This trip didn’t turn out anything like I’d intended it to. The original plan had been for Jen and I to walk along the Hwaseong fortress wall before watching Suwon City take on Mokpo City in Suwon’s Civil Stadium. In the end though, we did neither.
A late night on the Friday resulted in us getting up too late to walk along the fortress wall. It did mean that we had a bit of time to watch some baseball in ballpark next door though. Once that had finished we made our way to the Civil Stadium.
Now, I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not really one for learning lessons. Unless, perhaps, physical pain or injury is involved. For example, I no longer use that open razor blade on the cheese grater for slicing bits of cheese. Not since I took a chunk out of my thumb anyway. Nor do I try to force corks into a wine bottle with a knife if the corkscrew doesn’t do its job properly. At least not since the time when a bottle cracked and I nearly severed a finger.
Where I’m still struggling to learn lessons is in making sure that games are on before setting out. God knows I’ve missed enough of them and this one was yet another. We arrived at the Civil Stadium bang on three o’clock and after wandering in caught sight of another pitch without goalposts. Perhaps if I get Jen to jab me in the eye each time it happens I might start to check things a bit more thoroughly.
Fortunately, the most likely alternative to the as yet incompletely refurbished Civil Stadium was the Suwon Big Bird Stadium, either the main pitch or more likely the auxiliary one next to it. There’s not too much distance between the Civil and Big Bird Stadiums and a twenty-minute taxi ride was all that was needed.
I’d watched Suwon City on the auxiliary pitch last season. It’s ideal for a lower league team with one small stand running the length of the pitch. As we walked around the outside of the main stadium though we could hear drumming and chanting from inside. A quick glance confirmed that City had borrowed the Big Bird from their K-League neighbours, Suwon Bluewings.
Suwon were in their red and blue stripes and were already a goal down to Mokpo. It was strange seeing a stadium that is usually one of the best attended in the country staging a match in front of no more than a couple of hundred spectators. Mokpo had contributed to the crowd by bringing eight fans with them for their rare day out in a World Cup Stadium. I wondered if any of them had turned up at the Civil Stadium first.
We made our way around to the far side so that we could sit in the sun and watched the remainder of the first half. Suwon had a few chances to equalise but were unable to take them and they went in at the interval still trailing by a goal to nil.
Mokpo doubled their lead a couple of minutes into the second half when Suwon keeper Lee Jung Hyung dashed to the edge of his box only to get in the way of one of his defenders. The mix-up meant that the ball fell to Han Jae Man who after controlling it with his arm was able to roll the ball into an empty net. A couple of the Suwon players protested to the linesman who I’m sure must have seen it. Maybe the odd poke in the eye might have helped him to focus on the task in hand too.
Suwon responded by bringing on their lanky striker Bae Soo Han. Although having checked his height it turns out that he is only six foot three. Maybe he is just tall in comparison to some of his short-arse team-mates. Whatever, the substitution paid off almost immediately as Suwon pulled a goal back when Jang Hyuk’s shot from the edge of the box sneaked in next to the post.
The home side had plenty of time to find an equaliser in the remaining half hour and they put the visitors under a lot of pressure. The Mokpo keeper had a decent game though and he was able to keep the Suwon efforts out to help his team pull off an unexpected away victory.
It hadn’t been quite the day that I’d planned but it had worked out pretty well in the end, whilst the fortress wall and the Civil Stadium will still be there for a future trip.