At the end of every January, the club holds a special event which is only open to season ticket holders and Tricolore fan club members. Taking place at Marinos Town MM21, this event is known as the “Tricolore Festa” and is the biggest event that the club puts on every year.
The Tricolore Festa is pretty much the only opportunity that we supporters have to meet and chat with our favorite players as well as getting stuff signed and having photos taken with the team. The format of this year’s event followed the tried and trusted schedule of starting the day with a full team introduction on the main stage followed by the introduction of the coaching staff and concluding with a message from the Coach and club president. The initial addresses were then followed by the opening of several booths which would host individual players on a time rotation system for meeting supporters and signing stuff as well as a pitch dedicated to some futsal with some of the technical coaches.
Despite all my years of supporting the F.Marinos, this was only my second Tricolore Festa and I was determined to make up for my recent hiatus by doing whatever was necessary to finally get to meet my personal favorite player, Yuji Nakazawa. This year, the event organizers felt it would only be fair to allow the winners of a lucky lottery draw, entry into the high-profile “Nissan Space” which would be where our talismanic defender, as well as returnee Shunsuke Nakamura, would make their grand entrances.
Unfortunately, my number wasn’t a winning one. Neither was Blake’s.
And it was in that moment that my long, 6 year harbored hope of meeting Mr. Nakazawa came to another heartrending end. I am pretty sure there was a little black cloud floating over my head as I looked on at all those lucky, lucky bastards that made the draw….
That was when it happened. While I was jealously wishing death upon all of those jammy sods for taking MY spot in the winners queue, I saw a familiar looking chap striding into the back of the line. It was none other of than the Italian Capo di tutti capi of Marinos fans, Piero! (No, he’s not a circus performer)
I sensed my chance to ask him to get my shirt signed for me as I ran around the mass of people, clutching my #22 jersey and marker pen. Barging my way through the security, I joined Piero and his family in the queue and asked him to get my shirt signed to which the suggestion of “doing it myself” was uttered. That was when it dawned on me that I could totally take advantage of my foreign appearance, and pretend to be Piero’s brother or something and just say I’m with my family!
And with that piece of cunning trickery I was not only able to meet Signor Bomberhead, I was also able to get this photo taken…!
From that point on, I was walking on air and don’t remember what else happened. THE END.
Just kidding. After that we went to meet some of the “lower” profile squad members which is where we bumped into Hasegawa Aria Jasuru’s dad for a lengthy chat about all things football when we really should have been lining up to meet one of the players! All turned out well though as we were able to get in line just in time to meet a new signing from our Youth team, Eijiro Takeda! Eijiro is kind of unique in that he grew up in the south of England (Surrey) until the age of eleven and as such, speaks perfect English in a sourthern English accent which holds no end of novelty value for me because he sounds just like me when he speaks! Of course, we let him have his photo taken with us after we signed his autograph book because that’s the kind of friendly chaps that we are!
The day was bought to a close when the players came out onto the stage to make fools of themselves in the now traditional stage show. In recent years, they have performed Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Nakazawa was Michael), Kinnikuman, and even controversially blackfaced minstrels! This year however was rather low key with Nakazawa playing a stand-up comedian, Amano, Iikura, Matsumoto, Kano, and Hyodo doing a K-Pop style girl group number, and Aria, Takeda, and Matsumoto Sho doing a stand-up routine with a bottle of coke. With the show coming to an end, the entire team came out to bid us farewell as the thousands of happy supporters filed their way out of Marinos Town. Not being ones to leave without making the most of another photo opportunity, we collared the club president, Akira Kaetsu for a quick chat and picture before trudging off into the sunset!
Now, with all the fun out of the way, all that’s left now is the serious business of getting the team nicely bonded and ready to face the reigning J-League champions, Nagoya Grampus on March 5th as we take our first step in winning back the title!!