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Monday, 26 January 2015

Korean Joga Bonito, Part IV: Gangwon FC - The Football Club which plays THREE Home Pitches

Primary Gangwon FC Home Stadium - Gangneung Stadium, 69 JonghapUndongjang-gil, Gyodong 2-10 beonji, Gangneung, Gangwon Province
Gangwon FC (Hangul/Hanja:강원 FC/江原 FC) is a South Korean football club. Based in Gangwon Province of South Korea, Gangwon FC was founded in 2008 and joined the K-League as its 15th club for the 2009 season. The club plays home matches in three different stadia; located at Gangneung, Wonju and Chuncheon.

Former Gangwon Provincial Governor, Kim Jin-sun announced a schedule for the foundation of the 15th professional football club to participate in the K-League on April 28, 2008. A committee, the "Foundation of Football Club in Gangwon Preparation Committee", was organized on 18 June 18, 2008 to facilitate the foundation. Preparations had advanced sufficiently that by 17 November 2008, 14 players had joined Gangwon FC in a first nomination. On November 20, 2008, Gangwon FC organized its first full squad, a total of 23 players, including nine players from the 2009 K-League draft. Gangwon FC was formally founded on 18 December 2008 in time to enter the 2009 edition of the K-League.

Secondary Gangwon FC Home Stadium - Chuncheon-Songam LePorts Town, 136 Sports Town Street, Songam-dong 301-beonji, Chuncheon, Gangwon Province
Gangwon played its first ever K-League match against Jeju United on 8 March 2009, at Gangneung Stadium, winning 1-0 with a decisive goal from Yoon Jun-ha. With this victory, they became the first ever team to win their debut game in K-League. Gangwon FC continued their winning start to the season with a further four victories on the trot and causing a sensation in the first half of 2009 K-League. Unfortunately Gangwon was unable to maintain their initial success, and by round 19 had fallen into the lower half of the league table. By the conclusion of their first season in the K-League, they placed 13th of fifteen clubs.

Kim Young-hoo finished as top scorer for the club with 13 goals (good enough to place joint 3rd in the overall "Top Scorers"). Kim was awarded K-League Rookie of the Year for his efforts during the season. Gangwon FC was award the Fair Play Award for the 2009 season.

In the 2009 Korean FA Cup, Gangwon entered the competition in the round of 32 stage, and defeated their first opponent Incheon Koreail FC in a penalty shootout after a 2-all draw. They then faced the Jeonnam Dragons, losing 1:0. The club fared little better in the 2009 K-League Cup, finishing bottom of their group with only a single win (against Daejeon) to show for their efforts.

Tertiary Gangwon FC Home Stadium - Wonju Stadium, 311 Seowon Boulevard/Seowon-daero, Myeongnyun 1-dong 342-beonji, Wonju, Gangwon Province
Gangwon FC had a difficult season in 2010, even though first striker Kim Young-hoo scored 13 goals in the league. The club finished 12th out of 15 clubs. The 2011 season was the worst season since its establishment. Gangwon finished last in the league and the entire team only scored 14 goals in thirty matches.

In the 2012 season, K-League imposed a new promotion-relegation structure: bottom two teams in the top-tier league were to be relegated to second division. In the 43rd round, Gangwon managed to remain in the top-tier of K-League by Baek Jong-hwan's decisive goal that won the away game against Seongnam Ilhwa by 1-0. By one point, it avoided relegation.

In the 2013 season of K-League Classic, the first historical season in which K-League imposed compulsory relegation of bottom three teams and where the team that finished third from the bottom had to play the promotion-relegation playoffs against the champion of 2013 K-League Challenge, the second-tier league, Gangwon finished the season in the third place from the bottom inside the relegation zone, subsequently lost to Sangju Sangmu Phoenix over the two-leg relegation playoffs, and was relegated to the K-League Challenge.