On paper one of the outsiders of the JFL, company outfit YKK AP have nevertheless proved themselves to be a very competitive side over the last few seasons. A solid upper mid-table team since their arrival in the division in 2001, a remarkable thirteen wins in the last seventeen matches of 2005 nevertheless saw them rise to a shock second place finish, ahead of more fancied teams like Honda FC and Tochigi SC.
Despite this comparative success, the club's parent company have never shown any indication that they wish to take the necessary steps to support a bid for J-League membership, while tentative discussions instigated in 2005 by the Toyama FA into the possibility of creating a “Toyama United” J-League candidate via a merger between YKK AP and local rivals Alo’s Hokuriku came to nothing.
Under these circumstances, it's hard to see YKK AP making much in the way of progress over the next few seasons, but their past is longer than that of most JFL clubs. They date back to 1962, formed in Kurobe City by a subsidiary of the YKK corporation (the AP stands for Architectural Products - they make things like doors and window frames), and registered with the prefectural FA in 1969.
Three years later, YKK won the Toyama Prefectural League and then in 1975 joined the inaugural Hokushinetsu League at Regional level. They also participated on many occasions in the annual All-Japan Shakaijin tournament for lower league clubs alongside the fledgling Telephone & Telegram Kanto and NTT Kanto teams, although the two never met.
In 1988, the corporation rather proudly imported two Brazilian players to boost the team and from the early 90s onwards, YKK AP became one of the dominant forces in the Hokushinetsu League - along with Alo's Hokuriku and the then Albireo Niigata - winning the championship on several occasions. Emerging undefeated from a season of matches against the likes of Ueda Gentian, Fukui Teachers and Nissei Resin, they finally achieved promotion to the JFL in 2000, just a year after Alo's had done the same thing.
A 7-0 win over Yokogawa FC was the highlight of a promising 2001 campaign, with new star striker Mitsuru Hasegawa making an immediate impact. Indeed, Hasegawa has remained the key figure in YKK's squad and this season has formed a 22-goal partnership with fellow striker Hiroki Kishida in what is the second most dangerous attack in the division.
YKK have continued to surprise throughout 2006, going unbeaten in the first fourteen matches of the year and at one stage having a seven-point lead over second-place Rosso Kumamoto. Results then faltered and the team slipped back as far as seventh position, but they have turned things around since the end of July, currently lie second themselves and will no doubt prove tricky opponents for any budgie-hearted J1 side that happens to pass their way.