big match - the Kyushu derby game between Rosso and Ryukyu, with Ryukyu desperate to knock Rosso off from their position as top dogs in the Regional League. Fifteen minutes into the second half, however, Tomon Machida - formerly of FC Horikoshi - opened the scoring for Rosso, but a Ricardo Higa free kick in stoppage time tied things up and to the horror of the Kumamoto fans, Ryukyu went on to steal it 5-4 on the penalty shoot-out, winning two points to Rosso's one.

02 Dec 05 - Rosso Kumamoto fans prepare for the clash with FC Ryukyu

Rosso Kumamoto fans prepare for the clash with FC Ryukyu

The following day, Banditonce were as good as eliminated from the competition. They were comfortably beaten 3-0 by a resurgent Rosso, for whom another ex-Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo man, Masahiko Kumagai, got his name on the scoresheet as soon as the fifth minute. Takeshi Yamaguchi followed suite mid-way throught the second period and Machida grabbed his second goal in two games right at the end. But it was their Okinawa neighbours Ryukyu who booked a place in the JFL, a late own goal giving them a 1-0 win over JEF Amateurs.

06 Dec 05 - Ryukyu's Tomo Nitta takes on the JEF United Amateurs defence

Ryukyu's Tomo Nitta takes on the JEF United Amateurs defence

The competition finished in unexpected fashion on the Sunday, with Ryukyu again requiring penalties to squeeze past wooden-spooners Banditonce 6-5 after a 1-1 draw, in which Wilson Da Silva had put them ahead in 29th minute only for Hiroyuki Iwata to pull Banditonce level with sixteen minutes to go. Rosso, however, were left to scrape through into the JFL with a third place finish after they lost 2-1 to JEF Amateurs, Katsuhiro Suzuki notching a late consolation for the pre-tournament favourites after Danilo and Fujita had put JEF in control.

06 Dec 05 - FC Ryukyu celebrate their promotion to the JFL

FC Ryukyu celebrate their promotion to the JFL

And so FC Ryukyu's success brings a step closer the dream of a truly national J-League, with an Okinawan club established in the JFL for 2006. While Rosso disappointed with their patchy performances in the play-offs, it will nevertheless be fascinating to see how they and JEF United Amateurs - the first ever amateur outfit connected to a J-League club to reach such a high level in the Japanese pyramid system - cope with the higher level of football next season.
Play-offs Final Stage - 04/12/2005
04/12/2005 FC Ryukyu 1-1 Banditonce Kobe (PK 6-5)
04/12/2005 Rosso Kumamoto 1-2 JEF United Amateurs

Final Ranking

1. FC Ryukyu 7pt (GD +1)
2. JEF United Amateurs 6 (+2)
3. Rosso Kumamoto 4 (+2)
4. Banditonce Kobe 1 (-5)

FC Ryukyu, JEF United Amateurs and Rosso Kumamoto are therefore promoted to the JFL for 2006.
Play-offs Final Stage - 03/12/2005
03/12/2005 FC Ryukyu 1-0 JEF United Amateurs
03/12/2005 Rosso Kumamoto 3-0 Banditonce Kobe


1. FC Ryukyu 5pts (GD +1)
2. Rosso Kumamoto 4 (+3)
3. JEF United Amateurs 3 (+1)
4. Banditonce Kobe 0 (-5)
Muto Departs Grulla As Fallout Continues
With rumblings of supporter dissatisfaction continuing at Shizuoka FC and Taku Terao's one-man protest at Nangoku Kochi still uppermost in the memory, news comes through that player-coach Shinichi Muto has parted company with Grulla Morioka, following the ambitious Tohoku League side's failure to reach the JFL. No replacement has yet been announced.

06 Dec 05 - Shinichi Muto in his JEF United days

Shinichi Muto in his JEF United days

Grulla were formed only at the beginning of 2004 with the express intention of achieving elevation to the J-League by 2008. Taking their cue from other clubs in the northern parts of Honshu such as Albirex Niigata, Vegalta Sendai and Montedio Yamagata - who have all achieved enormous popularity in their home towns, despite patchy results on the pitch - and noting the consistent underachievement of Morioka Zebra, those involved in the setting up of Grulla received a major boost when local lad Muto agreed to quit J1 side JEF United and head back up north to coach and captain the brand new team.

They ended up racing to the 2004 title of the local sub-division of the Tohoku League, failing to win only one match and handing out a 14-0 pasting on the way. Having thus won promotion to the top level of regional football for 2005, Muto et al famously finished dead level with TDK Akita in this season's Tohoku League Division 1, giving them a place in the Regional League Championship Winners Play-off. But a narrow defeat at the hands of favourites Rosso Kumamoto effectively removed them from contention and means that Grulla will commence 2006 still two steps from achieving their ambition of reaching the J-League.
Play-offs Final Stage - 03/12/2005
02 Dec 05 Banditonce Kobe 0-2 JEF United Amateurs
02 Dec 05 Rosso Kumamoto 1-1 FC Ryukyu (PK 4-5)


1. JEF United Amateurs 3pts (GD +2)
2. FC Ryukyu 2 (-)
3. Rosso Kumamoto 1 (-)
4. Banditonce Kobe 0 (-2)
Nangoku Kochi Controversy As Terao Walks Out
Shikoku League champions Nangoku Kochi have been hit by a major controversy in the wake of their recent failure to win promotion to the JFL via the Regional League Championship Winners Play-offs, which conclude in Okayama this coming weekend.

Having lost in the play-offs to both Shizuoka FC and Banditonce Kobe and thus fallen at the group stage hurdle, the club management issued a positively-worded statement saying that it was disappointing to miss out on promotion again, but that they expected to be able to pick up good quality squad members from Shikoku neighbours Ehime FC and Tokushima Vortis during the close season. Furthermore, the statement also suggested that the club would be looking at other sources of players such as former JFL side Kokushikan University - who have a longstanding reputation for developing footballers - as a means of countering the regular problem of finding it hard to attract players from outside what is a pretty remote area. All this would obviously be with the intention of making a concerted push for a JFL spot this time next year.

02 Dec 05 - The controversial figure of Taku Terao

The controversial figure of Taku Terao

Astonishingly, however, this news has been met with stinging public criticism from Taku Terao, a 28-year-old attacking midfield player with the club who has previously played at Chukyo University and indeed in the JFL with Denso. In a remarkable message posted on the official Nangoku bulletin board, Terao bemoaned at length the lack of progress that he perceives as having been made at the club during the five years since he moved there from Chukyo. "There's nowhere to get a proper job here, just part-time and temporary things," he says. "How can Nangoku Kochi hope to attract good, ambitious players to come and play here under these circumstances? The average age of the squad is getting higher and higher, and there's a lack of professionalism among the staff, the trainers and the players as well."

Terao, who finished the season third top scorer at Nangoku with eight league goals, goes on to question, "What's changed since I came to the club five years ago - in Kochi, in terms of training facilities or infrastructure? It has to be wondered if the management really want to get promoted - are they aware of what's required to get into the JFL and make a success of it? Because the worst thing would be to go up and then get relegated immediately. So we have to ask if the club is really heading in the right direction - and I'm quitting, to look for a club with a good base in its home town and a good ground. After five years here, I feel like I'm starting from scratch."
Tochigi Friendly
JFL side Tochigi SC played out a goalless draw in a friendly against J2's Mito Hollyhock on Tuesday 29th November.
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