Seongnam Ilhwa Chumna v Busan I’Park, Sunday 3rd April 2011, 5.15pm

I like walking to the match. When I was a kid we would often walk from Norton to Ayresome Park, mainly because if we did have enough money for the bus fare it seemed a shame to waste it on taking the bus when you could buy a chip butty with it instead.

Going to a game was quite a cheap day out in those days, even more so when we would get in for free as a reward for selling Golden Goal tickets outside the stadium. You needed to sell fifty of them to get a complimentary ticket and it wasn’t too difficult. A penny and a half commission on each sale meant that we would invariably buy more chips on the way home too.

Happy days.

On the days when walking seemed like too much effort we would try to hitch a lift as we walked alongside the A19. Traffic must have been a bit less hectic back in the late seventies as it hardly seems possible that a car would be able to stop on that stretch of road these days. I once hitched to a home game from Mickleton in Teesdale where we had a caravan. That took quite a while as I had to walk through both Barnard Castle and Darlington to resume my quest for a lift at the right end of the town. I think it was about eleven o’clock at night before I got back to the caravan site.

That 'star jumper' probably won't have helped with the hitching.

I was actually back up that way a couple of weeks ago as my son and I were fishing at Grassholme Reservoir. It was an enjoyable afternoon out but the fishing was too easy. The water must have just been re-stocked as we were pulling out a trout every ten minutes or so. In the end we switched from powerbait to worms just to try to delay reaching the catch limit.

It was easier than shooting them in a barrel.

I’ve walked to the Riverside Stadium a few times too. I follow the same route as I did going to Ayresome Park thirty years ago as far as the Newport Bridge, although the prison wasn’t there in those days. It takes about an hour and a half of walking time but as I tend to call into the bookies and a pub or two on the way, I’ll usually set off about three hours before kick-off.

Seongnam’s stadium is alongside the Tancheon River and Jen and I had talked previously about walking along it from Seoul to Bundang. We’d actually intended doing it in earlier this year but missed a fork in the river and ended up in Gwacheon instead. Now that we knew where to bear left it seemed a good idea to combine the walk with going to Seongnam’s game with Busan I’Park.

It takes about forty minutes to reach the Tancheon from my apartment in Yeoksam, the best bit of that journey being when you can look down on what appear to be quite large carp underneath the bridge near Sports Complex. They just seem to sit on the bottom of the shallow water with their noses pointing upstream.

You have to look closely, but there are fish there.

Once we had successfully negotiated the fork in the river we found ourselves walking along the course of a marathon. The runners were at around the twenty mile stage, but most of them looked as if they were likely to finish. We stopped for a while to eat the Blackwell’s midget pork pies that I’d brought to Seoul on my return from the UK the week before. It was quite a strange feeling eating something from my local butcher’s six thousand miles from where it was made. Blackwell’s is pretty good, but when I was a kid we’d get our pork pies from London’s who had a shop a little further down the High Street. It might be just nostalgia, but I think they were better. London’s must have been closed for over twenty years now I’d have thought. It became an undertakers for a while where I imagine that the meat hooks came in handy and it’s currently a photographers studio where there is probably less of a use for them.

There weren't too many runners.

Whilst I’m on the pork pie theme I’ll just mention that whilst on a flight with my daughter a few years ago I needed to go to the toilet just as the drinks trollies were being wheeled down the aisle.

“Do you want me to get you something?” she asked.

“Yes please” I replied, “I’ll have a pork pie and a Magnum.”

She asked as well, bless her. Apparently they had none left.

Anyway back to the walk along the Tancheon. It’s actually not quite as picturesque as the walk to Gwacheon that we ended up doing a few weeks earlier by mistake. We saw a few fishermen but not a lot of wildlife.

They would have been better off fishing from that earlier bridge.

What we did see though were dozens of small dogs being carried or occasionally walked by their owners. Pug crosses seem to be quite popular, although perhaps I just notice them more as my daughter has a pug.

I know, I know.

We saw one that looked like it had been crossed with a chicken. A Chug, perhaps.

Definitely a pug's head, but with a chicken's tail feathers.

Another was half pug, half dragon I think. Possibly a Drug.

A pug's tail this time, but a fire-breathing mouth.

We reached Seongnam’s ground after about four hours walking and had probably done around ten miles. We still had a couple of hours to go until kick-off though so we pressed on a little further before stopping for something to eat and drink a couple of miles beyond the stadium. When we returned at 5pm there were large queues at the ticket office and it took us fifteen minutes to buy our nine thousand won tickets.

It seemed as if the entire crowd was in the queue.

Once inside it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the game hadn’t yet begun. I doubt that the start was delayed specifically for us, but it would have been a shame if we had missed the kick-off after setting off more than six hours in advance.

The game was ok, Seongnam were dressed up as Watford, whilst Busan were wearing Poland strips. The playing surface was poor though. Every time a player made contact with the ball sand would spray upwards from the pitch. My suspicion is that the Moonie-owned club has been holding too many mass weddings on the pitch.

A chance that came to nothing.

The East Stand was quite full and I’d have estimated the total crowd at about two thousand.  Seongnam were missing Dzenan Radoncic who might have made a difference in a goalless first half. Cho Dong Cheon broke the deadlock a few minutes after the interval to put the home side a goal up and it was quickly followed by another from Hong Chul a couple of minutes later.

This wasn't one of the goals.

And that was it, a two-nil home win that lifted Seongnam up to tenth and left Busan one place off the bottom. We decided that it was probably wise to take the subway back to Seoul.

13 Responses to “Seongnam Ilhwa Chumna v Busan I’Park, Sunday 3rd April 2011, 5.15pm”

  1. Martyrs Forever Says:

    You walked to Seongnam?

    Madness! Complete Madness!!

    Very British of you though! I work with a Boro fan so there are at least 2 of you in Seoul…if not in the whole of Asia.

    Get down to K3 for some real foootball (!)

    • onthetrailofthelionking Says:

      It’s quite a pleasant walk really, nice and flat with a river running alongside. It’s probably feasible to walk to FC Seoul from Yeoksam as well just by following the river until the stadium comes into view. I might try that later in the season. I’ve been to a few K3 games, Martyrs probably having the ground I like best of those I’ve seen so far. Thanks for reading.

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