23 January 2007

First Entry: Catching up with the HollyHock

For those who know little about Mito's professional soccer team, here is the basic information that you need to know:

*Mito HollyHock joined the J. League (Japan's top soccer league and the most well known and successful in Asia) in the year 2000 after playing in the lower tier league.
*Mito plays in the J2 (second) division of the J. League. In order to have the chance to be promoted to the top division (J1), the team must finish in the top 3 at the end of the season.
*Mito finished in 10th place out of 13 in the 2nd division in 2006. This is 28th place out of the 31 teams in the J. League.
*Mito's highest placement in club history is 7th out of 12 in the second division in 2003, being 25th out of 30 teams that year.
*Mito's playing style is famous for being heavily defensive.
*Both in individual games and in season standings, Mito tends to take many points in the first half, only to slip and fall behind in the second half. Near the end of the second half Mito will fight back as the end approaches and success usually comes as a result of what happens as time comes to a close.
*Mito currently has some fame as being the former team of Marcus Tulio Tanaka, the top player in Japanese soccer in 2006.
*Mito has fans in southern Fukushima and eastern Tochigi, as those prefectures have no teams in the J. League. Those living in southern Ibaraki prefecture strongly support the Kashima Antlers, a powerhouse in the top division.
*Mito and Kashima play an exhibition preseason game each year, called the "Ibaraki Soccer Festival". Mito has an informal competition with fellow J2 side Kusatsu Thespa called the "North Kanto Derby".
*Mito practices around central Ibaraki and plays most home games at Kasamatsu Stadium, which straddles the cities of Hitachinaka and Naka, and the village of Tokai. It is a 15 minute train ride from Mito station or a 20 minute drive from central Mito. Each year one game is played in Mito city at the traditional athletic stadium, which is much smaller and reserved for the "Mito Residents Day" for which admission is free for all residents.
*Mito currently has one team member on a Japanese national team, being Shohei Ogura. He is a member of Japan's Under-22 squad.

Hopefully this helps those new to the team better understand the HollyHock as time goes on. I will update this with all relevant news and results as soon as I come across them.

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