Wednesday, 02 December 2020

 

Nagano Parceiro ranks along with Matsumoto Yamaga Club as one of the most ambitious clubs in the Hokushinetsu region. The two bitter rivals spent almost two decades jockeying for position as the number one candidate for a J-League franchise in Nagano prefecture, and though Matsumoto made the breakthrough first, Parceiro is not for behind in terms of their hold on the hearts of Nagano residents. Considering the fierce, 500-year-old rivalry between the two cities, situated amidst the high mountains of central Japan, one can only hope that Parceiro manages to catch up with Yamaga soon, because a local rivalry between the two would be one of the most colourful highlights of football in Japan.

Formed in 1990, just before the launch of the J.League, Nagano City's home team was founded under the name "Nagano Elsa". The original name was taken from the lion star of the movie "Born Free" -- Elsa -- because apparently folks in Nagano thought that the lion was an appropriate symbol for their small but extremely proud city. Even though the name was changed in 2008, the team's "rampant lion" symbol is intact as part of the new logo, and their choice of a mascot was never in doubt.

Nagano Elsa began a slow climb through the lower ranks of prefectural football, and only gained promotion to the top Prefectural League in 2000. However, from there the momentum for growth surged ahead. After winning promotion to the Hokushinetsu Regional League at the end of the same year, they claimed their first Hokushinetsu League title in 2002. For a while, it looked like the northernmost city in the prefecture was going to charge into the JFL ahead of their southerly neighbours in Matsumoto. But for a variety of reasons the momentum stalled for several years. The lack of major corporations headquartered in the area was one source of weakness -- not only Nagano and Matsumoto, but other small-town teams like Ventforet Kofu and Montedio Yamagata also have struggled to overcome this problem. 

The momentum began to gather once more in 2007, when the team changed its name to "AC Nagano Parceiro" and adopted a corporate structure that meets J.League requirements. The word "Parceiro" is Portuguese for "partner". Perhaps the team was subtly hinting that it was in the market for a corporate "partner" to lend support, but of course the team literature insists that local fans are the "partners" envisioned by the team name. In any event, this change gave the team an immediate boost that carried it into the JFL at last. Parceiro won the Hokushinetsu Regional League title in 2008, and again in 2010, when it finally managed to negotiate the Nationwide Regional League Championships and earn promotion to the top amateur league.

The next stage was far more direct. Although Matsumoto made the jump earlier, Nagano was on course to follow them into the J.League. In 2013 the Mountain Lions claimed the JFL championship -- a feat that would have taken them into the professional ranks even if the J.League had not launched a third division at the end of that same year. To celebrate the culmination of their long journey into the pro ranks, Parceiro reached back into their "Elsa"-era past and created a pride of lion mascots to represent the team.

Because they were a part of league expansion, rather than direct promotion from the JFL, Parceiro have yet to find a spot in the pecking order. Their first two seasons in the J3 were promising, but Parceiro have slipped down the table slightly in recent years, and have yet to reach the J2 level. That seems to be just a matter of time, however, as the Lions of Japan's northern Alps are getting ready to roar.


 

Team Results: 2004-2010

Year Rank Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif
2004 3 28 14 9 1 4 - - -
2005 1 36 14 12 0 2 38 13 +25
2006 3 33 14 11 0 3 51 8 +43
2007 2 31 14 10 1 3 35 18 +17
2008 1 35 14 11 2 1 55 11 +44
2009 2 31 14 9 4 1 59 14 +45
2010 1 38 14 12 2 0 68 4 +64

Team Results: 2011-present

Year Rank Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif
2011 (JFL) 2 63 33 19 6 8 51 27 +24
2012 (JFL) 2 58 32 17 7 8 57 34 +23
2013 (JFL) 1 72 34 21 9 4 61 22 +36
2014 (J3) 2 69 33 20 9 4 58 23 +35
2015 (J3) 3 70 36 21 7 8 46 28 +18
2016  " 3 52 30 15 7 8 33 22 +11
2017  " 5 50 32 13 11 8 34 25 +9
2018  " 10 41 32 10 11 11 39 37 +2
2019  " 9 49 34 13 10 11 35 34 +1