How relegation broadened James Donachie’s outlook on football

How relegation broadened James Donachie’s outlook on football


James Donachie spent some six months in Korea’s K-League 1 but it wasn’t long after arrival that he felt the unfamiliar pain of relegation to K2. 

Donachie’s Jeonnam Dragons finished 12th in K1 and slipped down a division, being relegated for the first time in their 24-year history.

Whether it is in Asia, Europe or elsewhere, the pain of the drop and its consequences are obvious and storied.

One simply has to look abroad to the UK and zero in on Sunderland, whose troubles following relegation from the Premier League was disastrous enough even to catch the eye of Netflix filmmakers.

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They suffered in the second tier and then went down again to League One, and that documentary showed the human effect of failure.

Indeed relegation in Korea, was hardly what centre-back Donachie had envisaged when calling time on his first stint with Melbourne Victory, fresh off winning an unlikely A-League championship.

The drop meant the standard financial cuts for the portside club, and Donachie soon found his way back to Victory on a six-month loan.

Now a week into his return, Donachie opened up on the difficulties faced after the Dragons’ drop and the “stressful” times as the season drew to a close.

“It was a really good experience actually because I went from Melbourne Victory where we finished really well and won, to getting relegated within six months,” he said on Thursday’s Daily Football Show.

“It was kind of like a complete flip.

“You realise this is their life, this is their family and if they go down in Korea, it’s a decrease in salary and it’s a decrease for the club.

“You realise how real and how big of a deal it is and I think maybe we knew with eight games to go we were going to be touch and go.

“We were fighting every game and obviously there’s bonuses there too, so the club motivates you even more to get wins.

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“We came right down to the wire and played Incheon (United) in pretty much a relegation battle in the last game and we ended up losing so it came really close.

“It was a stressful week and you can see it in the players as well, but it was a pretty full on experience.”

Donachie is due back in Korea after the A-League season admits he is keeping an open mind beyond that time.

Now back in Melbourne with Victory, Donachie is in a position to challenge for more silverware with the club sitting second on the table.

He has been named in Kevin Muscat’s squad for a massive – possibly season-defining – meeting with Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Sunday.

Full-back Storm Roux is also back while Japanese star Keisuke Honda appears set to make a long-awaited return to the pitch.