Last night we went down to the BMW Stadium in Hiratsuka for a family night out to see a live football game between the local team – Shonan Bellmare – and visitors Tokyo Verdy. It was a very decent night out all told – the stadium is in a nice park and there was a lot of stalls almost like a mini-matsuri outside, selling shaved ice with fruit syrup, beer and a decent array of snack foods. The stadium is a nice, if somewhat Soviet-era looking concrete construction which apparently can hold around 18,000, but it felt plenty full with last night’s attendance of 9,370.
Shonan play in J2, the lower of the two Japanese professional leagues, but that’s OK – my local team in the UK isn’t exactly top flight, but that doesn’t stop an entertaining game, and the crowd were treated to some good football for 90minutes, and even two well taken goals in the second half giving the final scoreline of 1-1. Points have to go to the Verdy fans who put up a solid 90minutes of drums and chanting, and at least from where we were sat, drowned out the locals.
It’s been a while sine I’ve been to a J League game actually, though I always watch games when I go back to the UK, and whilst the support style might change around the world, the community feeling on the terraces and the appreciation of the play seems fairly constant. I have to say though, watching an evening game 3Km from the Pacific Ocean in a t-shirt and shorts contrasts oddly to Boxing Day games in the north of England.
Bottom line: if you’re in Japan, and you haven’t checked one out, go and see a J League game, and if you’re visiting, put it on your to do list.
I didn’t take many photos as I was assisting in keeping the kids under control as it was their first ever live football game, and whilst my eldest said she liked it, she was tired after 75mins., and my youngest spent some time with one of us walking about as he was fascinated by the stadium and all the people.