An entire season has come and gone, and for the most part I managed to blog about all of it; or at least the parts that mattered 😉
I’ve written about 102 posts in 2009, compared to about 30 posts in 2008. Granted, the bulk of those posts were certainly earlier in the season before I got a bit overwhelmed with work and the like, but I’m certainly happy with how I managed (mostly) to keep up with things. I’m nowhere close to what Furtho & Agent Orange are up to over in Omiya (300+ posts this year alone!), and sometimes I have trouble consistently getting up reports as regularly as Barry over in Shimizu, but for a two-bit operation I don’t think I (or my guest writers/assistants, Lantis and Andre) have done that badly considering that this was basically the first “full year” of operations for the blog.
The site currently receives a couple thousand visitors a month; plus a fair number of RSS feed reads. Although to be totally honest I have no idea how many of those hits are actual people since people rarely write comments =P (Seriously, people, comment! Let me know what’s up!) Additionally, @aishiterutokyo on Twitter has about 50 followers, the vast majority of them Japanese fans.
In 2009 I attended 28 games; 20 league, 7 Nabisco Cup, 1 Emperor’s Cup. 7 of these matches were away, including 3 stadiums I’d never visited previously (Hitachi, Kashima, and Nihondaira) plus my first J1 match at Saitama Stadium. In addition the Nabisco Cup group stage match against Shimizu brought me to Komazawa Stadium for the first time. Schedule conflicts prevented me from attending 3 home games (including Ishikawa’s hat trick vs. Omiya, the tie vs. Kyoto, and the Nabisco semifinal vs. Shimizu), and while I may be forced to miss a game or three next Spring due to similar conflicts I intend to make it up in my away matches. With the help of Andre I managed to complete the tifo I’d been mulling all season; the three 8.5-feet-tall nobori we created ended up in many a photo after the Nabisco Cup.
This was also an important year for me in that I started to establish connections within the supporter community. I met Yuji, the webmaster behind Tokyo Web Life (pretty much the authoritative FC Tokyo fan site). For the first time in my three years (!) of supporting the team, I finally made an effort to befriend the members of LA12, the main group of ultras that organize tifos and lead chants. I’ve criticized LA12 in the past, and I’ve always felt that they were somewhat resistant to the idea of me being behind the goal, but after a few of them saw my blog this year they finally started to understand that I’m not some tourist and there’s now somewhat of a mutual respect.
I’ve also continued to improve my knowledge of ‘the game’ itself; this is part of overcoming a disability known in the soccer world as “being American.” But I’ve learned enough to be able to tell when a player is diving, when offside is really offside, and when Tokyo will utterly fail against a set play (sadly, the answer to this is ‘nearly every time’).
With that in mind, I’ve already got a laundry list of things I want to do for next season.
- Add More (Japanese) Writers. While Lantis (hopefully) and Andre (probably) will continue to contribute next season, my grand plan is to assemble two or three Japanese writers with good enough English skills to handle translating articles.
- Better SNS & Multimedia integration. Anyone who’s been following @aishiterutokyo on Twitter knows that it’s been really easy for me to post brief notes as well as live updates from matches. I’ve experimented a little with the Lifestream plugin for WordPress this year, but for next year I’m hoping to find a better method. The same goes for YouTube videos and photos.
- Visit More Practices. This is unfortunately tied to my work schedule, but I would like to make the trip out to Kodaira more often and talk to the players.
- More Collaboration with Supporter Groups. I’m not sure what form this will take but hopefully it will go towards getting more foreign fans to stand with us behind the goal; I’m planning on doing romaji versions of the ‘song sheets’ that fans can pick up at The Shack on gameday. Furthermore, the idea of doing a joint scarf or tee-shirt design has been floating around. I consider scarves to be quintessential supporter gear and have a couple design ideas percolating.
- Flesh out the site a bit more. The long-waiting “How To Buy Tickets At Lawsons” section, maybe a bit more for history and statistics, that sort of thing.
- Form A Penya. FC Tokyo recognizes groups of supporters as penya – you don’t get anything from the team except for acknowledgment that you exist, but it’s still Something. My intention is to submit for an International Supporters Penya under the TOKYO DAMACY 1999 slogan. Hopefully if we get more foreign supporters behind the goal, we can actually do stuff as a group… we’ll see how it turns out!
Is there anything I’ve overlooked? Let me know! The comment section is there for a reason 😉
In any case it’s already shaping up to be an exciting 2010 for FC Tokyo and Aishiteru-Tokyo.com, so I hope you’ll all continue to stop by this blog! Thanks to everyone for your support and I hope you have a good offseason. In the meantime I’ve got photos to choose for my exhibition in 10 days, but early next week I’ll be doing a rundown of Tokyo’s signings and releases.