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JFL Team Profile - Mitsubishi Mizushima

When they looked back on the 2005 season, their first in the JFL, Mitsubishi Mizushima collectively and honestly described it 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 excruciating eleven-game losing streaks.

After finishing rock bottom of the table, things had to improve for 2006 - most especially due to the fact that the JFL had re-introduced Relegation Play-offs and there therefore existed the strong possibility that the club could find itself demoted back to the Regional Leagues. A run of five defeats in June nevertheless saw the Red Adamant slip down into the bottom two, where they remained for almost the whole of the rest of the year.

Even so, there were some better results for Mitsubishi, such as a 4-0 away victory at Arte Takasaki and a 4-2 defeat of fellow strugglers Honda Lock, which brought to an end a period of eight games without the team scoring any goals at all. Seven wins and a next-to-bottom finish constituted some progress from the previous season, but it was only thanks to the JFL’s convoluted rules regarding the promotion of Rosso Kumamoto that the club avoided a Relegation Play-off and so maintained their status for 2007.

The history of the club, however, extends as far back as 1946, when in the immediate aftermath of World War II football fans in a decimated Okayama prefecture decided to form a club at the Mitsubishi car factory, as a focus for their interest and as a much-needed opportunity for recreation. In 1965, Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima – not to be confused with the separate Mitsubishi Oil Mizushima club, which has participated on and off in the Chugoku League for 25 years - were among the founder members of the Okayama Prefectural League Division 1, although it wasn't until 1979 that they themselves reached the Chugoku League.

The club were to last only three years at the higher level before being relegated back to the Prefectural League, but in 1990 regained their Regional status and two seasons later were crowned champions for the first time. This feat was repeated in 1999 and the Red Adamant shortly afterwards entered the most successful phase in their history, winning the title three years running from 2002 onwards - a period during which they lost only one match out of 38 in the league.

2004 ended with Mizushima taking part in the Regional League Championship Winners' Play-off, where narrow wins over Shizuoka FC and AS Laranja Kyoto earned them a place in the Final Stage. Once there, the boys in red drew with Kanto Leaguers Luminozo Sayama before beating Ryutsu Keizai University and Kyushu champions Honda Lock to make it through to the JFL.

A supporters’ organisation was also established in the shape of the Red Adamant Club – an adamant apparently being another name for a diamond - thus reflecting the fact that, as part of the Mitsubishi group, Mizushima are a sister club to J1 giants Urawa Reds. Early in 2005, the club became legally independent of Mitsubishi - a pre-requisite of J-League membership, to which they evidently aspire.

This would without a doubt be a boost for football in a part of the country that otherwise boasts only Sanfrecce Hiroshima and SC Tottori in the J-League and JFL. But whether Mizushima have in place the infrastructure in place to support the players on the pitch is - unfortunately for the Red Adamant supporters - a very different matter.
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