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From The Stands: Ansan Foreign Supporters Club


From The Stands: Ansan Foreign Supporters Club Ansan Greeners
Our tenth edition of From The Stands features a supporters club that is celebrating it's 10 year anniversary, the Ansan Foreign Supporters Club (AFSC). K League United spoke with AFSC's Mike Brandon about the history of the club and what makes it rather a special one.
(image via Ansan Greeners)
To help Ansan Foreign Supporters Club celebrate their 10 year anniversary, K League United sat down with the Mike Brandon, Ansan Greeners columnist, and AFSC member to find out what kind of a journey football in Ansan has been on over the past decade, as well as what the club are doing to celebrate their 10th anniversary.


 Group Background

Who are the AFSC?

Ansan Foreign Supporters Club was formed at the end of the 2008 season, as a means of bringing  foreign fans together. Expats, economic migrants and students had been watching then-Ansan Hallejujah sporadically ever since the 2007 season, but a lack of online information in English, coupled with a lack of advertising, made it difficult for people to find out about games.

AFSC with the Hallelujah team at their training ground

Our supporters club was formed to work as a focal point to bring more fans together, as well as providing information about the football club for fans. Originally, the group put out posters in bars and coffee shops advertising games, as well as putting up events through Facebook.

From the 2009 season, the AFSC website was launched to provide fans a chance to write match reports and collect information about the club. The site now serves as something of a historical archive for the Emmanuel (Halleujah and H) and Police (Police and Mugunghwa) franchises in Ansan, with old match reports, pictures and memorabilia. With the growing success of K League United, AFSC has become an official affiliate, so nowadays our writers are putting their content on the K League United site itself, but the website still serves as a focal point for more focused Ansan football stuff.

Congratulations on the anniversary, how will you be celebrating?

To celebrate, the club are offering a 50% discount on tickets for foreign fans for the penultimate home game of the season, the Line 4 Derby against FC Anyang, this Saturday at 3pm, October 6th.

Where is your HQ?

At present we gather at the stadium prior to Kick-off on match days. Given that the group pulls in a diverse set of fans, after match tastes vary, but sometimes the group will head to a restaurant in Ansan.

Where did your name come from?

The group was created to bring together foreign sports fans across the city together. A decade ago, information about the National league in Korean was relatively poor, and it was virtually non-existent in English, so we aimed to reach  wider audience. In other words, the name basically does what is says on the tin.

Any custom gear?

Not at present, the club offers plenty of merchandise, and older AFSC members tend to sport the old franchise shirts.

Where can someone find out about you online?

We are on Twitter at @jarveybigtweets and @ansanforeignsupportsclub, we can be contacted via email at ansanfsc@gmail.com, our website, and we also have a Facebook page.

At The Stadium

Does your section have a name? Do you share the section with others?

Ansan Wa Stadium is located across the street for Gojan Station on Line 4 (Oido bound) of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway. On match days AFSC fans usually arrive in the stadium around an hour before kick off and gather near the Green Zone, through Gate 3 (East). An in-stadium store sells snacks and beer, though it gets very busy leading up to kick off.



What does your group’s game day look?
Some members tend to arrive at the stadium up to an hour prior to kick off. There are few options around the stadium for pre-match meetups, though visiting fans arriving early will find the best venues for food and drink near Jungang Station, a five minute taxi ride from the stadium. Post-match, some fans will head for food, some for central Ansan for drinks, and others take their young wolves home!

What are the group’s favourite chants/songs?
Recent chants involve “You are my sunshine” with Ansan in the lyrics, though this is mostly reserved for away days! Older fans might pipe up with classics such as ‘Hallejujah’ and ‘Good catch lad!’

Travelling

How far is the group willing to travel?Having been following Ansan football through both the National League and K League, the club has been to its fair share of grounds for away days, and we have had fans at pretty much every away ground at some point. A favourite was Busan Transportation Corporation, who have the largest foreign supporters group we have encountered.

It is always great to meet dedicated fans at other grounds, but the Busan group is loud and vocal and has a great relationship with the team, so from a foreign supporters group perspective, they are the best group out there. We had a good sing song against them many years ago! FC Anyang also have a good group, and of course, we will always have the memory of winning the title at their place during the Mugunghwa era!


Is there a supporters bus for away games?

Not as such, though back in the day we used to take the team bus to some away matches!

If you can’t make it to the game, where can you meet? Do you have watch parties?

The stadium itself televises national team games, so if you’re in the city, there’s no reason to be anywhere but the Wa. That said, we sometimes have social media groups open for fans who have returned to their home countries but are tuning in via the internet. This has only been a reality in the past two seasons though, as before then, the team itself would sometimes be forced to give up the stadium for events ranging from concerts to middle schools athletics tournaments!

Fun Facts

What makes AFSC one of the best groups in K League?

AFSC has history, ten years in fact! The group was founded on November 1st 2008. We also have a good relationship with the club, whence our ticket discount promotion to mark our anniversary. There is of course a gap in Ansan football history, in 2013 there was no football team resident in Ansan. During that season the supporters group took to following Goyang Hi, although the distance led to a significant downturn in the group’s members, and the subsequent police franchise, while welcomed in terms of putting a football team back in the city, was greeted with some apathy. Right now we are busy rebuilding the foreign fan base in the new citizen franchise era.

Over the years AFSC has received some attention abroad, most notably featuring in the Austrian Football Magazine Ballester, which you can read on our website (if you understand German!). Also, our ‘잠실로 가지마’(Jamshil-lo gajima), ‘don’t go to Jamsil’, campaign was picked up by Naver Sports, though the team would eventually be uprooted to Goyang as then sponsor E-Land and then found a new team in Jamsil anyway. Most recently we featured on Liberian sports site Liberia Sports Online because of our Liberian international striker Seku Conneh.

We also published our own book in 2012: ‘The Last Song’, a collection of essays and other memorial pieces celebrating the Ansan period, downloadable from our site.

One of the most grating things for the club was in the Wa Stadium museum. The Ansan supporters group, the ‘Eagles’ was given an entire wall in the museum, however as we can testify, other than a group of ultras with a big drum, the foreigners section was the only other fan group consistently present at matches. The wall piece has since been removed from the museum, but it is this searching for an identity or history that has made the overlooking of supporters groups like our own disappointing.



As November 1st is the tenth anniversary of the founding of Ansan Foreign Supporters Club, AFSC are celebrating by offering 50% discount on tickets for foreign fans for the penultimate home game of the season, the Line 4 Derby against FC Anyang, this Saturday at 3pm, October 6th. To get the discount, head over to the AFSC Facebook page where you can find a coupon to display at the ticket desk.

Ansan Greeners vs FC Anyang Preview

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