Just as the weather was turning cold in South Korea, the action on the pitch got hot as the play-off series kicked off. Some of the fans kicked off too. Ulsan Hyundai Horang-I goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang got involved with Daejeon Citizen supporters.
Anybody who has been to a few K-League games will be familiar with the scene. Fans disapprove of a refereeing decision and vent by throwing plastic water bottles on the pitch. Cue the arrival of their team’s players to appeal for calm while everyone else waits the five minutes or so that it usually takes for the game to restart.
After you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all but Sunday was a little different. Daejeon fans are some of the best in Korea but can get a little carried away. With ten minutes or so remaining of the play-off match, the Citizen were two goals down and facing an end to their season.
Time was running out as Daejeon attacked. A player went down, fans called for a penalty but the referee gave a free-kick just outside the box. The purple hordes behind the goal made their feelings known and one missile hit Ulsan’s goalkeeper. Ulsan’s World Cup Stadium witnessed Rivaldo’s theatrics against Turkey at the 2002 competition, but Kim stood his ground. Not only that but the ex-Chunnam star threw one of the offending articles back from whence it came.
The ripple that the object caused as it fell in the sea of away fans was immediate and obvious, Dozens of supporters charged down to the front of the enclosure. And more bottles came Kim’s way. Perhaps realizing his earlier mistake, Kim caught one and drank its contents while his team-mates dragged him out of harm’s way. Daejeon players, perhaps accustomed …