Greetings from Korea

Greetings from Korea

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Fran Koerner, Jr. catches up with Clinton Carroll, a proud Charm City Red serving his country overseas.

I recently had a chance to catch up with a familiar face of the Charm City Reds, Clinton Carroll. As some of you may or may not know, Clinton recently relocated to Seoul, Korea. He took an opportunity to transfer to the South Korean capital to continue his work with the Public Affairs office for the U.S. Army.

How was your move to Seoul?

The move to Seoul had been a process for over a year, I knew it was coming. The actual move itself was very simple. The Army just moves my stuff and I show up to an already in place system.

Hopefully your trip wasn’t too long. Did you have any long layovers?

The flight took 18 hours. For someone who hates to fly, this is hell. Every minute you feel like you could fall out of the sky. There may have been some whiskey drank. I only had one layover in Atlanta. I found out they do not serve beer before 12:30 pm on Sunday, ANYWHERE! It sucked!

How long will you be stationed in Seoul?

I’ll be in Seoul for a year but could extend to stay longer. It just depends on what is going on. I’d like to get back to Europe but Korea is fun and it’s different. You certainly feel like you’re in another world.

Outside of your family of course, what are you missing most about Baltimore?

What I miss most about Baltimore is the small town feel it has. I miss walking in to a place and knowing half the room. A city like Seoul, 25 million-plus. That’s going to take a lot longer than a year to accomplish.

How long before your wife and son join you in Korea?

Going to try to get them here in the fall. We have to sell our house in Baltimore first.

Are there other servicemen or women you are stationed with also fans of the game?

So far I have not made any friends who are big in to the games. However there is light at the end of the tunnel. My first experience was at a Liverpool bar called Hollywood’s in Itawaen. There was a big crowd of supporters for the game so I know there must be a good following. I’ll just have to keep looking.

Being 13 hours ahead, how has watching matches changed from when you were in Baltimore?

The time difference is actually not an issue because instead of being up at sometimes, 8 am, the games run between 11 pm and 1 am. So it’s actually perfect weekend fun. Sunday night I just stream in my room though.

So Clinton, for those not familiar with you how did you become a Manchester United supporter? 

I became a United supporter in 2002 while living in Hiroshima, Japan. There was a bar called Molly Malone’s. It was an English-speaking bar. It didn’t matter if you were a student, a baseball player, a businessman, or a solider, if you spoke English that was pretty much your first stop. The owner was a United supporter and had them on 24/7. So I got swept up in it and it’s stuck with me. Every time I go to a new town I find a new group of United supporters and it connects me back.

Is there a player past or present that you favor?

My favorite player was David Beckham. I travel a lot and he was always that connection to a new group of people, most of which I would have very little in common with. Name dropping Beckham became just part of the conversations.

When was the first time you saw United live?

The first time I saw United was in Milan actually. It was during February 2009 for a Champions League match [against Inter]. It ended 0-0 but still fun as hell.

What is your most memorable moment as a supporter?

My favorite moment as a supporter……That’s hard to say. I did enjoy being at Slainte when RVP scored that extra time free kick against City. Pretty much knocking them out of the running. There were a lot of annoying city fans in the bar that day and watching them cry made me smile.

How did you become a Charm City Red?

Almost as soon as I moved to Baltimore, I think the second weekend, I went to [watch] a match and met a bunch of people. I got a Facebook invite [to join the group] and instantly had a group of friends the entire time I was there.

Any moments that sticks out about your time with the Charm City Reds?

Going to see United beat Inter [with the group]. It was a friendly sure , but there really is no such thing once the whistle blows.

What do you think the future holds for Manchester United?

I think United regain top form in 2 or 3 years and stay there again. Honestly, we have a great group of young talent, which has always been the backbone of United. We have a manager, who has proven he has what it takes. Once we get back in to Champions League and some of those young kids get that experience we are only going to become more dangerous. If you look at United right now, we are taking points, even when we play poorly. This is a good mix already and we will improve on it next year, and the next year.

Something Clinton said to me really stuck. I wanted to make sure I shared it. I think it’s something that is embedded in all of us, whether we are home, at the bar, or abroad. He said, 

“I’ve watched United play at bars all over the world. For 90 minutes it’s exactly the same no matter where you are. For 90 minutes we are all United.”

The Charm City Reds and United in the States wish Clinton nothing but the best while he serves our country. We hope he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible and that he thoroughly enjoys his time in Seoul. Good luck our friend! And oh yeah…Glory Glory Man United!

Seoul, Korea

Fran Koerner has been a Manchester United supporter for nearly two decades. He is also a proud member of the Charm City Reds and handles the social media and web content for teh group. Fran is still learning to deal with the post-Fergie era. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @FKoerner43 and the group @CharmCityReds.