BEFC are the champions of the Tokyo Metropolis League's Division 2, 2016-17 for the first time in 10 years. The team secured the division with two games to spare capping a heroic win over JETRO 4 - 1 with only 10 men for 60 minutes. This sealed their record breaking campaign for glory sending them 12 points clear of any challenger.
This remarkable season was not in isolation but the formation of a new force to be reckoned with who last season just missed out on promotion on the final day by a single point. The gruelling loss of last season galvanised this season and the desire to put things right cemented a core squad of players with all or nothing glory on their minds. However while the winning squad of course deserve all the glory for their great achievement, we also recognise the former players who took part in the previous two seasons which were pivotal in changing the mentality and focus for BEFC to earn their triumph. The championship was not won in a single season, it was the result of a campaign and everyone involved important to this success.
BEFC has a long history, formed in the 70s, and a founding team in the TML. However the last time BEFC were crowned champions was TML4 in 2006-7, with a squad known as the 'Invincibles', who won 11 of their 13 matches, drawing 2 and losing none and a GD of 23. With a few members, Keith Crowley, Silvano Boroni, Torsten Weber, Will Ryan, Takashi Matsumoto, who were part of the invincibles it was only Takahiro Yoshida still playing as BEFC won their second league title.
The insipiration of the Invincibles was an early target for BEFC who had gone 10 games unbeaten with no draws until their loss to Musketeers, but with the TML somewhat different to 10 years ago, this class of BEFC have set their own records with still games to play.
In the previous season, the prelude to glory, BEFC had opened by going 7 games straight without conceeding a single goal. Their stingy defence had only conceded 20 goals all season, equal best in the division, but at the expense of only scoring 30 the other way. This season marked a change in playing style as BEFC had by the Christmas half season break already scored more goals than the entire previous season, and with change no change to their iron-clad defence. The scoreline 4-1 had become a mythical standard, with a repeatably annoyed defence for just not keeping that clean sheet!
The opening match of the season against former D1 SUNS FC stamped down a marker for what was to come, with an 8 - 1 demolition, and Captain making his way to the match straight from the airport after getting married in the UK that Summer. Contemplating missing the match, he was very glad he didn't, his own dedication rewarded by his teammates giving BEFC their largest win in recent memory and an opening hat trick for Kentaro Takahashi.
The red machine never stopped rolling as they followed on with a 4 -1 victory over the other former D1 team El Diego (sporting two other division 1 team captains in their squad!) and 5-1, 4-1 victories over Musketeers and Vagabonds putting BEFC top of the table and from then on only ever having to look over their shoulder.
BEFC passed a crucial test against Fussa in the last fixture before the half season break, with a well fought 1 - 0 win. This was the exact same fixture against Fussa last season where BEFC's unbeaten run had been put to an end. Despite a number of chances BEFC couldn't get the ball over the line, and Fussa frustrated with pressure and constant long punts down field. Right near the end Alo Sakk managed to force the ball into the net and BEFC finished the first half of the season unbeaten and 100% wins.
The start of the 2017 began with a Cup match against Division 1 BFC. Having disposed of JETRO earlier, BEFC who often end up challenging in the Plate competiton had decided a battle against the Division 1 competition would be a true test of their prospects. It was a good early taste of D1 football against a British Football Club team interestingly fielding all Japanese players. The first half took time to get used to but the second saw BEFC pin the opposition in their own half til the final whistle. The match ended as a draw, and a very contentious goal for BFC who had kick the ball out of Inaki Zulaika's hands to score, injuring his hand too. This led to penalties and BEFC went out. However it was a defeat in which BEFC knew they had won, and also got a view of the more 'competitive' style of play to expect in division 1.
BEFC had been given a mumbled reputation for a team that drops off in the second half of the season but results continued to come in strongly coming up to 10 consecutive league wins.
It was the 11th match in which they could equal the unbeaten run of the Invincibles BEFC became unstuck, suffering their first defeat to a very fortunate Musketeers 3 - 2. One error and two sensational long range efforts saw Musketeers overcome an out of sorts BEFC to keep the Invincibles record intact and put pressure on BEFC for the title!
Bouncing back BEFC went onto defeat Dutch FC 9-1 with their highest win in recent memory followed by overcoming a vital and difficult Fussa rematch which almost went the same way as before. Consistently 9 points clear it was time BEFC to clinch the title with 4 games to go if they could defeat Dutch FC again in their rematch on a rescheduled game.
However it was not to be, with poor defensive errors causing 2 goals and discord upsetting the team's play not helped by highly questionable refereeing. Potential goals were well saved, cleared off the line, repeatedly flagged as offside or clean through on goal runs not allowed to be played as advantage. It just seemed to be a very bad day designed to not win the title.
But luckily on that day too, prime rivals Musketeers dropped points to JETRO meaning that with a win or draw in the next game BEFC would be champions.
In a mega-epic of last minute drop outs, playing with 10 men for 60 minutes and world class goals BEFC sealed the deal with a legendary 4 - 1 win as recorded in this Match Report.
BEFC became Division 2 Champions with 2 games to go.
- 16 Played, 14 wins, 0 draws and 2 defeats.
- 64 goals scored, 16 conceded.
- Goal Difference of 46
- Total of 42 points to ensure being champions.
Additionally both BEFC's strikers, Kentaro Takahashi and Alo Sakk were topping the league scorers, with Takahashi on 23 and Sakk 18. The nearest rival Yusukue Kawano of Zion FC closely behind on 16, but Zion with 4 games let to play.
BEFC now are looking to prepare for the big jump up in challenge for next season in TML's Division 1.