And the season ends on a bit of a whimper, losing to J1-promoted Yamagata to cap things off with a 4 game losing streak. This streak pushed Mito out of the middle of the table and into the bottom third for yet another year, 11th place, only ahead of the newcomers to J2 and the Shikoku sides.
This was the first time I'd taken a touring bus to a match though, as usually I drive myself. The distance to Yamagata made the bus much more cost effective this time. They put forth a great deal for the money as the driver was fast, the seats were comfortable, and the guide was polite. On the way, the TVs displayed Mito's last match against Yamagata, which was a Mito win. Also, the club showed appreciation for the fans who would support the team away by giving away small bags with things to take away, including postcards with personal messages of appreciation from a player. Mine was from captain Hiramatsu.
The game itself was great but bitterly cold and in thick snowfall. Lots of good effort on both sides and close chances despite the low shoot count (a combined 13 for both teams). The stadium is fantastic for an all-purpose, and the mountain environment has clean and crisp air. There is even a mini Mos Burger selling food for each gate. Near the end of the match, all items were sold off for 100 yen. In my excitement I got three chili dogs and three burgers, thinking I'd have one and save the rest later. Perhaps I should have saved them ALL for later and I saw why they were not popular after being in the Yamagata December for 3 hours... They were great after they had the chance to thaw out in my refrigerator at home. Plus the people at the stadium and the fans are great... as close to a Mito home experience as can be.
J1 fans looking for a good away game and a new environment to explore should definitely catch one in Yamagata... 2009 might be the only chance, too!