Japanese Non-league Football News

All Change In Tohoku
Supporters of Tohoku League Division 2 (North) side Aster Aomori are calling upon the club effectively to start again at prefectural level next season under the name FC Aomori Astrale, following a disastrous campaign that has seen the team leak players due to financial problems - with the unsurprising result that Aster have slumped towards the bottom of the division. Indeed, the last six games saw them concede no fewer than 42 goals and they rounded off the year with a 9-0 thrashing at home by student outfit Fuji Club 2003.

All this talk of re-grouping is a far cry from 1997, when Aster were the first ever champions of the newly-introduced Division 2 (North). Previously, they had been known as Gonohe Town Hall and had competed in both the All-Japan Shakaijin and the Emperor's Cup as far back as the mid-70s, making them one of the most historically-significant clubs in the far north of Honshu. Following their 1997 title win and promotion, the team were competitive in Division 1 but never quite had enough to make the step up to the level of the Regional League's top sides, in particular TDK Akita. After four years of finishing in third position, in 2004 they ended up last and relegated back to the regionalised second tier.

13 Nov 06 - A potential collectors’ item, in the shape of a lovely FC Aomori Astrale shirt

A potential collectors’ item, in the shape of a lovely FC Aomori Astrale shirt

Despite the best efforts of supporters' groups, it doesn't appear to have proved possible in the meantime for club management to get the organisational side of things back on to an even keel. It's to be hoped that 2006 proves to be a watershed and that changes can be made to enable an Aomori team - of whatever name - to move forward longer-term and thereby bring a higher level of football to their isolated part of the country.

Further south, Tohoku League Division 2 (South) side Northern Peaks Koriyama have announced the intention to change their name to Biancone Fukushima, as part of their attempts to work towards a J-League place.

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