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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Tokyo Derby You’ve By no means Heard Of!

Ask any followers of Japanese soccer what the Tokyo Derby is and nearly all of individuals would most likely say it’s FC Tokyo versus Tokyo Verdy though supporters of present J1 desk toppers Machida Zelvia might recommend in any other case! Hipsters might recommend that it’s Tokyo Musashino in opposition to Criacao Shinjuku within the fourth tier of the soccer pyrmaid which is  often called the Japan Soccer League (JFL). Nonetheless, there’s truly one other Tokyo Derby one league down from there and I not too long ago witnessed it reside and in particular person.

It could have been the Tokyo Derby however it was truly performed in one of many neighbouring prefectures. Kaihimmakuhari in Chiba Prefecture is about 40 minutes east of Tokyo station on the Keiyo Line, and is a well-liked vacation spot for individuals who go to conventions at Makuhari Messe or baseball at ZOZO Marine Stadium. A ten minute stroll east of the station takes you to a soccer floor.

Just a few months in the past I used to be trying by way of this seasons fixtures within the Kanto Soccer League; the regional division which is the fifth tier of Japanese soccer. It was all written in Japanese with only a few phrases in English spelling out the identify of an interestingly-named floor.

ZOZO Park Honda Soccer Space was going for use for a few matches that includes a crew referred to as Aries Tokyo FC who I did see in motion elsewhere on one boiling scorching August morning final yr. The primary of these two video games was in opposition to Tokyo United who I additionally noticed a few instances within the second half of final yr. Particulars of these video games could be seen on this soccer match day experiences compilation submit.

Initially I simply assumed the Honda within the identify was resulting from sponsorship from the car firm however it’s truly to do with the well-travelled former Japanese worldwide star Keisuke Honda who performed for CSKA Moscow, AC Milan and Melbourne Victory amongst others.

This was truly the inaugural derby for these sides as Aries Tokyo FC had been solely based in 2022 (in contrast Tokyo United’s historical past dates all the best way again to 2015!) and had been promoted from Division 2 of the Kantō Soccer League final yr. They might be a soccer membership however they take into account themselves to be a household relatively than a membership which immediately jogs my memory of Vin Diesel saying the phrase all through the Quick & the Livid saga!

The match was to kick off at 7:00 pm on a Sunday night which appeared fairly late for decrease league soccer, and I actually needed to push myself to exit relatively than winding down with a calming night time at dwelling forward of the working week. Door-to-door, it took me almost two hours to get there and the climate circumstances had been fairly cool with drizzly rain. The prospect to see a match at a floor I’d by no means been to was one which excited me although.

In the case of lower-league grounds, some form of stand and/or signage is essential for me (only a area shouldn’t be actually of curiosity!) and this place actually possessed the latter.

There are a few nice-looking buildings pitchside. One was the altering room for Aries Tokyo and the opposite was a clubhouse with some autographs, signed gadgets and some  shirts together with a Nadeshiko Japan shirt worn by present captain Saki Kumagai within the 2015 Ladies’s World Cup.


Just a few pairs of Honda’s matchworn boots had been additionally current in glass show packing containers. That’s about it so I wouldn’t precisely name it a museum!


By the point the match kicked off at 7:00 pm, the sooner drizzly rain had change into a little bit heavier however my spirits had been raised after assembly a fellow Englishman who I chatted to all through the match which was very nice. A much less constructive factor was that we needed to watch the motion unfold by way of netting that surrounds the unreal pitch.

Aries had been actually the crew on high in a reasonably entertaining first half, and earlier than their first objective on 24 minutes I truly went spherical and counted by hand the variety of individuals in attendance so it might’t be 100% correct however it was principally across the 100 mark. Aries doubled their lead on 28 minutes and I believed a thrashing could also be on the playing cards however United hit again with an awesome strike simply 5 minutes later.


The second 45 minutes was even higher and United appeared impressed by their objective earlier than the break. They put their Tokyo counterparts underneath appreciable stress for the overwhelming majority of the half and deservedly equalised on 68 minutes. They then regarded the extra  more likely to take the lead after that and certainly hit the bar at one level.

Derbies are sometimes received and misplaced on massive moments and after absorbing all of the stress, Aries then shocked United with a decisive objective within the 84th minute when it appeared like they’d be fortunate to carry on for a draw.


There are fairly a number of Tokyo Derbies lately however this decrease league one is a welcome addition between two formidable groups giving soccer followers the possibility to rise up actually shut and private with the gamers. I simply hope there’s no netting between the 2 when the groups play the return league match in September!!

Last Rating: Aries Tokyo FC 3-2 Tokyo United

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