Earlier in the season the Shizuoka Derby made the headlines for all of the wrong reasons. The return fixture is this weekend and promises to be a good’un…
This Saturday is the most eagerly anticipated Shizuoka Derby for years.
While both Jubilo and Shimizu have had more successful seasons in the past, contesting the biggest prizes in the Japanese game, this match is special because there is something perhaps more important at stake; local pride.
To an extent this is always on the line in derbies, but the clash at Ecopa Stadium is the first time the sides have squared off since the incident involving the “Ghotbi Stop Making Nuclear Bombs” banner at Nihondaira in May, and as a result the atmosphere is sure to be electric.
While that matter is now officially closed – with Afshin Ghotbi having taken it in his stride, Jubilo banning the fans responsible and Shimizu reprimanding their supporters who became involved – the scars are not completely healed.
S-Pulse fan Daisuke Matsura, for example – one of the nearly 30 Shimizu supporters who forced their way into the Jubilo end to demand the banner and were subsequently handed three-match bans by S-Pulse – cannot wait for the match.
Matsura accepted his punishment – which encompassed the league games at home to Albirex and away to Cerezo, and the Nabisco Cup clash with Ventforet at Nihondaira – and explained to me why he and his fellow supporters broke stadium rules and entered the away section.
“We knew what would happen to us (banned from few home games) if we reacted under such a situation, but we soon decided to go and stop the Iwata supporters. It was all for our pride against them because it was derby day and not to allow them behave as they wanted in our home stadium.
“Many people may think that we rushed towards the Jubilo side right away, but that’s wrong. My fellow supporters and I actually had a brief discussion if we would really go or not before we started running to the other side.
“What happened in the Iwata side was far away from violence at all. No one got injured from either group of supporters. Us Shimizu supporters simply asked them to stop and give up the banner. Of course, the Iwata supporters didn’t respond right away.”
Although obviously angered by the content of the banner he admits to understanding the potential motivation behind it, and suggests that if the Jubilo fans had expressed themselves differently the incident may not have become so out of hand.
“I guess they tried to show their intense hate towards Shimizu on the derby day. I kind of understand this feeling because we have that feeling as well towards Iwata. But I guess they just picked a wrong way to show it. If it was some sort of insulting chant, I guess we could take it differently.”
An instance of verbal abuse has also made headlines this season though – with Kofu’s Mike Havenaar allegedly being racially abused at Kashiwa’s Hitachi Dai Stadium.
While no culprit has been officially identified by the club, several of the core Reysol fans have since been served with lifetime bans for “repeated bad behaviour”.
Matsura is adamant that there are no problems of racism creeping onto Japanese stands on the scale of the scenes witnessed in Russia (Roberto Carlos had a banana thrown in his direction while playing for Anzhi Makhachkala) or Belgium (where Japan No. 1 Eiji Kawashima was subjected to a “Fukushima” taunt last month), though.
“There are actually a few supporters in all clubs who behave impulsively, but they are still a minority in J.League stands” he says.
And although he and his fellow fans are fired up for this game against their local rivals he insists that no specific acts of retribution are on the cards.
“This incident will surely have increased our tension, especially for those who actually got involved and banned. At this point, we are not preparing anything. You might see some banners and actions in Shimizu stands, but they would be nothing special, I guess.”
While there may be ‘nothing special’ planned it is sure to be a heated occasion, and with S-Pulse’s new marquee signing Freddie Ljungberg also looking set to be making his debut in the game as well all the ingredients are in place for a cracking game of football.