FC Anyang v Goyang Hi, Sunday 17th March 2013, 2pm

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Anyang Cheetahs were a big deal in the K-League a few years back, they even won it in 2000. It all went wrong though at the end of the 2003 season when their owners, under pressure from the KFA, agreed to relocate from Anyang to Seoul, rename the club FC Seoul and play their home games at the Sangam World Cup Stadium.

That was all well and good for the people of Seoul who took up with the shiny new team, but it left the Anyang fans with an empty stadium and plenty of time to go shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

The advent of the new K-League second division, or K-League Challenge as it is oddly known, provided the opportunity for the city authorities to get a team up and running again and that’s what they did. After nine years of weeds on the terraces, Anyang had its team back.

Anyang Stadium

Anyang Stadium

Anyang’s opening fixture was against Goyang Hi, another team with a back story. Last season they had been turning out as Ansan H, the H being a shortened version of their previous name Ansan Hallelujah. I’d been to see them a couple of times, once at their 35,000 seater stadium, the other time at the much more appropriately sized practice pitch next door.

Ansan had decided that they no longer wished to have a football team and H were forced to move on, pretty much in the same way as when they were booted out of Iksan a few years previously. I can only presume that they must leave the changies in a bit of a state.

Whatever, this was one game that I really fancied and so I caught the bus from Yeonggwang , where Jen and I had stayed after the game the previous day. I couldn’t believe that there were direct buses between the two places, Yeonggwang Bus Station only runs buses to about half a dozen destinations so quite why someone selected Anyang as one of them is beyond me.

I took a taxi from Anyang Bus Station to the ground. The driver had no idea that there was a football stadium in Anyang, but he knew of the ice hockey rink next door so I was able to convince him to take me there instead. After stocking up on beer and buying a ten thousand won ticket, I took up a place behind the goal with the home fans. If there was going to be a place to party then that was it. As kick-off neared it got busier, culminating in a procession of Anyang fans making their way from a makeshift bar that they had set up outside the stadium.

They had waited nine years for this.

They had waited nine years for this.

There had been rumours that the seventeen thousand capacity stadium would sell out and it may well have done, but apparently the majority of tickets had been bought by sponsors who then must have just thrown them in the bin. The official attendance was three thousand four hundred or so and I’d say that was about right.

For the Anyang fans who had been waiting for this day for nine years though the attendance didn’t matter as they greeted the arrival of the teams with a mass hurling of bog rolls. That’s a football tradition that you don’t see so much these days, but one I’m always happy to participate in, particularly for the opportunity it gives you to bounce an unfurled roll off an unsuspecting head.

The teams take to the field.

The teams take to the field.

I’d arranged to meet up with a few lads I know from the football over here, some were Anyang fans, some were groundhoppers, some were fella’s who just like a bit of a party. Some were all three. The upshot of that was that I didn’t take a lot of notice of the action on the field. It wasn’t really about the game anyway, just about enjoying Anyang getting their club back.

I took the odd photo though.

I took the odd photo though.

I was just about sober enough to be able to remember the first goal. It was from Anyang and a couple of minutes into the game. It was greeted with similar celebrations to those we’d just gone through as the teams ran out.

More action from the game.

More action from the game.

Goyang managed an equaliser not long before the end. I didn’t realise this however until the next day when I stumbled across the scoreline somewhere. Or if I had known, I’d forgotten it. All in all, it was a very good day.

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