Fans from Japan and Oxford are Re-United

Jez Allen, Kotaro Sumita and Neil Warland at the Kassam Stadium. Mr Sumita made the flag himself and he was given a tour of the stadium before the game against Cheltenham Town

Jez Allen, Kotaro Sumita and Neil Warland at the Kassam Stadium. Mr Sumita made the flag himself and he was given a tour of the stadium before the game against Cheltenham Town

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

OXFORD United has had some devoted fans over the years, but few as dedicated as Kotaro Sumita.

Mr Sumita became a fan after first seeing the Yellows play in 1999 while staying in Oxford.

And readers of the Oxford Mail will be well aware of his exploits.

When long-time Oxford resident Jez Allen was visiting Sapporo in Japan for the World Cup in 2002 with his friend Neil Warland, he had to double-take when he saw Mr Sumita wearing the famous blue and yellow scarf.

After the encounter, the Oxford Mail ran a feature on the U’s most far-flung fan.

So there was something of a reunion last Tuesday night when Mr Allen and Mr Sumita, from Japan, bumped into each other again at the Kassam Stadium.

thisisoxfordshire:

OUR story of their first meeting at the 2002 World Cup in Japan

Mr Sumita was here on a research trip for the university he works for in Japan, and could not miss a chance to catch the club in action.

By sheer coincidence, Mr Allen – who moved to Transylvania in 2006 with wife Diana to set up a holiday business – also just happened to be back in Oxford.

Mr Allen, 52, who grew up in Headington Quarry, said: “It was good fun. He is a very nice chap.

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“I have to say we do all look a bit older than the last time we met.”

Mr Sumita said on his Facebook page: “I was so surprised today.

“You know my iconic picture on Facebook of three people with Oxford’s St. George. I met those special people again tonight, Jez Allen and Neil Warland.

“They took a picture with me in Sapporo at the FIFA World Cup 2002 and sent the picture to the Oxford Mail.

“After that, some of Oxford United FC supporters got to know me, so I must say thanks to them.”

And he certainly has not lost his sense of humour.

He said, “I watched the match on the press seat as if I became an editor.”

Mr Sumita’s friend Andy Hathaway said: “We met Jez and Neil in the bar. Kota met them at Sapporo during the World Cup some years ago so it was a nice reunion for them. A very good night, with the exception of the score... 1-1.”

Oxford United communications manager Chris Williams organised a behind-the-scenes tour for Mr Sumita, where he got to meet players and other club officials.

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