Former Squirrels reserve keeper Kenji Tanaka left the club to return to his hometown and J2 outfit Sagan Tosu at the end of 2005, having never managed to break through into the Ardija first team. But the Kyushu side's squad during 2006 was jam-packed with no fewer than five keepers and the unfortunate Tanaka was squeezed out of the picture once again. Rather than sit in the queue, however, he opted to take a loan move north to Tohoku and FC Ganju Iwate, a new club who during 2006 were not even playing any regular league football - despite the presence in their expensively-assembled squad of a good number of players with Regional League, JFL and even J-League experience.
Ganju instead spent last season preparing for competitive football with a series of friendlies against mainly local high school, university and Prefectural League teams, although the club did participate in the early stages of the Emperor's Cup. In 2007, they have registered in Division 4 of the Iwate Prefectural League and thus far have played two matches of the new campaign, beating Iwate Teachers 12-0 and the Bank of Iwate 17-0. Tanaka, while regarded as on paper one of the major players in the squad, is in fact the substitute goalkeeper, behind ex-Hiroshima University student Yudai Kiyono in the pecking order.
Ganju Iwate’s Emperor’s Cup tie at the weekend vs Morioka Zebra
It is hard to work out whose story is sadder; that of Kenji Tanaka or Jun Marques Davidson, another former Omiya player with a career on an apparently downward spiral. The distinguishing factor is that, during his time as a Squirrel, there was a brief period when fans had had hopes that Davidson could make an impact at the highest level. Having joined Ardija in 2003, Marques became an integral part of then-coach Toshiya Miura's team in 2005, as an imposing defensive midfield player.
There was even talk of him as a future international player, so impressive were his performances during the early stages of what was the Squirrels' first season in J1. But in 2006, Davidson found himself surplus to requirements, replaced in the team by the likes of Yosuke Kataoka and newcomer Yoshiyuki Kobayashi. Having played almost no first-team football during the year at all, it was therefore unsurprising that come the end of the 2006 campaign, the player took the opportunity to leave Saitama and move on a permanent deal to Albirex Niigata.
But as with Kenji Tanaka at Sagan Tosu, Davidson found his opportunities restricted with the Swans and the transfer rapidly turned sour. With no additional playing time under his belt than he had picked up at Omiya, Davidson has in the last couple of days gone on loan until the end of January to Vissel Kobe, in what must seem like an attempt to kickstart a career that is going to waste. Squirrels fans wish both players well.