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JFL Team Profile - TDK SC

Prior to achieving a shock promotion to the JFL for 2007, in their own Regional League the home taper's favourites had overcome the challenge to their supremacy from Grulla Morioka and stood head and shoulders above all the other teams in Tohoku. An 8-1 away win at Grulla’s neighbours Morioka Zebra was just one stop along the way to winning all fourteen league matches in 2006, as TDK claimed their fifth title in a row and their eleventh overall.

Come the Regional League Championship Winners’ Play-offs, in the First Round they edged past Nippon Steel Oita from Kyushu and Kanto’s YSCC, before causing a sensation in the Final Stage with a victory over favourites FC Gifu. Penalty shoot-out defeats of Fagiano Okayama and V Varen Nagasaki completed a remarkable rise for TDK.

For this is a very well-established club, having been set up in Nikaho in 1965 and first making a splash outside Akita prefecture when they won three consecutive Tohoku League crowns from 1982. An expansion of Division 2 of the JSL meant that four sides in the 1984 Regional League Championship Winners’ Play-off were able to gain promotion and TDK took advantage of this lowering of the bar to move up to a nationwide league for the first time.

21 Feb 07 - TDK badge

Once there, however, for the two seasons they managed to cling on they were totally outclassed by experienced teams like Toshiba and Sumitomo Metals. In the regular league programme, TDK failed to win a match in either year, but after relegation back to the region they remained what amounted to a big fish in a small pond: the club went through something of a slump in the mid-90s, but otherwise remained a dominant force against whom other teams in the region needed to compete in order to make any headway through the leagues.

The most dramatic Tohoku League season that TDK experienced was in 2005, when they went head-to-head in a fight for the championship with well-financed newcomers Grulla Morioka. The two were neck and neck throughout the year, but surely no-one can have foreseen that they would finish absolutely dead level and therefore had to share the title.

But until finally gaining promotion in 2006, TDK’s appearances in the Regional League Play-offs over the past few seasons seemed to indicate that the club occupied a role as the nearly-men of Regional league football, having on a consistent basis narrowly failed to qualify for the Final Stage. Following their joint title win with Grulla in 2005, for example, they lost out on goal difference to JEF United Amateurs, and in previous years were eliminated by the likes of Ryutsu Keizai University, Thespa Kusatsu and Shizuoka FC.

Twenty years after they last appeared on a national stage, TDK will first and foremost aim to avoid becoming one of the JFL company side also-rans. Coach Tsutomu Komatsu must face the challenge of supporting his players in stepping up from playing fourteen local league games a year to the rigours of a 34-match season, in which away fixtures can mean flights of hundreds of miles.

Furthermore, TDK won the Tohoku League with a squad made up almost entirely of ex-university students and there is very little experience in the squad of higher-level football. Defender Masahiro Kato, for example - scorer of the decisive penalty in the shoot-out following the last Play-off game against Fagiano Okayama - has spent most of his career turning out for Hosei University and for Tokyo Prefectural League team FC Shinjuku.
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