I’ve been following FC St. Pauli for a good while now…. I don’t recall if the original article that sparked my interest was in When Saturday Comes, or FourFourTwo. It doesn’t matter, it was in the late 2000s, anyway. I grew up watching Stoke City, and when I started going regularly there would be a bloke selling The Socialist Worker paper outside the Boothen End season ticket holders entrance.
So roll forward to 2017, my home town team, my team, forms a partnership with my other team. I’ll level with you, I don’t think you can have 2 teams if they’re from the same country, but it’s ok if they’re from other countries. For me, FC St Pauli are a model for fan involvement at all levels of the club, the club reaches into many areas of the local community, has teams in lots of sports at all levels.
That’s before we even look at the Hamburg club and fans’ stance on hate, they are anti-facist, anti-homophobic, pro-equality. At all levels. They had issues with right wingers amongst the ranks, and they dealt with it at a fan level, they made them persona non grata on the terraces.
Being London based I jumped on the early Tuesday Ryanair flight from Stanstead, took the S-Bahn underground and got off at the infamous Reeperbahn- it was around 11am. I’ve lived in London 19 years, seen a lot of Soho through work, but Soho has nothing on the Reeperbahn: it was eye opening to walk out of the underground and see so many homeless drunks, the stench of stale urine reminding me of the old Boothen bogs. I opted to head towards the ground, find a nice cafe/bar get some food and maybe a beer. I found a great place in a side street just opposite the Millerntor and sat for an hour or so just soaking it up, reading the stickers that were everywhere in the bar. Then I wandered to the ticket office, got my ticket and went in the club shop, where I bought the t shirt of the poster – No Gods, No Masters!
I the took a bit of a wander around St. Pauli taking pictures of the graffiti for a while, went back to the Reeperbahn and just tried to take it all in, McDonald’s next to a very public 5 story legal brothel emblazoned with the price, then 2 doors down, a club shop. Every other shop seemed to be a kebab shop or strip club.
I did a good bit of walking and even ventured into the infamous street they have like in Amsterdam, with the women sat on stools in the window. I politely declined their offers. Carried on and ended up at Beatles Plazer. I’m sure the Reeperbahn is great for a stag do, but I’m more of a nice quiet bar with a pint kinda person these days, so headed back to the place I’d been at in the morning, before meeting up with some other Stokies at The Jolly Roger a famous pre match bar. After that we went to the supporters club bar and experienced true German hospitality, as St Pauli gave all Stoke fans free beer in one of their bars.
In the match, we had St Pauli fans sitting with us, no segregation, and beer being drunk. Of course, there was no trouble, fans mingled, chatted, drank together, exactly as it should be. Obviously our country’s have a shared history, and part of that history dominated the skyline behind the stand to our left. But more of that later.
After the game we returned to the Jolly Roger, drank with St Pauli fans and with European based Stoke fans who were taking pics of their German friends in old borrowed Stoke tops. My evening ended in a kebab shop next to my hotel having an Iskender kebab and another beer.
Although my hotel did breakfast they didn’t do coffee as I like it, so I returned to the same Cafe/Bar I’d been at twice before yesterday. I sat at one of the long outside table benches near a lady in an anti-facist t shirt, who immediately asked if I’d been at the game. She was a St. Pauli fan, and we spent the next two hours talking football, politics, war, history, how WW2 bombs keeping being found……….
Hamburg was bombed extensively in WW2, and those towers were anti aircraft gun platforms; so thick is the concrete, they couldn’t knock them down easily, so this one was left. It also stands as a reminder, and St Pauli fans will be the first to man the barricades if the right rears its ugly head again.
I finished my stay by walking down the Reeperbahn again, and finding a small Hamburger place for lunch. It would be rude not to surely! Germans are great people, incredibly hospitable, when St. Pauli come to Stoke, we need to show them the same hospitality they showed us!