Over the last couple of years I’ve really enjoyed going to watch the “good” Suwon team, they have passionate fans, can generally spot a decent foreign player and embrace the concept that football and alcohol are indeed good bedfellows. Unfortunately since Seongnam made it to the K-League One there have been fixture clashes most weeks that have stopped me getting to Castle Park and more importantly joining ‘The Chief’ (@chiefinkorea) on his K-League journey. It’s not often I get a Monday night free from work and given the fact that table-toppers Gwangju were coming to town it was with almost glee that I decided to jump on the 7770 bus from Sadang and make my way to the temporary stand and a Monday night of football and makgeolli, a bottle of (알밤 막걸리) chestnut makgeolli being procured as I got off the bus.
I was joined for the game by @korearacing and after a quick sojourn at a CU table en-route it was time to get our tickets, dodge the bag search and meet up with The Chief for a footballing fiesta, perhaps. Unfortunately the night was not to go the way we had hoped and in fact would mark the start of a period of horrendous results for Suwon, who before the game in question were going through something of a purple patch.
Anyways I’m all about the positives and what Suwon may lack on the pitch they make up for off it, from the sexiest floodlights in Korea to a ‘kids friendly’ theme park behind the temporary stand, including a train ride along the running track, they are trying everything they can to both boost crowds but more importantly improve the matchday experience. Speaking of which, let’s get back to the match in question.
The big news for the Suwon fans was that striker Henri Anier was starting on the bench despite suspensions suggesting that he would earn a spot in the starting eleven.The first half was a pretty even affair with both teams creating chances but, for the most part, cancelling each other out although Gwangju were showing why they went into the game unbeaten. Anier came on at half-time as Kim Dae-eui decided to alter things and change the shape and structure that had kept Gwangju, and especially Felipe, relatively quiet in the first 45 minutes. Unfortunately for the Suwon fans it wouldn’t be any of their heroes who would be the main name on their lips as they made their way out the stadium and home
The deadlock was finally broken in the 65th minute as Doo Hyeon-seok fired the league leaders in front courtesy of a deflection from Suwon’s goalkeeper Park Hyeong-soon. It was a goal that was coming to be honest and further demonstrated just why Gwangju look like they are running away with the title. As if that wasn’t bad enough things were about to get worse for Suwon as a mere two minutes later Chisom had the ball in the net for the equalizer only for it to be shockingly chopped off. Replays have since shown that there was minimal contact at best and seemed to be more of a reactionary whistle from an over-zealous referee rather than a foul. It was a moment that seemed to sap every last piece of confidence and creativity from the hosts and it came as no surprise when Gwangju put the game beyond doubt in the 90th minute as Felipe, arguably the K2’s best player, netted the winner. Although harsh it was a deserved win for Gwangju and as mentioned above it was a defeat which would send Suwon lurching from defeat to defeat, but there’s another ‘Rice Wine Rambling’ to cover that.
All that was left was to make our way back to Seoul and make the smart decision of going straight home…..unfortunately smart decisions are not what @korearacing and myself are best known for and so less than an hour after the final whistle it was time to crack open a bottle of Jinro’s finest and for me to complete the unholy trifecta of makgeolli, beer and soju. A mistake I unfortunately am likely to repeat again before season’s end.