Photos (Top to Bottom): Gary Lineker with some young fans at North Hobart; Nagoya Grampus Eight training at North Hobart; Nagoya manager Ryuzo Hiraki (left) and head caoch Jorge Yonashiro; Gary Lineker in training; Local players Ian Parker (left) and Stephen Brown (right) with Gary Lineker; Jorginho (No. 6) in training; Gary Lineker relaxes after training; Nagoya Grampus Eight training at North Hobart; Japanese reporter talking to a Nagoya coach; Japanese television crew in and amongst the Nagoya Grampus Eight players
In March 1993, they came to Hobart for a two-week camp in preparation for their J-League season.
Two of their stars were England international Gary Lineker and Brazilian international Jorginho.
Lineker had recently ended his international career and was just a goal short of equalling Bobby Charlton’s goal-scoring record for his country.
Jorginho, 33, had played for Brazil from 1983 to 1986 but missed the 1986 World Cup because of a broken leg.
He was a class player and was the man-of-the-match when Nagoya Grampus Eight took on Tasmania at North Hobart Oval on 13 March 1993 before a crowd of 3,000.
Nagoya Grampus Eight won 3-0, with Shigeo Sawairi and Jorginho netting to make it 2-0 at the break and Tetsuya Asano adding the third in the second half.
The Japanese squad of manager, five coaches and 27 players arrived in Hobart on 2 March 1993 and stayed at Ridges, a hotel beside the North Hobart Oval.
They trained at both North Hobart Oval and South Hobart.
Ryuzo Hiraki, 59, was the manager. He played for Japan at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
The head coach was Jorge Yonashiro, a Brazilian of Japanese descent.
Norio Tsukitake was another coach accompanying the squad, while the goalkeeping coach was Dutchman Dirk Havenaar.
There were five goalkeepers in the 27-man squad and the up-and-coming keeper amongst them was Ken Ishikawa.
The presence of Nagoya Grampus Eight attracted huge media interest, which was assisted by the fact that the World Under-20 Cup finals were being staged in Australia at the same time.
Two Japanese television crews were in Hobart for the duration of the camp and filed news stories in Japan every day.
The amount of publicity Tasmania was receiving in Japan was priceless, and it was all free.
Four English reporters came to Hobart for the match between Tasmania and Nagoya Grampus Eight, including my friend Rob Hughes, who was writing for The Times.
The others were Colin Gibson of “The Daily Telegraph”, Frank Wiechula of “The Daily Mirror” and Steve Curry of “The Daily Express”.
“The Mercury” never allowed me to cover soccer to such an extent before or since that visit.
I was able to file a lengthy report about the visitors each day and my story about Gary Lineker, based on an interview I conducted with him after training one day, was given an entire page in the paper [“The Mercury”, Tuesday, 10 March 1993].
The curtain-raiser to the big game was between a Tasmanian reserves side and Nagoya Grampus Eight reserves.
Tasmania won that match 1-0 through a goal by Nick Reed.
The visit was the brainchild of the late Denis McCauley, State Manager of the Tasmanian Soccer Federation.
McCauley had come to Tasmania from South Australia two years earlier to set up his Tasmanian Soccer Schools (TSS), an organisation of which he was president.
Gordon Nutt, the former Arsenal, Cardiff City and PSV Eindhoven winger, who was also living in Tasmania, was chief coach of TSS, which was sponsored by “The Mercury”.
Tasmanian politicians clambered aboard the initiative and promised all sorts of things for soccer, including repeat visits by Nagoya Grampus Eight. They could see the benefits of such visits and the free publicity in Japan, which could lead to an influx of Japanese tourists to Tasmania.
Sadly, after the Japanese left our shores, everyone went quiet.
Several Japanese teams began to conduct pre-season training camps in Australia, but not in Tasmania. Adelaide and the Gold Coast were preferred.
McCauley resigned later that year because he was fed up with the way soccer was being run in Tasmania and he returned to Adelaide.
There was a hive of activity in the game in 1993, apart from the Nagoya Grampus Eight visit.
The Tasmanian State team was very busy.
Tasmania lost 2-1 to Victoria at South Hobart later in the year, and 6-0 to South Melbourne Hellas at KGV Park.
The Canadian side Toronto Metros Croatia beat Tasmania 3-0 at KGV Park, a game in which Toronto’s Brazilian left-winger featured prominently.
I will deal with some of these games in future articles.
For the record, the Tasmanian senior side was: Neil Connell; Andrew Joseph, Wayne Boyd, John 'Snow' Compagne, Brett Murtagh, Roger Mies, Charlie McCaffrey, David Stoddart, Ian Parker (capt), Anthony Guilbert, Romeo Frediani (Substitutes: Tom McGinn, Scott Young, David Meldrum, Brett Williams) [Coach: Alex McDonald]
The Tasmanian reserve side was: Bob Smith, Peter Savill, Luigi Gugliotti, John Visentin, David Craig, Robert Mastrocola, Robert Furjanic, Fabio Pizzerani, Adrian Mann, Craig Pitt, Nick Reed (Substitutes: Matthew Wilson, Carlo Ambrosino, Tim Dale, Brett Williams)