This week sees The Phantom make the trip to 48 Shades Towers as he and Mark discuss the main issues making the news in Korean football. Hot on that list of topics is some recent transfer shenanigans that can best be described as a tad complex. We had Alex moving to E-Land from Anyang and in turn Lukian moving from Busan to Anyang to potentially make way for Leo coming from Daegu. We had podcast favourite Rodrigo Parana returning to Bucheon. Pohang swapped Lee Dong Ki for Seongnam’s Oh Do Hyun (of laughing at FC Seoul fame) and E-Land signed Ahn Jae Hoon from fellow Challenge club Suwon. Confused yet? A lot of work lies ahead for the ‘name of the back of the shirt’ industry that’s for sure.
Also on this week’s show the boys review two sets of Classic fixtures, discuss Pohang’s plight, look at some interesting PR from Seongnam, discuss gardening tips, look ahead to the weekend’s matches and more……
They may have taken the game to new levels of excitement with their samba style and their ability to come up with incredibly talented sounding one-word names, Pele, Socrates, Falcoa, Ronaldinho, Fred (Oops how did that one happen), but not all Brazilians are blessed with a natural gift for ‘The Beautiful Game’. Ask any K-League fan and they can round off a list of potential Brazilian Heroes who unfortunately turned out to be more Sol Bamba than Joe Samba. Over the years we have seen our fair share of Jorginhos, Kaios and Patys but few have had such a lasting impact on the K-League as our famous five of Almir (Bucheon), Rafael Costa (Seoul), Andre Moritz (Pohang), Bill (Busan) and Hygor (Suwon Bluewings).
Okay we realize that Hygor has yet to ‘flop’ in the K-League but it doesn’t take a pair of mystic balls to predict him having a less than glorious career in Korea. It is usually a pretty surefire sign of mediocrity when you struggle to find either a wikipedia page or a YouTube compilation video of a new signing. Almir and Costa make our list of ‘diddys’ based solely on the fact that they are indeed ‘diddys’. Almir recently showcased his talents in the red of Bucheon which actually means he spent almost every game trotting around the running track ‘warming up’ for a cameo role as ‘supersub’ that never really happened with only one goal to his name last season. Costa was brought in as Dejan was departing to pastures new and this probably placed huge expectation on his shoulders which could explain his rather rotund body shape. He would go on to make 9 league appearances in two years and fail to find the net in either. Bill makes the list as well come on he’s a Brazilian called Bill, at least Hulk is a fairly well-built chap and suits his name. Added to his name is the fact that he scored only two goals for the Southern team and he’s a welcome addition to our list.
Rounding off our list is the one and only Andre Moritz. He arrived in Korea with Pohang Steelers and had the pedigree of having played in England with Crystal Palace and Bolton. He was immediately loaned out to the Indian leagues to get match fit and his return was hugely anticipated, but unfortunately his temperament left a lot to be desired and he quickly found himself suspended before yet again being loaned out to India. This loan spell was even less productive than his previous stint in the Super League and after one match he returned to The Steelers to never feature again for them. Recent rumours are that he has walked out on new club Buriram United before playing a competitive match for them citing “I don’t like Thailand” as the reason. I think it might be time for Andre to look at a different career, maybe he could replace Stevie on the 48 Shades podcast…
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.
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
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.