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Awayday lessons

Lately, there’s been an uptick in the number of Guoan fans (including sone foreigners) who travel to away games. Many of them are going for the first time and don’t have a complete grasp of what an awayday is like, leading to some recent problems in Shanghai and Tianjin. ‘s here to provide all you awayday “virgins” with some tips on how to safely pop your cherry.

1. Never wear your colors before entering the stadium.
This is a hard and fast rule, until you’re safely inside the stadium, don’t show your club’s colors. At the very least, doing so will get you laughed at by the veterans and can often lead to bottle throwing or all-out physical confrontations. You are not at your home stadium, don’t act like you are. Low key, under the radar is what you’re going for.

2. Make contact with one of your club’s supporters groups ahead of time.

You will need a ticket and to guarantee you’ll get in the away section, you’ll need to know where your fans are meeting. If you’re not a member of a supporters section (and if not, why not? It’s a great way to make friends, improve your Chinese, and develop a drinking problem), try to get in touch with them through baidu tieba’s or sina weibo. The supporters sections arrange ticket purchases directly from the club and so it is a hassle-free process.

3. Be careful when booking train tickets
Supporters tend to travel via chartered buses or using China’s extensive train system. Going to an away match could mean entering a stadium extremely early (Shanghai fans entered Workers Stadium at 3:30 for a 7:30 match) or staying inside very late (Beijing fans famously stayed inside Hanghai until 2:30 am after a match that ended at 9:30 pm). These are extremes, but generally you’ll need to enter the stadium an hour and a half to two hours before the match begins. The same is true when it comes to leaving, so be mindful when booking tickets or making plans.

4. I repeat NO COLORS!
Sports in the US are different from everywhere else in the world, there’s no need to segregate fans and away fans proudly wear their team colors around. That isn’t the case in China. Don’t wear or show your team colors anywhere until you’ve safely entered the venue. Being a female fan is not an excuse, change in the bathroom.

5. Even when you have 300, act like there’s 30
The matches where I’ve witnessed violence the most is at games where there are more away fans. It’s strength in numbers, with all those other fans, the away fans are more likely to act brash and do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Don’t! Keep yourself and your fellow fans safe by always acting like you didn’t travel well, even when you did.

6. Bring some form of entertainment
Whether its a book, magazine, or just your mp3 player, after reading number three, you know you’ll be entering the stadium early, so have something to do. Or just chat with the people around you and improve your Chinese.

7. Have fun

Even when your team puts in a shite performance, what makes awaydays fun is the camradarie with your fellow fans, even in some cases to include the home fans. Grabbing a meal and a few drinks before and/or after the match, getting to know the fans better, and seeing a new city in China, there’s a lot that makes awaydays worth it.

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.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Charliemarkillie

    10/08/2012 at 00:17

    Is it really that bad now for wearing colours at away matches? I went to 3 with Shenhua in 2009 (Hangzhou, Nanjing and Xian) and wore colours before and after and never had any problems. It may be because i’m a foreigner but would have thought that that would make me more of a “target” if anything…

    • bcheng

      10/08/2012 at 10:32

      There are a few exceptions, like if you’re on a trip where the bus takes you directly into the stadium, or say you’re wearing a blue shirt that doesn’t have a Shenhua logo on it. Depending on the time and what part of the stadium you’re walking around, you might be safe, but why take that risk? Best to be smart about it.

  2. Yiddo Huayi

    10/08/2012 at 11:38

    “shite performance” – bcheng is definitely becoming a Brit (fantastic to see).

    Is there much in the way of family fans at games (or maybe this is mostly home games)? Having children present does help to lower the levels of narrow-minded tribalism. There’s not too much aggro in the A-League (none here in Wellington because we only get a handful of away supporters able to fly over from Oz).

    A pity you can’t get youtube in China. If you type in “Away Day” and “Spurs” you get some very amusing accounts of what it is to be a Spurs supporter going around Wales and England.

    • bcheng

      10/08/2012 at 14:10

      There aren’t really any families that travel to away games, the vast majority of fans will be in their 20s and male (though there are plenty of females that make the trip too). Don’t get me wrong, incidents worth talking about are rare in China, but if you’re wearing team colors outside another team’s stadium, you’re unnecessarily placing a sign on yourself and its quite possible you’ll attract undesired attention for it.

  3. Benjamin

    10/08/2012 at 12:07

    Great tips man, I studied in Vancouver for 5 years and saw several home games of The Vancouver Whitesocks (They suck), and there are no ACTUALL whitesocks fans but The Canucks fans(Hockey). I think most major cities in North America has two or three teams either basketball, hockey or baseball. The MLS still have a long way to go to attract more fans.
    Last year Canucks lost in the finals (they were 3-0, and the opponent went 3-4 ) and the a number of fans in Vancouver burn cars, rob store and did all kinds of crime, and some fans from the opponent city got beaten. I think when a sport club is very much associated with the city, the fans would do really crazy stuff.
    Your blog is fascinating! really looking forward to see more great writing from you.

    weibo @KrispyKreme_Benjamin

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