are a Japanese professional football (soccer) club, currently playing in the J-league Division 2. The team is located in Hiratsuka, in the west of Kanagawa Prefecture; their home stadium is Hiratsuka Athletics Stadium in Hiratsuka. The name Bellmare is derived from the Latin "bellum" for "beautiful" (even though in Latin bellum means war. Beautiful is pulcher) and "mare" for "marine". Shonan refers to an area that includes Hiratsuka.
The club was founded in 1968 as Towa Estate Development S.C. in Tochigi city. They were promoted to the Japan Soccer League (JSL) Division 1 in 1972. They changed their name to Fujita Kogyo S.C. when Towa Estate Development gave up the ownership to their parent company Fujita Kogyo, which moved the club to Hiratsuka.
They won the JSL three times (including two doubles with the Emperor's Cup) between 1977 and 1981. They were nevertheless relegated to the JSL's Division 2 in 1990. Although they won the last JSL Division 2 season in 1991-92, the professionalization and formation of the J. League meant they did not meet the new top flight league's criteria and the runner-ups, Kashima Antlers (formerly Sumitomo), were promoted instead.
In 1993, they adopted new name Shonan Bellmare. Their application to the J. League Associate membership was accepted. They played in the former Japan Football League Division 1 and won the league championship. After Hiratsuka City Council committed to finance the refurbishment of the Hiratsuka Stadium to meet the J. League requirements, J. League accepted the club.
The club was forced to change their name to Bellmare Hiratsuka because J. League required the participants to designate only one city or town as their hometown and include its name in the club names at that time. The club initially struggled to cope with the J. League opponents and finished 11th out of 12 in the first stage of the 1994 season. However, they came back in the second stage and finished 2nd. With this momentum, the club won the 1994-1995 Emperor's Cup. This title qualified Bellmare for the 1996 Asian Cup Winners Cup, which they won by beating Iraq's Al Talaba in the final. Hidetoshi Nakata joined the team in 1995 and they also successfully recruited Brazilian-born Wagner Lopes and influential Korean international Hong Myung-Bo. This is arguably the most successful period of the club.
Four Bellmare players were selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. They were Nakata, Lopes, Hong and a goalkeeper Nobuyuki Kojima. However, as Nakata left for Italian club Perugia just after the World Cup, the club's fortune started to decline. The main sponsor Fujita decided to discontinue the financial support in 1999 due to their own financial difficulties. It forced the club to release some highly paid players including Lopes, Hong and Kojima. They finished bottom of J1 in 1999 and were relegated to J2.
The club made a new start. The ownership was transferred to a community-owned organisation. They also changed their name to Shonan Bellmare as J. League allowed them to enlarge their designated hometowns to include several cities and towns surrounding Hiratsuka. The club's performance on the pitch has not been strong and they have not been serious contenders for the promotion to J1 so far.
In 2008 they are currently disputing the second automatic promotion place with Montedio Yamagata, Vegalta Sendai and Sagan Tosu. A J1 comeback in 2009, if they are able to achieve promotion, will be the first without Fujita as their sponsor. Although for a time they refused to consider their history as the championship-winning Fujita corporate team in their current history, this year they will celebrate the club's 40-year anniversary as deduced from the badge in their Web site.
|1992||former JFL Div. 1||18||31||9||5||4||3||Mitsuru Komaeda||―|
|1994||J. 1st stage||22||―||7||15||―||11||―|
|J. 2nd stage||22||―||16||6||―||2||―|
|1995||J. 1st stage||26||43||14||12||―||7||―|
|J. 2nd stage||26||22||7||19||―||14||Mitsuru Komaeda/Shigeharu Ueki||―|
|1996||J||30||36||12||18||―||11||Toninho Moura/Shigeharu Ueki||－|
|1997||J. 1st stage||16||28||11||5||―||4||Shigeharu Ueki||―|
|J. 2nd stage||16||21||8||8||―||9||―|
|1998||J. 1st stage||17||20||8||9||―||11||―|
|J. 2nd stage||17||22||8||9||―||12||―|
|1999||J1 1st stage||15||9||3||12||0||16||Eiji Ueda||―|
|J1 2nd stage||15||4||1||13||1||16||Mitsuru Komaeda||―|
|2003||44||44||11||22||11||10||Mohamed Samir/Matsuichi Yamada||―|
|2004||44||36||7||22||15||10||Matsuichi Yamada/Tatsuya Mochizuki/Eiji Ueda||―|
|2006||48||49||13||25||10||11||Eiji Ueda / Masaaki Kanno||―|