Suwon Bluewings v Daejeon Citizen, Wednesday 5th May

On Wednesday, we got the day off work as it was Children’s Day. An excellent concept, in my opinion, where families are encouraged to spend the day together. Unfortunately my children were six thousand miles away, so I decided to go to a football match instead. Somebody asked me recently if I miss them, now that I’ll only see them every four months or so, and I suppose that I do. Not as much as you might imagine, as I talk to them on the phone a couple of times a week and we send each other emails. What I do miss though, is them being children and there’s nothing I can do about that. I really enjoyed them being young. I have a great relationship with them as adults, but it’s not as much fun. They have their own grown-up lives now and I’m a smaller part of it than I was when they were kids. It’s just the way it is, I suppose.

I had a couple of different options for my choice of match. I had looked into going to Jeonbuk’s away game at Chunnam Dragons, but there didn’t seem to be a train back afterwards. In the end I settled for Suwon Bluewings against Daejeon Citizen. Suwon is a city just south of Seoul and you can get there with about an hours ride on the subway. When I got there I took a bus to Paldalmun, which is one of the main entrance gates to the Hwaseong fortress wall. The wall runs around the old city, it was originally built over two hundred years ago and is about three and a half miles all the way around. I thought I might was well have a wander around it before going to the match.

First though, I wanted something to eat. I stopped at a little café and had some pork dumplings. They were very nice, although as they had been deep fried I suspect that they probably weren’t too good for me. When I came out of the café I followed a sign for a palace, thinking that it would be something to do with the fortress wall. It wasn’t really, but there was a display of people dressed up in period costume, although which period I’d no idea, waving swords and sticks about. I watched them for a while and then conscious that I’d a wall to get around before the match I thought I’d better let them get on with cracking each others skulls and left them to it.

Careful, sonny

On the way to the wall I passed a hairdressers. The barber’s shops here are denoted by a red and blue pole outside. The only problem being that only some of them offer haircuts whilst the rest of them are brothels. I think the general rule is that if you can see inside and they have barber’s chairs then you will probably get a haircut, otherwise you won’t. To make life difficult, some do offer haircuts as part of an overall package at, I imagine, a bit more expensive price than a regular trim.

I had stuff to do so didn’t really have time to have some hairdresser fiddle with my bits afterwards, but I could have benefited from a haircut. It had been five weeks since the Japanese barber had shaved my head and some bits of it were starting to stick up at odd angles. The hairdresser’s shops have a different coloured pole to the barber’s, with a bit of yellow in them, so I thought I’d be safe with that. I went in and waited until the girl had finished with the old biddy in the chair. She didn’t speak any English, but I was able to mime the shaving of my head. To be fair, there wasn’t a lot else that she could have done with it. Maybe burnt the stubble off with a blowtorch, I suppose, but I was hardly likely to be looking for a curly perm or to have it highlighted. Ten minutes later and I was back outside after having my hair cut and washed for six thousand won. At that price I don’t think there was much prospect of any hanky panky.

Around the corner was the start of the fortress wall. It had been quite badly destroyed during the Japanese occupation but had been rebuilt using the original plans. I’d picked an uphill bit to begin with and for the next fifteen minutes had a steady climb until I was able to look down on the town. The wall was an impressive sight, although I couldn’t help but think that it would have been breachable by anyone with a twelve foot ladder. Perhaps they didn’t have them in the olden days.

I'd just walked up that.

Every hundred yards or so was a gatehouse or a temple, all with helpful explanations in English. A bit further around was a great big bell that you could ring for a thousand won. You hit it with what looked like a railway sleeper on a couple of ropes and you got three goes. The first was meant to signify gratitude and respect for your parents, the second was for the health of your family and the third one was to bring about the realisation of your dreams. Well, I don’t have too many dreams, not if you exclude the recurring one with Konnie Huq and the baby oil, but I was happy to toll the bell in honour of my parents and the health of my family.

I rang that. Three times.

Job done, I continued around the wall for about another thirty minutes until I came to an archery ground. It being Children’s Day, there were plenty of families shooting at the targets. I watched for a while, recalling how I used to take my children to Sherwood Forest when they were small. My son would dress as Robin Hood and fire arrows at my daughter, who would have to be anything from the Sheriff of Nottingham to a deer, depending upon whatever storyline my son could think up.

Safer than Sherwood Forest.

I’d spotted the Bluewings stadium from one of the higher points of the fortress and when I’d got about three quarters of the way around it was time to leave the wall and head for the stadium. It had been built for the 2002 World Cup and had a very distinctive roof, shaped to resemble a pair of wings. I bought a ticket for the East stand for 12,000 won, mainly so that I could get a good view of the winged roof opposite. There were no free pizzas this week, but we did all get given a banana on the way in instead.

No pizza this week

I wasn’t expecting a classic, Suwon were bottom of the league, with Daejeon just two places above them. There isn’t any relegation from the K-League so it doesn’t have the drastic financial implications of relegation in England, but the Suwon fans weren’t happy with their lot. There had been a few protests against the manager, Cha, and the rumours were that if they lost today he would resign.

Suwon fans

It was a decent sized crowd, with my stand being virtually full and with a lot of noise from the Suwon fans behind the goal to my right. It was goalless at half time and the best chance of the second half fell to Suwon’s Brazilian substitute Juninho. Yes really, but not him, and not the one who used to play for Lyon and who possibly still does either. There must be a Juninho factory somewhere. Brazil I imagine. That would be the sensible place to have it. Anyway, I was hoping that the crowd might sing his song, so I could join in for old time’s sake. Any chance of that disappeared though when he hit a penalty straight at the keeper.

Ole, ole, ole, ole, Juninho, ho, ho..

Daejeon lost a player with a quarter of an hour left when he gave the ref a bit of slaver and picked up his second yellow card. Despite the last few minutes being end to end stuff, it finished goalless. I ate my banana and headed back off to the fortress wall to finish the remainder of the circuit, before getting the subway back to Seoul. Meanwhile Jeonbuk lost 3-2 at Chunnam Dragons to slip to seventh place, five points off the top of the table. Lee Dong Gook didn’t get on the score sheet this week and was substituted after an hour.

The Wings

2 Responses to “Suwon Bluewings v Daejeon Citizen, Wednesday 5th May”

  1. Cogstar Says:

    enjoyed that, except for you being a soft arse about your children. They are probably happy in the knowledge they don’t have to go and look at the dinosaurs with there father anymore

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