Having been demoted to the second tier league of Korean football, there was cautious optimism that Daejeon would be able to find more success against the weaker competition. We hoped that with any luck, we might even find ourselves near the top of the table, but not even the most die-hard Citizen fan dared to dream of a championship. Whelp, our boys exceeded all expectations and actually brought home the title, even despite an agonizingly poor string of results near the end of the season. So, against all odds, Daejeon is headed back to the promised land.
Yesterday was the final home game, and it epitomized the myriad of reasons why I love this team so much. First off, the sense of community and the connection between the players and the fans is remarkable. Normally, the de facto leader of the fan section leads the cheers and songs, but yesterday some of the players themselves waded into the sea of red to pick up the megaphone and cheer their fellow players on the pitch. In the United States I feel like you would never see such interactions between the players and the fans, partly in my opinion due to the fact that most American athletes would consider themselves above such mingling. Even my good friend and unofficial lead foreigner supporter Liam got a chance to ascend to the front of the fan section and lead a cheer himself.
The game itself was quite entertaining, with Daejeon winning 5-2, in one of the more impressive offensive showcases of the season. Before the game, the team handed out bubble guns, and at halftime the fans unleashed a flurry of white streamers onto the field. After the game ended, an already festive atmosphere was kicked up a few notches with the trophy ceremony. The team posed for pictures in front of the fan section per usual, but this time glistening under the spray of celebratory champagne showers. One memorable moment was when Queen’s “We Will Rock You” blared over the PA system. To finish off the party, we were treated to an impressive fireworks display.
It was an appropriate ending to a fantastic and honestly unexpected season of unparalleled successes, but now we are left with some gnawing questions to ponder. Our star player and goal machine Adriano is now a free agent, and our rock solid defender Rim Chang Woo will most likely return to Ulsan, who loaned him to us for the season. As a cash-strapped publicly owned team, Citizen lacks the financial resources to compete with bigger clubs, so the cards are definitely stacked against us. Only time will tell what type of squad we shall have when we make our long-awaited return to the K-League. Until then, all I can do is say thank you Daejeon for a memorable season of football!
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.