Seoul United v Jeonju EM, Saturday 5th March 2011, 3pm

Eventually. A game of football. It’s a new season and I could forget about diversionary activities such as ice hockey or basketball and get back to watching some proper sport. I had a few options for the first day as there were four K-League games including a first ever match for new team Gwangju and an opening game in a new town for the re-located army team Sangju Sangmu. In the end though I decided to stay in Seoul and I went to the Nowon Madeul Stadium to watch Seoul United take on Jeonju EM in the third division, or Challengers League as it has now been re-branded.

Seoul United seem to move about a bit more than most teams. They were founder members of the K3 division in 2007 and the Nowon Madeul Stadium already appears to be their third ground. Initially they played in the Olympic Stadium at Jamsil, which with a capacity of over seventy thousand was probably a little on the large side. Last season I turned up at the eighteen thousand seater Hyochang Stadium to see them play Youngkwang, but in a none too rare mix up over the kick-off time I ended up watching a University game there  instead. This season Seoul United will be turning out at the Nowon Madeul Stadium in front of a maximum of three and a half thousand people. If the trend continues they will be staging home games inside someone’s house within a couple of years.

There is a subway station called Nowon and another one a stop further along called Madeul. I got out at the latter and when I got into a taxi I was driven back past Nowon. So, my advice is just get off at Nowon. If you come out of Exit 6 of the subway, then you are heading in the right direction. Just to make life that bit easier for you as well, I can also reveal that the taxi driver pronounced it in four parts as “Mad-Ell-Stad-Ium“.

He dropped me outside of the gate to the park where I was pleased to see the Jeonju EM bus. I’m never overly confident that these lower league games will take place as listed and so the presence of at least one of the teams added a degree of reassurance.

When you see this, you're there.

There was a game already underway on the artificial pitch, but as the players were wearing a variety of different strips, tee-shirts, tracksuits and jeans I was reasonably confident that I hadn’t got the kick-off time wrong again. I talked to one of the stewards for a while, a young lad who having asked me where I was from surprised me by not only mentioning Downing and Tuncay, but by having a pretty good understanding of their respective merits.

As I still had half an hour to go before the start I went for a walk around the ground. There was only the one stand, with the other three sides being fenced off. When I got to the far side of the pitch I noticed a platform that would allow me to watch the game with the main stand and the mountains behind it as a backdrop.

Just before kick-off.

Prior to kick-off Seoul were booting footballs into the crowd. One of the players came over to the platform with a ball for me. A very generous gesture, but I was heading off to Jeonju straight after the game and didn’t want to spend the rest of the weekend bouncing a football like a bored ten year old. I let the bloke next to me have it instead.

Seoul were wearing a Newcastle strip which straight away endeared me to their sky-blue clad opponents, Jeonju EM. I could have tried to imagine Seoul as Notts County instead I suppose, but I’ve got bad memories of that place too.  Specifically, a John Chiedozie goal knocking us out of the 5th round of the FA Cup in 1984 during which a fellow Boro fan scaled one of the Meadow Lane floodlights and pissed on our heads. I’ve had better days.

Despite the lack of chances, there was plenty of effort.

Not a lot happened for the first half hour or so. There wasn’t a single shot on target or a corner. Jeonju broke the deadlock after thirty five minutes though when their centre forward dinked it over the keeper after chasing a punt from deep.

Jeonju EM celebrate the opening goal.

Seoul tried to hit back and had a few chances before half-time that they should have scored from but somehow contrived to put wide or blaze over the bar. At the interval I had a wander around to the main stand, so that I could watch the second half from there. I didn’t notice any Jeonju EM fans amongst the hundred and fifty or so people present, but there was a Seoul fan with a drum and one or two wearing replica shirts. About ten of them sang through most of the second half and they were rewarded just after the hour when their team equalised.


Seoul Utd should really have gone onto win the game, but they couldn’t take any of the chances that they made in the final twenty minutes and it finished up at one each. I hopped on the first bus I saw after leaving the ground and fortunately it passed Gongneung station after about five minutes. As I had no idea where I was I thought it sensible to get off the bus and take the subway instead. I doubt I’ll be back at the Nowon Madeul Stadium anytime soon but should they continue their downsizing policy I’ll try and get along to a game in what might be a broom cupboard in a year or so.

2 Responses to “Seoul United v Jeonju EM, Saturday 5th March 2011, 3pm”

  1. Cogstar Says:

    And the vital question, did you buy a new camera or did you discover a zoom lens on your old one after 4 years use?

  2. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    It’s a new one. Although with my shakey hands all the 24x zoom shots are likely to be out of focus. I bought a fisheye lens too, so look forward to some of footballers with, well, fish eyes.

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