ASA Chitose Association


                                                  Clint Stapleton 
  As we stepped off the Army bus onto the grass football field in Sapporo on that autumn day in nineteen seventy, we had no idea that this was the last game a team called the Chitose Bears will ever play. The only thing we had on our minds was that we were going to play a Japanese University football team that we never heard of, which we had one month to organize and prepare for. The players were made up of a cross section of soldiers of the field station Chitose with different levels of experience and ability. Football players with college, high school and sand lot experience facing the 2nd
ranked college team in Japan.

    The team jogged onto our end of the field to loosen up before the game but our eyes were watching the other team doing the same. They had a couple players that were almost our size but they all looked fast and well prepared for the upcoming contest. All that was on my mind was blocking and tackling and will I make a fool of myself. I guess I did some stretching but I couldn’t remember. SFC Hayes met with the officials and their team captions for the flip of the coin and the start of the game.

    It has been over forty years ago and my memory are not very good but to me the game flew by and I don’t remember much of the game. I do remember that we were on the two yard line and it was the fourth down. The quarterback, Ernie Hayes told us to line up tight and when the ball was centered move and fall forward, moving anyone in our way. I hit my man square in the chest and he flew backward. As I hit the ground and looked up I saw the referee with both hands above his head showing the halfback had scored. I have played many games before and many more since in many sports but I have never been so happy with moving two yards forward.

    The scoreboard said we did not win that day. They gave us the use of a bathhouse after the game and a fine dinner. There was kind words spoken and slaps on the back for a good game. There was no second game or season to be played. Looking back on it now, I feel the end was correct. The uniforms and pads were sent back and we players were shipped off to other parts of the world. Our football game was fitting end to an era of championships teams and a relationship with our hosts. The host lay claim to the last victory and their home and we walked away from the field and the land of the rising sun thankful for the experience. The title of “Chitose Bears” was used in victory and defeat over the decades but also stood for each man and woman who wore the uniform and called a little outpost, home for a short period of their life on the other end of the world.