Archive for the ‘Pigs in polythene’ Category

Orihuela v Castellon, Sunday 17th November 2019, 5pm

March 7, 2020

After a few days in Elche, Jen and I headed back to the coast and stayed at a place called La Mata. It appeared to be shut for the winter, with just a couple of bars and cafes catering for ex-pats in fleeces in need of that pre-lunch beer.

We managed to do a bit of walking as one of those long-distance coastal trails took in the beach as part of its route, giving us easy sign-posted options in two directions, with a further option of a trail around a nearby salt lake.

In the absence of eating out options we tended to snack in our apartment. If we’d have been there for a while longer I’d probably have had a crack at the whole pigs that we saw in the freezer section of a nearby hypermarket. We’d shared half of a two-week old suckling pig in Malaysia in the past and had portions of a slightly older one when we’d been in Spain earlier in the year. These ones were just that touch too big though for the time we had available.

The most suitable football option was a third tier Segunda B game an hour or so down the road at Orihuela.  I cut it fine getting there and with no parking in view at the Estadio Municipal Los Arcos we had to put the car in one of those underground car parks some distance away.

We emerged into the daylight and I strode off sharply in what I thought was the direction of the ground. Despite nothing looking familiar I dismissed Jen’s suggestion that I use the map on my phone as unnecessary until I’d taken us a good five minutes in the wrong direction. Eventually I got my phone out as if it had been my own idea, sheepishly did the required U-turn and we arrived at the ground bang on kick-off.  I’d have still been wandering around the town centre were I not a married man.

It was fifteen euros for general admission for the visit of Castellon. If I remember rightly Castellon is the place where I stayed with my daughter when the Boro played Villareal in one of the UEFA Cup seasons. I’ve also got a faint recollection that Mendieta was either from there or turned out for them early in his career. You could always Google it or him if you wanted to be sure.

The main stand was taped off and so everyone was watching from the three rows of terracing that ran around the other three sides of the ground. Every now and then someone would appear on a balcony of the apartments that overlooked the stadium and cast a disinterested eye at the action as they retrieved their washing or drew on a fag. Along that same side was the main home singing section of thirty-odd Orihuela fans.

At the opposite end to us were a few Castellon supporters in front of an impressive mountain backdrop. With the visitors sitting one place off the top of the table and Orihuela rock bottom, I’m sure they were expecting to go home three points better off.

Orihuela, in yellow and blue, took the lead after a quarter of an hour when their right-sided striker was first to a ball over the top and finished well. I missed Castellon’s equaliser ten minutes or so later as I was searching online for the height of Orihuela’s ‘big unit’ Antonio. Turns out that he’s six foot five, but he looked to be taller.

It was still level at the break as I wandered around to the kiosk near the front gate and got myself a pie filled with an unidentified, but tasty enough, reddy-brown substance.

On the hour Orihuela had a chance from a corner that Castellon just couldn’t clear. The ball bobbed up and down on and around the crossbar before the home side eventually turned it in for a two-one lead.

The goal injected some life into the game and a slide tackle by an Orihuela player right in front of the Castellon bench sparked a fracas that, I think, led to a red card for the slidee. One of the away coaches should have picked up one as well, maybe he did, it was hard to tell.

It looked like the ten men of Orihuela would hold on but with the scoreboard showing just the four minutes remaining someone hit a sweet half-volley from the edge of the box that nicked the inside of the post on the way in and levelled the scores. It was two points dropped though for the visitors and a well-deserved draw for relegation-threatened Orihuela. In an added bonus we found our way back to the car without having to resort to the phone map.

Suwon Bluewings v Jeonbuk Motors, Sunday 7th November 2010, 3pm

November 14, 2010

This week saw the final round of matches in the K-League and I made my way down to Suwon for the visit of Jeonbuk. With it being an afternoon kick-off I did think about setting off early and doing a circuit of the fortress wall that surrounds the old city. I’d walked it in a clockwise direction before Suwon’s game against Daejeon Citizen earlier in the season and thought it would be interesting to see it from an anti-clockwise perspective.

I didn’t bother in the end though. I’d been hiking with Jen the day before and we had finished up later on in one of those barbecue restaurants where you cook your own food. This one was slightly different though as in addition to the pieces of meat, you also got an assortment of shellfish, fresh from the aquarium. I made a bit of an error in putting some of the more explosive ones straight onto the grill rather than keeping them in their loosely wrapped foil, but injuries were minimal. Apart from to the shellfish, of course, but they gave their lives in a good cause.

The hiking was interesting. Or it was to me. You will have to make your own mind up. I’d read about a new trail that had opened in the Bukhansan National Park and that circles around the main peaks and goes through some of the small villages, across some newly installed skywalks and along paths that had been closed to the public for over thirty years. The entire Dullegil circuit presently consists of 44km and we thought it would be ideal for getting around on three separate days out. For the first of these we set off from Bulgwang subway station and walked clockwise in the direction of Yangju-si.

This is the map, although we didn't bother with one.

During the fifteen kilometres that we walked we saw exactly what we had expected to as we moved from wandering though small groups of houses to heading up into the hills where we often looked down upon Seoul.

Somewhere along the route.

We occasionally passed graves and for those wishing to delay their eventual burial, exercise areas, including at one point a couple of badminton courts deep in the woods.

The exercise machines proved popular with the senior citizens.

If I had a criticism of the route it would be that some of  it was along the pavement next to a particularly busy road. It’s a shame that these sections couldn’t have been replaced  by a trail, maybe a hundred yards or so away from the traffic. The route was also very busy at certain points, some groups of hikers seemed to have upwards of  fifty or sixty people in them.

Another quiet day in the countryside.

We stumbled across some sort of gathering in the yard of what might have been a restaurant. I’m a bit vaguer than normal because I didn’t really know what was going on. However what I can say is that it involved a couple of women in tradition dress and a whole pig wrapped in not so traditional polythene. It reminded me of a party that I’d once ended up at in Loftus after an afternoon on the drink and so we sensibly kept our distance.

Not too bad a bacon sandwich.

It’s a popular season for hiking at the moment as it’s the time of year when the leaves change colour and drop off the trees. It’s a big deal here, with different regions touting themselves as the perfect place to see the multi-coloured foliage. The Tourist Office even publishes tables showing the dates when the views will be at their most spectacular for each park. Back home we just call it Autumn. There was the odd bit of wildlife about and we saw a squirrel and one of those little chipmunk things, but didn’t manage to spot any bears or wolves.

Dead leaves. Whoopy do.

Anyway, the cumulative effects of the hike and the subsequent beers that accompanied the explosive clams meant that I didn’t get around to walking around the Suwon Fortress Wall. I’m getting better at making my way to Suwon though and in a rare feat of co-ordination I took the subway to Sadang and then got off it to transfer to a bus that dropped me right outside of the Bluewings Stadium.

I still had a couple of hours to go before kick-off and so decided to get some lunch. There was a chinese restaurant nearby that looked like the sort of place that would have photos on its menu so I went in there. It did have some very small pictures of the food but unfortunately they were no help at all as I couldn’t recognise what any of them were. They were quite expensive as well compared to the items that didn’t have photos alongside them so I suspected that they were the set meals. I didn’t really want to order dinner for five people, and so I just pointed at one of the cheaper menu entries and hoped that I had actually selected some food rather than chosen from a list of delivery charges to various destinations. One of the staff was then given the task of  repeating the same Korean phrase over and over again, possibly in the belief that I spoke Korean but was just being stubborn in not answering. I hoped that she was querying my order rather than informing me that my trousers were on fire.

I resigned myself to receiving a bowl of plain rice at best, or if things went particularly badly wrong, maybe some raw kidney garnished with chicken eyeballs. The chef even came out of the kitchen to gawp at the foreigner, which left me in no doubt that I must have ordered the first lark’s tongue omelette that he had cooked in a decade.

When it arrived though, I was in luck. I’d got a spicy noodle soup with bits of seafood in, a few mussels, some octopus legs, that sort of thing. Very nice it was too. Not too many lark’s tongues or chicken’s eyeballs at all.

I was meeting some people before the game so I got a few cans of that Japanese beer in the silver tins and made my way up to the stadium to wait for them. They’ve got a few sculptures on the grass on the way in and a toilet block in the shape of a football.

Just in case you didn't believe me.

I found a table outside of a cafe and drank my beer whilst I watched the crowd turning up. There’s a stage about a hundred yards away from the cafe and a band that were due to perform after the match were setting up and playing the odd number. It was quite a pleasant way to while away a bit of time.

The stage is behind those people.

I’d been there for close to an hour when the lads I was meeting turned up and by that time I’d worked my way through the Japanese beer and had replenished my stocks with Cass from the cafe. I knew them from a football messageboard, but it was the first time I’d met them in real life and the plan was for them to record a brief chat with me to use on a podcast that they do. I wasn’t wholly convinced about the wisdom of this as they seem to know their stuff about Korean football and I found it hard to imagine what I could possibly say that would prove either interesting or informative to their listeners. I just turn up at games, wander about aimlessly with a can in my hand and then drift off home at the end hopefully after managing to establish which team was which. I briefly provided a segment on Spanish football for an American podcast a few years ago and just about killed that show off after three weeks. Still, I consoled myself with the thought that as it’s quite new they probably don’t have many listeners anyway, so I wouldn’t be wasting too many people’s time.

We recorded about four minutes of gibberish, which will no doubt sound like they selected a bloke to interview without first enquiring if he knew what football was, before going into the ground. I thought that I might as well just go into the Suwon end with them. Suwon has the liveliest fans I’ve seen over here, so I’d be able to stand all game, plus in the convoluted play-off permutations I was hoping that Jeonbuk would lose and be overtaken by Seongnam so that one of the midweek games would be in Seoul and not Jeonbuk.

I picked up a couple more beers and joined in as if I’d been a Suwon fan all my life. I suppose a perfect result would have been a high scoring win for the home team, with Lee Dong Gook rattling home a few for Jeonbuk. As expected the Suwon fans were pretty good and led by a band at the front plus blokes with megaphones, they really got behind their team.

Suwon supporters.

Their team though, was a lot less impressive. Eninho opened the scoring for Jeonbuk from a free kick early on and Lee Dong Gook soon added a second. Luiz Henrique made it three nil before half time.

Eninho finds the gap in the Suwon wall for the opener.

It didn’t really seem to bother the Suwon fans though and in a way I could see why. They had recovered from a terrible start to the season which had brought about the sacking of their manager, Korean legend Cha Bum Kun. It’s a great name, but how much better would it have been if his parents had given him the name Daf instead of Bum. Whilst Suwon hadn’t made the play-offs they had won the FA Cup a fortnight or so earlier and qualified for the Champions League. This game then was meaningless and just a chance for the fans to have a bit of fun before packing away their gear for the winter. As the second half started they unfurled a giant surfer over our heads that obscured the view of the pitch entirely. Probably for the best, I think, and anyway, it meant I didn’t miss anything as I nipped up onto the concourse for some more beer.

A good time to nip to the bar.

Jeonbuk added a fourth in the second half, before Suwon finally got a consolation goal. Lee Dong Gook then rounded things off with his second of the afternoon and Jeonbuk’s fifth.

1-5, final score.

It all gets a bit blurry after that. I know I got some more beer from that cafe near the stage before we went to a restaurant,where I remember topping my glass up from the pitchers on the tables but had to be told the following day that I’d had chicken to eat. This was followed by a spell watching the band on that stage near the cafe where in addition to yet more Cass I mixed things up a bit with a bottle of Soju. Eventually the tiredness from the previous days hiking must have taken its toll though and I headed off home, falling asleep on the bus and having to be woken by the driver when it stopped at Sadang. If he had let me sleep I may very well have ended up back at the stadium an hour after leaving.

Elsewhere Seoul got the win they required to top the table, with Jeju finishing second and Jeonbuk in third. Ulsan, Seongnam and Gyeongnam filled the other three play-off places.

The K-League has a week off before the play-offs begin so next week I’ll probably pop along to see the first leg of the third division play-off final at Samcheok. I’ve been there before and it does strike me as a place where a whole pig wrapped in polythene wouldn’t attract a second glance.