The Mitsubishi bench during the 58th Emperor's Cup final, January 1st, 1979.
It's Round Three. Continuing to pull for a northern winner, let's follow:
Match No. 66, Vissel Kobe [3 - 3] Montedio Yamagata [Kobe win on penalty kicks.]
Match No. 67, Albirex Niigata [1 - 0] Renofa Yamaguchi
Match No. 70, Grulla Morioka [1 - 2] Honda FC [Two red cards for Grulla.]
What was the best showing in past Emperor's Cups of each of our remaining northern clubs? Montedio Yamagata made it to the final two years ago. Albirex Niigata made the quarter-finals in 2009. Round Three this year is the farthest Grulla Morioka have ever been.
We've followed Montedio Yamagata and Grulla Morioka in past seasons. What about Albirex Niigata?
About Albirex Niigata. This club was formed in 1955 as Niigata Eleven SC, joined the JFL in 1998, J2 the next year, and J1 in 2004, where they have been ever since. They play at the 42,300-seat Denka Big Swan Stadium. The club's logo also features a white swan. Team colours are orange and blue. They have not yet won the league, league cup or Emperor's Cup, or represented Japan abroad.
This year Albirex finished 13th in Stage One of the J1 season, and are 14th in Stage Two after ten games (update).
Niigata Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, just were the country would put its hands and say, "Oh, my aching back!" if it were a person. The place is out of the way now, but in the days of the Japanese overseas empire the boat from Niigata to Rason, North Korea was the shortest route to Manchuria.
In J League news, JFL sides Vanraure Hachinohe, Nara Club and Azul Claro Numazu have been awarded J3 licenses for 2017. But only Numazu Azul Claro is high enough in the standings to qualify for promotion.
Yesterday in Sweden it was Östersund [0 - 2] Norrköping.