Seoul FC, not FC Seoul

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Holyjoe
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Seoul FC, not FC Seoul

Postby Holyjoe » Sat Apr 21, 2007 12:32 pm

A timely topic perhaps, given Seoul United are set to make their K3 debut today (April 21st 2007) and they fancy themselves as the moral guardians of all that is good and wholesome relating to football in Seoul, in direct opposition to the big corporate baddies at the Seoul World Cup stadium. They haven't explicitly laid claim to being the direct reincarnation of the previous 'citizen' side to represent the city, however they have been dropping subtle hints, as the inclusion of "1933" in one of the official sub crests (below) of the club shows.

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1933 was something of a pivotal year in Korean football, as the Joseon Football Association was founded on September 19th of that year, however the main issue at hand here was the founding, on May 11th 1933, of Kyungsung Football Club. The creation of the team allowed Kyungsung (now Seoul) to field a strong side in the Kyungsung-Pyeongyang match series from 1934, as Pyeongyang FC had also been formed around the same time.

The Kyungsung-Pyeongyang match series began in 1929, was played a second time in 1930 and then wasn't played again until April 1933. The formation of the two city clubs meant they could play inter-city matches a bit more often. They played the 4th series in the winter of 1933 (the first with two actual city clubs rather than select sides), the fifth series in April 1934 and the sixth and final series in April 1935 as by then folk were starting to take it a bit too seriously and some violent disputes over dubious refereeing decisions eventually caused the powers-that-be to pull the plug on the event. They instead created a "rival city" tournament involving ten cities from across the nation – Kyungsung, Pyeongyang, Hamheung, Wonsan, Masan, Kunsan, Anak, Jin Nampo, Suncheon and Jeju competed in the initial tournament in April 1936, and by April 1940 (the third, the second having been held in April 1938) fourteen cities were involved. The fifth and final version of that tournament took place in May 1942 as not long after the Japanese government banned all sports games in Korea.

Anyway, 1935 saw Kyungsung FC travel abroad to compete in some of the Japanese football competitions and they were rather successful in their travels. They won the 15th edition of the Japanese Emperor's Cup in 1935 by beating Tokyo Bunri University in the final, and also, according to the RSSSF article on clubs playing in different countries, won what was then the Japanese national championship in 1935 and 1936. They also reportedly won another reasonably major Japanese tournament in 1938 (the 8th edition of something called the Meiji Shrine football tournament, a competition I can't find any data on). The successes on Japanese soil turned the players into heroes upon their return to Korea.

This photo, from the tour of Japan in 1936, shows Kyungsung FC facing Waseda University.
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I should point out that, as with the All Joseon Football Championship, there is a lot of conflicting information on football at that time. One problem with the Kyungsung-Pyeongyang derby is that various histories number the tournaments in different ways. Korean histories are fond of referring to a tournament as the "Xth edition" which is all well and good, however it seems some histories differ on when the starting point should occur. With the inter-city series, the book 축구는 한국이다 amongst others begins counting from 1929 when the two cities first faced off, however some other sources begin counting from the 1933 winter tournament when the two actual club teams were competing. Thus that edition is referred to as both the 4th and the 1st Kyungsung-Pyeongyang football match.
Also the victory in the 1935 Japanese FA Cup tournament is credited in different sources to Kyungsung FC and a Kyungsung city select (which was essentially Kyungsung FC with one or two additional players), so I suppose for now it's fair enough to credit the club with the win as most sources suggest it was their players who won the tournament. There are even conflicting reports over the score in the final - pretty much every source lists the score as a 6-1 victory, however the usually reliable RSSSF archive on the tournament gives it as a 2-0 win.

Anyway, more on this later (maybe).

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Postby Holyjoe » Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:51 am

The end of the 2nd World War allowed Kyungsung FC to reestablish itself, this time as Seoul FC, and on April 10th 1947 they went off to Shanghai to play four matches. They first faced a Soviet team which they beat 3-1, but then lost out to a Shanghai Railroad team 2-0 in their second match. They then faced one of the best Chinese teams of the time, Cheongbaek, and beat them 1-0, and then defeated another Shanghai-based side, Donghwa, 4-0. A certain Syngman Rhee was a visitor to Shanghai at that time, as he had hoped to inspire the team on to great results.

The Chinese were rather miffed that a Korean team had come over and defeated the best they could offer, and they requested that the Koreans play a fifth match against the top side from Hong Kong, Sungdo FC. The Chinese supposedly figured that, as there was a large British influence on Hong Kong at the time, the club would be able to draw on British football culture to defeat the Koreans. According to reports, around 100,000 folk turned up for the match which ended goalless.

The Seoul FC side that played in Shanghai:
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The Korean war brought a premature end to the growth of the Seoul team as military football sides sprung up and dominated the domestic football scene at the time. In the late 1960s there was quite a boom in the number of financial institutions and companies creating football teams (as well as, for a short time, Yangzee football Club) in Seoul. Then the first professional league was launched in 1983 with the five founding K-League sides (Hallleujah, Kookmin Bank, POSCO, Yukong and Daewoo) kicking things off in Dongdaemun on May 8th 1983. They rotated matches around the country for the first few years but most of the important matches ended up being played in Seoul.

The first K-League side to claim Seoul as their home were Ilhwa Chunma in 1989 as they played all but three of their matches at Dongdaemun (the other three were played at the Jamsil Olympic stadium). Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso moved into Dongdaemun for 1990 and they were joined there by Yukong Elephants in 1991. At the end of 1995 the three teams were forced to leave Dongdaemun and went off to Seoul satellite cities, however Yukong still played in Seoul at the Mok-dong stadium despite supposedly being a Bucheon club as there was no actual stadium in Bucheon for them to play in. The Bucheon stadium was completed at the end of 2000 so they moved there from the start of the 2001 season. Interestingly Anyang LG played nine of their 13 home K-League matches at Mok-dong in 2001. With Anyang LG's move to the Seoul World Cup stadium in 2004, that makes 2002 and 2003 as the only seasons where K-League football hasn't been played in the capital (though technically one could claim that the All Star matches in both years were official K-League competitions and both were played at the Seoul WC stadium).

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Postby Holyjoe » Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:34 pm

One can only speculate as to whether Seoul City Hall were actually serious about their football club that played in the second stage of the 2003 K2 League championship. The Seoul City Hall team had previously been established on January 15th 1976 and played for 27 years in the amateur ranks of Korean football. There had been hope amongst many Seoul-based Korean football fans that Seoul City Hall would be the team that would evolve into the side to occupy the Seoul World Cup stadium, but it would seem that the KFA's insistence on any tenant paying a large chunk of the construction cost for the stadium was one of a number of reasons why that never materialized, and the bidding was opened first to outside corporate organizations and then to existing football clubs. Hallelujah, then based in Iksan, had been kicked out their city and were thus unable to compete in the second stage of the 2003 K2 League season, so Seoul City Hall stepped in to fill the vacancy. It had been suggested that this was something of a trial run to see how they would do in organized football competitions (they came fifth out of the ten sides) and that if all went well then sooner or later they'd find themselves in the K-League. As it turned out, as the year progressed and LG moved ever closer to moving to Seoul, Seoul City Hall appeared to have no future and the team was shut down on December 31st 2003.

Anyway, this was the Seoul City Hall team that competed, albeit briefly, at K2 level (note: stadium may not depict actual K2 attendance)
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Re: Seoul FC, not FC Seoul

Postby Crane » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:25 am

Not sure where to put this, but something interesting I found the other day. Seoul Utd presumably chose their zebra stripes as what they thought was a homage to Kyungsung FC's colours. However, the photo from which these colours were determined is actually of Joseon FC (earlier known as Young Buddhists), Kyungsung's shirts being crimson with a white chevron. But further cursory research suggests that may not be accurate either, as Joseon's colours appear to have been yellow and red stripes rather than white and black.

Perhaps no one else finds this interesting, but the early days of Korean football are a fascinating period for me.


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