Archive for September, 2012

Goyang v Paju Citizen, Saturday September 22nd 2012, 3pm

September 28, 2012

If you like watching sport then Goyang would be a pretty good place to live. Whilst they don’t have a K-League team or a top-tier baseball side, they’ve got football teams in the National and Challengers leagues and an independent baseball team that takes on the KBO reserve teams in the Futures League. If that’s not enough there are also basketball and ice hockey teams.

The only one of all of those that I hadn’t yet seen was Goyang FC of the third-tier Challengers League. I had been to their ground before though, having briefly watched a few minutes of a Sunday League match after an ice hockey game at the SPART complex a couple of years ago.

Goyang’s ground is easy enough to get to. You take Subway Line 3 to Wondang and then come out of Exit 5, turn right in the direction of City Hall, cross the road and keep on in the same direction. You’ll pass a group of six old biddies sat on some benches.It’s probably ok to use them as a landmark as I suspect that they are always there. Not necessarily the same ones as it’s a squad game these days, but day or night there will be half a dozen of them.

Keep on straight ahead.

After about three hundred yards you turn left, in the direction of Seongsa 2(i) – dong Community Service Center, follow the road up a hill passing a few shops and restaurants. When you’ve walked for around another one hundred and fifty yards you turn right at apartment block 505 and then wander down that tree-lined road until you see the ground on your left.

There are stands down the two longer sides of the plastic pitch, one with a roof, but nothing behind either of the goals. I made a rough count of the seats and I’d estimate a capacity of two thousand, five hundred which was probably two thousand, four hundred more than was necessary. The main stand was home to about eighty people, many of them families where the small children spent most of the game hitting the even smaller children.

The Main Stand. Probably named after the Boro’s Curtis Main.

The opposite stand was home to the Ultras. Or in the case of Goyang, the Ultra. In a country were people rarely see any merit in an activity unless large numbers of others are doing it too, Goyang gloriously had one fan. He did his bit though and the only times that he stopped singing all afternoon were whenever he briefly paused to berate the referee.

Man Of The Year. Any year ever.

Paju initially weren‘t much better in terms of support, with only two supporters having made it by kick-off time. I liked the idea that both sets of fans (can you call one fan a set?) could have taunted the other with the traditional “You should have come in a taxi“ when in reality they could have shared the cab and still had room to offer a lift to the next bloke at the rank. Paju spoilt things a little when another four fans turned up ten minutes into the game.

Paju fans. Mean and moody.

Paju were in luminous green shirts, whilst Goyang were wearing what looked like American referee shirts with thin black and white stripes. Goyang are bottom of their section of the league and with the visitors pushing for a play-off spot an away win seemed the most likely outcome.

Both teams kept it tight in the opening half hour and neither keeper got his knees dirty.  Although I suppose on a plastic pitch that would have been unlikely no matter how much diving around they might have done. The closest we came to a goal was when a Goyang free-kick bounced harmlessly through to the Paju keeper who whilst attempting to catch it just under the crossbar caught one of his feet in the netting behind him and nearly conceded the sort of goal that would have made every ’cock-up’ video going.

Almost Goal of the Season.

With ten minutes to go to the break, Paju brought on a couple of subs. It’s always embarrassing to be taken off in the first half if you aren‘t limping and one fella in particular, Lee Jae Hyung, threw a right strop, hurling bits of tape to the ground and whipping off his shirt long before he reached the changing room. I wondered if the Paju coach had been expecting an easy victory and had taken the opportunity to play a couple of fringe players before being forced to revert to Plan A when they were unable to make the breakthrough.

Mean as it seemed though, it worked, and before the subbed players could even have found time to key the side of their manager’s car Paju were ahead. Centre half Jung Sung Jo had come upfield for a set piece and although the move broke down the ball fell nicely for him and his shot from fifteen yards was deflected into the net.

One – nil to Paju.

At half-time the Paju players went to the dressing room but the Goyang coach sat his players down by the touch-line and held his team-talk on the pitch. He didn‘t seem angry with them, I think it was more a case of him just enjoying the good weather. He used three water bottles to demonstrate positioning and movement, the gist of it seeming to be that one player should run in-between two of the opposition, drawing them both with him.


The opening twenty minutes of the second half were as cagey as those of the first with both sides passing the ball well but not creating much in the way of chances. I didn‘t notice too many occasions where a Goyang player was able to draw two of the opposition to him. It’s possibly harder to do with real people than it appears to be with water bottles.

The game came to life in the last ten minutes. Goyang captain Lee Sang Ho did fantastically well to keep a wayward shot in play, he cut in towards goal and pulled the ball back for  Park Joo Young who somehow put his shot both high and wide when it would have been far easier to score. It wasn‘t quite as bad as Kanu’s against the Boro a few years ago but he should have scored.

A couple of minutes later Park Joo Young had a shot deflected past the post, he should have scored from that one too. It didn‘t matter much though as shortly afterwards the Goyang pressure paid off when Lee Sang Ho curled a shot home from the edge of the box to make it one each.

Random action shot.

We then had a few minutes of end to end action as both teams chased a winner. Goyang had the ball in the net at one point but it was disallowed for pushing. As we entered injury time Goyang broke clear but the Paju keeper, Jang Bum Guk, managed to dash from his goal and clatter the striker, knacking one of his own knees as he did it. After a few minutes of treatment that seemed to consist mainly of someone twisting his leg to check that it was still attached to his torso, he limped off and was replaced by the sub goalie Yu Jung Hoon.

At the other end Paju could have won it with the final kick of the game when a flick on from a corner was skied over the bar from inside the six yard box. That was it though, two points dropped for Paju but a point gained for Goyang. All that was left was for both teams to jog over to their supporter(s) and show their appreciation.

LG Twins v Nexen Heroes, Wednesday September 19th 2012, 6.30pm

September 21, 2012

Apologies for the lack of updates but I’ve been away from Korea for the last six weeks. I had a holiday in the UK sandwiched between a couple of longer than normal visits to Oman for what is ostensibly work but in reality is little more than a desert based detox.

The UK part was good though. Gig-wise, Jen and I managed to see British Sea Power close the opening evening at the Voewood Festival and Boo Hewerdine play a hospice fundraiser in a church in Cambridge. Boo was good, although he was sharing a stage with Eddi Reader and didn’t get as much time in the spotlight as I’d have liked. The only song of his that he got to sing on his own was Muddy Water. He’s written a fair bit of Eddi’s decent stuff for her and whilst she has a fine voice I prefer to hear him singing his own songs rather than accompanying someone else, particularly with something like ‘Patience of Angels’.

Ms Reader also likes to rattle on a bit between songs. Her patter was entertaining enough, although I imagine the anecdotes would grate after a while if you saw her regularly. The downside of her incessant yapping though was that it cut down the time available for music and as a result Boo didn’t get to play my favourite song of his, ‘Geography’. It wasn’t quite as annoying as last year when we saw The Wedding Present and they didn’t do ‘Kennedy’ but it could have been better.

Eddi and Boo not doing ‘Geography’ at some other gig.

BSP played at the Voewood Festival, which is at High Kelling in Norfolk and is without doubt the poshest festival that I’ve ever been to. I’d imagine that they will have been paid in Guineas and there will have been quail eggs and swan fritters provided backstage.

Whilst it’s not uncommon for me to be the scruffiest bloke in whatever company I find myself in, unless of course the company is clad in a faded Ramones tee-shirt, it was far more noticeable than normal at Voewood. I’ve been to weddings where there were fewer waistcoats and cravats.  The food and drink was good, though. They sold wine by the bottle and the on-site food was provided by a Spanish caterer that must have been tipped off in advance that we usually snack on cured ham and sheep cheese.

As for BSP’s set list, well I had to look it up afterwards, which is generally an indication that I had an excellent time.

Voewood Festival.

On the hiking front Jen and I managed a couple of days walking in The Lakes and then we fitted the forty-eight mile Norfolk Coastal Trail from Cromer to Hunstanton around the British Sea Power and Boo Hewerdine gigs. The Coastal Trail is an interesting walk in a part of England that I’ve not been to before. There aren’t many hills and it was an enjoyable four days taking a varied route of woodland and marshland sections interspersed with clifftop strolls and the odd trudge through sand dunes or along stone beaches.

This was about as undulating as it got.

I didn’t see much in the way of UK sport this time. I was there during that lull between the Olympics finishing and the Paralympics starting, there wasn’t any convenient horseracing going on and of the Boro’s five games the only one I managed to get to was the home victory over Burnley. Three long-range goals, including a late Luke Williams winner from thirty-five yards made it more than worthwhile as did a few pints with my son before, during and after the game.

So, that’s the ‘what I did on my holidays’ stuff out of the way and it’s back to Korean sport and the baseball game between LG Twins and Nexen Heroes. The regular season is into it’s dying throes with the two teams in this fixture fighting it out with Kia Tigers to determine fifth, sixth and seventh places. None of them can make the play-offs, whilst Hanwha have already made the bottom spot their own.

Jen and I were late setting off and it was already seven o’clock when we got there with Nexen leading by two runs to one. We didn’t have any trouble finding somewhere to sit with the thirty thousand capacity stadium being no more than a tenth full. Nobody likes a loser in Korea.

We hadn’t missed much.

Brandon Knight was the starting pitcher for the visitors. He’s into his second season with Nexen after previously turning out for Samsung Lions. He’s had some decent moments in his career, including starting for the New York Mets at Shea Stadium and picking up a bronze medal for the USA at the Beijing Olympics.

Brandon Knight

Lee Seung Woo was the starting pitcher for LG. As far as I know he has never played for the New York Mets, nor been to Shea Stadium, unless it was to watch a concert. He doesn’t have an Olympic medal either. I’m lead to believe that he enjoys spending his spare time growing giant leeks and completing crossword puzzles.

Lee Seung Woo

Mr. Lee didn’t have the happiest of evenings, getting the hook after three innings. It seemed a bit mean to me in a game where the result didn’t really matter, although he had pitched seventy-eight balls by that point and conceded four runs. I suppose we could have been there all night if he’d been allowed to carry on. Brandon Knight did a lot better, pitching almost all of the way through for just the two runs.

The Nexen fans seemed happy enough.

We stayed until the eighth, by which time Nexen had moved into a seven-two lead. They added one more in the ninth, sealing a victory that took them four games ahead of LG in the standings and leaving them only half a game behind fifth placed Kia Tigers.