Friday, 04 December 2020

 

 


 

Originally formed as the team of Takamatsu Commercial High School Old Boys, the club now known as Kamatamare Sanuki has a chequered history. The current name, which was adopted in early 2006, is their fifth in fewer than thirty years of existence. The team has assumed some very interesting aliases over the years, including "Kagawa Purple Clouds FC" , "Sun Life FC" and most recently, the very understated "Takamatsu FC". The current moniker combines "Kamatamare" -- a reference to the prefecture's beautiful coastline -- and the ancient name for the region that includes Kagawa prefecture: "Sanuki". The rebranding is part of a campaign that is steadily picking up local support, which aims for evenutal promotion to the JFL, and subsequently to the J.League.

In trying to appeal to local pride and character, however, we cant help getting the sense that Kamatamare might be taking things a little bit too far. One of the local dining specialties is a type of cooked noodles with a raw egg on top, known as "Sanuki Udon". When it came time for Kamatamare Sanuki to select a mascot . . . . sure enough . . . they were true to their name. Lets just note that some people may be taking the idea of "local flavour" just a BIT too far. 

After adopting their new corporate identity, Kamatamare began to perform extremely well at the Regional level. In their first season they knocked off the perennial favourites Nangoku Kochi to claim their first Shikoku League title in a decade, and they repeated as champions in 2008. 2009 saw Nangoku Kochi fight back, as part of its own image makeover, to claim the title, but Nangoku returned to the top of the table in 2010.

Up to that point, the team had repeatedly fallen at the key hurdle of the Nationwide Regional League Championships -- a battle among 8 or more candidates from regional leagues all over the country, to claim a berth in the JFL. As the lopsided goal difference figures suggest, the Shikoku League had become essentially a two-team league, and the Shikoku clubs simply didnt have enough experience in "big games" to overcome competitors from places like Hokuriku and Kyushu, where the competition was more balanced. In 2010, however, Kamatamare finally put all the pieces together and made the jump to the JFL.

At first, the higher level of competition was difficult for the Sanukids on the block to handle. They finished a disappointing 11th -- particularly disappointing when you consider that the Tohoku earthquake knocked two teams out of contention that year. However, the sense that professional status was just a short step away gave Kamatamare a huge boost, not only in fan interest but also in corporate financial support. The team was able to pick up a number of aging former J.Leaguers to head the charge.

The final leap into the pro ranks was made easier by the launch of the J3. At the start of the 2013 season Sanuki was already a J.League associate member and thus certain of a spot in the J3 when the new division was launched. However, in the end Kamatamare would NOT be one of the founding member of the J3. After a second place finish in the JFL for the 2013 season, they qualified for a promotion-relegation clash with J2 strugglers Gainare Tottori. After two scoreless deadlocks, Kamatamare scored in overtime of the away leg and finally cleared the final hurdle, claiming a spot as J2 members for the 2014 season.

Unfortunately, this relatively small-town club faces strong competition for fans, particularly from near neighbors Tokushima Vortis. Kamatamare was never able to climb out of the J2's bottom third, and by 2019 the team had been relegated to J3. The drop hit Kamatamare hard, with many experienced players leaving and the team's coffers too empty to attract replacements. Hopefully Sanuki can improve on 2019's bottom-half J3 result, but it could be several years before they get another chance at a J2 run.


 

Team Results: 2006-13

Year Rank Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif
2006 (Reg.) 1 37 14 12 1 1 45 12 +33
2007 (Reg.) 2 37 14 12 1 1 68 14 +54
2008 (Reg.) 1 40 14 13 1 0 62 4 +58
2009 (Reg.) 2 36 14 12 0 2 56 10 +58
2010 (Reg.) 1 38 14 12 2 0 53 5 +5
2011 (JFL) 11 40 33 11 7 15 39 49 -10
2012 (JFL) 4 53 32 15 8 9 49 29 +20
2013 (JFL) 2 68 34 21 5 8 49 27 +22

Team Results: 2014-Present

Year Rank Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif
2014 (J2) 21 33 7 12 23 34 71 -37
2015   16 51 12 15 15 30 33 -3
2016  19 43 10 13 19 43 62 -19
2017 19 38 8 14 20 41 61 -20
2018 22 31 7 10 25 28 72 -44
2019 (J3) 14 39 10 9 15 33 49 -16