Embracing the possibly sado-masochistic elements that come from watching Korean soccer on a regular basis, Paul Carver, Mark Kelly, and Steve Waddell’s decision to bring their own ramblings to the podcast universe has borne fruit in previous months with more taking to SoundCloud or iTunes to listen to what the trio term “three slightly drunk guys recording our bar-room chat.” Knowing plenty about the subject, but pretty much zip about how to actually record it, the three have overcome low technology, GS beer specials, and high-pitched schoolgirl-style giggling to bring us a podcast that benefits hugely from the diverse allegiances and viewpoints of the hosts. With the relative dearth of information available to expatriate fans of the beautiful game, some would say it has taken on increasingly essential listening.
Basing the name on the 48 grounds used by the Korean football pyramid – and with a nod to their desire to cover as much about football on the peninsula as possible – the three regular hosts have had a long association with the Land of the Morning Calm coupling their love of Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic, and Aberdeen with following FC Seoul, Seongnam FC and, in Steve’s case, the newly formed Seoul Eland after a long dalliance with Suwon. In Paul’s case, this interest in FC Seoul has manifested itself in becoming leader of the Diablos (the FC Seoul foreign fan club) and treasurer of the Suhoshin (FC Seoul fan’s committee). He has also traveled to China, Japan, and as far afield as Australia. Mark has coupled his 35 years of supporting Celtic with 8 supporting Seongnam FC, as well as trips to FC Seoul, Bucheon, and Goyang. For Steve Waddell, who got in on the ground floor with Seoul Eland, he has seen the club develop from “a newspaper story to a fully-fledged club with a squad, staff, and team identity from nothing.” He has even had the chance to have dinner with Eland manager Martin Rennie and met Aberdeen legend Brian Irvine when the former Scottish international visited Rennie in Seoul.
Asked for differences between supporting soccer here and at home, 48 Shades identifies how orchestrated the chanting can be. Like clockwork – and often irrelevant to what is happening on the pitch – fans will stick to their chants, thereby leaving few lulls in noise levels. Another thing to separate Korean fans is their relative positivity, with a Nicklas Bendtner-style shank over the crossbar likely to be only met with sounds of encouragement. Finally, the relative lack of banter between opposition fans is something that podcasters more used to Sheffield Steel derbies or an Old Firm clashes took some getting used to.
For the expatriate fan hoping to get more involved in the K-League, information and opportunities to watch games can be relatively difficult to come by. With most TV channels obsessed with the notion that Koreans only – and will only ever – like baseball, most games are relegated to streaming sites while the print media offers only perfunctory accounts of games. A bugbear of the podders, this is unlikely to change the perception that the K-League is an inferior product, and that people should only attend games when an overseas side plays a friendly or when a K-pop outfit does the half time show. The average soccer fan unfortunately seems intent on eschewing domestic fare in favor of late night Barclays Premier League (BPL) viewing; showing the same baseball game on different channels isn’t the best way to make people think differently. That seeming disinterest from the locals shouldn’t put the curious off though, with the boys pointing out that most teams have at least a few hardcore foreign fans. A vibrant expatriate community partly based around the rokfootball.com forum also means that there will regularly be some friendly faces for matches around the capital and beyond. Mark recently joined Paul and about 10 Diablos on an away jaunt to Seogwipo to see Jeju United versus FC Seoul (a 2-1 defeat for Park Chu-young’s team); just another example of the regular pilgrimages available around the peninsula, so there is plenty for the novice fan to lend their voice to.
Looking ahead, the lads will continue their quest to see recent drink driving exponent Kang Soo-il grow a moustache AND make the national team roster while Mark’s campaign for Seongnam FC to be taken seriously as an Asian Champions League (ACL) entrant sees no sign of abating following the southsiders run to the last sixteen. They will also be doing their best to keep the irascibility at an entertaining level following the loss of Steve Waddell as he heads to pastures new. A slot for a new host perhaps? Do you know a lot about Korean football? Can you string some coherent sentences together? Do you have a detailed knowledge of the beers on special at the local GS convenience store? Then an appearance on SoundCloud or iTunes might not be too far away.
With thanks to Paul Carver, Mark Kelly, and Steve Waddell for all their help.
48 Shades of Football is available through SoundCloud and iTunes.
Follow Mark at The K-League Kilt for a Scottish take on the K-League. https://thekleaguekilt.wordpress.com/
Steve Waddell’s The 48 Club blog details his efforts to ground hop around South Korea. https://the48club.wordpress.com/author/the48club/
Follow the Diablos Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiablosBlancos/?fref=ts
You may also like: www.rokfootball.com for all things forum related.
Check out www.kleaguefootball.com/ to keep up with the weekly cut and thrust of the league run-in as well as thoughts on Koreans overseas.