Well, why not? It is that time of year isn’t it?
Goal of the year: Tatsuya Arai (v Matsumoto Yamaga)
Masuyama’s screamer against JEF was a better goal, but Arai’s was Gifu’s first of the season and as such gets this one. It was a good goal in its own right. A cross from the left from Kazuki Someya found Arai, the defender turned striker soared above two Yamaga defenders and planted his header into the net. Cue scenes of delirium in the away end, and looks of disbelief from the stunned Matsumoto. Little did they realize that he wasn’t finished with them…..
Game of the year: FC Gifu 2-1 V-Varen Nagasaki
I could easily say the win at Matsumoto or the 4-3 win in Tottori, but for sheer drama I’m going with the proverbial game of two halves. Nagasaki completely dominated the first 45 minutes and went in front when ex-FC Gifu front man Koichi Sato prodded in from close range. Nagasaki’s Kanakubo & Kohei Yamada were running riot in midfield and it was a real surprise that Nagasaki were only one goal to the good.
Whatever Gyotoku said at the break seemed to work as Gifu, led by talisman Kazuki Someya, stormed the second half like team possessed. True, they left themselves exposed at the back, and if Kohei Yamada had shown a little more composure then Gifu would have been buried, but that is the price you pay for chasing the game. Someya equalized for Gifu when he found space at the back post to tap in, but piece de resistance was to come in additional time. In the fourth minute of additional time to be precise. Arata Sugiyama, of all people, surged forward, laid the ball into the path of Someya and he lashed the ball past the ‘keeper and into the net. Cue scenes of chaos in the stands and joy on the field. As Someya ran towards the fans to celebrate, the referee blew the full time whistle. An amazing game.
Nagaragawa food of the year: Hida Beef Croquet (飛騨牛コロッケ)
Food of the Gods! When you go to the stadium, in the area before the ticket gate, the food stall that is the first on the right does the most amazing croquettes. An honorable mention should go to the Hida Beef on sticks. Both are recommended matchday eats.
Low point of the year: FC Gifu 2-8 Gamba Osaka
Go with an obvious one for this, although the home defeats by Tokyo Verdy & Mito Hollyhock run it close. However, let’s go through the checklist:
- Shit weather? Check.
- Game over within the first 15 minutes? Check.
- Being a laughing stock? Check?
- Yasuyuki Konno looking like Pele? Check?
- Did I mention the horrendous weather? Check.
Player of the year: Kazuki Someya
No-one was more important than Someya this year. With him in the side, Gifu are a completely different proposition than without. His electricity down the left hand side gives teams something to think about, but even if they key in on him it sometimes isn’t enough. He scored 10 league goals this year and provided just as many, making him directly responsible for half of Gifu’s league goals. His virtuoso performances in the games against Tottori & Nagasaki are just two examples of games where Someya has dragged the team with him.
Simply put, Gifu would have finished bottom of J2 without Kazuki Someya. That is why he is the player of the year