After a wait of 14 years BEFC reached the final of the Footy Japan Cup with a well earned 1 - 0 win over traditional ancient rivals the British Football Club. They will face slightly newer (and younger) rivals Pumas FC in the cup final on Saturday May 19th at Yokohama Athletics and Country Club.
BEFC have only reached the Cup once before under the alias of Perfidious Albion in the first ever season of the Tokyo Metropolis League (TML) which formed in 2004. So as well as equaling BEFC's best ever cup performance there is now the chance to make more history with a never before Cup triumph.
The step to the final was one wrapped in all kinds of theatre as in the build up to the match BEFC lost their regular starting keeper, striker and central defender all to various reasons, with injured center back James Pounder taking a debut as stand-in keeper for the game (you can read more about all this here - Adecco MVP BEFC vs BFC - Nils Simon.
BEFC's record against BFC had also been poor on the end of three defeats in a row. Last season it was BFC who put BEFC out of the cup in the early rounds in a heated and controversial contest ending on penalties. Having been promoted to division 1 last season as champions BEFC looked to gain some revenge in the league matches only to find themselves on two chastening defeats 5-1 and 4-2 respectively. On previous form it didn't look too optimistic, but thankfully both those defeats were arguably self inflicted and with a simple plan to stop doing silly things that had been hampering BEFC throughout their division 1 debut there was a lot of belief that this semi-final would go much differently... providing they stuck to the plan.
And stick to the plan they did, which was quite simply not being too hungry for goals and not giving the opposition huge opportunities to counter when an attack broke down. The communication between BEFC's players was top knotch as the balanced pressure gave BFC absolutely no sniff of a meaningful attack on BEFC's goal and absolutely no opportunity to exploit on the counter - which considering the previous matches was what they were banking on. Without any openings BEFC were able to build on sustained and pressured attacks providing plenty of chances that would no doubt eventually result in a goal. And that it did. A wonderful dink over the top from Naoki Tanabe to a blind-side running Jorge Marenco, who got the better of the BFC full back and instinctively struck a sweet shot beyond the keeper. BEFC celebrated like they had won the match, because unless BFC could muster something different there was only one outcome. Keeping their composure and simply not changing anything, BEFC saw the game out comfortably with more chances on the BFC goal and offering very little for BFC to pull anything back with.
A massive team effort paid off, lessons learned from division 1 paid off and with the defeat of BEFC's other classic rival Sala FC for the first time in over 5+ seasons the match before the sense of momentum and stepping up the level of play was felt hugely!
BEFC now head to play Pumas in the final who strangely enough are the newest of the teams BEFC consider rivals. This is because two seasons ago, it was BEFC who ran Pumas to the wire for most of the season for the division 2 top spot, winning one and losing one. A poor result at the end of the season gave Pumas the championship followed by a collapse at the hands of Sala at the last game of the season to avoid promotion by a single point. This season having only played Pumas once, it was Pumas who triumphed but only 1 - 0 against a BEFC playing with 10 men for half the match. It wasn't the sort of match either team wanted and the future league fixture is waiting to happen.
In other competition the FJC 7s series, BEFC routinely end up in a group of death with Pumas. In their last outing it was BEFC who lost to Pumas in the final by a single goal, and only after losing their goal keeper earlier in the competition from breaking his finger on a player's head.... from Pumas. So there was a feeling that having a proper keeper would have been a factor in the final outcome and BEFC are always up for a good match against Pumas!!
Now from the history books we found a newsletter from 2004 which describes BEFC's match in the first FJC Cup Final appearance you can check out below. As well as an archive of the TML Match report of that very game too. From the remaining members of BEFC it seems we still have three players who were in that game: Keith Crowley (the immortal), Silvano Boroni, and still playing Tetsuro Sotoike!
Click the image for a PDF readable version...
And if you are interested here is the TML Match report from that game:
SWISS CLAIM CUP TO QUASH RUMOURS
July 31st Oi Futo. The Swiss Kickers disposed of Perfidious Albion 2-1, in the final of the Wall Street Associates, Footy Japan Cup and in doing so silencing some critics who claim the Swiss are not the team they were. Newly promoted Perfidious Albion may well have had the psychological edge from the kick-off, following a string of bad results from the Swiss in the run-up to the final and the latter half of the TML.
In temperatures soaring well into the 30's, it was the Swiss who found the back of the net first as they broke from defense and moved the ball swiftly through midfield. Dave Pratt's quick feet and pin-point shot left the Albion keeper with too much to do and put The Swiss one nil up just before the well earned half time break.
Perfidious Albion's half time talk seemed to be taking effect early in the second half as some tenacious breaks through midfield started to exploit some lackluster (heat exhausted) tracking back from the Swiss. The Swiss quickly switched back into "Swiss" mode and tightened things up and "Nuddy" the Swiss's surrogate Peruvian/Japanese superstar had the Albion midfield at 6's and 7's. Seeing the keeper well off his line "Nuddy" cheekily lobbed the Albion No.1 from 40 yards, sparing him no blushes, 2-0.
Ten minutes from time and a moment of controversy saw a red card drawn for what the referee insists was a clear case of hand-ball by a Swiss defender on the goal line. The penalty was nicely slotted away instilling a glimmer of hope for the Albion as the Swiss were now down to ten men. A frantic final 5 minutes saw chances at both ends but at the final whistle the score remained 2-1 and the Swiss walked away with the inaugural Footy Japan Cup and their acclaimed reputation intact. Perfidious Albion, however, will clearly be pulling no punches when it comes to the TML division-one title chase next season - definitely a team to watch out for.