Gyeongnam v FC Seoul, Sunday 30th October 2011, 3pm


I was at the Gyeongnam v Seoul fixture last season and so normally wouldn’t have bothered travelling south to somewhere that I’d already visited. What caught my attention about this game though was that Gyeongnam weren’t playing at their normal ground in Changwon, but were hosting the fixture thirty-odd miles away in Jinju.

I find it hard to resist the chance to visit a new ground, particularly one that only gets used once a year and so I thought I might as well make the effort. Gyeongnam has previous for this sort of thing, they played a game at Geochang earlier in the season and have also staged matches at Masan, Milyang and Yangsan in the past. I have a feeling that they would probably play in your back garden if you offered them enough cash.

It reminds me a bit of the way that county cricket teams would share their fixtures around. Yorkshire would regularly visit Acklam Park whilst Durham would turn out now and then at Stockton Cricket Club. I’m not sure to what extent it still goes on but I suspect it’s less common these days than it was in the past.

I got the bus from Seoul Express bus terminal at 8.20am. It was 22,000 won and they seem to run pretty frequently. The roads were clearer than normal and I arrived in Jinju on time at 12.10pm.

I’d actually been to Jinju before. I was there last year with my mate Paul either side of a hike up Jirisan. On that occasion though, we’d seen the inside of a bar or two and the bus station, but not a great deal more. As I had plenty of time before the 3pm kick-off I wandered along to the fortress by the river which is okay for a quick visit.

Jinju Fortress

There are a few old looking buildings inside the fortress walls that have been rebuilt over the years. There is also a rock that a local girl jumped off a few hundred years ago. She managed to drown a Japanese General by throwing herself into the river and dragging him in with her. There was none of that sort of thing going on whilst I was there, but with a visit from a K-League team once a year I suppose that the locals no longer feel the need to make their own entertainment.

Be careful if you are a Japanese General.

I’d seen as much of the fortress as I wanted to by one o’clock and thought that I might as well walk to the stadium. I’d picked up a map earlier and it seemed easy enough, just follow the river until you get there. The river walk was quite pleasant. It was a bit overgrown but provided an opportunity to see some wildlife along the way, mainly butterflies and herons.

Just keep the river to your right and you won't get lost.

As the time moved towards half past two I was getting a little worried that my map may not have been too accurate, but fortunately the stadium came into sight. It’s a very impressive looking ground, built last year with a sensible capacity of twenty thousand.

Jinju Stadium

I got a ticket for eight thousand won and sat with a few lads that I know towards the back of one of side stands. The stadium was just as impressive inside as out, the highlight being a grassy bank behind one of the goals. It’s a feature that I like and I’ve enjoyed stretching out on the grass before at LA Galaxy and at Munhak for the baseball. I first encountered one at Wigan in the Boro’s 1986-7 promotion season, but the climate in north-west England meant that it was more like a slag heap. It wasnt just the players who should have been wearing football boots that day.

FC Seoul fans behind the goal.

There was an excellent turnout for the game, although as usual, people were still arriving well into the second half. At its peak, I’d say the place was 95% full, although the announced attendance claimed an impressive 110% capacity at 22,000.

The other end.

As far as the game went, it was always likely to end in tears for Gyeongnam. Seoul are having a far better season and needed a win themselves to clinch third place. Gyeongnam had a slim chance of making the play-offs but in addition to requiring three points they were also relying on two other teams failing to win.

Not a great deal happened in the first hour. Seoul then broke the deadlock when a heavily deflected shot from Ha Dae Sung wrongfooted veteran keeper Kim Byeung Ji. Gyeongnam’s task was made a little harder when they had a bloke sent off for something off the ball. I didn’t see what happened but unfortunately for Jeong Da Hooeon the ref did.

Seoul on the attack

Gyeongnam pushed forward despite being a man down and were then caught twice as Ha Dae Sung completed his hat-trick. In the end results elsewhere meant that the three-nil defeat didn’t matter. A lot of the crowd had gome home early once Seoul got on top, but it was still busy on the way out. As I left I was passed by about a hundred Korean RAF lads marching in formation.

Left, right, left, right.

The traffic was heavier on the way back to Seoul and so my return journey took over four and a half hours. I’ll keep an eye out for Gyeongman’s fixtures next season in the hope that they will continue to spread some games around the region.

3 Responses to “Gyeongnam v FC Seoul, Sunday 30th October 2011, 3pm”

  1. Cogstar Says:

    AS it’s your birthday I’ve done the google work for you. Never is the answer at least for the first team. All the home games are played at the …..wait for it…… Emirates Durham ICG.

    I guess the Riverside just confused people.

  2. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    I thought it might be. I’m pretty sure that they used to play two ‘away’ games a year rotating it between Stockton, Feethams and somewhere else, possibly Hartlepool.

  3. Benjamin Ajusshi Glass Says:

    Dude, I’m from Middlesbrough and a Boro fan, plus I live in Jinju ! Came across this blog when looking for info on the game next Sunday.

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