Tuesday, 23 October 2018

J.League History: 1995

In 1995, the J.League was at the peak of its popularity. Even though Japan had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, the event was closely watched in Japan and the publicity it brought also boosted interest in the J.League. Football had become "faddish" among young people, the "chic"est fashion statement was a J.League replica uniform, and crowds of young people turned out to see the most media-couscious teams, even if they lived hours away from the city that the club called home . Although many of these early fans were just attracted by the novelty, which would soon wear off, others were hooked by the spectacle, and the excitement which pervaded J.League football. The core of support for most J.League teams was established during this period.

J.League 1995, First Stage

Rank Team W L PK Pts GF GA G.Dif.
1 Yokohama Marinos 17 8 1 52 47 38 9
2 Verdy Kawasaki 16 9 1 49 46 36 10
3 Urawa Reds 15 8 3 48 41 34 7
4 Nagoya Grampus 15 10 1 46 50 48 2
5 Jubilo Iwata 15 11 . 45 48 40 8
6 JEF United Ichihara 14 9 3 45 48 40 8
7 Bellmare Hiratsuka 14 11 1 43 60 47 13
8 Kashima Antlers 14 12 . 42 38 38 0
9 Cerezo Osaka 13 11 2 41 43 44 -1
10 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 13 13 . 39 38 33 5
11 Gamba Osaka 10 15 1 31 49 54 -5
12 Shimizu S-Pulse 10 16 . 30 35 63 -28
13 Yokohama Flugels 9 16 1 28 42 54 -12
14 Kashiwa Reysol 7 18 1 22 30 46 -16
Scoring: Win = 3pts, PK Loss=1 pt, Loss=0

J.League 1995, Second Stage

Rank Team W L PK Pts GF GA G.Dif.
1 Verdy Kawasaki 19 5 2 59 60 26 34
2 Nagoya Grampus 17 9 . 51 49 34 15
3 Yokohama Marinos 15 10 1 46 39 37 2
4 Shimizu S-Pulse 15 11 . 45 42 34 8
5 Kashiwa Reysol 14 11 1 43 57 54 3
6 Kashima Antlers 14 11 1 43 44 41 3
7 JEF United Ichihara 14 11 1 43 49 51 -2
8 Urawa Reds 14 12 . 42 44 38 6
9 Jubilo Iwata 13 12 1 40 40 37 3
10 Cerezo Osaka 12 13 1 37 36 39 -3
11 Yokohama Flugels 11 14 1 34 36 57 -2
12 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 9 16 1 28 31 43 -12
13 Gamba Osaka 8 16 2 26 38 53 -15
14 Bellmare Hiratsuka 7 18 1 22 34 55 -21
Scoring: Win = 3pts, PK Loss=1 pt, Loss=0

 

Championship Series

30 Nov Yokohama Marinos 1-0 Verdy Kawasaki
David Bisconti . .
6 Dec Verdy Kawasaki 0-1 Yokohama Marinos
. . Masami Iihara

There were a few problems, though, that the league was forced to address. The first was the schedule. In 1995, as in the previous two years, the teams played a double round robin in both the first and second stages, ensuring that each team played home and away against all of its opponents during each stage. While this may have ensured "fairness", as the league grew inside it became too cumbersome to maintain.

 

In 1995, two teams joined the league -- Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol -- raising the total number of teams to 14. As a result, each stage included 26 matches. This was simply too demanding a schedule, even though the league still had only one major Cup tournament (the traditional Emperor's Cup at the end of the year). By the end of the second stage, most teams were worn out, and the league realised that it had to change its format.

 

A second problem related to scoring. At its inception, the J.League played all matches to a conclusion, either through a "golden goal" victory in extra time or through penalty kicks. This format was selected mainly to differentiate football in Japan from baseball, its chief rival sport (in Japan, baseball games end in a draw if neither team can win in 11 innings).

 

However, many people complained that it was unfair to award the same number of points for a PK victory as for a victory in regulation time. To address this concern, the scoring system was changed in 1995. Teams received 3 points for a win a, regardless of how the win was achieved, and one point for a loss on PKs. While this was better than the original system, it still seemed to penalize teams that were able to remain level with their opponent for 120 minutes. The league would continue to adjust the scoring system for several more years.

 

1995 marked the high-water mark for the J.League's popularity. Although many would argue that its core fan base is actually stronger and more loyal today, in 1995 the J.League had become a "fad", especially among the young people of Japan. Teams played before packed stadiums and sales of uniforms and licensed goods filled the coffers of every team in the league. As a result, many stacked their lineups with well-known foreign players, including Europeans like Guido Buchwald, Salvatore Scillaci, Gary Lineker and Pierre Littbarsky, and South Americans like Jorghino, Leonardo, Ramon Diaz, Cesar Sampaio, Toninho and Mazinho.

 

Perhaps the greatest story of a foreign player who made good, though, is the story of Careca, who turned down a chance to play out the final year or two of his career in Europe and came to Japan to join JFL team Kashiwa Reysol. After two years in the lower division, Careca's tireless work with the young Reysol players, as well as his own brilliant scoring efforts, won Reysol promotion to the J.League, and in the second stage of 1995, Reysol amazed fans and foes alike by finishing fifth in therir first year after promotion. Sadly, this was the last hurrah for Careca. Nagging leg injuries would force him to retire in 1996.


 

Scoring Leaders

32 Masahiro Fukuda Urawa Reds
31 Salvatore Scillaci Jubilo Iwata
27 David Bisconti Yokohama Marinos
25 Betinho Bellmare Hiratsuka
23 Kazu Miura Verdy Kawasaki
23 Yukiji Noguchi Bellmare Hiratsuka
21 MedinaBello Yokohama Marinos
20 Nobuhiro Takeda Verdy Kawasaki
20 Gert Hillhaus Gamba Osaka
19 Alcindo Verdy Kawasaki
19 Valdez Cerezo Osaka
18 Uwe Bein Urawa Reds
18 Masashi Nakayama Jubilo Iwata
17 Leonardo Kashima Antlers
17 Toninho Urawa Reds
17 Ramon Diaz Shimizu S-Pulse

 

1994 J.League Awards

MVP Dragan Stojkovic Nagoya Grampus
Rookie of the Year Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi Yokohama Marinos
Golden Boot Masahiro Fukuda Urawa Reds
Coach of the Year Arsene Wenger Nagoya Grampus
Best 11
GK Shinkichi Kikuchi Verdy Kawasaki
DF Masami Iihara Yokohama Marinos
DF Suzuki Masaharu Yokohama Marinos
DF Naoki Soma Kashima Antlers
DF Guido Buchwald Urawa Reds
MF Tetsuji Hashiratani Verdy Kawasaki
MF Bismarck Verdy Kawasaki
FW Dragan Stojkovic Nagoya Grampus
FW Masahiro Fukuda Urawa Reds
FW Kazu Miura Verdy Kawasaki
FW Hiroaki Morishima Cerezo Osaka