Incheon is one of those places that fancies itself as a city but, like Suwon, it’s really just a suburb of Seoul. Nevertheless it does pretty well for sport. The baseball team is one of the best in the country and plays in what is probably my favourite stadium. They have two football teams and one of them,Incheon United, having already got bored with the stadium that was built for the 2002 World Cup, will kick off next season at a new ground.
It’s baseball at this time of year though and so I made the trip to see Incheon ET Land Elephants take on KCC Egis. I was advised that it is pronounced Incheon – ET Land – Elephants and not, as I had been doing, Incheon – ET- Land Elephants. Mind you, either way sounds equally odd to me.
Jen will be starting a new job in Incheon soon, so we thought we would try out the bus that she might use. We caught the 9500 from near to Gangnam Subway Station and an hour later it terminated at Bupyeong Subway Station. This isn’t too far from the Sansam Arena where the Elephants play but it’s a nightmare getting your bearings. The subway is home to an enormous shopping mall and has over thirty exits. The place was packed with people who were filling in their day by wandering aimlessly around for no good reason and getting in the way of people like us who had legitimate business. We quickly gave up trying to find the right direction to walk and just caught a cab instead. It only took about five minutes to get there and cost less than five thousand won.
There weren’t too many people milling around outside and it took us a while to find the entrance. We bought a couple of tickets from a granny tout for five thousand won apiece. This seemed like a bargain until we saw the one thousand won price on them. I don’t suppose I should complain at paying less than three quid to watch a game, but when I’m paying five times over the odds it seems a bit much. I was a little concerned that we had been sold tickets intended for the under-threes but we got in ok.
We took our seat level with one of the baskets and next to a gang of Korean kids who all seemed to need to go for a piss at the same time. I was just grateful that they hadn’t yet discovered beer.
The game looked like it would be a good one with KCC Egis in fourth place and the home team in fifth. Incheon started the better and although KCC pegged it back a bit in the second quarter the Elephants were ahead at half time by 51 points to 47. At this point we were treated to a dance routine involving three of the cheerleaders and three of Incheon’s new signings. I doubt they will have seen a basketball in the last week or two as they will have been perfecting their dance moves instead.
The star player for the home side was Moon Tae Jong. He used to be known as Jarod Stevenson and has had a career that seems to have taken in most countries that play the game and probably one or two that don’t. He rattled in thirty one points.
The foreign player for Incheon was American Herbert Hill. I’d like to think that he’s managed to find an apartment on either Hooker Hill or Homo Hill, just for the confusion it would cause the postman. He did ok too, contributing twenty six points including this crowd-pleasing dunk.
KCC were missing their arsey guard Tony Atkins, but still had DeShawn Sims and Ha Seung Jin. Sims had a quiet game but Ha was able to position his 7’3“ frame underneath the basket often enough to score twenty two points.
Incheon began the final quarter six points ahead and had plenty of opportunities to make the game safe. KCC should also have done better with the ball and missed a few chances themselves that they would normally have scored. It was as if neither side wanted it and eventually time ran out with Incheon nicking it by two points.