So, the 2014 season is over and done with. FC Gifu finished 17th, which somehow feels slightly anti-climactic given the ups and downs that the season has thrown at us.

Season stats: 

  • League position – 17th
  • Points – 49
  • Wins – 13
  • Draws – 10
  • Defeats – 19
  • Goals for – 54
  • Goals against – 61
  • Top scorer – Nazarit (17 goals)

What went right in 2014:

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  • The attack. Nazarit was revelation in J2 – he is destined for bigger things, I believe. I’ve talked before about how much I like him. He has all you want in a striker: pace, power, positioning and presence. Hot on Naza’s heels has been Hiroaki Namba – scorer of 12 goals. I’m not sure anyone would have predicted this kind of season from the 31 year-old. He seemed re-born in Gifu, buzzing about the field with purpose, and he was visibly enjoying his football. They were both a pleasure to watch this year.
  • Mr Onda, our president. If I had to give a club MVP, president Satoshi Onda would be it. He, and his group of managers, have made so much progress off the field in such a short space of time that it is scarcely believable from this time last year. The promotion that he has presided over has resulted in some incredible results. For example:
  1. The club record crowd
  2. An average attendance almost double last year
  3. A huge increase in public awareness
  4. 8 games with over 10,000 crowds

It really has been a superb effort from the off field team. So much hard work goes into promoting the club, and I really hope Onda and the rest of the PR team take a well earned rest this winter so they can come back, ready to give it both barrels next year.

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  • The supporters. Led by the Vamos Zone residents, Gifu’s support has been fully mobilized in 2014, and it has grown quite a lot too. Most people only see the supporters on matchdays, but they do a lot for the club around the city and around the prefecture. I went with them around Gifu city when they were handing out promotional posters. This was done in their own time, and on a voluntary basis. Such things tend to fly under the radar usually, but I’d like to say a huge thank you and express my admiration for their dedication. The call-leader, the rest of the Brigate and all supporters – GREAT WORK THIS YEAR!!

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What didn’t go according to plan in 2014:

  • Giving away leads. In home games this year against JEF, Giravanz, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Yokohama and Sapporo, Gifu were in the lead in all of them but failed to win any of them. Something has to be done about this in the off-season. Gifu could have easily finished in the top 12 this year if they’d shown more poise and calm when defending a lead. This season, because of the licensing situation, Gifu were never going to challenge for the top six. But the plans are in place off the pitch and if the team can’t match the developments off the pitch and they keep giving away points, it will be highly regrettable.

 

This has been an amazing year for Gifu, on and off the field. Hopefully we can kick on from here.

On a personal level, being involved in the club and observing the players & management at such close quarters has been a privilege. The club and the players that I’ve interacted with (special mention to Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, and absolute gentleman) have made feel so welcome. It has been amazing.

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But it is the supporters that set this club apart. The supporters are the lifeblood of the club, and I feel very humble to be a part of the group. Special mention goes to Gifu Richy, my FC Gifu partner in crime, although he really needs to sort his fashion out! Also, massive respect to the Brigate Mamushi supporters group for making a stand against racism earlier this season.

Even though we finished 17th, it was an incredible season for the club. I hope everyone gets a good rest and comes back refreshed for next year. 今年本当にお疲れ様でした。来年J1に行こう!2015シーズンよろしくお願いします!

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