In the short time that Matsumoto Yamaga have been in the J.League proper, I’ve come to look upon them as Gifu’s main “local” rivals. Of course, the word local in this context is relative; there is not a lot that is local about the two teams given that Matsumoto is 2.5 hour + train ride from Gifu, and something very similar by highway. But it is really the nearest thing either team have to a local derby that they can play in. Gifu don’t really have the chance to play Nagoya Grampus often, while Matsumoto will have to wait until Nagano Parceiro get their act together and get into J2 before they can partake in what would almost certainly be a “proper” derby.
So, for the time being both teams have to settle for this. And it isn’t a bad compromise. The games are almost always exciting, they feel like a derby, and the supporters get well into it. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at what happens when greens of Gifu and Matsumoto collide.
1.FC Gifu 0-1 Matsumoto Yamaga (May 13, 2012)
The first meeting between these sides was settled by a Kento Tsurumaki strike just before half time. The relative calm of this game was not a pre-cursor for the more dramatic matches were to come in this series.
2. Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 FC Gifu (October 18, 2012)
I seem to remember this game being played in a midweek due to fixture congestion, and with Gifu mired in a relegation battle, it was imperative that we got something from the game. Unfortunately, with just two minutes left on the clock, Brazilian forward Ricardo scrambled in a winner to plunge Gifu into incredibly deep trouble. It was only the huge ineptness of Machida Zelvia and bad JFL stadia that kept Gifu up that year.
3. Matsumoto Yamaga 1-2 FC Gifu (April 14, 2013)
Where to start? How about the fact that Gifu hadn’t scored for about 4 years (that’s an exaggeration, but it was in the middle of the great Gifu goal drought of 2014….we hadn’t scored since the beginning of that season).
Gifu had brought in Hiroki Higuchi on loan to try and spark the forward line, and he looked sprightly as Gifu played really well in the first half. But right on the stroke of half time, Yuzo Iwakami (I think) floated a cross in that caught the strong wind and sailed over the stranded Shogo Tokihisa in Gifu’s goal. It was a goal that summed up Gifu’s season up to that point.
In the second half, FC Gifu played with that wind but couldn’t really create any clear chances. Coach Koji Gyotoku put on central defender Tatsuya Arai, much to the displeasure of the traveling supporters – but boy, were we proved wrong. 15 minutes from time, Kazuki Someya curled in a beautiful cross and Arai slammed a header in to the Yamaga net to cue delirious celebrations from the supporters. Things went from delirium to…..I’m not sure the progression from delirium but whatever it is called, Gifu supporters reached it when Arai bundled in his second with eight minutes remaining to put us 2-1 up.
Gifu held out to record a scarcely believable win, and I got very drunk on the train back. Good times!
4. FC Gifu 1-2 Matsumoto Yamaga (October 6, 2013)
It was really never going to live up to our expectations, this one as Shogo Shiozawa and Yuzo Iwakami powered Yamaga, and their fanatical traveling support, to a 2-1 win, despite Gifu’s Macedonian forward Blazhe Ilijovski’s injury time consolation goal.
5. Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 FC Gifu (April 26, 2014)
Despite a decent performance, Gifu fell victim once again to Yuzo Iwakami (he really doesn’t like Gifu, does he?) as his 75th minute winner settled what I remember to be a very even game.
6. FC Gifu 3-1 Matsumoto Yamaga
The edge was taken off this game when Matsumoto secured promotion to J1 the previous weekend, but that fact, and the fact that this was the final game for popular players Atsushi Mio and Kosuke Kitani made for a festival atmosphere.
Hiroaki Namba got straight in to the party mood when he crashed home a thirty yard rocket which was subsequently voted Gifu’s goal of the year. Hiroki Yamamoto replied almost instantly to level things, but right on half time Cristian Nazarit netted his 17th of an excellent campaign to restore Gifu’s lead.
The party was sealed when Masashi Miyazawa lashed in his first goal in EIGHT years to confirm Gifu as 3-1 winners. The players saw off Mio & Kitani in fitting style, Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi lifted the “Top of Kita-Alps” trophy, and all was right with the world.
Chapter 7 will be written next Sunday in Gifu……