The team at 48 Shades of Football return parched with the second half of their 2015 K-League review. Cheaply-priced Korean alcoholic beverage at the ready?
The best stadium for a first date
We’ve all been there, we settle down into our seats, ready to crack open a well-deserved Ball Beer when suddenly the couple in front whip out that selfie stick and ubiquitous excited giggle/chatter follows. Yup, it’s the first date couple about to indulge in a sickening show of unending happiness that makes the rest of us frustrated and lovelorn mortals feel just that little more worthless than you did while buying your KRW 8,000 ticket to see Bucheon on a Saturday evening. There’s no stopping the first-daters, so where should they go?
Runner-up – Suwon World Cup Stadium is known as The Big Bird by the locals and The Chicken Ranch by all others and is the perfect place to bring the new love of your life. In addition, the unimaginatively-titled Big Bird Café shows those canny Samsung marketing people know a thing or two about branding. The café offers everything you need to impress, from beer and fried chicken to a foot-long sausage on a stick for the more body confident beau or adventurous belle. With an array of picnic style tables outside, there are few more perfect places to try and explain the offside rule.
Winner – Jeonju World Cup Stadium. The home of the current back-to back K-League Classic champions, the World Cup Stadium in Jeonju is one of the few grounds that sees large crowds no matter which rounders match is on all three sports channels. Jeonbuk Hyundai’s fan group, known as The Mad Green Boys are a pretty loud and passionate bunch and with their fluorescent green replica shirts bring some much-needed color to Korean football. The action on the pitch is generally the best in the league so bring your new squeeze here to show her a good game of football. Jeonbuk compete in the ACL each year and so there are often midweek matches on offer too. There were some open legs when they played in the ACL this year and that would definitely help make that first date a memorable one.
The “One Man and his Dog” Award for underwhelming attendances
Despite most Koreans preferring the Barclays Premier League (BPL) to the K-League, each team does have its hardcore fans that go to matches week in, week out. Unfortunately, other teams play most of their matches watched by the player’s mums, a handful of kids bunking off a hakwon and some sojued up ajosshis looking for somewhere to shelter from the elements.
Runner-up – Daejeon Citizens: Life as a Citizen is not particularly easy. One FA Cup triumph doesn’t really offset spending life hovering in the lower regions of the league and the club even suffered the indignity of relegation to the K-League Challenge (2nd division) in 2013. The fans had a great year in 2014 as the club stormed to promotion but 2015 formed a familiar pattern and they have been languishing at the bottom of the league all season, recording only two wins in the opening 33 rounds. Two wins in their first two post-split matches briefly sparked faint hopes of another miracle to rival 2012 but relegation was eventually mathematically confirmed after the penultimate round of fixtures.
Despite having the highest average attendances in the K-League in 2003, crowds have now dwindled so far that on several occasions this season, the bus, normally put on by the club for away trips, was cancelled due to a lack of interest. Rumours that the club couldn’t even fill a motorbike and sidecar remain unconfirmed, but fans of the yo-yo should get their practice in for next season.
Winner – Suwon Samsung Bluewings: The self-professed best-supported club in Korea have been suffering this year. Attendances have roughly halved and they are in danger of not even being among the top three best-supported clubs in Korea. Speculation is rife that fans have defected to watch Suwon’s new rounders team, others think that previous years attendances were inflated by distributing vast amounts of free tickets, but as K-League experts we believe that the birthday cake hats the players were forced to wear for the opening home game combined with six years with no silverware has lead the people of Suwon to realise what a bunch of clowns their formerly conquering team are. No wonder rumours abound that Suwon will be leaving the Big Bird Stadium at the end of this season, presumably to a parks pitch with a couple of deckchairs set out.
The “John West Packed In Like Sardines” Award
We’ve all been on the green line of a Friday night, no room to breathe yet still that ajosshi in front of you insists on stubbornly wearing a backpack designed for scaling Everest atop his shoulders. What exactly do they have in those things anyway? Sadly it doesn’t often get that crowded watching the greatest game in the world but sometimes, just sometimes, you get to experience a slightly more than half-full stadium. Here we give a shout-out to those clubs that are particularly well supported.
Runner-up – Hello Venus: The average attendance for a K-League Challenge match is about 1,500, but four teams have recorded attendances in excess of 10,000 representing almost half of their total attendance for the year. Why is that, you ask? K-Pop! For their 2015 curtain raiser against Daegu FC, Bucheon FC attracted a crowd of 12,332, more than a third of their total crowd for their first 18 home games. At half time they were treated to a scintillating performance by the scantily clad Hello Venus and, by the time the second half kicked-off, most of them had left. They missed a cracking second half in which last year’s basement boys got a good win against a strong Daegu side who look to be heading back to the K-League Classic.
Winner – Guangzhou Evergrande: The self-styled millionaires of Chinese football played two ACL games in Korea this season against FC Seoul in the group stage and against Seongnam FC in the last 16. Both times they marshalled thousands and thousands of locally-based Chinese to turn up and cheer (indeed if you’ve ever ordered a No. 11 or a No. 32 you probably got a flier from the Chinese Embassy). The away ends were a sea of red as free t-shirts swayed in time with the choreographed singing that echoed from the stand. It was a pretty incredible sight and even though you felt it was as fake as a pair of Calvins at an Itaewon market stall, it did add to the occasion. In comparison, when FC Seoul played away in Guangzhou in the ACL final in 2013, they took about 500 fans and rounded up another few hundred Koreans living in Guangzhou.
The “Pet Shop Boys” Award
We’ve spent a lot of hours watching football this year and we’ve seen some really good stuff at times. We’ve also seen a lot of sh*te. Here we give an award to the teams that are so bad, it’s a sin.
Runner-up – None: We’re going to quote the Second Commandment here.
Winner – Seoul Martyrs: This church team that plays in the K3 must have done something to annoy their ultimate chairman because he sent a plague of forwards to score freely against them. The goals generally went in two by two, except during the one match that was played during a literal flood, which they managed to lose only 3-0. All in all, their record for the season reads Played 25, lost 25, scored 9, and conceded 285 for a grand total of -3 points (they got a points deduction at some point for failing to have 11 disciples on too many occasions). Their worst result was a 35-0 defeat and their best result was when they only lost 2-1…Martyrs indeed!
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