FORMED in the spring of 1996 as Shane Kita-Kanto by London ex-pat, Dave Threadgold, the team was originally a social gathering for teachers of Shane Corporation in Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
SINCE its formation, the team has expanded to include ex-Shane teachers, students, acquaintances and ex-pat footballers throughout Saitama and northern Tokyo, and duly the name has been simplified to just Kita-Kanto. Despite this, Shane staff still represent a good percentage of the team's personnel.
THE first game was an 'away' match in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, against Shane Higashi-Kanto, and the in-company derby produced a memorable 7-4 victory, and started a good year which saw the team play infrequently, but remain unbeaten in their makeshift red/maroon/claret shirts.
THE problems of maintaining an English school team became apparent at the end of the first year, as players returned to England, and their replacements in the classroom weren't footballers. For the next few years Kanto would field a variety of players and play ever more infrequently, as both pitches and opponents became increasingly hard to find without the leadership of the enthusiastic and likeable Threadgold.
THREADGOLD's departure at the end of 1996, along with former semi-professional centre-half Ian McCartney, and the talented midfielder Robin Marriott, saw goalkeeper Chris Jones become manager. Although his tenure produced a succession of victories, including the scalp of strong Saitama ex-pat team, JET, and a new all-white kit, the lack of quality players was beginning to show.
JONES returned to Europe in the summer of 1997, and handed over the managerial duties to Mike Coleman, who had a modicum of success in arranging more fixtures, but both the number of players available and the results began to drop, and Kanto suffered a string of poor results and battling draws.
THIS era saw the emergence of some new genuine stars. Left-footed versatility man Alex Yardley, solid centre-back Matt Watson, and new goalkeeper Richard Evans would start their distinguished Kanto careers, whilst others such as FA coach Matt Hunt and skilful central player Ian Varo would come and go in a time of under-achievement. The end of big, burly centre-back Paul Douglas, now high up in the echelons of the Shane Corporation would further the defensive frailties, after a prolonged spell of injuries.
IN the autumn of 1998, Coleman left the depleted team in the hands of Yardley, who took the small band of troops to successive derby wins over Higashi-Kanto, before returning control to Coleman after the New Year.
1999 saw a new influx of players, including the bustling midfielder Dave Leverick, and potent frontman, Brian Malone, but by March, the results were disappointing, and the fantastic team spirit which was in danger of disappearing with so many changes in personnel, was hit hard by losing to fellow Saitama teams OK Utd and JET, and an away defeat at Higashi-Kanto in the same month, and Coleman resigned once more.
ALAN Hill, another original member of the team, took control, and his hard work, amiable character, and dedication proved to be the turning point for the side. He immediately found grounds to occupy, opponents to play, and after 12 months, an entirely new kit, consisting of yellow shirts with green trim, blue shorts, and white socks, and with this new-found professional approach, both players and fortune returned.
SINCE Hill's inauguration, Kanto have unearthed some more genuine talent, the strong team spirit has returned, and although the turnover of players remains high, the future of the team is secure, in good hands and has, as the saying goes, never looked so bright.