Cheongju Jikji v Ajou University, Saturday 17th March 2012, 3pm

Jen and I had been to Cheongju towards the back end of last season, but this weekend offered the opportunity to see their third division side Cheongju Jikji take on university opposition in the first round of the FA Cup, with a Hanwha Eagles pre-season baseball game the next day in the local baseball stadium. You can’t not take advantage of scheduling like that.

Cheongju is only about a hundred kilometres south of Seoul and the easiest way to get there is on a bus from Dong Seoul. They go every half hour, on the half hour, which had we known we’d have joined the line for tickets slightly earlier than twenty eight minutes past. Matters weren’t helped when a bloke pushed into the front of the queue, justifying his behaviour by the limited time to departure.

We had to run for the bus after getting our tickets and fortunately we boarded it with seconds to spare. I spotted the bloke who had pushed in ahead of us and gave him my best ‘You have brought shame on your ancestors’ stare. I really should learn the words for that one.

It took two hours for the bus to get to Cheongju and after lunch we took a taxi to the Cheongju Yongjeong Football Park. Cheongju are playing there this season whilst their usual Civil Stadium has some building work done to it. I remember when my Nanna had to move out of her house for a year or so in the late seventies. That was so that she could have an inside toilet installed. I’ve been to the Cheongju Civil stadium though and the facilities are fine, so I doubt that’s the reason. Maybe they are adding an extra tier to their seventeen thousand capacity stadium. It’s just what you need when you get crowds of a couple of hundred.

Yongjeong is a fair distance out of town, the journey taking half an hour and costing eleven thousand won. I was a little worried when we got there that I’d got the kick-off time wrong. The players on the pitch next to the entrance were packing their gear away and it looked as if their game might have just finished. It’s not unusual for kick-off times to change and it wouldn’t be the first time I’d been caught out.

First impressions weren't the best.

Fortunately there are three pitches in the complex and the FA Cup game was taking place on Pitch 1, a bit further over.

This helped.

Pitch 1 has the best facilities for spectators. It has a seating for about twenty yards either side of the half-way line with a roof covering the middle section where the VIPs sit. The less important people on either side get wet and have a view that is obscured by dugouts that aren’t much smaller than the stand itself.

The main stand before kick-off.

As the teams came out, we selected a vantage point towards the back which allowed us to see most of the pitch. The home side were in their Man City strip with the Ajou University students dressed up as Fulham.

Pre-match photo.

The complex is set amongst some small hills which provided a pleasant backdrop to the game. I looked around at the rustic setting and could see a few carefully tended grave mounds, some allotments planted with a variety of crops and the odd area that fly-tippers had left knee-deep in shite.

There was rain in the air as the teams kicked off, but it wasn’t heavy enough for me to need to seek shelter with the posh people and FA officials. I’d estimate that there were about a hundred and fifty spectators watching including three women in front of us whom I suspected all had sons playing for the home side. There was also a bloke behind us who spent the whole first half sniggering like Muttley off Dick Dastardly.

Don't even think about fouling one of their boys.

Cheongju Jikji had the best of the opening half hour and the home crowd got overly excited every time the ball reached the opposition penalty area. They had a decent chance after thirty-five minutes but the lad put his shot just wide of the post. Bang on half-time though, Cheongju got the opening goal. There wasn’t even time for the students to kick off again.

Jikji go close in the first half.

I’d hoped that going a goal down would encourage Ajou to be more positive in the second half and that’s what happened. Cheongju absorbed the early pressure but couldn’t prevent the visitors equalising on the hour. I’d tell you what the goal was like, but I was photographing some of the fans when it went in. You can just see the joy or anguish starting to appear on some of their faces.

One each.

Ajou kept it level until fifteen minutes from the end when the Cheongju number twenty-two got on the end of a free-kick and headed his side back in front. The visitors pressed forward again and had a couple of decent chances, hitting the post on one occasion before shooting straight at the Cheongju goalie soon afterwards. The mothers in front of us were in a state of panic and there wasn’t much sniggering coming from Muttley any more.

The view from behind the goal.

With a few minutes remaining Cheongju broke away and the right winger floated a cross into the box where his striker was waiting to put the game out of reach. He had time to direct his header anywhere he fancied and wisely chose to head it downwards. His header was a bit too effective though and the ball hit the ground somewhere near his feet. Luckily it worked out okay for him as the ball ballooned up and over the keeper, ending up in the back of the net.

The two goal advantage was enough to clinch it and Cheongju went through to the Second Round. We had to walk back towards the town for ten minutes or so before we could get a taxi. Whilst Cheongju’s temporary move allowed us to see a game at a different location, I think that I prefer the old Civil ground and I’m looking forward to seeing it with that extra tier.

One Response to “Cheongju Jikji v Ajou University, Saturday 17th March 2012, 3pm”

  1. jenniferteacher2point0 Says:

    I can’t believe you left out the mothers’ extremely vocal joy when an opposition player went down. I thought one of them was going to hurt herself laughing with such gusto.

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