South China v Tuen Mun, Saturday 10th September 2011, 5.30pm

We’ve just had the Chuseok holiday in Korea. It’s the one where people head back to the town of their ancestors and pay their respects to the dead. That’s all well and good but with only three days off work, it didn’t seem worth trying to get to Sunderland Crematorium and back. And so free from graveside obligations, Jen and I went to Hong Kong instead.

It’s an interesting place. We did touristy stuff on the first day, taking the tram up to The Peak where we sat in the breeze looking down upon the city and then a taxi to Stanley where we wandered around along the seafront and pier.

Hazy looking view from The Peak.

The next day we went to Macau. Like Hong Kong it’s one of those places that was previously owned by someone else but now belongs to the Chinese. There are still a fair few of the old Portuguese style buildings to see, although the rain in the afternoon meant that we spent more time in a restaurant than we did sightseeing.

Not much left of this place

One of the main attractions of Macau for the visiting Chinese is the quantity of casinos, at least thirty odd of them in what is quite a compact place. We weren’t tempted, which is just as well as in shorts we wouldn’t have got in anyway, but plenty of other visitors were. So many in fact that it took us over an hour to clear immigration on the way in. Still, it’s worth a visit, although I’d recommend a mid-week out of season trip.

This was one of the quieter streets in Macau.

On the third day we went to Peng Chau. It’s a tiny island near Lantau. When I say tiny I mean it, maybe 500m x 600m. There aren’t any motor vehicles apart from fire engines.  Going there was a bit of a bonus as we hadn’t intended to, we’d planned on hiking up a couple of big hills on Lantau. Being the  responsible people that we are, we’d even visited the council offices to buy a proper map. Unfortunately the map didn’t cover the ferry terminal and we got on the wrong boat. We only realised our mistake as the ferry disappeared into the distance after dropping us at Peng Chau whilst we gazed at a map of the island that wasn’t far off being actual sized.

Not the busiest of fishing ports.

Still, Peng Chau was worth a visit. We climbed the 95m Finger Hill and covered just about every path on the island before getting a mid-afternoon ferry back to Hong Kong Island.

On the way down from Finger Hill, Peng Chau.

As you might expect Hong Kong was a strange mix of English and Chinese culture, typified by the food. One evening we ate in a British-influenced place where I had chips with curry sauce and a deep-fried mars bar, whilst somewhere else I had deep-fried baby pigeons complete with their heads.

I didn't bother photographing the deep-fried Mars Bar.

Anyway, this blog isn’t supposed to be a ‘what I did on my holidays’ sort of place, despite my life appearing at times to be one long holiday. It’s meant to be a Korean sporting blog and so I’d better tell you about the match. I know that it’s not Korean football but it’s as close as you are going to get this week.

I’d got lucky really as this was the opening weekend of the season. Hong Kong isn’t very big but it has ten First Division teams and another twelve in the second tier of its league.

The game that we went along to was at South China’s Hong Kong Stadium. It’s by far and away Hong Kong’s biggest stadium with a forty thousand capacity. The other eight top division grounds hold about twenty-five thousand people in total between the lot of them. Not surprisingly South China is historically Hong Kong’s most successful team.

It was sixty Hong Kong Dollars to get in, that’s about a fiver and you could sit anywhere you liked on the lower tiers. The previous game here had been between Chelsea and Aston Villa in a pre-season tournament and prices for that ranged from about a tenner to forty quid. It seems that watching people off the telly is more popular than watching your own team.

Hong Kong Stadium

We weren’t allowed to take any cans or bottles into the stadium, not even plastic bottles of water. That wasn’t much of a hardship though as they did sell pints of  Carlsberg inside as well as proper looking pies. Neither team had any players that I knew although last season South China had that Kezman bloke who used to be at Chelsea playing for them. Nicky Butt turned out for them a few times last year too, adding a Hong Kong League Cup winners medal to a collection that I suspect he had thought complete.

The home team wore an Arsenal style strip whilst Tuen Mun were dressed up as Chelsea. The crowd totalled about three thousand including the five hundred or so fans that the visitors had brought with them. Mind you, it’s hardly a long trip. I’d be surprised if anybody didn’t follow their team home and away in a place as small as Hong Kong.

Arsenal v Chelsea

South China had most of the early play but didn’t manage to get any shots on target and it was Tuen Mun who opened the scoring, a glancing header from Milutin Trnavac sneaking inside the post.

It was quite a physical game with a few crunching tackles and a fair bit of posturing from one or two of the players. Chan Hin Kwong picked up a booking after half an hour for hanging on to an opponents leg like a particularly clingy child being dropped off by his Mam for his first day at school. The visiting keeper made a decent save from the resulting South China free kick.

Vekjc Nemad palms it past the post

It got worse for South China a few minutes later when the South African Makhosonke Bhengu put Tuen Mun further into the lead, much to the delight of his scruffy looking manager Dejan Antonic. South China finished the half resorting to long range shots and they got a bit of stick from their fans as they left the field.

We moved seats at half time and I took my seventy Hong Kong dollar litre of Carlsberg behind the goal.

The view from the other end.

South China had a couple of decent chances early on in the second half and on the hour had a goal disallowed for climbing. They finally pulled a goal back with a quarter of an hour to go when Brazillian defender Wellingsson de Souza headed home.

The goal just increased the determination of Tuen Mun to timewaste, resulting in a further seven minutes being added on. They held on to frustrate South China and in particular their coach who was sent off for getting in a paddy and booting a bottle of water into the air. Perhaps that’s why they don’t allow you to take them into the ground.

All in all it was a pleasant couple of hours. The stadium has a nice backdrop of hills behind one goal, the beer was cold and the football pretty competitive. Much more enjoyable than a Chuseok visit to a graveyard.

2 Responses to “South China v Tuen Mun, Saturday 10th September 2011, 5.30pm”

  1. Chuseok in Hong Kong | jenniferteacher2pointø Says:

    […] way to the opening match of the soccer season. If you want to read about that, Craig wrote about it here. We missed it by *that* much.This was at Stanley Market, but these were all over Hong Kong, growing […]

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