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Set Adrift on Memory Blitz

Sunday September 24, 11:30 am

YC&AC Over 35s 1 v Blitz 2

The Over 35s ran out for Game 2 of the new friendly season with a swagger in our stride and a crease in our forehead. Stand-in Captain the Supreme Administrator Peter Yang set up a squad bursting with ball-playing midfielders in the fashionable but completely foreign to us 3-5-2 formation and instructed us to get on with it.

On with it we got, and before long duly found ourselves 2-0 down. Frustrating, because there was a style and guile about our game even in the difficult opening stages that suggested we would win at a canter. In fact it’s hard to recall a single instance in this match of a YC&AC player hoofing the ball into oblivion, at least not deliberately. Instead we looked to pass and play our way out of danger, knocking the ball around the park and supporting each other on upfield raids with some lovely short passing movements. Could it be that 3-5-2 suits us?

Spearhead Richard van der Meer brought us back into the contest at the end of the second quarter, steer-poking home a Russell Brown corner at the near post as at last we made our possession count.

The third quarter was a rather scrappy affair, but the fourth was a veritable classic played almost entirely in the opposition half as we raised our game once again and rained shots on the Blitz goal. A raking Joe Takeda drive hit the inside of the post and span agonizingly across the full length of the goal line. Another Joe effort from close in narrowly cleared the bar. Debutant Fabio scraped the paintwork with an improvised effort following some fine solo work out on the right, and between times their keeper pulled off any number of incredible reflex saves. How we didn’t score in this quarter is a bargain bucket mystery, but what is certain is that if we play like this every week, we’ll win a lot more than we lose.

No. 17

Squad: Dimitris Bakinezos, Russell Brown, Erjon Dega, Super Fabio, Atsushi Furuya, Son of Atsushi, Alex Hendy, Shin Hirai, Matt Overbay, Joe Takeda, Joe’s Mate, Ken Tanizumi, Richard van der Meer, Supreme Administrator Peter Yang

Goals: Richard van der Meer

Assists: Russell Brown

Attendance: Atsushi’s son’s girlfriend. Welcome!

Familiar Old Failings to the Fore as Fives Fluff Opening Lines

Sunday September 10, 11:30 am

YC&AC Over 35s 1 v Johnson & Johnson 2

The Over 35s shuffled out for the first fixture of the new season looking fit, fresh and faintly unfamiliar. No fewer than four new faces joined a fifteen-strong squad that had stand-in captain Sada Hosogai scratching his head for an opening selection.

The opposition was Johnson & Johnson, regular visitors to the Home of Football and for many years our favourite whipping boys. Annoyingly however they have improved, and these days we are both as bad as one another.

Scoring loads of goals is fun, but so is a good tight match, and that is what unfolded here. The memory’s highlights reel is blurry, but one recalls the mood at the end was that a draw would have been a fair result.

There was a buzz too about the quality of the additions to the squad. New keeper Ken Tanizumi was vocal, brave and blameless for the goals; centre-back Matt Overbay was a positive force, repeatedly nipping in with interceptions and not afraid to carry the ball forward; and late-arriving midfielder Erjon Dega (not in picture) looked after the ball brilliantly in tight spaces and moved it around with languid authority. Left-back Hermann Sugieta did not fare so well, limping off like so many debutants before him with thigh twang after 20 minutes. Get well soon, sir.

While both goals for the oppo seemed unfortunate and against the run of play, there was nothing fortunate about the YC&AC goal, which came at the end of the first quarter and leveled things, if memory serves correctly.

Yours truly narrowly managed to keep a simple pass from Dega in play on the right (a triumph in itself) before jinking forward, slipping the ball through the legs of the left-back and driving into the box. Andreas Boettger made no mistake with the cut-back, blasting the ball into the back of the net from twelve yards.

We had other moments. No match is complete without Shin Hirai skying one from the edge of the box, and we were denied on one occasion by a spectacular diving save from the opposition keeper that drew a groan of frustration from the normally unflappable Boettger. Approximately thirty Russell Brown corners all came to nought, and it was that failure to translate territorial superiority into goals that once again cost us a positive result.

No matter. This was a fun match played in an excellent spirit and a performance from a new-look team that bodes well for the long season ahead.

No. 17

Squad: Back row, left to right: Kazu Matsumoto, Little Miss Lucky Mascot Matsumoto, Hermann Sugieta, Sven Krickhahn, Dimitris Bakinezos, Andrew Barrett, Russell Brown, Andreas Boettger, Matt Overbay; Front row, left to right: Sada Hosogai, Ken Tanizumi, Rich Freeman, Alex Hendy, Raymond Mui, Atsushi Furuya, Shin Hirai. Not in picture, Erjon Dega.

Goals: Andreas Boettger

Assists: Alex Hendy

Yellows: Shin Hirai (studs up lunge)

Game-ending injuries on their debut: Hermann Sugieta (thigh)

Attendance: Andrew Barrett

Football at YC&AC
YC&AC is the oldest football team in Japan, with documentary evidence of its existence dating back to 1883. Some players on the current Masters team remember games being played even earlier than that, though their tales are dubious and anecdotal.
The Masters play every weekend against teams from the local community and beyond, and stick behind afterwards for beers at the bar. In the summer, a select squad of Over 40s play in the difficult Kanagawa Senior Masters League. All matches are played at home.
The younger, or anyway better, Ist XI meanwhile participates in the Tokyo Metropolis League, or it did until the 2017/18 season, when an untimely mass departure of our younger players to university and new postings overseas made it difficult to field a team, and we were forced to withdraw. We expect to return next season.

YC&AC also has a vibrant youth and children’s section. Children (ages 5 to 12) train every Sunday from 9 am, with the youth section (ages 13 to 17) following immediately afterwards, from 10:15 am. Games and tournaments for the younger players are also held throughout the year, almost all of them on YC&AC’s own beautifully manicured artificial pitch.

YC&AC’s children’s and youth coaching sessions are free for members. Non-members must pay a monthly fee. Participation in YC&AC’s adult team/s is free and strictly member only. Non-members wishing to try out for the team/s must pay a guest fee.
Note that Young Adult Members (16–30) can join the Club without paying an admission fee and subs for full usage of the facilities are just 10,000 yen a month.
Please write to the Club’s Sports Manager at the address below if you are interested in playing for Japan’s oldest and best club football team. The season is just starting, so what better time!

Chris Kelly, YC&AC Sports Manager: