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A Guide to Football in Shenyang

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China’s northeast is a footballing hotbed, and of the three provinces, Liaoning has always led the charge, in particular, the province’s capital city of Shenyang.  Despite the lack of success for the city’s local teams, it has produced an inordinate amount of China’s top footballers who’ve gone on to great success in other sides around China.  For such a footballing mad city (and region, fans in nearby Anshan are known around the country for their national team support), recent memory is full of upheaval.

The main side in Shenyang had always been Liaoning FC (currently known as Liaoning Whowin), but with the push for more soccer professionalism in China starting in the 1980s, the city government wanted a team of their own, creating Shenyang FC (later to become Shenyang Ginde during the Jia A/Chinese Super League period).  With Shenyang having a team of its own and the city struggling economically through China’s “reform and opening up” period, Liaoning FC became a traveling show, changing their home around the province every few years (from Jinzhou to Fushun to Anshan and even, briefly, in Beijing).  When Ginde’s home ground was demolished in 2007, the club moved “temporarily” to Changhsa, but never returned, and currently resides in Shenzhen.  The city was only without a team for one season when in 2008, a lower division team that originally started in Shandong province but was most recently in Ningbo moved to Shenyang and became Shenyang Dongjin.  In 2010, the city would be blessed with another side, when newly promoted to the Chinese Super League Liaoning Whowin would move back to its original hometown.

I would be remiss not to mention more about the demolition of the city’s stadium in 2007, see it wasn’t just any stadium, it was a ground that held great importance for many Chinese football fans.  That venue, Wulihe Stadium, was built in 1989 and was home to China’s greatest footballing accomplishment, qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.  Anyways, less than 20 years was enough for the venue in the eyes of the Shenyang government and a new stadium was built to host the few Olympic football matches (and now hosts Shenyang Dongjin) that were played in Shenyang.

Liaoning Whowin’s the side that gets the most attention in Shenyang and they play their home games at Shenyang Tiexi Stadium, also built in the runup to Beijing’s Olympics.  As the name implies, the stadium is located in the Tiexi District of the city, a poorer area of the city that a number of players have come from, including Liaoning lifer and current captain, Zhao Junzhe.

The stadium is about a RMB25 taxi ride from the city center (give or take a couple kuai), though it’s only a 15-20 minute walk from the Zhong Gong Rd (重工街) subway station to the venue.  The 114 bus is also an option, especially for out of towners coming in from the North Train Station.  Post-match, taxis aren’t really an option as the out of the way location means you won’t find a lot of empty taxis.

No need to worry about touts or scalpers here, even for big matches, tickets can usually be picked up from the bus set up by the club outside the north gate of the stadium.  Tickets usually cost RMB30 and while you must sit in the section on your ticket, it’s first come first served once inside the section.  Season tickets are also available for RMB180 and come with a scarf and replica shirt.  The main supporters group is located in the east tier section 1, though the entire east tier is full of loud, angry, constantly swearing Northeasterners.

a look inside the Tiexi StadiumThere isn’t much in the way of souveniers on sale outside the stadium, the most popular item seems to be plastic seat cushions and Chinese flags.  There were no Liaoning related souveniers other than a replica jersey from the supporter’s group running RMB50.  There are a number of food carts outside the stadium, but inside, the motherload, (warm) beer is on sale, something hard to come by in most Chinese Super League venues.

While the trip to Tiexi can be a bit of an annoyance, the team’s well worth watching, if only to learn the most vulgar Chinese words you’ll ever hear constantly screamed by 15,000+ crazies who love their team.  This year, the team has stayed near the top of the table, making it all the more exciting to head out to Tiexi for an afternoon.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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