Sunday 10th December: 10 Men… 9 Men… “B” Division… “C” Division…

I arrived at Yano station at about a quarter to ten this morning, half an hour behind schedule as I had missed the 9:03 from Hiroshima.

Jaime was already at Yano when I got there and we took a taxi up to the football pitches a few miles into the countryside. It was a cold day, but bright, lovely conditions for football and no need for any undershirts during the game! We were greeted by the unwelcome news that there were only ten players – including us. I had been looking forward to a second half twenty-minute stroll up and down a small patch of the pitch but instead had to prepare myself for a full game…

Actually, if there was to be a day when I would have to do this sort of thing today was the ideal day indeed. I am two weeks into the booze-fast (my personal Advent fast kicked in a few days before the start of Advent this year) and so was not suffering from a hangover. Yesterday I had made good use of my one-hour break between classes at DEH Nakamachi by whipping across the road and into a very pleasant hotel bath-house for a good soak and a long sauna and had had a good night’s sleep; the fatigue of Friday evening was long gone.

The captain (standing in for Yuusuke who was not able to play today) shunted me out to left back, an ideal position for someone not really intending to run around too much…

We had never lost to the team we were up against. They were another Hirodai team and Jaime knew one or two of the players. However, I think we must always have had a full team when we played them before.

Today’s game started brightly enough and I didn’t feel myself to be under much pressure – actually it was one of the easier first halves to play in for me and I was able to pace it pretty well. On the other hand it was not my best performance although I stopped a couple of crosses and took the ball off the geezer I was marking for a corner. We soaked up most of their attacks and saw them off until about 15 or 20 minutes in when the ball came off our post and was picked up by one of their strikers who powered it into the back of the net – a rocket of a shot.

Apart from that our goalkeeper stopped everything else. His biggest problem was goal kicks which were consistently low and consistently dropping to one of the other team’s strikers. The goalkeeper spent the half-time interval practising his goalkicks – kicking ball after ball at the fence.

One other problem we had was our throw ins – the old problem of too many foul throws.

At the other end nothing came of any of our attacks but at half time the talk was of how if we could score a goal… – the feeling was that we were still definitely in the game.

In the second half I thought I had added to our throw-in woes by actually failing to throw the ball in at all! I certainly threw it up the line but the ball simply never crossed the line. However, it turned out that the ref had not been ready so I got a second chance and this time managed to throw the ball in and to one of our players!

The other team sent attack after attack down their right which had me chasing around, but nothing came of their attacks although it must be admitted that they were putting in the shots. If anything got through then our goalkeeper was either there to pick it up with immense calm, or equally cooly sharp in judging when let it go.

The ball heads up the other end and Jaime and their goalkeeper are chasing a 50-50 ball and both arrive at the same time and Jaime goes over the goalie and crashes to the ground. He fell heavily onto his shoulder and didn’t get up. But we all know Jaime’s sense of melodrama… One of the other team’s attackers opined that he was not hurt and I assumed he’d be right as rain in a few minutes. Our captain was asking him if he was “really” hurt and was attempting to move his arm just to make sure!

Jaime was helped off the pitch and didn’t come back on so we were now reduced to nine men.

The amazing thing was that it seemed to spark something in the team and the Japanese played their hearts out and even the old codger raised his game too! Attack after attack came in again, and every one was dealt with somehow or other. I found myself contantly having to run back as the ball whizzed over my noddle to one of the guys on the right. The effort of running meant that any time I won the ball there was little I could do with it – I mean less than usual… – but most of the time I was just chasing those attackers around.

They had several corners and none came to anything though we were certainly lucky that another searing shot from their nippy attacker went just wide.

Then we had a five minute spell of attacking their goal – amazing! But there was little clear space to be seen to shoot at and so the game ended 1-0 to the other Hirodai team and it looks ever more likely that we will be playing in “C” Division next season. Well, provided we can get a full team out, the games ought to be easier, oughtn’t they??

After the match Jaime went to the hospital in Funairi which confirmed that he had “done something” to his “AC joint”. I had no idea what “AC” stood for and checked it out online:

What is the AC Joint in the shoulder?
The top of the wing bone or scapula is the acromion. (It is called the acromioclavicular joint.) The joint formed where the acromion connects to the collar bone or clavicle is the AC joint. Usually there is a protuberance or bump in this area, which can be quite large in some people normally. This joint, like most joints in the body, has a cartilage disk or meniscus inside and the ends of the bones are covered with cartilage. The joint is held together by a capsule, and the clavicle is held in the proper position by two heavy ligaments called coracoclavicular ligaments.

How is the AC Joint usually injured?
The AC joint is injured most often when one falls directly on the point of the shoulder. {Ah yes! It was a heavy fall, not an athletic roll!}

The trauma will separate the acromion away from the clavicle, causing a sprain or a true AC joint dislocation. In a mild injury, the ligaments which support the AC joint are simply stretched, but with more severe injury, the ligaments can partially or completely tear.

David Hurley


  1. Not only do I also know what an AC Joint is, I have seen the X-ray of mine and hand some rather excited Japanese Doc push mine painfully back into (roughly) its normal place. I never realised how much a person uses their shoulder for seemingly unconnected (well to me anyway) movements – i.e., walking, standing on the train and sitting in the back of a Hiroshima taxi. You live and learn…

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