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