Jeonbuk Motors v Jeju United, Sunday 2nd December 2012, 2pm

0 - Lee Dong Gook jumping

This game marked the end of the football season and nine months on from a trip to Daegu for their opening fixture with Seoul,  Jeonbuk’s game with Jeju brought my 2012 K-League viewing to a close.

It was just about as cold as that day in March and not surprisingly Jen decided to clear off back to Seoul after our overnight stay in Yeongdong. My plan was to catch the boggie that went to Sintanjin and then another one to Iksan. It all went exactly as intended and at around six quid for the two and a half hour journey I couldn’t complain about the cost.

Because I know some of you like trains.

Because I know some of you like trains.

I had plenty of time to spare and so called in for my usual dolsot bibimbap at a cafe next to Iksan station. I’m not really sure whether I order it because it’s something that’s easily pronounced and understood or whether it’s because I quite like it when the rice gets crusty at the bottom of the bowl. Probably a bit of both I suppose. After I’d eaten I took a taxi to Jeonbuk’s World Cup Stadium. Whilst the twenty minute ride cost me twice as much as the train journey, I reckon that it was pretty good value too.

Another World Cup Stadium.

Another World Cup Stadium.

I bought a ticket for the East Stand and made my way in with about half an hour or so to spare before kick-off. Promotional girls were giving out free oranges at the turnstiles, presumably from Jeju. I couldn’t see that happening in England, not least because the aerial bombardment that would invariably follow would make the stuff that’s going on in Syria look tame.

There weren’t too many people milling about, although there was a decent queue of people waiting patiently for autographs from a couple of Jeonbuk players. I assume that they were players as, somewhat embarrassingly, after three years of  watching them play the only fellas that I recognise apart from the foreigners are Lee Dong Gook and old Choi the keeper. I can confirm that neither of those two were there. Probably.

3 - autographs

There weren’t many more fans inside the stadium, although I suppose it was to be expected. Jeonbuk’s crowds have been poor all season and with their title challenge having faded over recent weeks there wasn’t a great deal to excite their fans. Jeju were never going to bring many fans with them either and whilst the official attendance was given as 5,843 I’d say there were no more than four thousand people in the ground.

There weren't many more than this lot.

There weren’t many more than this lot.

Not a lot happened in the first half. Jeonbuk’s Kim Dong Chan had an effort disallowed for offside and Lee Dong Gook twice went close. That was about it. I noticed a new banner above the ‘home end’ paying tribute to the Boro’s best ever Korean player. I don’t recall seeing anything like that at the Riverside when he played there.

They love him here.

They love him here.

At half time I went for a stroll and ended up in the North Stand. It felt even colder there with the wind blowing in through the exposed corner. I quite like changing vantage point part of the way through a game though, even if it does increase my chances of hypothermia.

The view from somewhere colder.

The view from somewhere colder.

The second half was more of the same. Jeju had one disallowed, whilst Jeonbuk had the better chances overall. Lee Dong Gook missed a couple more and was then denied what I thought seemed a legitimate penalty. He kept at it though and with ten minutes left he was brought down on the edge of the box, setting the stage for Eninho to curl a free-kick home. The Brazilian struck it well enough but the Jeju keeper made a great save, clawing it out of the top corner.

It looked in all the way.

It looked in all the way.

Jung Hoon and Kim Jung Woo both went close for the home side in the closing moments but couldn’t quite do enough and the game finished goalless. We then got the usual post-season stuff with balls being kicked into the crowd, speeches made and departing players thrown in the air. The Jeonbuk fans marked the start of their winter off with a display of flares that would probably get them a lifetime ban and six months in chokey in the UK.

Nobody minds it over here.

It warmed things up.

It’s possible that I’ll be leaving Korea before the start of the 2013 season and so I hung back a little longer than I normally would soaking it all in before sloping off to look for a taxi.

Whilst I didn’t see as much of Jeonbuk this season as I had in the previous two, I did get to thirty six Korean games overall throughout the year, twenty two of which were new grounds for me. When you add in a match in Poland during the Euros, two in Japan, three in Spain and three at the Boro, that’s the equivalent of a full season in the Championship. Not bad at all, really. Hopefully next year will be just as good, wherever I am.

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