Ulsan Horang-i v Jeonbuk Motors, Saturday 9th October 2010, 5pm

On Saturday I travelled down to the south of the country for the second weekend in a row. This time though it was to Ulsan where the home side Ulsan Horang-i were taking on Lee Dong Gook’s Jeonbuk Motors.

I was up early and by about quarter to eight I was already at Seoul Express Bus Terminal where I bought a ticket to Ulsan on the 8am ‘Deluxe’ bus for 29,300 won.

Seoul Express Bus Terminal

Deluxe means that the bus only has about 30 seats, each of them larger than normal and arranged in a 2+1 configuration. They are pretty comfortable and recline sufficiently to allow you to easily take a nap. This was handy as the journey of almost four hundred kilometres was scheduled to last about four and a half hours. We stopped after about three hours for a break at a motorway services. I’ve no idea where we were, but it looked nice enough.

Somewhere between Seoul and Ulsan.

If one of the market stalls had sold fishing rods I might have been tempted to have left the bus there and then.

Another one for those with an interest in motorway service stations.

They didn’t sell fishing rods though and so I got back on the bus and just after one o’clock I arrived at the Ulsan Express Bus Terminal.

I hadn’t managed to learn very much about Ulsan before getting here. It didn’t warrant a mention in either of the Korea guide books that I have, nor did the internet throw up anything of interest. I picked up a map and some leaflets from the Tourist Information Office and learned that they have a few mountains around the edge of town that looked worth a visit. They also have a lighthouse where people often gather to watch the sunrise and they have an industrial complex that the notes on the map recommended viewing from the top of one of the hills after dark when it would be fully lit up.

That place looks somewhat familiar.

I liked the last suggestion, it reminded me of gazing upon Teesside from Roseberry Topping. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to climb any mountains and I was too late to see the sunrise so I just had to mentally file the knowledge for any future visit.

As I had about three and a half hours to spare before the five o’clock kick-off I decided I might as well do my sightseeing on the way to the stadium. It was marked on the map that I had and looked to be a few miles away. I set off walking in the general direction, safe in the knowledge that I could always get a taxi if it turned out that the scale of the map bore no relation to the actual distance involved.

There wasn’t a great deal of interest along the route although I suppose that when the Tourist Information place is giving the Industrial Complex a plug, you know that it’s not really a town geared up for visitors. I did take the opportunity to get a haircut though. It had been a month since my last one and as I had a bit of time to spare it made sense to get an overdue job out of the way. I may have mentioned before that the barber shops over here are not alway what they seem. Some are just covers for brothels, others, whilst providing haircuts, also offer a variety of ‘extras’. Or so I’m told. I think the barbers that I went into was one of the latter type. The barbers chairs were hidden behind a screen so you couldn’t see them from the street and once in the door there was a small reception area where the barber, a couple of old blokes and a glamorously dressed women in her mid-thirties were sitting watching golf on the telly. I did my usual mime of shaving my head and the barber directed me to behind the screen.

In the back area there were three barbers chairs set out in front of mirrors and then behind them were three single beds. The odd thing was that there was nothing dividing the chairs from the beds or the beds from each other. If a customer wanted the glamorous woman to break off from the golf and fiddle with his bits, it would be in full view of anyone on the next bed or in the barbers chairs.

I like to think I’m fairly worldly-wise but I’m not sure I’d be too keen on someone, perhaps my next door neighbour, sitting down for a short back and sides whilst  I was getting jiggy with the staff, six feet away and in full view.

Anyway, the option didn’t arise and neither did anything else. Perhaps they realised I was just after a haircut or maybe the golf was at a particularly critical stage. Nobody else turned up in the ten minutes or so it took to give me a trim, so I didnt get a live show included in the price either.

About two and a half hours after setting off from the bus station I got my first glimpse of the stadium. Or at least its roof, with the rest of it hidden behind trees. It is right in the middle of a very picturesque park, complete with a boating lake.

It's behind those trees.

I had a wander around, as I tend to do and took a few photos. It was an impressive looking stadium from the outside, another of those built for the 2002 World Cup. It has a forty four thousand capacity and hosted the Germany v USA quarter final if you can remember that far back.

Ulsan Munsu Stadium

 I bought a ticket for the East Stand, which faced the tunnel, and went in. I was pleased to see that it didn’t have a running track like so many of the stadiums over here and after getting a couple of cans of Hite I took a seat in the back row of the lower tier, bang on the halfway line.

Kim Young Kwang, the Ulsan goalie seemed very popular. There was a lot of footage of him on the big screen before the players came out, although it did seem to include a fair few fumbles, which left me questioning both his competence and that of the bloke who put the video together. The fans liked him though, he had his own banner behind the goal next to a large inflatable tiger and he got the biggest cheer of the day when the teams were read out.

Grrrrr.

This was a big game for both teams. Ulsan started the game in fifth position with Jeonbuk in sixth, three points behind and in the final play-off position, but seven points clear of the next team Suwon. A win for Ulsan would just about make them safe and would give Suwon a bit of hope in their chase for sixth position, whilst a win for Jeonbuk would just about finish Suwon’s season.

Lee Dong Gook had been restored to the starting line-up after his substitute appearance the previous week as Jeonbuk went with the wing backs again, with Eninho playing just off the Lion King.

A few minutes into the game about fifty soldiers joined the hundred or so Ulsan fans behind the goal.

Just in case North Korea gets a bit arsey.

Jeonbuk didn’t bring as many fans as usual with them with only about fifty of their supporters grouped behind the opposite goal. It has just occurred to me that these reports could be a lot more accurate than they actually are. When there are only around fifty fans in a stand it shouldnt be beyond me to count them and tell you exactly how many there are. I’ll try it next game. I might even try counting the exact crowd just to see if I can do it. In fact at some of the lower league games I could probably get you a list of all their names.

Anyway, Jeonbuk started well and Lee Dong Gook had a chance in the first few minutes that looked offside to me but it didn’t matter as he shot straight at the keeper. No doubt the save will be on the highlights reel before next weeks game. A few minutes later Ulsan nearly scored from a corner when Yoo Kyoung Youl headed over the Jeonbuk bar.

Almost the opening goal.

Not a great deal more seemed to happen in the first half, apart from the appearance of Flag Boy. This lad turned up about midway through and wandered about the East stand collecting food and drink from people who appeared to be strangers to him. After he’d eaten and drank as much as he wanted he went down to the front of the stand and led the singing for a while before a niggly first half drew to a close.

Squid? Beer? Crisps? Thanks very much.

At the interval I wandered out for a couple more cans of Hite, watched a girl wearing the home team’s goalie top sing Blondie’s Maria and then moved upstairs to see what the view was like from higher up.

By popular demand

The second half was a bit better with Ulsan’s Columbian Julian Estivan Velez  forcing the Jeonbuk goalie to make a decent save early on and Lee Dong Gook blazing over the bar from distance. Middlesbrough’s finest ever Korean ex-player made amends after an hour though when he got on the end of a cross from the left and despite not connecting properly his scissor kick bounced up into the roof of the net for the opening goal.

Even better than his goal against Mansfield.

Not only did the goal shake things up on the pitch but it caused a bit of a scuffle behind the goal between one of the Jeonbuk fans and a bloke who I think was a club employee, possibly part of the security team. They appeared to have a disagreement over the lighting of a flare to celebrate the goal and in a throwback to more civilised ways of going toe to toe, each of them carefully removed their jackets before trying to get stuck in. It couldn’t have been any more ‘old school’ without them incorporating pistols at dawn. As ever in these situations, plenty of others managed to keep them apart and the security man departed without making his point or collecting his jacket. He had to send in one of his less confrontational colleagues to retrieve it for him.

Hold my coat.

Both teams had their chances late on, Ulsan from a free kick and Jeonbuk with a disallowed goal from Lee Dong Gook a few minutes from the end.

Near enough full time.

There were no further goals though and the win took Jeonbuk into fifth place, above Ulsan on goal difference and seven points ahead of seventh placed Suwon with just four games remaining.

3 Responses to “Ulsan Horang-i v Jeonbuk Motors, Saturday 9th October 2010, 5pm”

  1. Cogstar Says:

    getting jiggy!! do they say that up North?

  2. 3lr.us Says:

    I absolutely think that cable television is going to go away.
    Or at a minimum have to change with the times.

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