Welcome to a continuation on the regular series on The 94th Minute, called “Starting XI”. This is where I ask various people, who are fans of football, a number of questions to get to know them better! The majority of the questions will differ for each person, but the final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI providing they give a reason for their inclusion!
The twenty-first instalment of the series is with Barnsley and Suwon Bluewings supporter, Scott Whitelock. Based in South Korea, he was K League United‘s regular Suwon Bluewings correspondent, who regularly appeared on their podcasts or live feeds. Nowadays, Scott puts his focus into his own recently created and excellently produced groundhopping vlogging YouTube channel called Korean Away Days, which are most certainly worth watching! In these videos, he travels to different Korean football grounds throughout the Korean football pyramid, and vlogs his experiences during his groundhop.
I wanted to know more about how he initially got involved with K League United, his opinion on the Bluewings’ and Barnsley’s respective seasons, how and why he started up Korean Away Days and what grounds he has planned for the future, as well as finding out what his all-time, favourite eleven players are.
To see Scott’s latest groundhopping vlog, where he travelled to Seongnam to see the Magpies take on Gyeongnam in a crucial K League 1 match, it can be found below:
Q. Thanks very much for being part of the Starting XI series! Firstly, how did you get initially involved with K League United and become their Suwon Bluewings correspondent?
I had been following Suwon for a year and I knew Paul Neat (Associate Editor of K League United, whose Starting XI can be found HERE) through a mutual friend. I had actually met Paul previously randomly in Incheon airport after I had only been in Korea for a couple of months. We became friends and then he approached me and asked me to write about Suwon Bluewings for the site.
Q. What do you make of the Bluewings’ season this year by finishing 8th but winning the Korean FA Cup? Has it been a disappointing one or one as you expected?
It is essentially what I expected but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Probably the most disappointing aspect of the season has been the lack of youth development that’s been made. Lee Limsaeng arrived at the club with a promise of new beginnings and heralding in a new era for the club. But as the season progressed he stopped giving youth a chance and resorted to the same older pros that produced some of the most boring football I’ve ever been forced to watch!
Q. Are there any players at the Bluewings (or elsewhere even) who you think the readers should keep a focus on for the future? Are there any potentially decent players coming through?
I rate Jeon Sejin a lot, and he has the potential to be a future star for the Korean national team. He’s unfortunately scheduled to begin his [mandatory] military service next year though so Suwon will be without his services until late 2021.
Q. You have recently started a new groundhopping video series, ‘Korean Away Days’. Could you provide some details on how that got all started up?
I basically just thought it would be a good idea to introduce some away days and document my weekend alcoholism. I’m not sure if people are entertained by it but I’m having a lot of fun recording the videos and travelling to grounds I might not have gotten to if I didn’t have the vlog as a reason to go there!
The first episode of Korean Away Days:
Q. What location has been your favourite away day so far, either during the YouTube channel or before it?
My favourite away day is definitely Daegu FC‘s new stadium, the DGB Daegu Bank Arena (so good they named it twice)! It’s small, compact and has an amazing atmosphere when it’s full. Daegu is one of my favourite cities in Korea and has some of the best food on offer so I usually make a weekend of it when I go down and just have a great time every time I go there.
But my favourite away day that I’ve ever had in Korea is when Suwon won the [Korean] FA Cup against their fierce rivals FC Seoul at Seoul. Seoul World Cup Stadium isn’t exactly my favourite ground in Korea but winning the cup combined with the celebrations after the game makes it an unforgettable memory that will stick with me forever.
Q. Are there any stadiums or clubs that you are particularly looking forward to visiting in the near future?
I’ll definitely be going to a few more non-league grounds next year. I’ve already got Mokpo, Yangpyeong and Gangneung on my list of ‘musts’ for 2020. I’m also looking forward to going to Gwangju‘s new smaller stadium next year too to see what that will look like.
Q. If you could make any improvements to the K League experience, what would they be and why?
Just more fans or smaller stadiums. The fans that do turn up to the games do their best to create an amazing atmosphere but it can sometimes get lost a little in the cavernous World Cup stadiums.
It sounds strange, but I’d also like to see a bit more negativity from the fanbases. They can be a little too supportive during games and will back their teams 100% until the final whistle. Sometimes your left-back needs a little kick up the arse and a song or a few shouts from the stands might just improve their performance. I miss that aspect of British football a lot.
Q. What do you think are the main differences between watching football in South Korea and England?
The atmosphere most certainly. Korean fans model themselves on the Ultras of Germany, Italy and Brazil and it’s quite an alien form of supporting to a British man. I miss the irony and sarcasm of British terraces a lot.
I also miss the matchday culture or meeting your family and friends in a pub and discussing the match a few hours before kick-off. That doesn’t really happen in Korea.
Q. Switching to English football briefly, how do you think your beloved Barnsley’s season is going so far? What would equate a good season for the club?
It’s been a pretty disastrous season so far. Only two wins and sitting rock bottom of the [English Championship] league isn’t ideal. But there are signs of improvement under the new boss Gerhard Struber [appointed from Austrian Bundesliga side Wolfsberger AC in late November 2019].
If they can stay up with that young squad then it will be a minor miracle, and survival has to be the only aim now!
Q. Finally, which players are in your all-time, favourite eleven, and the reasons for your picks?
This is an extremely difficult question so I’m going to limit this only to players that I’ve seen in the flesh with my own two eyes:
- Goalkeeper: Dave Watson (Barnsley FC)
- Left-back: Darren Barnard (Barnsley FC)
- Centre-back: Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Centre-back: Carles Puyol (Barcelona)
- Right-back: Nicky Eaden (Barnsley FC)
- Left midfield: David Ginola (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Central midfield: Neil Redfearn (Barnsley FC)
- Central midfield: Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
- Right midfield: Rivaldo (Barcelona)
- Forward: Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
- Forward: Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea)
A massive thank you to Scott for answering my questions, and being an absolutely cracking guest on the Starting XI series! Scott is producing excellent groundhopping videos on Korean football, and is a superb correspondent for Suwon Bluewings, so I was very happy to get him to be part of Starting XI. Have to say, I am loving those combinations in the team, with a Barnard-Ginola left side looking particularly fearsome!
To find out more about Korean Away Days and Scott, the links to his YouTube channel, and social media accounts can be found below:
- Twitter: @scottyonfire86
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkEPjWZZMGXDiy7BFU8_msg
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/koreanawaydays/
To read or catch up on the previous Starting XI episodes, they can all be found at the following link HERE.
If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions who I should interview next in the series, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! It would be good to hear what you think about the series, and what have been your favourite episodes so far!