This annual Korean Tournament started in 1971. Originally, the participating national and club teams were mainly invited from Asia. The R’s represented Great Britain in June 1988 and the other fifteen teams were made up of Olympic, national and club sides from:-
Mexico, Zambia, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Peru, Yugoslavia, USA, USSR, Nigeria, Iraq, Argentina, Hungary and two from the host country. These were split into four groups and Rangers faced the Olympic sides of USA, USSR and Nigeria.
David Seaman was on ‘England alert’ and stayed behind. With Nicky Johns on holiday, a young Israeli keeper, Bonni Ginsberg was invited by Jim Smith. The other players who went along with a view to signing were:-
Lee Docherty, a young midfielder with Linfield, Gary Brooke the former Tottenham and Norwich striker who was currently with the Dutch side Groningen and lastly, the former R’s player, Dean Neal. The full squad were: Roberts, Ginsberg, Neill, Fereday, Dawes, Dennis, Fleming, Parker, Law, Maguire, Docherty, Maddix, Ferdinand, Brooke, Neal and Pizanti. Alan McDonald didn’t travel as his wife was expecting a baby. Jim Smith wrote in the fans newspaper the ‘Bush Ranger’…”So it’s off to Korea on June 14 for a week – ten days if we are successful and reach the knock-out stage of the competition. Then its back to training on July 19 and tour games in Sweden and Holland.”
Rangers first game was against Nigeria and watched by around 20,000 fans in Taejon. Lee Docherty was carried off in the first minute after a late challenge from behind. David Pizanti scored soon after to put the R’s in front. Nigeria then equalised with a goal that Bonni Ginsberg could do little about. Paul Parker was sent off for tossing the ball back ‘to his aggressor’ after he had fouled him !!! Apparently poor refereeing was to be a feature throughout. Gavin Maguire said in his interview with Glenn Moore which also appeared in the ‘Bush Ranger’: “They are a bit bigger and a lot more physical than we expected. Paul Parker is sent of and the lads are not over-impressed with the refereeing.”
The R’s then played the Soviet Union in Kwangju and around 15,000 attended this one. They soon demonstrated their superior fitness and strength in extreme humidity. In the same interview, Gavin Maguire said that he lost about 5lb per training session and 12lb in a match. The Soviets apparently deserved their 3-0 victory but their last goal was a tad fortunate. Brian Law’s attempt to clear the ball hit one of the opposition and rebounded 30 yards past Ginsberg. Gavin Maguire was kicked in the face and had to go to hospital to receive eight stitches above his right eye.
The third game was against the USA and a win was required to give either side a chance of reaching the knock-out stage. It took Martin Allen and Kevin Brock 31 hours to join the squad via Bahrein. There was a crowd of around 50,000 in Kumi. The R’s fell behind after three minutes and were finding the humid conditions very difficult. Wayne Fereday equalised after 30 minutes but the Americans were resilient and the match finished 1-1. The Soviet Union won the group with maximum points, Nigeria were second and the R’s finished in third place with two points,
Chairman David Bulstrode said: “It was also a good experience for the younger players such as Brian Law and Mark Fleming. Also, the opportunity was taken to look at a couple of players who might be signed by the club in the future. The turn out of the players in their blazers and flannels was a credit to the club and I was delighted by the spirit and determination of the whole party in very difficult conditions.”
(The trip to Holland was cancelled by the Football League because of the fear of possible fan trouble. A short tour of the South West was then arranged with games against Weymouth, Bournemouth and Yeovil)