Japanese Football aka Soccer (Kawasaki Frontale VS Jubilo Iwata)

Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium Main Entrance

It had been a tumultuous year for me, but so has my love of sports.  In 2017 I became a hardcore supporter of Jubilo Iwata and in 2018 I had to watch my team go from a top 5 team to a team that was in danger of being relegated to J2, the second division of the professional leagues in Japan.  With this in mind, I had to go to Kawasaki to watch the final game of the season and it was a blast!

Jubilo Iwata Fans

The day started with the Jubilo fans on the cusp of disappointment.  Kawasaki Frontale was already declared the champs of the league and had nothing to win or lose.  Jubilo had everything to lose and needed a win or draw in order to be safe from relegation.  Losing would mean Jubilo had the possibility of being relegated.  It was a complex situation but to put it simply, the 3 teams below Jubilo before the game started needed to tie to be on the same points as Jubilo, and since Jubilo has lost more goals than the rest, Jubilo would be the one to be going to a relegation playoff game.

Main Grandstands

With both teams having strong crowds, the Saviour and I went early.  We arrived at 11:30 to line-up and get seats.  The doors opened at 11:30 and it took a while before we could get into the stadium. For Frontale fans, some of them were lined up at 7am!  Since we were really early, we got lunch and relaxed before the game started.  The stadium is really nice, although in need of a refresh for part of the grandstands.  The main grandstand was rebuilt a few years ago but the main section is still pretty old.  Thankfully the seats are pretty close and the action was wonderful to watch.

Back Grandstands

The first half of the game was pretty standard.  Jubilo came out of the gate pushing hard and there were a few close calls for both teams.  It was a good first half and going into the second half we were breathing a sigh of relief.  Things were all tied up but Frontale is a strong team so it was still a nail biter.  In the second half the game really got going.  In the 33rd minute of the second half, Yoshito Okubo scored for Jubilo and the crowd went crazy.  We were jubilant as it meant that Jubilo was safe from relegation.  It was only short elation as at the 38 minute mark Kawasaki scored a goal to tie the game.  The crowd was still cheering Jubilo on, and so were the Frontale fans.  In extra time, shock hit when Frontale got a goal in the last seconds of the game and Jubilo lost.  It was also terrible as all 3 teams below Jubilo tied their matches and Jubilo would be going to the relegation playoff.

View from my Seat

To say that I was dejected would be an understatement. Within 15 minutes we all went from jubilation to utter dejection.  Leaving the stadium we even saw one person crying by himself.  While I am not part of the team, the way things go in professional sports, you put your heart in to the team and hope they do well, but they don’t always do as you’d like. Jubilo was sent to a playoff with Tokyo Verdy and it was a tense week for thehardcore fans.  It was not a happy week for me either, but I am also happy to report that Jubilo was triumphant and won the playoff to stay in J1. It wasn’t a good situation but I am happy they stayed and hope they will be much stronger next year.

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