Ansan Hallelujah v Incheon Korail, Saturday 23rd July 2011, 7pm

After watching the game between Suwon City and Mokpo in the afternoon, Tom and I decided that we would take in a second National League match. Ansan is only sixteen kilometres from Suwon and so we just hopped in a cab. We could have got the subway but there are fourteen stops between Suwon and Gojan stations and I suspected that it would have taken all of the hour that we had to spare between the games.

The taxi wasn’t much quicker mind, taking forty minutes, and it was certainly more expensive at twenty two thousand won. It did have the advantage of efficient air-conditioning though and there are times when I’d happily pay a lot more money than that for forty minutes in the cold. Conveniently there is an enormous Lotte supermarket underneath the Wa Stadium and we called in and picked up a couple of litre bottles of Cass each. The novel opportunity, for Tom at least, of being able to drink whilst watching a football match was one that couldn’t really be missed.

One day all supermarkets will be like this.

It was just after kick-off time when we got to one of the stadium entrances. It was locked. Nothing unusual there though, as there is often just a single gate open. What was a little more worrying was that we could see the pitch and there weren’t any players on it.  I did wonder if I’d got the time or the date mixed up. We’d already seen one game that afternoon, so with a couple of litres of beer in hand it didn’t seem like that big an issue.

We walked further around the stadium and as we got to the other side we could hear the sounds of a football match in progress. Players shouting, a ref’s whistle, the murmuring of the crowd and enough drums to start a marching jazz band. It seems that, like the Suwon Big Bird, the Wa Stadium has a practice pitch next to it. Just before we got there we noticed an open gate to the main stadium so we went in for a look around at the slightly more impressive neighbour.

Big, but not much going on.

It’s very nice really, although a little excessive for a National League team with a few hundred fans. Ten minutes or so after kick-off we made our way into the practice pitch and were directed around the running track to a stand that ran the length of the pitch. It was only about four seats deep but it probably held five or six hundred people. It was just about full and the only option for Tom and I was to stand at the back. It was all working out pretty well. If we could stand at the Boro and drink from litre bottles of beer whilst watching the game then you’d get no complaints from us.

The view as we came in. Hallelujah are in white.

We had five drummers to our right, just by the long jump sandpit that was keeping the younger fans busy. They kept up a steady beat throughout the game and led the chants. I joined in with “Hallelujah, Hallelujah” as due to me not being much of a church-goer, I don’t often get a chance to do that.

Five drummers drumming

Hallelujah was formed by Christian missionaries apparently and  like all good missionaries have been moving about a bit, spreading the word about the benefits of keeping faith in the big fella. Particularly if you have a decent winger putting the ball into the box for him. Ho-hum. They were booted out of Iksan by stroppy Buddhists and then had a spell in Gimpo before settling in the promised land of Ansan a few years ago.

The score was nil-nil as we arrived and it was still that way at half-time. The football was a lot better than we’d seen earlier in the day at Suwon, with a lot more movement off the ball. Surprising really as Hallelujah are struggling near the bottom of the table, whilst Korail aren’t a great deal better off. Perhaps both teams crapness made the other look good.

Not much brotherly love in that challenge.

Korail took the lead ten minutes into the second half as Lee In Kyu knocked the ball home at the back post. Hallelujah were never out of it though, or at least not until five minutes from time when Korail clinched the points with an Ahn Byung Gun header. At the final whistle the Hallelujah players dropped to their knees and had a collective prayer session. No doubt thanking the Lord that there isn’t any relegation from the National League to the Challengers League.

Thank you God for keeping the rain away. And the stroppy Iksan Buddhists.

Tom and I got  the subway from Gojan back to Yeoksam. It didn’t take much more than an hour and so I’ll probably nip back at some point to watch Hallelujah play in the main stadium. Maybe even combine it with getting a few groceries in.

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