The Dolphins ‘school’ all on the way to the 2005 FA Cup Final
This year’s FA Cup may have fizzled out with a forgettable FA Cup Final played out over two-legs at the end of a long season when it’s too cold to play football. But it hasn’t always been like this. No, things used to be far worse! From that era of neutral grounds, 2pm weekday kick-offs and the final three rounds all crammed into one inglorious December week, one year does stand out though. Just like 2017, it was a year when a lower league team almost made it to the Asian Champions League.
For anyone who has lived in Korea for more than a few days you quickly realize the importance that Korean culture places on the concept of ‘respect’. From seniority in both family and the workplace to the idea of ‘jeong‘ respect is there for all to see and ultimately follow. So it comes as no surprise that there is a level of respect in the Korean game that maybe is slightly lacking in its European and South American equals or at least at face-value anyway. Of course that’s not to say that the league doesn’t have its fair share of diving, cheating, taunting, goading and the occasional ‘rash’ challenge as after all Lee Chun Soo brought a lot of colour to the K-League in his heyday although most of that was ‘black and blue’, and not because he played for Incheon United and Ulsan! But for the most part there is a level of ‘Respect’ between opposing players, managers and even fans that can be all too often lacking in the ‘elite’ leagues. It is something that for many an expat fan can be a little strange to get one’s head around as ‘rival’ fans commonly sit together at matches albeit not in sections reserved for the ‘Ultras’. Growing up in the melting-pot atmosphere of football in the UK where fans have separate pubs and streets on match day never-mind sections in the stadium the idea of sitting with opposing fans took a while to get used to.
We at 48 Shades HQ have embraced many of Korean football’s idiosyncrasies but I think the one that we would most love to export home (Beer & Beer Girls excluded of course) is the idea of making the players bow to their fans at full-time regardless of whether they win, lose or draw. No more over-priced foreigners sprinting up the tunnel on the final whistle after succumbing to another spineless defeat in order to avoid the all too deserved wrath of their fans. In Korea the players have to make their way over to their fans and bow either in celebration or to offer up their apologies. I can just see Ronaldo doing this after a Real Madrid defeat although he would probably just send over the other ten players as it obviously wasn’t his fault they lost. It should also be noted that although this gesture was born from the concept of showing respect it can also be used for other purposes and there is no better feeling than skelping your rivals on their own patch and then gleefully watching them trudge around the stadium apologizing to their incensed supporters.
Of course there are times when this idea of respect backfires and ultimately has a negative impact on the players and teams. It was widely reported that Uli Stelike’s first training session as manager of the national team left him less than overwhelmed as the players appeared to be waiting on orders from a senior member rather than think for themselves. Recent Jeonbuk-loanee, Lee Keun Ho, also voiced his displeasure with Qatari football for much similar reasons and there have been rumors that Lee Dong Gook demands to be involved in the majority of their forward play purely down to him being everyone’s ‘hyung’. This maybe goes some way to explain some of the insipid displays from the national team of late