Formed in 1965, Yamaga Club was one of the founding members of the Hokushinetsu League when it was established, ten years later. However, the team was just a small local amateur club until around 2002. However, in a strange twist of fate, the team was a surprise beneficiary of the prefecture's mistaken bid to be a venue for the 2002 World Cup. Nagano politicians poured millions into construction efforts that included a spectacular football-only stadium named Matsumoto "Alwin" Stadium. When Japan and Korea were selected as co-hosts, Japan had to eliminate several stadia from the hosting plan, and in the end Alwin Stadium was used only for one week, as a training facility for Paraguay's national team.
Matsumoto's city fathers decided they had to do something to put this huge, state-of-the-art, football-only stadium to use, and that meant building a professional football team to play in it, . An ambitions plan centering on the stadium -- known as the "Alwin Project" -- was established, and Yamaga Club became a central element of the plan. In 2008 the team got a makeover, changing its name to Matsumoto Yamaga FC, adopting the Rock Ptarmigan (a bird that lives high in the mountains of Nagano) as its mascot, and setting its sights on promotion to the J.League. Former Japan NT captain, Naoki Matsuda, joined the team and became the "face" of Yamaga's promotion bid. That "face" would become a city icon when -- in early 2010 -- Matsuda collapsed on the training pitch, victim of a massive heart attack, and was pronounced dead three days later.
The rest, as they say, is history. Yamaga not only joined the J.League, but emerged as a fanatically supported team that has even spent time in the J1. A full account is provided in the "Team History" section.