Wednesday, 02 December 2020

 


 

V.Varen Nagasaki can trace its history back to 1985, when a club was formed in the Nagasaki Prefectural League, Division 2, under the name Ariake Soccer Club. The team gradually progressed up the rankings and in 1991, won promotion to the First Division. It took another nine years for Ariake SC to win the prefectural title, but beginning in 2000 the team established itself as one of the powers in its prefecture, winning the title four out of the next five years and progressing as far as the best four in the playoffs among Kyushu prefectural champions.

In 2004, the team was ready to take the next step up, and to improve the chances of success, Ariake SC merged with Kunimi FC -- a team made up of Kunimi HS graduates who were unable to attract offers from pro or semipro clubs. This influx of both players and coaches greatly strengthened the team, and following another prefectural championship, Ariake SC earned promotion to the Kyu League. As 2005 dawned, the team changed its name to V.Varen Nagasaki, adopted the Nagasaki prefectural symbol -- the Mandarin Duck -- as its mascot and set up an independent management corporation with the expressed intent of bringing J.League football to the western coast of Kyushu. In its very first year under the name "V.Varen", the team proved to be the nearest challengers to Rosso Kumamoto and FC Ryukyu, who have since moved on to bigger and better things, finishing an impressive third in the country's most competitive regional league..

As is the case for many J.League clubs, V.Varen Nagasaki derives its name from a seemingly illogical polyglot of European words. The "V" is supposedly derived from the Portuguese word "vitoria", or "Victory" (though there seems to be no reason why the team couldnt have chosen the English, French ... or in this particular case, Dutch ... word for Victory, which also start with the letter V). The word "Varen" was chosen to reflect the city's long history as an important port of call for Portuguese and Dutch traders, throughout the Edo era. It is derived from the Dutch word which means "to voyage by sea".

The new moniker was a good omen for Nagasaki. Despite the intense level of competition in Kyushu the Mighty Ducks charged to the league title the following season, and remained near the top of the table for the next four years. Unfortunately, though, their efforts to make the next step up to the JFL, via the Nationwide Regional League Championship Tournament, were thwarted again and again. But the grassroots support for the team remained strong, and it was a good bet that their opportunity for promotion would arrive eventually. Sure enough, though they only finished second in the Kyu League in 2008, V.Varen finally managed to deliver a strong performance in the nationwide tournament, claiming the top spot and earning promotion to the JFL in 2009

The Mighty Ducks continued to draw much of their strength from Kunimi HS, the prefecture's perennial schoolboy soccer powerhouse, with no fewer than eleven Kunimi grads on the roster in 2010. In addition, the team received coaching and organizational support from the legendary Kunimi HS coach Tadatoshi Komine. Coach Komine repeatedly turned down offers to coach at JFL and regional teams, and was even courted by Avispa Fukuoka for the head coaching job. These offers were all turned down, as "Coach K" preferred to stay in the high school ranks. However, with three former Kunimi coaches already running the team, and his son on the roster, he was finally prevailed upon to leave schoolboy coaching in 2010, and took up the post of President at V.Varen Nagasaki Ltd.

Local support for the team took off as the goal of J.League admission came into view. V.Varen managed to draw crowds of several thousand for home matches throughout the 2007 and 2008 Kyu League seasons, but when it made the jump to JFL, the average attendance soared to over 5,000. The Mighty Ducks advanced quyickly through the JFL ranks, and in its fourth season at that level it finally won the league title, gaining admission to the J2. At first V.Varen's formal request for J.League associate status was turned down due to some organizational and financial issues. However, strong support from the local government including the construction of a 20,000-seat stadium helped to overcome League skepticism, and the Mighty Ducks were welcomed into the J2 at the start of the 2013 season. 

After a torrid start to their maiden J.League campaign, V.Varen faded down the stretch and finished in sixth place. Even that was an emphatic statement of intent by the newest addition to the pool of Kyushu-area teams. Though they were unable to sustain the momentum, and slipped to 14th place in 2014, strong team management and coaching by former Japan National team striker Takayuki Takagi returned the Mighty Ducks to the fringes of the campaign for J1 promotion in 2015. Fan support dropped off a bit following the euphoria of 2013, but that also was on the rebound by 2015.

The next step in the Mighty Ducks' migration came in 2017, when improving finances allowed the team to acquire some experienced talent -- former Marino Tashiro Masakazu in defense, midfielder Takashi Sawada from S-Pulse, and former Alaves striker Juanma. The team also picked up a few rising youngsters from other J2 clubs, like Ryutaro Iio and Daichi Inui.  With just a bit of luck, the Ducks battled to a second-place finish, and made ready for a dip in the Big Pond.

Not surprisingly, V.Varen were relegated immediately. But their maiden J1 campaign was far from a disaster. The Mighty Ducks recorded 8 wins, and perhaps more importantly, boosted attendances from an average of just over 5,000 to an impressive 12,000 at a newly renovated Nagasaki Stadium. The only real regret that fans will have about that first peek at top-flight action is that the team followed the crusty old tradition of sacking Coach Takagi at the end of 2018 simply because he couldnt work miracles.

V.Varen started anew in 2019, under a suitable replacement for Takagi -- former Vegalta Sendai boss Makoto Teguramori. Not surprisingly, the team's top scorer in 2018, Musashi Suzuki, flew off to Consadole Sapporo upon Nagasaki's relegation. But a few useful veterans stayed around, including local boy Hokuto Nakamura and former FC Tokyo wingback Yuhei Tokunaga. A 12th place finish in 2019 seemed to reflect the difficulties Teguramori had to introduce his own philosophy to the team. But V.Varen fans are hoping 2020 will put them back in contention for at least a playoff berth in the promotion sweepstakes.


Team Results: 2005-2012

Year Rank Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif
2005 (Kyu Lg.) 3 37 18 11 5 2 41 23 +18
2006 (Kyu Lg.) 1 43 16 14 1 1 43 14 +29
2007 (Kyu Lg.) 3 50 20 16 3 1 79 17 +62
2008 (Kyu Lg.) 2 46 18 14 2 2 76 10 +66
2009 (JFL) 11 44 34 12 8 14 38 43 -5
2010 (JFL) 5 53 34 15 8 11 50 38 +12
2011 (JFL) 5 56 33 15 11 7 61 44 +17
2012(JFL) 1 67 32 20 7 5 57 24 +33

Team Results: 2013-Present

Year Rank Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif
2013 6 66 19 9 14 48 40 +8
2014 14 52 12 16 14 45 42 +3
2015 6 60 15 15 12 42 33 +9
2016 15 47 10 17 15 39 51 -12
2017 2 80 24 8 10 59 41 +18
2018 (J1) 18 30 8 6 20 39 59 -20
2019 12 56 17 5 20 57 61 -4