Hwaseong v Gyeongju Citizen, Saturday May 4th 2013, 2pm

0 - opening shot

Hwaseong are one of this season’s new teams in the fourth tier Challengers League. They don’t really play in Hwaseong though, more in the middle of nowhere to the south-east of the city. I’d been hiking on the morning of the game down past Taean and managed to catch a bus to nearby Suwon.

Jen had written down the full address of the Hwaseong stadium in Korean for me and the taxi driver was able to successfully enter the details in his satnav. It showed a journey of around 17km and thirty five minutes. Forty minutes later we were driving at walking pace along farm tracks. I was sure that we were lost and kept showing him a photo of the brand new stadium at Hwaseong. The driver remained equally convinced that the ground would be just around the next corner. He pointed out a hand-written sign stuck to a gatepost that apparently confirmed his belief.

He was right. We turned one more corner and the stadium appeared from nowhere.

That's part of the main stadium in the background.

That’s part of the main stadium in the background.

The delay in getting there meant that I’d missed the opening twenty minutes. I’d also missed four goals as the score was two apiece. Bugger.

The practice pitch main stand.

The practice pitch main stand.

The game was on the practice pitch rather than the main stadium, but it was very impressive despite the almost obligatory running track. There was only one stand, but that’s all that was needed. I didn’t notice any fans from visitors Gyeongju, but there were around five hundred home supporters, most of them decked out in what I imagine were complimentary orange scarves.

They had inflatable sticks too.

Hanwha Eagles will want their inflatable sticks back..

Hwaseong were in orange whilst Gyeongju wore their white shirt with the red and green stripes. I’d barely arrived when a Gyeongju forward chased a long ball and put his side three-two ahead.

It was a ridiculously open game with play rapidly switching from one penalty area to the other. Both sides spurned plenty of chances to score until with a couple of minutes to go to half time a Hwaseong striker got clear and slide the ball under the body of the advancing keeper to bring his side level.

Gyeongju on the attack.

Gyeongju on the attack.

A few minutes later the ref blew for half time and to my surprise the players all slumped to the floor. It soon became clear that I hadn’t arrived midway through the first half of a 3pm kickoff game, but midway through the second half of a match that had started at 2pm. Well that would explain the open nature of the game and me having missed four goals. Double bugger as they say. I filed out and went to have a look around the main stadium. Very nice it is, hopefully I’ll get to see a match there sometime.

The real Hwaseong stadium.

The real Hwaseong stadium.

As for getting back to Seoul, I took a cab to Osan station. It took half an hour and cost 15,000 won. I then stood for an eighty minute subway ride back to Yeoksam. If you are going to Hwaseong for the football I’d recommend catching a cab from Osan rather than Suwon. Apart from it being cheaper it’s a much more direct route on busy roads and you won’t piss the farmers off anything like as much.

The point each was enough to keep Hwaseong in second place in Group B, whilst Gyeongju climbed to third in the table.

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