It's the semi-finals of the 2014 Emperor's Cup. No matter who wins today the result will be a J1 versus J2 final, the sixth time in cup history a second-flight club has made the final. The games:
Gamba Osaka (J1) versus Shimizu S-Pulse (J1), at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo.
JEF United Chiba (J2) versus Montedio Yamagata (J2) at Nagai Stadium in Osaka.
JEF United have won the Cup four times, though always under their earlier name Furukawa Electric. Gamba have won it three times (once as Matsushita Electric Industrial). S-Pulse have won once, and Montedio never.
The second question to ask about any Scottish town (the first being "What did they used to make there?") is: "Whaur's the big hoose?" The big hoose for Greenock is Ardgowan House on the hill above Inverkip. The Shaw Stewarts, local baronets, have been in possession of this pile since the 18th century, and of the land since the days of King Robert III.
Stenhousemuir visit Cappielow. Morton enter today's action in first place, a thing rare enough to deserve bold lettering. Stenny are in eighth place; nevertheless, the Warriors won the first meeting in September. But that was then, and this is some other time later on, for Morton have not allowed a goal this November.
This is Stenhousemuir's first visit to Cappielow since May 2004, the last time both clubs were in the Second Division / League One.
Morton have eight wins, more than anyone else in League One, but they also have more losses than five other clubs. The Greenockians have a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on this season that refuses to allow them to play to a draw. Here we see the effect of the three-point-win rule. Nowadays a win and a loss are worth more than two draws. If we were still in the two-point-win era Morton would be in third place behind Forfar and Stranraer.
I just used the word "era" like a baseball writer.
Morton are winners of their last three league games. Last time they did that was March 2013, when they held first place in the First Division.
Any one of four clubs could hold first place at the end of this afternoon, including Stranraer who have not lost a league game since August.
[But Morton win 3 - 1, and hold on to top spot. Morton goals by Kilday (2) and S. McCluskey.]
Hearts and Rangers meet today in the Championship. Hearts won their first encounter, and have yet to lose a game in league play. [Hearts win 2 - 0.]
It's the third round of the Scottish Junior Cup. We're watching:
Dyce Juniors versus Port Glasgow [postponed]
Shotts Bon Accord [1 - 6] Hurlford United
Irvine Meadow [0 - 4] Auchinleck Talbot
Johnstone Burgh versus Largs Thistle [postponed]
Kelty Hearts [1 - 2] Bo'ness United
Tomorrow is the end of the schedule in both the J2 and J3 leagues in Japan. In J3, fifth-place Grulla Morioka host fourth-place Gainare Tottori, but cannot overtake them. Zweigen Kanazawa have clinched promotion to J2. Either Parciero Nagano or Machida Zelvia will make the promotion playoff. There will be no relegation from J3 to the JFL this year, as they're trying to build up J3. In J2, our guys Mito HollyHock can finish anywhere between 11th and 18th, nowhere near promotion or relegation. Our other guys Consadole Sapporo can finish 8th, 9th or 10th. Kataller Toyama are relegated to J3, and Kamatamare Sanuki are the ones who will have to play Nagano or Machida in the playoff. J1 continues until December 6th. [Grulla 1, Gainare 1. Parciero make the playoff. Consadole finish 10th, HollyHock 15th.]
Also tomorrow: the Korean FA Cup final between FC Soeul and Seongnam FC. Seongnam have won it twice, Seoul once. [Seongnam win 4 - 2 on penalty kicks.]