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Beijing Guoan 20 Years, 20 Moments #5: Never lose at Gongti

Beijing Guoan is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and we’re here to celebrate 20 of the most important moments over the past 20 years. Not all of these are positive, but all of them shaped the history of the club and the league. We put this year’s home win streak (currently at four) into context here, with an explanation of one of the club’s favorite expressions.

Guoan fans have a few common sayings, there’s “永远争第一” (always finish in first) and when Shanghai is in town you’ll hear “9-1″, bu there’s another famous one “工体不败” (or “never lose at Gongti“). While this all may sound like the bragging of a loyal fan base, there’s a lot of truth to the last one.

The 1996 season saw Guoan move away from Xiannongtan Stadium in southern Beijing to its current home of Worker’s Stadium. Renovations on Worker’s Stadium had just been completed and there was a feeling the club had outgrown Xiannongtan’s much smaller capacity.

The move to Worker’s Stadium turned out to be a massive success. That first season, the club only lost a single game at Gongti, a 1-0 defeat to Shandong in early September. That match started an unbelievable streak that would see Guoan win the next 29 league matches at their Beijing home, stretching from September 1996 all the way to the end of April 1999, when they lost to Shanghai Shenhua 1-0.

During that lengthy period the club also didn’t lose a single CFA Cup game played at Worker’s Stadium, including lifting the trophy at home in 1996 and 1997. They also managed to win almost all friendlies they played there, including defeating Arsenal, AC Milan, and Boca Juniors.

In all, the club won 18 matches and drew 11 during the home unbeaten streak, they also won eight cup matches and drew four, including victories in the two finals played at home. The streak is an amazing one and to this day the club has maintained an excellent home record, making “never lose at Gongti” a reality.

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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