Wednesday, 02 December 2020

 

Fujieda MyFC

Fujieda MyFC is a relatively recent creation, having been formed in 2009 on the "fan participation model" pioneered by Ebbsfleet United, in England. However, even in today's Internet-pervasive era, an idea spawned online and supported largely by netizens needs to have some base on which to build a real-world football team. In Fujieda MyFC's case, the history of that "base" is actually more interesting than the current incarnation. When the team was created, its raison d'etre was always to join the J.League. But since the "MyFC" model had no previous physical existence, it would have had to start off at the very bottom of the Japanese football pyramid. This would have meant a decade or more of slow slogging up the table before any of the team's goals could be met. And it was unrealistic to expect the "online support" base to waith that long for results. Fortunately, the organizers stumbled onto a team with high ambitions of its own and a very committed group of existing supporters. organizers had to meet the 

Shizuoka FC was originally located in the city of Shizuoka, the capital of Shizuoka prefecture, which is located between Shimizu (home of Shimizu S-Pulse) and Iwata (the home base of Jubilo Iwata). Considering its location, in might seem improbable that the club could develop an independent fan base at ALL . . . much less carve out a niche of its own as a professional team. However, in the club's fairly short history it made a lot of progress in that direction, and was surprisingly successful even before it was commandeered by the MyFC movement. Shizuoka FC owed most of its organizational strength to the support of some powerful figures in Japanese football, who adopted the club as a "pet project".

The club can trace its roots to a small team known as Yamakiya Club, which emerged the 1980s, and was a member of the Shizuoka Prefectural league in 2001 when the idea for Shizuoka FC first emerged. The leading figures behind the club's creation were Genki Morishita, a former club president of Verdy Kawasaki who left Verdy when the Yomiuri conglomerate withdrew its support and the team moved to Tokyo; and the Noya brothers -- Yoshiro and Tadao -- who had close ties to the family of Kazuyoshi and Yasutoshi Miura (indeed, Kazu refers to Tadao Noya as "the man who raised me as a footballer"). The support of men with such extensive connections in the football world was enough to turn Shizuoka FC, almost overnight, into one of the Tokai Regional League's strongest teams.

 

Shizuoka FC adopted one of the most "badass brilliant" logo marks of any football team in Japan. Based on this awe-inspiring symbol and the team's jet-black uniforms, they earned the nickname "The Black Samurai". Shizuoka FC won the Shizuoka League in its first season under the new name, and progressed to the Tokai Regional League, where it has won the title repeatedly over the course of the 00s. Though it failed in its effort to gain promotion to the JFL, the club seemed to be on the verge of making the next step. In 2008 the Black Samurai were within one step of a promotion spot, but lost their final Regional League Championship match 0 - 1 to V.Varen Nagasaki, who claimed the promotion spot for 2009 and soon found itself in the J.League.

But despite Shizuoka FC's local success, it did not have the financial base or the facilities (eg: stadium, clubhouse, training centre) needed to really make it in the pro ranks. MyFC made its first venture into "the real world" by taking over a small local club called Fujieda City Hall, which had a long history and a marvelous stadium, but not much else. the following year -- 2010 -- the newly minted Fujieda MyFC convinced Shizuoka FC to merge, and create a team that actually stood a good chance of advancing to the J.League. They even managed to convince former Japan National Team legend Kunishige Kamamoto to serve as head coach!

Fans of the Black Samurai unfortunately had to bid farewell to their magnificent team logo, but in its place, they had a team with a real future. In its first season as a unified club, former Japan NT defender Toshihide Saito took over as player/coach, and convinced a few former teammates to join him. Blowing all other competition off the pitch, Fujieda won the Tokai League and swept triumphantly into the JFL.

Its early performances after rising to the JFL level suggest that the team might have needed several more years to advance any further. But fortunately the timing of their rise to JFL status was perfect. The J.League announced its plans for a J3 just one year later. Drawing upon its diffuse and international membership, MyFC was quickly able to meet the requirements for fan support, while the resources accumulated by Shizuoka FC and Fujieda City Hall over the preceding decade ticked all the other boxes. In short order, MyFC was inaugurated as a founding member of the J3.

Over its six-year existence in the third tier, the closest MyFC have come to promotion was last year -- a third-place finish. Fujieda has a marvelous home stadium, and though it might face questions over team capital and organizational criteria, a promotion run might be enough to carry them over those hurdles. The grassroots base is solid, and though there are already several teams in the area, none can really inspire locals to switch loyalty. While still a relative newcomer, MyFC may be able to handle a stint in J2. Only time will tell. 


Team Results: 2002-2010 (Tokai Lg.)

Year . Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif
2002 1 37 16 12 1 3 45 16 +29
2003 1 39 14 13 0 1 39 10 +29
2004 3 22 14 7 1 6 39 26 +13
2005 1 34 14 10 4 0 46 11 +35
2006 2 35 14 11 2 1 55 16 +39
2007 1 39 14 13 0 1 46 7 +39
2008 1 34 14 10 4 0 45 12 +33
2009 3 24 14 7 3 4 20 12 +8

Team Results: 2011-present

Year . Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif
2010(Tokai) 1 39 16 12 3 1 49 8 +41
2011(Tokai 1 38 14 12 2 0 42 9 +33
2012 (JFL) 11 40 32 11 7 14 39 48 -9
2013 (JFL) 13 36 34 9 9 16 40 58 -18
2014 (J3) 11 30 33 7 9 17 36 52 -16
2015 (J3) 10 37 36 11 4 21 37 61 -24
2016  " 7 45 30 14 3 13 48 42 +6
2017  " 7 47 32 12 11 9 50 43 +7
2018  " 16 34 32 10 4 18 32 48 -16
2019  " 3 63 34 18 9 7 42 31 +11