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Friday 8th July 2011 ko 7.00pm

Japan Football League

ZWEIGEN KANAZAWA 1 (James 40)

HONDA FC 0

Att 1,658

Entry, Fan, and Programme 1,500 yen

Badges 1,500 yen

Stickers 800 yen

Towel Scarf 1,200 yen

In many ways this day was the perfect day for a groundhopper like me. The day was spent visiting Kanazawa Castle and the Kenrokuen gardens. That was followed by a thorough wash and shave in a public baths, and after 35 degree heat and 90% humidity trust me you need it, a trip to see a 7.00pm kick off.

I should explain the Japanese pyramid. Top is the J-League First Division, then the second division, and the JFL is the 3rd and last national tier. Below you get the regional leagues followed by the prefectoral ones. More of those…. later!

The Ishikawa Seibu Ryokuchi Stadium is conveniently placed in a park right by the main freeway, and is adjacent to another impressive stadium. It’s far too big for Kanazawa’s needs being the largest in the JFL but the club do their best to make it feel homely. The German Zwei, or two is a reference to the fact that this is the second Kanazawa team to try to make it big. If simply being friendly and well-organised is a guide, then they’ll have no problems.

Ah yes, that teamsheet. Usual thing, I asked for the lineups, and the next thing is I’m handed a pass and a media guide. Quite a souvenir!

The game was a fair summary of my take on the Japanese game throughout my stay. Some sublime passing and individual skill, but sometimes rather naiive, and just about every team needs a 30 goal a season striker.

This was a highly entertaining game, and I was pleased to pick up my first towel scarf. That’s an interesting Japanese take on the football staple. If you’re going to watch a game in the heat, why would you want something woollen? Zweigen have ambitions for elevation to the J-League 2 whilst the visitors as a works team are forbidden from any further promotions. They could simply divest themselves of the works link, as many other teams have, or just accept their fate.

But the abiding memory will be just how well organised and friendly it all was. With the game still clearly learning, this was something more established footballing nations can learn from the Japanese.