The K-Advent Calendar Day 6 – Selfies

Day6 - Selfies

K-Advent Calendar Day 6 – Selfies

Selfies

Picture the scene – its that all-important cup tie and your team wins a penalty, your main striker steps up to take it, pressure is mounting do you: (a) watch through your fingers as you can’t bare the thought of him missing (b) put your beer down in preparation to celebrate because you have faith (c) stand up, turn around and make some strange pouting face while making a ‘peace’ sign against your cheek to make your face look smaller! Yip it’s option (c) and it’s welcome to the world of the K-League ‘selfie’. At 48 Shades Tower we understand the desire to capture that epic footballing moment to keep forever but we generally believe it should be captured while actually watching said epic moment and not facing away from the action making poses that would look perfectly at home in a Roadrunner cartoon.

When the ‘selfie-stick’ was quickly embraced by mainstream Korea we believed, nay hoped, that the tough and grimy environs of “the man’s game” would go untouched alas it was not to be. Those shiny silver rods of hedonistic joy are about as commonplace as match-day magazines and ‘Ultras’. So if you like watching your sports facing the action without distraction from the stands then we suggest pointing at the pitch and shouting “Is that Son Heung Min?”. It’s one sure fire way to uncover the lurking ‘selfie-takers’ in your midst.

Far from a K-League only phenomenon, ‘selfies’ have become an unfortunate part of the match-day experience worldwide so much so that Arsenal recently banned selfie sticks from their stadium. I’m assuming they fall foul somewhere in between free-flowing football and winning the EPL which also seem banned.  

Now that's just pushing it too far!!!
Now that’s just pushing it too far!!!
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The K-Advent Calendar Day 5 – Ball Beer

Day5 - Ball Beer

K-Advent Calendar Day 5 – Ball Beer

Ball_Beer

The UEFA Champions League has Heineken, the World Cup has Budweiser, even the Asian Champions League secured Chinese beer giants Tsing Tao so when it came to the K-League linking up a new sponsorship deal they obviously went for the classy sounding OB Premier right? No! They plumped for the apt sounding Ball Beer, a beer commonly referred to as ‘flat Cass’ among the K-League masses. According to the packaging Ball Beer is imported from Germany which I guess goes to show that it’s not just ‘dodgy’ Brazilians that the K-League is duped into buying. The beer has now become the ‘official beer’ of the K-League and can be found at most grounds, well apart from the away end at Jeju United who still seem unable to comprehend the basic concepts of ‘supply and demand’.

Ball beer started to promote their presence in the K-League by sending a large inflatable ‘fan’ to stadiums to sit among the crowd, when this didn’t seem to have the desired effect they went back to Chapter 1 of their Marketing 101 handbook and pulled out all the stops…..beer girls! Not much gets past those canny Marketing gurus, if only the same could have been said for the Busan defence last year! The girls walk through the stands holding up 3000W beer signs while a rather red-faced young guy follows behind them with the actual beers in a bag. We at 48 Shades are of course 100% behind any system that will deliver beer to our seats, no matter how bad that first sip might taste.

Of course most people still ‘smuggle’ their own beer into the stadium instead of waiting for the lone wolf beer girl (and helper) to finally get to your end of the stadium but if you unfortunately happened upon a rather over-zealous security guard then have no fear as Ball Beer is here to save the day. 

Less posing, more serving please girls!
Less posing, more serving please girls

The K-Advent Calendar Day 4 – Watching Baseball

Day4 - Baseball

K-Advent Calendar Day 4 – Watching Baseball

Wacthing Baseball

There are some unwritten commandments in the world of football; thou shall only support one team per country, thou shall not wear ‘away’ colours in the ‘home’ end, thou shall not wear a ‘half and half scarf’ (okay I made the last one up). At 48 Shades Tower we would like to introduce a new commandment to the K-League, “thou shall not watch baseball while at the football!!” It’s generally accepted in Korea that baseball (or rounders as it shall be known from now on) is the bigger draw. This is most obvious from the fact that it’s not uncommon to find the same rounders match on every sports channel while football fans have to search through YouTube channels to watch a ‘top-of-the-table’ clash. That marketing victory is one thing but actually watching the rounders while at the football takes the proverbial biscuit.

It is unfortunately a pretty common sight to see someone sit through an entire 90 minutes permanently glued to the rounders match on their phone in order to see which team will win today before playing against the same team again in about a week! Don’t get me wrong there are some K-League matches where I’d rather watch Waterworld than the action on the pitch but there is something about watching rounders that is akin to cheating. So I guess in the true sense of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ it is time for the K-League to make some regulation changes. I think cheerleaders at each ground, rather overweight looking chaps on each team, beer selling ajummas walking through the crowd and increasing the duration of a match to resemble those ‘kickabouts’ down the park when you played for 3 hrs to avoid going home to do your homework should do for starters.

I don’t really get the attraction myself and growing up in school I always thought rounders was something the PE teacher arranged when he was too hungover to look for the cones and bibs. 

At least wait until kick-off chief! photo courtesy of @korearacing
Wishing you had gone somewhere else chief?
photo courtesy of @korearacing

The K-Advent Calendar Day 3 – “Kick-Off!!”

 

Day2 - Kick-Off!

K-Advent Day 3 – Kick-off!!!!!

Kick_off

Football can be a complex sport at times, the offside rule for example can be a tad frustrating to not only comprehend but to have to explain for the third time to the less ‘football-savvy’ among us. Other occurrences such as why do Jeonbuk get so many penalties and why Suwon Bluewings signed Hygor are worthy of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock himself.   That being said though most things are pretty straight-forward and the simple practice of starting the match is definitely not a mind-blower so quite why Korean stadium announcers feel the need to inform us of kick-off by screaming over the PA system is beyond me. The fact that at several grounds the kick-off is accompanied by some pyrotechnics should be enough for even the most uninitiated member of the crowd to suss that something might have happened.

It does seem all a little OTT, and dare I say it, American.  One does feel that said announcer could highlight some  of the more obscure or important aspects of the match-day experience, “The ball beer girl is currently serving cold beer in the North Stand” for example. As well as stating the obvious the announcer seems to also be responsible for the more banal football chants heard ringing throughout the stadium. From the hugely optimistic “Goal, Goal, Goal” chant every time the home team wins a corner to the rather bland team name chant e.g. “Seongnam, Seongnam” which is all too often drowned out by the ‘Ultras’ singing over them. It may not be the greatest nor most respected job in the world but at least they get to watch football for free ….. although there are times when you wish you were getting paid to watch the K-League.

It should be noted that in a country that has automated construction workers directing traffic they still feel the need to employ somebody to tell us a game of football has started.

Maybe some people do need help at kick-off
Maybe some people do need help at kick-off

 

The K-Advent Calendar Day 2 – Wet wipes

 

Day2 - Wet Wipes

K-Advent Day 2 – Wet wipes

Wet Wipes

Growing up on the steps of ‘The Jungle’ and ‘The Spion Kop’ there were many items deemed essential on match day, from a mini-radio to hear how your foes were doing to that ‘lucky scarf’ you would ban your mother from washing and even the obligatory chant questioning Mark Hateley’s parentage. One thing though that never seemed to be first in the ‘game day bag’ was a sachet of wet wipes!! In Korea though the wet wipe has become almost as necessary as your team’s colours, or at least those of some overseas team that a Korean player is currently sitting on the bench for.

All too commonly in K-League stadiums your seat can resemble the aftermath of Sarah Connor’s Judgement Day premonition.  The blame for this normally falls at the feet of the ‘yellow dust’, pigeons or Suwon Bluewings fans. In truth I really do have no idea what happens to these stadiums during the week that manages to make them look like they’ve just hosted the World Championships of Elephant Mud-wrestling. Thankfully though all is not lost and a quick rummage through the bag of most K-League fans will serve up the saving power of some wet wipes. Unfortunately a quick rummage through my bag normally just serves up another beer! For some reason Seoul World Cup Stadium seems to be immune to this problem with the smart among us pointing to folding seats as the reason for this, although it could just be that those bleak grey seats hide the filth.

Just like when flying there is safety protocol to follow. So remember if you are travelling to a ground with your girlfriend or someone who you want to impress, wipe their seat first, and then move on to yours.

Wet wiping protocol!!
Wet wiping protocol!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The K-Advent Calendar Day 1 – Running Tracks

Day1 - Track

For the next 24 days leading up to the start of the K-League Classic 2016 season we will be opening a ‘window’ containing one feature of the K-League match day experience. From the highs to the lows we will take you through what we feel makes the K-League the ‘special’ league that it is and why it is should be the first entry in your weekly planners!!

So without further ado it’s time to see what lies behind window number 1.

K-Advent Day 1 – Running Tracks

Running Track

Like a giddy kid on Christmas Eve we all love the prospect of watching football in a new stadium. From the travel to the different atmosphere to even the look and feel of a new ticket it all adds to the experience of going to a new ground (or maybe even your first ground). In Korea though there is one thing that can rip the heart out of that new experience quicker than you can say “Am I the only one here?” and its …… the dreaded running track and the now all too familiar sight of a hastily constructed, potential death-trap of a temporary stand! Now don’t get me wrong some clubs have managed to pull this off and Seoul E-Land and Seongnam FC are two of them but unfortunately they are the exception. For fans of Bucheon, for example, it really does look like somebody has been let loose with a Lego set after a few OB too many.

The running tracks are a relic of the days when football clubs would double-up as the local athletic club but it’s hard to imagine the need for this these days and save for the occasional ajumma walking off off some steam they remain unused. So if this is your first trip to a new stadium be ready as you may just find yourself sitting closer to the subway station than the pitch.

Bucheon's temporary nightmare!
Bucheon’s temporary nightmare!

Episode 49 – The Bank Holiday Giveaway

48Shadesimage

Episode 49:

The Bank Holiday Giveaway


music_double_note_song_melody-512 Give it away, give it away, give it away now music_double_note_song_melody-512

For 60 minutes the young pretenders were looking like the real thing, two goals to the good on their bitterest rivals they were playing with a confidence and a swagger that was well to be honest non-Korean. They were stroking the ball around the park like it was connected solely between the ‘soon-to-be-heroes’ in red, when Japan did get the ball they lacked the composure to do anything with it other than return it to a red shirt. The script was written for not just a victory but a humbling, that was until Makoto Teguramori, the Japanese U23 Manager, used his magic eraser and changed the script forever.

With one change, namely bringing on Takuma Asano on the hour mark, he not only reversed Japan’s fortunes but transformed them into a completely different team. Within six minutes it was 2-1, two minutes more and it was 2-2 and to be honest from then on there was only going to be one winner and it came as no surprise when that man Asano struck again to deal the fatal blow.

And so yet again a Korean National team feel short at the final hurdle. It was a tournament that promised much but delivered that same old feeling of disappointment. That it came at the hands of their rivals and in such a heart-breaking manner made it all the tougher to take.

Tune in to Episode 49 for a full review of the final and the tournament as a whole. The boys also talk K-League finances (or lack there of), season ticket prices for 2016, the hugely anticipated 2016 K-League slogan and we have a look at the next set of ACL play-offs and more.

By 48shadesoffootball for @Kleague_Podcast