Bucheon 1995 v Cheonan, Saturday March 3rd 2012, 3pm

The first day of a new season. Don’t you just love that day? Your team is unbeaten and possibly even top of the league if you support Aardvaark Athletic. It’s a day for optimism. Even for those of us who don’t have a team that they feel too strongly about in Korea, it’s a chance to put the basketball to one side and go to a proper match.

The build-up to a new season had been slightly spoilt for me as I’d just returned from a fortnight in Europe where I’d been able to see some matches in Spain. Fixtures at Real Betis, Sevilla Atletico and Arcos de la Frontera had taken the edge of my appetite somewhat. As a child I was always told not to eat sweets before my dinner, this though was more like eating a Sunday roast before a bowl of cabbage soup.

Real Betis fans celebrating a goal.

Still, football is football and you can’t be sitting in the house when there is a game on. I’d thought about heading down to Jeonju to see Jeonbuk kick-off their season. Lee Dong Gook is in prime form at the moment having scored three times for the national team in the last week, but I was still a bit jet-lagged though and settled for the nearby third division game between Bucheon 1995 and Cheonan.

I say nearby, but it’s an hour on the subway to Sosa and then a fair walk to Bucheon’s thirty-five thousand seater stadium. Yes, thirty-five thousand. Just what you need when you play in a division that rarely has more than two hundred spectators at a match. Although it does mean that you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket in advance.

The ground is signposted from the station and after a ten minute stroll through town you come to a park. The local authorities have very kindly mapped out some hiking trails through it, one of which looked to go pretty close to the ground.

The scenic route.

I had about an hour to spare before kick-off and despite feeling a bit ropey after a late night tackling the jet-lag with wine and cigars, I thought that I might as well take the trail. It was a bit more undulating than I’d hoped and was fairly busy. There were numerous exercise areas along the way including a couple of large temporary buildings. One was full of badminton players, the other sounded as if it was hosting a hand slapping competition. Do you remember that game from when you were a kid where you had to hold your hands out in front of you, palms together? You had to hold them still until your opponent who was trying to slap them made his move. Once he had begun his swing, you could pull your hands out of the way. If you moved too soon, he got a free slap. Well, that’s would appeared to be going on in one of the buildings. Either that or they are now setting up S&M room salons in the woods.

Along the trail.

After one steep climb I reached a viewing platform and was rewarded with my first sight of the stadium. It didn’t look too far away and I was reasonably confident of getting there by the 3pm kick-off time.

That's it there.

The trail brought me out quite close to the stadium car park and I took the opportunity to have a peak through one of the locked gates before finding out where I could get in. Oh dear. No goal posts and the pitch was covered up like a snooker table at a posh wedding reception.

That's not good at 3pm on a Saturday.

I wasn’t too bothered by this, there is a practice pitch behind the stadium which in reality is much more suited to games at this level. A similar situation had happened last year to me at Ansan and whilst I’d been keen to see a game in their main Wa Stadium I did enjoy watching the game from a tightly packed small stand on their auxillary pitch.

I walked around the edges of the ground and could hear plenty of shouting from up ahead. It sounded like I’d missed the kick-off, but again that’s not such a big deal. As the practice pitch came into view I could see people on it. They didn”t look like footballers though. Or at least not footballers playing in an organised game. As I got closer I could see that it was kids having a kickabout or riding their bikes, with a few adults walking dogs.

Not here either.

This was a little more worrying. I’ve turned up a few times in the past to discover a game has been taking place somewhere else and this looked like another of those occasions. I wandered about for a bit trying to find another pitch, but there wasn’t one. After half an hour or so I gave up and headed back to Yeoksam. I later found out that the game had been switched to Cheonan, although I’ve no idea why. I didn’t miss much by the sound of it with the game finishing goalless.

In the game that I should have gone to, Jeonbuk won their opening fixture 3-2, with Lee Dong Gook scoring twice to become the all-time K-League highest goalscorer and to bring his total for the season (and the week) to five. That’s a bit better start to the season than I’ve had.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: