Japanese Non-league Football News

JFL Team Profile - Yokogawa Musashino

Having been formed in 1939, Yokogawa Musashino - formerly known as Yokogawa Electricals, or just Yokogawa FC - are one of the oldest clubs in Japan, though they have until recently never developed beyond the status of a small company club team. Based in Musashino in Tokyo prefecture, they were members of the Kanto League for a brief period from 1978 with the formation of the JSL, but over the years the parent company appeared to waiver in its backing for the team from time to time and they were relegated back out of the league in both 1980 and 1985.

It wasn't until 1993 and the formation of the J-League that the club established a clear direction and set itself the goal of becoming one of the top amateur sides in the country. Returning to Regional football to emerge quickly as major players in the Kanto League along with Luminozo Sayama, Yokogawa took the title in 1994, 1997 and 1998. They also won the All-Japan Shakaijin twice and were strong contenders in the Regional League Championship Winners’ Play-offs, although on three occasions the club suffered the disappointment of ending up in third place, just missing out on promotion to the JFL.

Yokogawa nevertheless regrouped and in 1998 overcame Hitachi Shimizu, Ehime FC and NTT Kyushu in the Final Stage of the Play-offs to seal promotion. Since that time, the team's performance in the JFL has been inconsistent, their lowest ebb coming in 2000 when they gathered just nine points from a 22-match season and not surprisingly finished dead last behind Tochigi SC and Shizuoka Sangyo University.

Before the 2003 campaign, however, the name was modified from Yokogawa Electricals to Yokogawa Musashino in a bid to develop more of a grassroots image and build a local fanbase. This process was accelerated at the end of 2006, when the club’s status was transferred outside of the parent company to become an NPO - a move that management hoped would cement the relationship with the local community as a general sports facility. That said, Yokogawa seem to be getting enough financial backing from their corporate sponsors to be competitive and support has remained steady at a respectable 600 or so fans per home game.

The team were as high as second place a third of the way through the 2005 season, but a distinct lack of firepower combined with cataclysmic results such as a home draw with the minnows of Denso and even a 2-1 defeat at bottom-of-the-table Mitsubishi Mizushima saw them drop down to finish up just below half way. Although they were not expected to compete particularly effectively in 2006, Yokogawa played their part in the resurgence of the company teams by harnessing the strengths of former Urawa Reds striker Yosuke Kobayashi, whilst at the same time making sure that they were difficult to beat.

Aside from losses to the unpredictable JEF Club and Arte Takasaki, it was really only the top sides that got the better of them and Kobayashi’s 23 goals meant that the side were always on the fringes of the leading group with fellow corporates Alo’s Hokuriku. Impressive results such as a 2-1 victory over highflyers Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo were the exception rather than the norm, however - and coach Takeshi Furuya has a way to go if he is to take the team up to the next level, as the third tier of Japanese club football develops into an ever tougher competition.

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