Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Alwin Stadium

Matsumoto's football team goes by the handle 'Yamaga', and claims to have been established in 1965 (a very good year), though in my playing days with Matsumoto Mongrels we never came across them.

They are based at Alwin Stadium, built especially to host one of the 2002 World Cup teams - Paraguay. There was me hoping for 3 Lions & the Barmy Army! The place is in the middle of nowhere, impossible to get to without a car, and rather spiritless. If the local movers & shakers are serious, they'd lay on shuttle buses from Shiojiri/Murai/Hirooka/Matsumoto stations, and make sure school kids attend (mini football etc before the big game...). And if the local team is green, why are the seats orange (Nagano's colours)?

June 10th was crunch cup tie against regional rivals Nagano, who a fortnight before sneaked a late goal in a dreary encounter in the league. This match caught all officianodos off guard, with half-time coming on the stroke of...40 minutes! Mercifully so, as a matter of fact. The game was going nowhere, & continued to do so. Extra-time came, the crowd looking all the time at the gathering clouds & thinking about a dash for the car park. Penalties, never an England fans' favourite spectacle, were seconds away when a break against play saw Gans' no.11 side-foot a low nearpost shot under their largely untested 'keeper.

I later interviewed the hometeam's no.5, as I had the cheerleaders' leader before the game. I was hoping to be inspired, for my gentle readers. Alas, wasn't to be.