|On 9 May, Minister Hiroyuki Kishino hosted a reception at the Embassy prior to the departure to Japan of Middlesex Wanderers Football Club. The team are travelling to Japan to take part in friendly matches against Shimizu S-Pulse (J1), Central Kobe and All-Japan University XI.
Middlesex Wanderers Football Club
Minister Kishino delivers a speech
Mr Fay, Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this reception as you prepare to depart for Japan today. Yokoso taishikan e.
In an age when many sports are dominated by commercialism, Middlesex Wanderers are a byword for dedication to sport purely for the joy and fellowship it brings. Formed a century ago, teams from your Club have visited at least 40 countries, impressing people far and wide with their nobility of spirit.
Your impact in Japan has been tremendous. I note that your first visit to Japan dates back to 1967. Since then, the Club has sent a team to various parts of Japan no fewer than seven times. Moreover, the cup you donated in 1969 is still awarded to the winners of the annual high school football tournament in Japan.
Over the last three decades or so, football has steadily taken root in Japan, and is now the second most popular sport there. The great success of the World Cup, which Japan co-hosted with Korea in 2002, testifies to the way the sport has captured the imaginations of our people. Your Club can take a great deal of credit for its part in this development.
In Japan you will have games with Kobe, Shimizu S-Pulse and an All-Japan University XI. An exciting treat is surely in store for the spectators on all three occasions. With your undoubted skill and awesome spirit, you are bound to acquire quite a following among Japanese aficionados of football. You will thereby contribute in your own special way to the ever-growing friendship between our two countries and peoples.
I wish you all success in your trip to Japan and look forward to hearing of your exploits when you are back.
Mr A.W. Fay, Chairman of Middlesex Wanderers FC delivers a speech
Speech made by Mr A.W. Fay, Chairman of Middlesex Wanderers Football Club
Minister, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, thank you Minister for inviting the Middlesex Wanderers to this elegant reception this afternoon. Later today we leave for Japan and fly to Osaka and will play our first match in Kobe on Thursday. As we set out we are mindful of the terrible train accident near Osaka on 25th April and we have already sent our sympathy and condolences to His Excellency the Ambassador.
Minister, it is now one hundred years since Bob and Horace Alaway had the vision to establish a touring Soccer Club to promote goodwill through the "beautiful game" to a number of countries in Europe. It may be a surprise to some of our players to know that football in Japan is even older. Just over 130 years since its establishment.
However, to trace some of our history just briefly. As standards in Europe improved, the Wanderers looked further afield. Led by Leslie Taylor and guided by the legendary Sir Stanley Rous, tours were undertaken to the Caribbean and Africa in the '60s and then even further to Japan and Asia in the late '60s and '70s. We were fortunate enough to visit Japan seven times in all culminating in the Leslie Taylor Memorial Tour in 1990. During these visits, many lasting friendships were formed between teams and officials.
It is also a great joy to us that the trophy which we presented in 1969 is still presented each year by a Vice President of our Club and a well-known figure in Japan - Chris McDonald.
We have now completed over 100 tours in over 40 countries, quite literally from Austria to Zanzibar. We have happy associations with many of those countries especially in Holland with our good friends DeZwaluwen but it is the seven tours to Japan which stand out in our memory, particularly the contribution made through Leslie Taylor during and subsequent to those tours in playing, coaching and the intriguing question of refereeing. Now Japan is a powerful force in world football as evidenced by the team's performance in the last World Cup in 2002. We are proud that over the years we have made some small contribution to that success and we were greatly honoured in October 2003 when we received the distinction of The Ambassador's Commendation in recognition of that contribution. Our playing record in Japan over those seven tours was extremely presentable and I wonder if our national team would do as well today. And I would like to point out to members of our squad departing to Japan later today that our playing record is played 30, lost only 5.
Minister, thank you for receiving the Middlesex Wanderers in your Embassy today and thank you for your generous hospitality. We look forward to maintaining the high standards of the Middlesex Wanderers during the next eleven days in your fascinating country.