It was a quiet weekend for sport. The National and Challengers football Leagues were still on their summer breaks and the second tier baseball Futures League teams were having a weekend off as well. Jeonbuk were in town though for a game against Suwon Bluewings and so Jen and I decided to go along to that one.
The original plan had been to walk around the Suwon Fortress Wall before the match. I’ve done it before and it’s a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours. It’s the wrong time of year though for that sort of thing with all the rain and so we decided to visit a few coffee shops instead. I can guess what you are thinking. Something along the lines of my balls are now being kept in a jar and in ordinary circumstances you’d have a point. I mean, why would you go to a coffee shop? It’s easy enough to make a cup of coffee at home so what makes women pay four quid a pop to drink it with a bunch of strangers? To my mind it’s as odd a thing to do as choosing to leave your house to use a public toilet rather than your own.
These weren’t normal coffee shops though. They all had a bit of an animal theme ranging from dogs to cats to sheep and to my mind that makes it a fine way to spend some time. The dog place was first and it had a rather cunning business plan which involved people paying to board their dogs whilst away on holiday and the dogs then spending their days wandering around a cafe whilst customers who like to pat them on the head paid further over the odds than normal for their tall skinny lattes. Any cash that people had left could be used to buy snacks for the dogs, removing the need for the cafe to feed them. Genius really. Although I did wonder what the owners would say when they came to collect their dog and discovered that Fido had gained three stones in weight within a fortnight.
There were an assortment of canines, starting with some about the size of a guinea pig, one that looked half husky, something that was probably close to being an old english sheepdog and in the corner an overweight arthritic beagle that had to drag its back legs behind it whenever it wanted to secure its share of the snacks.
The cat cafe wasn’t as good, mainly because it smelt like a room with twenty cats in it. You couldn’t feed them so just had to sit there and wait for one to wander over and sit on your knee or go to sleep on your table. We had to remove our shoes and disinfect our hands before we went in, but really that was all the wrong way around. I’m sure I smelt like a mad cat lady for the rest of the day.
Next up was the sheep place and that was the worst of the three, primarily because there were no sheep. A sheep cafe without sheep is just a cafe. A fraudulent cafe if you ask me. A sign by the empty pen advised that they were away for the summer. I bet they were. Gone to live on a farm, I imagine. What are the odds that when their holiday is over they will be replaced by new ones half the size and age?
So, after visiting a year’s worth of coffee shops in a single day it was time for the football. Suwon and Jeonbuk are two of the main contenders for the K-League title but have had contrasting fortunes lately. Jeonbuk had only dropped a single point in the last nine league games whilst Suwon had slipped to four points behind the visitors with 5-0 and 3-0 defeats in their last two games.
Jen and I got to the stadium early to make sure of a seat under cover in the East Stand and slowly worked our way through a box of fried chicken and a couple of bottles of red wine. Lee Dong Gook was starting up front for Jeonbuk and both Brazilians were in from the start. There had been reports before the game that Luiz had agreed to join UAE club Al-Shabab and so it was good to see him keep his place.
Both sets of fans were impressive, braving the rain in the uncovered ends of the stadium. The official attendance was given as 17,645 but I’d have estimated it to have been somewhere between eight and ten thousand. That’s still pretty good when you consider the weather.
Jeonbuk were well on top in the opening fifteen minutes, so much so that their ‘in-running’ price of 6/4 seemed exceptional value. Unfortunately the storms must have been affecting the phone signal as I couldn’t get my bet on.
It took half an hour for Jeonbuk to make their superiority count with Eninho’s pace drawing a foul in the box. He tucked the penalty away himself. We were into the final fifteen minutes of the game before Jeonbuk got their second. Lee Dong Gook broke down the right and delivered a perfect pass for Lee Seung Hyun to stroke home.
Two minutes from time Luiz brought his Jeonbuk career to an end with an easy finish to another counter-attack. His emotional celebration of his goal made it clear that he was on his way and it was as good as confirmed at the end when his team mates tossed him into the air.
Luiz was last off the pitch and with it still pissing down we were happy to hang around and see him off. He’s played a big part in Jeonbuk’s success over the last few years and I’ve always felt that they looked a stronger team with him in it. Best of luck in Dubai, fella. You’ll probably get less rain there but I doubt that there will be the same diversity of coffee shops.