After watching the FA Cup game at Yeungnam University the plan was to take in another First Round game at Gyeongju the following day. As it’s only an hour or so from Daegu to Gyeongju we thought that we might as well stay in Daegu overnight and make the journey the next morning. We booked into the Zen Motel and were rewarded with what was possibly the best equipped room that we’ve stayed in over here. As well as two bathrooms and a sauna it also had a professional looking karaoke system (including microphone stands) and a second telly that was concealed in the ceiling and could be lowered via remote control.
Unfortunately it was probably the dirtiest room that we’ve ever stayed in. We ignored the variety of debris that we had chanced upon over the evening, but the clincher came the next morning when we found a used condom that had been discarded on to the floor next to the bed. I must have walked past it half a dozen times without noticing it. Had I stood on it then I might not have been so laid back about the situation.
We took a luxury bus to Gyeongju before lunch, the journey takes an hour and seems a bargain to me at three quid. Gyeongju is famous for barley bread and dead kings. You can’t walk more than ten yards without stumbling across one or the other. We ignored the barley bread shops but one of the many dead king parks proved ideal for a picnic lunch.
It’s half an hours walk from the bus station to Gyeongju’s ground. The football stadium is part of a bigger complex with taekwondo and wrestling venues, plus half a dozen artificial pitches, all of which could easily have staged this game.
It was as well that we got there on-time as within forty seconds visitors Hongik University were a goal up. The ball had been swung in from the left and one of the students was waiting on the edge of the six yard box to angle the ball home.
Fourth division Gyeongju were in their yellow shirts with a red and green central stripe and blue shorts. That’s too many colours for one team. Hongik wore a more restrained white kit with red trim.
I did wonder if that early goal would be the start of a landslide but the home team got their act together and held their own for the rest of the first half. They had as much possession as Hongik and managed to force the keeper into a couple of decent saves.
The stadium was a classic Korean bowl, with a small covered stand and open seating around the rest of the ground. Or at least it will have when the refurbishment is finished. A couple of blokes were bolting down new seats throughout the match, although at the speed they were going it may well be next season before the job is complete.
By half-time the crowd had reached around eighty. There weren’t any ‘proper’ away fans, the type that stand behind the goal and bang a drum, but a few of the student’s mothers were hovering around, dishing out food and drink to any squad members who weren’t getting a game this week.
There were a few more chances in the second half and Gyeongju really should have equalised on the hour when a free-kick flashed across the goalmouth without anyone getting a touch.
Ten minutes later and it was Hongik’s turn to go close with a shot that was stopped on the line by a home defender. The poor fella got the ball trapped between his feet for what seemed like an eternity before he dug it out like a week old bogey and hoofed it clear.
Gyeongju nearly got their equaliser a minute from time when a sloppy backpass let one of their strikers in. Fortunately for Hongik their keeper was a bit more on the ball than the defender had been and he was able to dash out quickly enough to get a foot in.
There were three minutes of injury time added but that wasn’t sufficient for Gyeongju to get an equaliser. Hongik were able to hang on for their victory having defended their lead for more than ninety-two of the ninety-three minutes played.
Jen and I got a cab back to the station and had to spend a fair bit of time searching for food that wasn’t barley bread. In the end we settled for a restaurant that looked as if it had been around since the days when most of the dead kings will still have been alive.
There wasn’t much of a menu and we ended up with pig soup. It needed plenty of pepper and a suspension of any thought as to what the bits of meat were. I ate most of it but left stuff that may have been eyelids, goolies or windpipes. Still better than barley bread though.