Richy Palmer (@GifuRichy) is nothing if not an equal opportunist. He is longing for the day when each of Japan’s 47 prefectures are represented in the J.League. The ones which currently don’t have a J.League are in focus here, and he gives you the lowdown on which clubs might make the grade, and when. First up, the northern territory of Aomori.
“How bout dem apples?” You may ask. Well, pretty good actually, as Aomori Prefecture at the top of Honshu, now has two rival teams fighting to be the first to represent their prefecture in the J3 in 2017.
2006 Tohoku 2nd Division North
2013 Tohoku 1st Division
2014 JFL (9th)
2015 JFL (2nd)
Vanraure were born in 2006 when Hachinohe Kougyou OB and Nangou FC merged. In 2008 the team indicated that they were aiming for a “J” spot in 2016. In 2011 they were winners of a rejigged competition that was forced on by the Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in 2011, however they were denied promotion to the top division and remained in the second division in 2012. Luck came though in 2013 though when the team was admitted into the JFL without even having to enter the Regional Finals. This was because of the newly formed J3 division, and although the team were denied a spot in the J3 because of their stadium, they were allowed entry into the JFL instead.
After a reasonable performance in their inaugural year in JFL, the team surprised many by winning the 1st stage in 2015 and eventually finishing 2nd overall. This result put them into contention for a J3 spot but yet again they were denied because of their inadequate stadium. The team were also denied because of a lack of a decent financial plan for the future, and attendance figures (average under 1000 people per game) despite the best efforts of “Tiger Mask”, which were well under the 2000 average required to get a J3 license.
Work is in progress now to build a new stadium for the club that will meet the J3 criteria. It is expected to be built by Autumn 2016, meaning that if the club pass the other criteria, the team should be eligible for J3 in 2017.
Vanraure Hachinohe have made a strong start to the JFL this year (3 wins 2 draws). They also had 3066 people turn up to their first home game which shows the interest that is now in the club that started to gain momentum at the end of last year. Along with Azul Claro Numazu and Nara Club there looks like there will be a Battle Royale at the top of the table for the two J3 positions. With their experience last year and with rivals ReinMeer Aomori breathing down their backs, I think Vanraure are in a great position to be bringing J3 football to Aomori next year.
2006 Aomori 1st Division
2009 Tohoku 2nd Division
2014 Tohoku 1st Division
The “clear water and green forests” ReinMeer Aomori got a fortunate boost in the Tohoku leagues when Grulla Morioka, Fukushima United and Blaublitz Akita were promoted to J3, and Vanraure were promoted to the JFL. This gave ReinMeer an easier path to the JFL, and they took their opportunity in smart fashion, when they beat FC Kariya and Saurcos Fukui in the Regional Finals, to gain promotion to the JFL in 2016.
With the Shin-Aomori Stadium the team have a stadium that meets J3 requirements. At the moment though there is debate as to whether the roof should be extended so that it would meet J1 and J2 requirements. Financially, the team still have a bit of work to do to attract sponsors and also new supporters to the club, and this will be their main aim in the next couple of years.
Despite not playing at home until Round 7, ReinMeer have put in a solid performance so far (2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss). There is some bad blood between Aomori-City and Hachinohe, and ReinMeer will be desperate to overtake Vanraure and get into J3 first, however it looks like they may come up short for the time being.
Still, the team have invested in some good players and look very likely to get themselves eligible for promotion in the next two to three years if things keep going according to plan.