Martin's Japan Pages

Our Man In Japan

10 February 2005

Footy down t'pub, Japanese style

Last night I went to Daboru in Tokamachi to see the big match between Japan and North Korea. In teh media, a lot has been made about the political tension between the two countries, kind of like teh tension you get whenever England play Germany or Argentina except this Asian conflict is ongoing and the tension is real. But, eventhough there was a bit of disrespect from some Japanese fans, there was no crowd trouble at all. Even with all the media hype and huge riot police presence, both sets of fans avoided any violent confrontation. Not even any small scuffles. I there's a lesson to be learnt here.

The match coverage brought a tear to my eye. The thought that I had played in the very same stadium that I could see on the TV was overwhelming, even more so after the match when I realised that the dressing room we had used was now being used by teh Japanese national team.

The match wasn't the best I have seen. It was interesting to see two teams playing in completely different ways; Japan were a collection of highly-paid, highly-skillful individuals who couldn't play as a team; North Korea were a modest team, who were well organised and who became more than the sum of there parts. I'll let you read a match report rather than here make a hash of it myself.

I had gone to Daboru, a classy little restaurant-bar named after the Croatian striker Davour Suker, to watch the match. I was taken here before the earthquake by Hajime and some other Kawaji FC footballers. I had kept the card that the owner had given me and remebered that it had a big screen for footy. The World-Cup qualifier seemed like perfect time to return. The atmosphere was very different to that of an British pub showing the footy, I guess due to the restaurant-feel of the place. The fans in Daboru all wore blue Japan footy shirts and they were all drinking, but there was no agression and no drunken abuse shouted at the TV at all during the match, even when Japan missed chance after scoring-chance. In the end, Japan were lucky to get a winning goal and the home team took all three points. The fans all cheered and even allowed us to join in witha victorious "Kampai!" The owner of Daboru then gave everyone a glass of champagne (well, sparkling wine) to celebrate the victory. It was a nice evening and a nice way to watch the footy.

I need to work out the Japanese for "What match are you showing next?" so I can return.


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