The K-Advent Calendar Day 13 – Cheering Aids

Day13 - Cheering Aids

K-Advent Day 13 – Cheering Aids

Much has been made of the atmosphere, or lack thereof, at K-League matches in recent years with many fans seeming to shun the matchday experience perhaps for rounders or even worse chimek in the park. Some clubs have tried to combat this with the use of various ‘cheering aids’ to encourage the meeker among the crowd to join in. FC Seoul and Ulsan have employed the use of Cheerleaders with the latter pulling off a transfer the Chinese Super League would have been proud of when they persuaded a top baseball cheerleader to lead their ranks. The cheerleaders have had limited impact unfortunately which is not due to a lack of skills or effort but mainly because they are usually placed far away from the traditionally vocal support behind the goals and so any ‘cheer’ they begin is promptly drowned out. Rumours that they are placed far from said support due to the likelihood of the 48 Shades boys making up their numbers has yet to be confirmed.

For other clubs, namely Seongnam and Jeonnam, the preferred aid comes in the guise of groups of thunderstick wielding ajummas who generally look they have been press-ganged into attending on the back of false promises. Actually having been among this rather passionate if not exactly in-tune group at a recent Seongnam away trip to Seoul World Cup Stadium it is slightly unfair to call them ajummas as definitely for some a trip to the local hairdresser for a perm was probably a few years down the line. Although their impact on encouraging others is probably less than that of the cheerleaders they do bring a welcome dash of colour and noise to the game.

Of course not all ‘cheering aids’ are welcome at K-League grounds and where thundersticks and cheerleaders are generally accepted if not exactly embraced there is one aid that we at 48 Shades HQ think should never be allowed near a football stadium and that is the horrendous vuvuzela. A relic from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa it was hoped that it would disappear quicker than a bottle of Soju in a Yeouido tent with @korearacing but unfortunately all hope was lost and Korean football fans seem to love them. They can usually be heard mainly at opposition corners although quite what impact they actually have on the corner-taker is yet to be seen and I’m sure a good old-fashioned jeering would suffice.

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Jeonnam’s cheer-ajumas in action!

The K-Advent Calendar Day 12 – ‘Leaving Characters’

Day12 - Leaving

K-Advent Calendar Day 12 – Leaving ‘Characters’

Leaving

Much like a TV drama needs it’s heroes and villains  so to does the world of football, from Maradonna to John Terry to Thierry Henry to David Beckham each league needs those players that fans can either dream to be or wish to maim. The K-League is of course no different and has seen it’s fair share of ‘comic book characters’ down through the years. This winter we saw the departure of several players who could definitely unite or split a crowd on any given Saturday/Sunday. But by far the four main characters that we at 48 Shades will miss gracing the green fields of the K-league are FC Seoul’s Cha Duri, Suwon Buewing’s Jung Sung Ryong, Jeju United’s Yoon Bitgaram and Seongnam FC’s Park Joon Hyuk. I can almost hear the cries of “why Park?” but when a player starts a season as the hero of last season’s FA Cup final victory only to go on to look like he’d never seen a football and then end the season as a rock in goals to then fail a test to join the Police football team and have to quit football to carry out regular military service then you begin to see the reasoning behind his inclusion.

Cha and Jung will definitely be missed in this year’s Classic, Cha for his passion and work-rate and Jung for his ability to go from the sublime to the sub-standard within the space of one half. The news that Suwon Bluewing’s ‘number 1’ would no longer be manning the goals at The Big Bird was met with a heavy heart at 48 Shades HQ as we could no longer use the catchphrase “He’s ‘Junged’ it hasn’t he?” to refer to a goalkeeping mishap, although with national team coach Uli Stielike’s penchant for choosing players that don’t play in Korea maybe we will still get to see the great man in the flesh again. Cha Duri will of course be a huge loss but not it would seem to all of those of the Suhoshin as it’s fair to say he wasn’t always their favourite son, actually judging by some of the ‘constructive feedback’ thrown at him last year I’m not sure he was even their favourite right-back.

Yoon Bitgaram on the other hand will actually be missed for footballing reasons… well almost. A pretty poor season at Seongnam had earned him the rather creative moniker of “Yoon Shit-garam”, this was followed by a move to Jeju which I wouldn’t say was  celebrated by the Seongnam faithful but they weren’t exactly trudging around the streets of Yatap wailing and contemplating the meaning of life. It was to be in the orange of Jeju though that he would develop into quite the midfield general so much so that he would have been in most people’s ‘team of 2015’. A move to China beckoned and he along with Pohang’s Kim Seung Dae prompted what most feared would be an exodus to China of K-League talent as they secured moves to Yanbian FC. Luckily for the K-League China turned it’s eyes towards plundering over-priced ‘bench-warmers’ from Europe and the floodgates were promptly shut.

So much like The Walking Dead survived Shane’s untimely demise I’m sure the K-League will survive the departure of these four. After all we still have The Wookie to frustrate us, Adriano to break our hearts in the last minute, Yeom Ki Hun to whip in a free-kick and Hwang Uijo to score his sixth chance of the match. All is not lost just yet.

He's only gone and 'junged' the cake!!
He’s only gone and ‘junged’ the cake!!

 

 

Episode 52 – The morning quickie

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Episode 52 – The Morning Quickie


 

music_double_note_song_melody-5126 of 1 thing half a dozen of another, 6 of 1 thing half a dozen of anothermusic_double_note_song_melody-512

This week saw the return of competitive football in the shape of the Asian Champions League. It also witnessed the much awaited return of FC Seoul legend Dejan in the red and black although it would be another player in Seoul’s colours who would steal the limelight as Adriano would rack up four goals against a rather beleaguered Buriram defence in a 6-0 routing.  There was also a good result for Jeonbuk who ran out 2-1 victors over Fc Tokyo with a number of their new signings making their debuts, some more successful than others. Pohang returned from China with a share of the points in a closed doors game against the mighty Evergrande in what must be regarded as a point won. The final match was Suwon v Gamba which Mark made the trip down to watch. It finished 0-0 with both teams huffing and puffing before ultimately hitting the woodwork and leaving a disappointed and frozen Mark to make the journey home without a goal to show for his efforts.

Tune into Episode 52 for a review of all four East Asian groups as well as the result of the nail-biting K-League motto competition. We also hear who the Managers and Captains of each Classic team think will win the league *spoiler alert – it’s not Gwangju*. And to round things off the boys will discuss their favourite subject ….. Ball Beer Girls.

The K-Advent Calendar Day 11 – Half-Time Events

Day11 - Half-Time

K-Advent Day 11 – Half-time Events

Half-time events have changed quite a bit since we at 48 Shades HQ were cutting our teeth on the terraces back home. I especially remember my half-time normally consisted of being sent to fetch a fresh bovril by my soon-to-be brother-in-law, a practice I gladly passed on to his nephew some 18 months my junior, I guess even back then I was laying the foundations for the cut-throat world of chaebol office politics. Not to be left behind in the wake of other sporting events the K-League has also embraced the concept of ‘we need to give them something to cheer about as that last 45 mins was rank rotten’. Most of the K-League Classic teams have some kind of HT giveaway competition with some aiming to reward your knowledge of football, some your dancing prowess and in FC Seoul’s case the ability to stick a finger in the air while smiling gleefully like a demented chipmunk on helium.

The prizes on offer for these events are generally some kind of club merchandise such as a scarf or hat, although FC Seoul push the boat out and give away the amazing prize of GS vouchers, an act that surely comes under the heading of ‘we want the chaebol money just not their name in our team’s name so we can pretend to be a club of the people’. At Seongnam they have a HT dance-off in which the winner has the opportunity to win a 42-inch TV or a scarf, no difference there obviously. This dance-off also gives the cameraman the chance to audition for the next World Cup as he spends most of the interval scouring the crowd for females.  But for us at 48 Shades Tower you can keep your merchandise, your shameless product-placement vouchers nay even your TVs as there is only one thing we want at half-time and that is a tractor!!! Yip you read it right a tractor! Not content with trying to steal our hearts by being the ‘Army’ team Sangju Sangmu also like to parade tractors around their stadium on any given half-time. It may sound like one step away from banjo music but it is a a tad quaint and does sum up the differences between the top and bottom teams in Korea.

So if you are planning on heading to a K-League ground near you soon then remember to at least stay for the HT event as who knows if you are lucky you might just be driving a shiny new combine harvester home to tea, although maybe you will have to do with a 10,000W GS voucher which might just get you a packet of Honey Butter chips to take away the pain. 

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The Seongnam dance-off just got real!! Tancheon’s so hot right now!

The K-Advent Calendar Day 10 – Zoom Lenses

Day10 - Zoom

K-Advent Day 10 – Zoom Lenses

zoom

It will come as no surprise that K-League stadiums are often awash with the kind of zoom lenses normally associated with those sneaky beach-dwelling paparazzi folks who spend their days waiting in hope for the occasional ‘wardrobe malfunction’. What does set the K-League apart from other top-flight leagues however is the fact that it can often take such a zoom lens for fans to merely see their heroes in action on the pitch. As mentioned previously in our K-League countdown there are often running tracks alongside the field of play and where these may not have the world’s greatest impact for the average fan who cares not where he sits it does have a huge impact on those who wish to sit behind the goals. Traditionally these areas are usually the domain of the ‘away’ fan or ‘Ultra’. It is interesting that many would consider these groups to be the hardcore element in the league and yet they are often lumbered with the worst view.

Some of the worst culprits for this are probably the Classic’s Seongnam FC and the Challenge’s Bucheon FC. At Tancheon, the home of Seongnam, the away fans are subjected to a view that could probably only be worse if the stand was facing away from the pitch. At Bucheon fans often struggle to even clearly read the numbers on the back of the player’s shirts such is the distance from the stand to the pitch. I think this explains why they keep shouting at number 18 even when he isn’t playing, well I think that’s what they mean by “shi-pal”.  Sometimes when taking in a match at Bucheon Stadium I’m reminded of the legendary Father Ted clip where Ted uses a plastic toy cow to explain to Dougal “these are small, these are far away”.

Of course the benefits of the zoom lens are wide and varied and are not necessarily restricted solely to aiding one’s view of the football delights on show. They also allow you to track exactly where the Ball Beer crew are which in turns allows you to properly plan whether a quick dash to the convenience store is in order. 

Okay maybe there are worse views than the K-League
Okay maybe there are worse views than the K-League

 

The K-Advent Calendar Day 9 – K-Pop

Day9 - Kpop

 

 

K-Advent Calendar Day – K-Pop

Kpop

There are several thorny issues plaguing the K-League but probably none keep the top bods awake at night quite so much as the falling attendances. Several initiatives have been tried such as FC Seoul’s “Foreigners Day” (us foreign types will go anywhere for a free hot dog). But for us at 48 Shades we applaud the initiative inspired by the great Sir Bob Geldof …K-Pop Aid!. Over the last few seasons several teams have turned to the ‘guaranteed to pull the crowds in’ phenomenon of K-Pop although if we are being honest it’s the promise of a girl group that swells the attendance figures. No club has embraced this quite like those canny chaps at Bucheon FC. Two years ago we had the girls of Stellar and last season they upped their game and brought us Hello Venus. 18,000 filled the seats of Bucheon Stadium to cheer the Venus girls on, in the interests of research 48 Shades were of course present. The only issue we have with this idea is that is doesn’t actually bring the fans back to the game and in fact at said Bucheon match there were about 2000 fans left in the stadium by the final whistle.

So whether you are planning a Girl’s Day out at the football or you are keeping your love for the K-League a Secret from your Girlfriend we are sure there will be a football stadium near you.  It’s worth remembering that in the early rounds a lot of matches kick-off at 2pm so make sure you to get your Shinee new match ticket in time. K-League prices are generally incredibly cheap so it is possible to bring your Sistar or even your Bestie to introduce them to the sport. If you are bringing children then they can get a discounted ticket through the Super Junior ticket option but please remember a lot of grounds use pyrotechnics during the match so there may be some Big Bangs. Most clubs have short half-time competitions, they usually last around 4 Minutes, the prizes are generally simple so don’t expect a trip to Tahiti. As beer is on sale at most grounds you may have to prove you are of age to buy alcohol, please only bring current passports as EXIDs will not be accepted.

Of course not all K-Pop is fully welcomed by the K-League faithful and generally once a year there will be some kind of protest by one group of fans as their club decides to pimp their stadium out to a summer concert of bubble-gum pop magic. The worst culprits for this are FC Seoul who it seems every year will close almost half their stadium to accommodate the ‘Dream Concert’ which is hugely ironic in name as it causes a nightmare for fans and players alike.

The 'Dream Concert' nightmare stage!!
The ‘Dream Concert’ nightmare stage!!

The K-Advent Calendar Day 8 – Yellow Cards

Day8 - Yellow

K-Advent Day 8 – Yellow Cards

Yellow_card

For the ‘football virgin’ the intricacies of the discipline system in football can be a little complex as there are numerous reasons for incurring the wrath of the referee and ultimately finding yourself ‘in the book’. In Korea the main reasons for seeing yellow can range from; standing next to Lee Dong Gook, smiling at Lee Dong Gook, looking sarcastically at Lee Dong Gook, potentially getting in the way of Lee Dong Gook scoring and the ultimate sin of patronizingly patting Lee Dong Gook on the back when he misses another sitter (it should be noted that this may escalate to red if Mr. Lee decides to drop to the ground and begin rolling around while clutching his face). Yellow cards can also be issued for the act of ‘simulation’ which refers to a player deliberately ‘diving’ to earn advantage. As well as occasionally being met with a yellow card this action is generally greeted with a cry of “get up you, it’s a man’s game” although this is becoming less common since K-League uber fan @korearacing started working weekends.

Korean referees are not exactly widely respected among K-League football fans and they can often bare the brunt for a team losing especially if that team happens to be Bucheon FC. In fairness though they don’t exactly help themselves with some of their displays and there are some times when one feels they would be as well donning the mascot’s uniform such is their obvious favoritism. There was also a recent ‘scandal’ where a group of referees were deemed to have colluded with a particular club in order to “influence” matches. The fact that said teamended up being relegated just goes to show that even when being paid directly by a club they are still incompetent.

We at 48 Shades are looking at starting our own investigation into the possibility of certain individuals of a Brazilian persuasion starting a match already on a yellow card for ‘simulation’ as based on some of their performances they are definitely pretending to be footballers. 

Bougherra_yellow
Not everybody accepts their yellow card graciously