So with only one game to go before the official KLeague Classic break for the World Cup it was time to take in Seoul v Seongnam. It’s normally an easy choice for me when it comes to deciding which end to grace with my presence but this one was a tough one. I have probably been to as many Seoul games as I have Seongnam since I came to Korea. I have tops and scarfs of both and even had a Seongnam season ticket last season (although there may have been Jinro influence with that purchase). So it was kind of a tough choice but in the end I decided to go in the “away end” with the Seongnam fans.
I have been in the away end at World Cup Stadium once before. Last year I watched Japan v China in the East Asian Cup with the Chinese fans, a decision that resulted in me being interviewed on camera by some Chinsese students before FIFA-bib wearing kids threw them out. As we went to enter the South Stand I was stopped and ‘bag searched’ by some over-eager but not entirely ‘eagle-eyed’ ticket checkers. The girl managed to search the backpack in my right hand while being oblivious to the cooler bag in my left. My friends, unfortunately, were not so lucky and had some beer confiscated whilst being handed a piece of paper with a number scrawled on it and the promise of getting it back after the game. Yes I felt like I had gone back in time and was at a high school disco although I was fairly certain the girl who sat behind me in Maths had ZERO chance of being in the South Stand. Once we entered we quickly realized it was only the away fans who were having their alcohol taken away as we were almost blinded by the reflection from the plethora of silver Cass and D cans the Seoul fans were drinking from.
I think the majority , if not all, football fan groups have returned to chanting at the games and it was good to hear some noise coming from both ends before the game started. Seoul had their “Seoul Ole Ole” and Seongnam had their collection of Green Brigade inspired (Celtic FC fans) chants. I wonder who is responsible for those. It was a little bit strange to be on the receiving end of the Delia Smith esque “Seongnam, Let’s be having you” and even stranger to realize that it’s nowhere near as intimidating as it seems from the North Stand.
Before the game Seoul fans had been informed that they could expect the long awaited return of Molina after the World Cup, so again it was left to Escudero to plough up front alone. Costa was absent once again and he is disappearing quicker than a Itaewon Copacabana buffet. He’s played just over 200 mins for Seoul since signing and you wouldn’t bet on seeing him much more this season. For Seongnam it was a return to his old stomping ground for Deparov, but would it be successful?
The game started pretty well, both teams looked up for it and both seemed like they wanted to test the other. Seoul forced Park into a couple of reflex saves and Seongnam tested the Seoul defence with a few good runs. All too quickly halftime arrived and the 0-0 scoreline was probably a pretty fair reflection of events. Halftime at Seoul games is pretty much taken up by some kind of big screen game where people are selected from the crowd and can win cash or GS sponsored prizes by picking a number and following a ‘red devil’ on the screen to see what prize they win. Everyone seemed ridiculously overjoyed by their gift, especially a rather large man who appeared to win what looked like a box of chicken. As I was pondering the irony of said victory I realized that my cooler didn’t seem to be working as effectively as normal and the realization I was looking at 45 mins of warm Cass made me think ‘what comes around goes around’.
The second half continued much like the first, both teams testing and probing without really threatening. There were occasional chances which were more often created by a gift than by guile. With the game looking like heading for yet another KLeague Classic 0-0, Cha DuRi burst down the right wing and swung in a great ball which was met by a simply fantastic scissor-kick come overhead-kick from Park Hee Seong and suddenly from nowhere it was 1-0 Seoul with only 4 mins left. The goal was met with derision from a group of Seongnam ajussis who seemed to be screaming that Cha should’ve been sent off either in the build-up or just before. I have to admit I didn’t really see the incident they were complaining about.
Just as it was strange earlier to be on the receiving end of Seoul’s ‘come ahead’ chant at the start of the match it was equally strange to be on the other end of the delirious waving and bowing that accompanies an FC Seoul goal. Having only ever seen this sight from within the masses this angle made me realize its not the cool celebration I always revered it as. The game was seen out without too much incident and so it was time to retire to the nearest GS for a real cold beer and about 30 mins of taunts from the FC Seoul fans I know who discovered I’d been in the Seongnam end. All in all a good day out as always at the football and I’ll definitely be at a loss what to do until the World Cup starts, although I have heard that there’s this game played with a ball and bat that looks like clowns playing rounders. So who knows maybe I’ll be writing something from Jamsil soon.