Yesterday I went to the basketball again. It’s a poor substitute for going to a football match but you have to be somewhere. And anyway, I had a plan to make it a bit more interesting.
Do you remember when I was rattling on recently about teams relocating? Probably not if you’ve arrived at the blog after Googling ’Basketball in Seoul’ in the hope of finding something informative or interesting. The Korean football fans amongst you though will be familiar with the way teams get moved around the country at a whim, usually with a new name and a fresh relaunch. In my write-up on the Play-Off Final between FC Seoul and Jeju United, I posted photos of two of Jeju United’s previous homes, abandoned before their move three hundred miles south to take up residence in an empty World Cup stadium. Their opponents in the Play-Off Final, FC Seoul, are generally seen as an even bigger bunch of gits. After seven years building up a fanbase in Anyang they moved to Seoul in 2004 for a new home in the Sangam World Cup Stadium.
So, what does all that have to do with the basketball? Nothing really, apart from the stadium that was abandoned in Anyang is right next door to where the Anyang basketball team plays and in the absence of any actual football matches I’d at least have the opportunity of having a nose around an empty ground. Sad, I know, but as that’s the sort of thing that I get up to these days I took the subway to Anyang and then a taxi to the stadium.
I did think that I might be limited to wandering around outside the ground but the main entrance was unlocked and there was nobody to stop me just walking straight in. It was difficult to tell if the pitch is used by anyone these days as it was covered in snow.
It seemed as if the main users of the stadium at the moment are old biddies who walk around the running track. With the outside streets being covered in snow and ice it made perfect sense. I didn’t see any of them break into anything even resembling a trot though.
The stadium itself seemed in good nick and with it being quite a small capacity I imagine that there used to be a decent atmosphere for some of the games, particularly the derbies with Suwon.
I spent about twenty minutes strolling around before leaving the walkers to their laps of the track and heading off to the basketball. I bought a 9000 won ticket for close to the front of the upper of two tiers at about the mid-court area. When I took my seat I noticed a cheerleading platform right in front of me. Sometimes life just works out nice like that. Except on this occasion it didn’t and rather than having the experience enhanced by a few pretty girls in short skirts I had my view obscured by some idiot bloke who insisted on standing right in front of me and blocking my line of vision with a cardboard sign that I suspect read ‘Tough Shit’.
I put up with him for the first quarter and then moved around to the other side of the stadium. There were plenty of empty seats so it was easy enough to do. The game was pretty competitive with Anyang building up an early lead that peaked at about eight points before the visitors Wonju pegged it back before going on to take a lead of their own in the final quarter.
Each team has a couple of American players but it looks as if the regulations restrict them to only having one of them on the court at a time. This meant an interesting personal battle between the two foreign starters and then to a lesser extent between the back-up pairing.
I felt a bit sorry for the two Americans that didn’t get much of a game. It’s a long way to travel for five minutes actual time on the court and it must be a little more frustrating to have to watch when you know that you are the second best player on your team.
The crowd was made up mainly of families and in direct contrast to most sporting events in Korea I didn’t see any drinking going on. Perhaps the winter weather meant that chugging cold cans of Cass wasn’t as appealing as it is at the football or baseball.
Wonju held on to their late lead for a 66-60 victory and after buying a woolly hat to keep my head warm I gambled on getting back to Yeoksam by hopping on the nearest bus. The buses are far harder to work out than the subway trains, but I wasn’t in a rush. It took me to the subway station, which whilst seeming to be a good result, was actually the wrong way. A second bus destined for Dong Seoul then took me back in roughly the right direction and after getting off at Jamsil I eventually gave in and got the subway for the remainder of the journey.