For the opening day of the 2019 K League 2 season I found myself on the way to Bucheon to see the home team entertain my beloved Suwon FC. The air was filled with the scent of early season optimism and the seemingly ever-present ultra fine dust. By 5pm, only the dust remained.
I was joined in this venture by the wife and sons. As such, and despite the closeness of the super convenient Bucheon Stadium subway station to the stadium, I avoided public transportation opting for the relative comfort of our car. At 1pm we were in the car waiting outside Kid A’s math academy and soon after we were tearing along the motorway in the direction of Bucheon. The journey was painless until we hit the main drag between the stadium and Siheung IC but we still arrived at the stadium around 2:05. At this point we were informed the car park at the stadium was full and we were sent to the overflow car park across the road.
After parking the car, we set off to meet The Kilt who, having arrived first, had been given the task of getting the tickets in. \31,000 for the 5 tickets was a good deal. \9,000 for adults and \2,000 for kids is not to be sniffed at. Around the ticket office there were a few food trucks and game zones in operation but being resplendent in our Suwon FC colours we opted to give the Bucheon-based frivolities a miss and headed round to the away end.
As I was heading directly to a housewarming after the match I was willing to take it easy on the booze and rocked up empty-handed (plus I knew The Kilt had a bag full of makgeolli!) That said, the away end at Bucheon doesn’t have a store to buy your beer inside but there was no bag check with one young teenage girl manning the gate for the away support. The moral of the story – don’t forget to get your refreshments in before entering the ground when at Bucheon.
Once inside we found a decent number of fans in the away end but I suspect most were city hall employees “encouraged” to get along and support the team. The younger leaders of the support were not in attendance and it was an older guy who was asking everyone to sit together, cheer and wave flags. In truth, the younger guys were missed and the atmosphere among the away support was pretty muted.
The view from the away end in Bucheon is like the majority for away fans in K league 2. The running track keeps you far from the play and it’s really hard to see exactly how close to goal the action at the far end is taking place. The official attendance was given as 2,256. I thought there may have been more than 3,000 present but ultimately there wasn’t a great atmosphere and you have to wonder how much this impacts on those out on the pitch.
As for the game itself, I could have been at almost any away game from last season. Despite mass changes – I think only two of the starting eleven were with the team last season – the pattern remained the same. The first half was actually pretty encouraging. The three foreigners that started the match, Chisom, Anier and Velasquez were busy and linking up well. Chisom created a great chance for Anier midway through the half but unfortunately the Estonian striker couldn’t keep his shot down. Some defensive laspes provided Bucheon with a couple of half chances too but at half time I was fairly optimistic that Suwon FC were heading in the right direction.
The second half brought me back to reality. For whatever reason, Suwon FC started very slowly and fell behind in the 52nd minute when Kim Ryun-do arrived unmarked to slot home after Suwon FC keeper Park Hyung-soon pushed a shot into his path. Suwon FC huffed and puffed but like last season they rarely looked like getting back on terms after falling behind. Chisom had their best chance but snatched at the effort and it flashed high and wide. Another throwback to last season was manager Kim Dae-eui sacrificing his foreign players first when it comes to making substitutions. Both Velasquez and Chisom were withdrawn despite looking the most likely to create something.
The game petered out and there was a definite sense of déjà vu come the final whistle. As we had another engagement we quickly headed for the exit after the final whistle. After a quick goodbye to The Kilt, we headed to the car park and realized our mistake of parking in the lower parking lot. It took us about 30 minutes to get out (wife driving I might add) and on our merry way into the night and in search of that pre-match optimism that perhaps only whisky and soju could reignite.