As the full time whistle rang out on Friday past it signalled not only a huge 3pts for Seongnam but also brought the curtain down on their temporary stay back in Seongnam Sports Complex. The move was initiated by the need to upgrade the facilities at Tancheon Sports Complex but it was also something that the local community around Moran Station had been missing and hoping for. The ageing stadium had only witnessed reserve league fixtures over the last few years and it’s safe to say that the trade generated by having K1 fixtures, and especially when the likes of Jeonbuk descend en masse, has been more than just a shot in the arm for the many restaurants and bars that line the walkway from Exit 2. Even a local makgeolli producer set up shop on Friday hoping to tempt some of the passing fans, unfortunately choosing a Friday night kick off against Sangju isn’t going to have him competing for a seat next to Peter Jones on the next season of Dragon’s Den.
While it would seem to have been a success off the pitch the main question is of course was it a success on it? A quick look at the league table would suggest Yes. Many a fan thought that The Magpies would become yet another victim of ‘yo-yo club’ syndrome but after 17 games played they sit 7th in the table and more importantly have forged a 10pt gap over those in the relegation slots.
A deeper look at the stats paints perhaps a less enphatic painting of home invincibility with a record of Played 10, Won 3, Lost 3, Drew 4. Of course one of those losses was the 1-0 defeat to Seoul in the first match at Moran where not even the most unseasonable of Seoul fans could’ve begrudged the hosts a share of the spoils. It hasn’t been quite an impregnable fortress but victories over bitter rivals Suwon Bluewings and revenge against Pohang Steelers coupled with holding Champions Jeonbuk to a 0-0 draw have gone some way to justifying the decision to move while leaving the fans with some more misty-eyed Moran memories.
And speaking of the fans, how have they taken to being back “home”? Attendances are up, although they should be given promotion to the K-League One. The ‘Old Guard’ got to reclaim their seats from victorious days of old while the steeper slopes provide a better and more unobstructed view of the action. They even managed to avoid getting rained on, I was in Thailand when Gangwon came to town so maybe they didn’t fully escape, with the old lady of Seongnam City being uncovered on three of her four ends. The fans I’ve spoken too seem more than happy with the return to Moran which is ideal given rumors of Council-led plans to build a ‘football specific’ stadium in the area in the not too distant future.
And so it’s time to bid the old girl goodbye for now as it prepares to host the reserve team once again. By the time Daegu come to town mid-July the first team will be back in Fortress Tancheon hoping that they can take their Moran form with them as they bid to finish as high up the table as possible and prove that they fully merit their place at the top table of Korean football,and who knows maybe one day we will see Champions League football back in Seongnam…..though will it be in Tancheon or Moran?