@GifuRichy continues on his journey around the prefectures that don’t have J.League clubs…..yet. In this installment he looks at the centrally located Mie-ken, a prefecture that is more famous for beaches, seafood, Formula 1, and shrines
Think of Mie Prefecture and what probably comes to mind is Ise Shrine, ninjas, or pristine (and some not so pristine) beaches. But get away from all this and you will find that there is a war going on here between two clubs, both trying to stamp their authority, and both vying to become the prefecture’s first representative in the J world.
Suzuka Unlimited FC
- 2005 Mie 1st Division
- 2007 Tokai 2nd Division
- 2010 Tokai 1st Division (Champions in 2012/14)
The club started off based in Nabari and were named Mie FC Rampole in 2006 before merging with Suzuka Club and changing their home base to Suzuka in 2009. There their name was changed to FC Suzuka Rampole, and an emphasis on creating Mie Prefecture’s first J club began. They reached the Regional Finals twice, but both times failed to get out of the group stage. In 2013 they applied to be a J-League semi-affiliated member but were denied and this lead to a downward spiral which reached rock-bottom in 2015 when a series of managers and coaching staff left and the club office was abandoned.
In order to make a fresh change, and to disassociate themselves from their recent but hopefully past troubles, the club changed it’s name to Suzuka Unlimited FC for the 2016 season.
2016 is almost a do or die year for Suzuka Unlimited FC. They will need a great performance on the field to get back sponsors and supporters. Their biggest threat being Veertien Mie, located North in Kuwana/Yokkaichi, who are threatening to move the power and resources up there with them.
On their side though, Unlimited do have the Suzuka Sports Garden, which is a stadium capable of hosting J3 games. They also have experience in winning the Tokai League, and in participating in the Regional Finals.
One gets the feeling though that Unlimited have been overtaken by Veertien, and will really need to do something special this year if they want to get to the JFL first, and if they fail to do that, the whole club’s future could be in serious danger.
- 2012 Mie 3rd Division
- 2013 Mie 2nd Division
- 2014 Mie 1st Division
- 2015 Tokai 2nd Division
- 2016 Tokai 1st Division
Since being formed in 2012, Veeertien have blown away almost everything put in front of them, moving up five divisions in just five years. In 2014, they showed their power by beating Suzuka Rampole to become the Mie representative in the Emperor’s Cup, and then went on to produce a brave performance, eventually losing a great game to Cerezo Osaka 2-4. This brought some publicity their way, and Veertien used this as an opportunity to rename the club from Veertien Kuwana (The city where the team is based) to Veertien Mie, thereby becoming a representative of the whole prefecture.
This year Veertien get to really stamp their mark in Mie in the race to be Mie’s representative. Financially the club have the backing of some of Mie’s biggest companies and the club has set up a good youth system for young players. There is also a reasonable fan base, which while still in the low hundreds looks like it will rise in time. The team predominantly uses the NTN Soccer Park for their games, although they will most likely move to the Yokkaichi Chuo Ryokuchi Stadium for games should they be promoted to the JFL. With some minor upgrades, this stadium could be suitable to host J3 games.
The momentum is definitely with Vertieen, although they will need to be at their best to beat a determined Suzuka Unlimited and also a resurgent Kariya FC in the Tokai 1st Division. Chances are that they will at least get a shot in the Regional Finals this year.