Preview: FC Heidenheim v FC St. Pauli – 26/04/15

The relegation battle at the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga continues to twist and turn. A huge light at the end of the tunnel appeared for St. Pauli after a last minute winner came out of nowhere to defeat Nuremberg, but the light was somewhat faded over the weekend. On 51 minutes on Saturday afternoon, thinks were looking pretty perfect for FCSP. Former St. Pauli man Michael Gregoritsch had given Bochum an early lead at 1860, and Eintracht Braunschweig had just scored in Aalen to take the lead. Perfect. But the following 39 minutes of football saw a huge twist in the chase for survival. Aalen equalised on 53 minutes, and then in the other game 1860 drew level on 56′. Not too bad, right? Well Ofosu-Ayeh scored Aalen’s winner on 69′, and in the last moments of the game in Munich, Stephan Hain scored a crucial goal for 1860. Just to make matters worse, Aue picked up a 1-0 victory and all 3 points at home to FSV Frankfurt on Sunday, meaning the bottom four teams had all won. As you were, then.

One positive from that was that Greuther Fuerth were now dragged back into the relegation fight. When they beat St. Pauli in mid-February it looked like they’d distanced themselves from the pack, however they’ve not won since. 5 draws and 3 defeats later, they sit on 31 points, just 3 points above St. Pauli on 28th who currently occupy the relegation playoff place. A trip to promotion chasing Karlsruhe, currently unbeaten in 11, isn’t exactly the trip Furth needed either. Elsewhere on Saturday, 1860 travel to Dusseldorf to take on a Fortuna side who have struggled massively since the winter break and still somehow find themselves in 7th spot despite not having won in 3.

So by the time St. Pauli kick off at 13:30 (12:30 UK) on Sunday, hopefully both Furth and 1860 will have dropped points and given St. Pauli a fighting chance of climbing out of the relegation places by the end of the weekend. In order to do so, St. Pauli must take revenge away at a FC Heidenheim side who beat them 3-0 at the Millerntor in November. Heidenheim were brilliant that day, soaking up the pressure from FCSP and counter attacking to great effect. Gulp.

Heidenheim haven’t won in 3 which is something for the optimists. But, it’s no surprise given those matches were played against each of the top 3 sides in the division. That said, with 1 win in 5 and only 3 goals in those 5 games, there’s certainly room for optimism for the boys in brown. Plus with only 3 wins this side of the winter break, Heidenheim aren’t the force they were in the first half of the campaign.

But then you have to remember that this is St. Pauli, away from home, with 1 win and 3 amassed from 14 away games so far this season. Big gulp. The guest block will be occupied by a sold-out 1480 following for FCSP. Lienen has declared the team ready, let’s go!

24 points.

720 minutes of football is all that remains of the 2.Bundesliga season. 8 games and a possible 24 points to play for, and St. Pauli sit bottom of the league. You could be forgiven for thinking luck was firmly against St. Pauli, with 4 points dropped in the last 2 games through individual unexplained errors – summed up by Robin Himmelmann’s air-kick in the 89th minute of the game at Union Berlin last week.

Last week a glimmer of hope shone through the clouds though, as fellow relegation battlers Aalen were deducted 2 points due to ‘negative equity’ – a poor financial balance which is against the strict financial licensing conditions of the league. Normally i wouldn’t take happiness in another clubs downfall, but when in desperate need of some luck, it’s hard not to feel satisfied by the outcome.

The points deduction for Aalen leaves them in 16th place on 22 points, ahead of Aue in 17th and St. Pauli in 18th only on goal difference, and gives 1860 Munich a 4 point cushion from the relegation battle in 15th. Into the final 8 games we go, who will survive?

Of the 8 remaining games left, the lowest rank team St. Pauli have to face is Nurnburg – who sit 11th. This includes away trips to Kaiserslautern (2nd), Darmstadt (3rd) and Karlsruhe (4th). Kaiserslautern are unbeaten at home all season, and Darmstadt have only lost once at home. If you’re looking to this article for some optimism, i apologise. With only 1 away win all season, there’s hardly room to go into those away games with confidence.

While St. Pauli only facing 1 team in the bottom half of the table, Aue face four teams in the lower half of the table in the last 8 games. However since wins against ** ******* and Fortuna Dusseldorf immediately after the winter break, Aue have failed to win any of their last 5 games. A defeat away at 1860 Munich on Sunday would almost definitely leave the relegation battle a 3 horse place. But Aue then have winnable home matches against Sandhausen and FSV Frankfurt that provide good opportunities to gain points in their bid for survival.

Having picked up a win against Aue and picked up a point each against Greuther Furth and 1860 Munich before the winter break, Aalen would have been feeling rather positive about their chances of survival prior to the international break. But how much of a psychological blow will the 2 point deduction be? It could actually work in their favour if it brings the squad close together and provides them with even more motivation to beat the drop. Only time will tell, starting with a home game against Karlsruhe on Sunday. Karlsruhe sit 4th in the league and are the best away team in the division. Aalen also have to play Fortuna Dusseldorf (5th) and Eintracht Braunschweig (6th), but crucially they don’t play anyone in the top 3, and play several teams sitting mid-table who may not have anything to play for in the coming weeks.

The only predictability about the remaining 8 matches is simply that it isn’t predictable. If football was based entirely on league positions and form, then bookmakers would be out of business and we might as well all pack up and go home. That said, the odds are firmly stacked against St. Pauli. If we go down, let’s go down fighting.

In from the cold.

The winter break is almost over, and this weekend St. Pauli restart their 2.Bundesliga campaign with one objective – survival. It would be easy to have forgotten the first half of the season with only four wins in 19 games and a -17 goal difference, not to mention 3 managers and 2 sporting directors. But let’s not be all doom and gloom eh?

Matchday 19 saw St. Pauli secure a vital 3-1 victory over VfR Aalen, the club’s first victory in 10 games in new coach Ewald Lienen’s first game in charge. It was a performance that didn’t tally with St. Pauli’s league table and one that gives plenty of hope for the rest of the season. You can’t judge Lienen’s effect on the team on that one performance, but if the effort and application shown in that game goes into every game for the rest of the season then we should be ok.

The win over Aalen was vital to the league position going into the winter break, closing the gap on Aalen just above them to a single point. Sitting 17th and on 16 points, only Aue on 14 points sit below St. Pauli. Aalen and 1860 Munich(17 points), Sandhausen (20 points) and FSV Frankfurt (21 points) are all within reach of the boys in brown in their attempt to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. What better way to start the second half of the season then with an away trip to fellow battler Sandhausen on Saturday afternoon?

February will be a pivotal month in the club’s battle for survival. If you can have a “six pointer” with 14 games of the season remaining, then the Sandhausen fixture is every bit of that cliché. It’s followed by by a Monday night game at home to Greuther Fuerth, before another relegation ‘six pointers’. If the club drops points away at 1860 Munich and then at home to Aue it’ll be expecting the worst. 12 points from those two games would be great, Mr Lienen.

Lienen has done his bit to re-shape the squad during the winter break. He made his third and final signing of the transfer window yesterday prior to it slamming shut. (Does Sky Sports Germany present the transfer window in the same cringeworthy and horrendous manner as their English counterparts do? Answers on a postcard). Defensive midfielder Armando Cooper joined the club from Argentine club Godoy Cruz. Cooper is well known to Lienen, having played for him at Otelul Galati last season. Lienen stated yesterday that Cooper had been on his list of targets since he joined the club, and with the injury to Nehrig which looks set to rule him out for the rest of the season, the signing of Cooper become important.

He joins another signing, Julian Koch on loan from Mainz, as competition for one of the central midfield places. Koch has impressed in friendlies since joining the club, in particular in the recent 2-0 friendly victory over Bundesliga side Paderborn. However he has become an internet sensation in recent weeks not because of his childishly funny name or his performance against Paderborn, but for scoring this goal…

The other signing of the transfer window was Waldemar Sobota, a 27 year old Polish international winger on loan from Club Brugge. Sobota has very good credentials, with 17 caps and 4 goals for the Polish national side and having featured 4 times for Club Brugge in the Europa League this season.

The three new signings should add some quality to the St. Pauli side, and hopefully be the catalyst for a push up the table in the second half of the season. A first away win of the season on Saturday would be a decent starting point…

NOTE – YORKSHIRE ST. PAULI WILL BE MEETING TO WATCH THE GAME AT HEBDEN BRIDGE TRADES CLUB ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON, 3PM KICK OFF. FURTHER DETAILS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE. EVERYONE WELCOME. 

YORKSHIRE ST. PAULI FC – A YEAR OF SUCCESS. PART 2.

2014 wasn’t a year of footballing success for St. Pauli. A year which started with the club in the midst of an unexpected promotion chase ended with the club planning for the realistic possibility of relegation to the third tier. However, it wasn’t all bad. Yorkshire St. Pauli FC started the year with the intention of using football as a means of further strengthening the links we had already formed between Yorkshire St. Pauli and local refugee charity PAFRAS. This is the second part of this review, if you haven’t yet read Part 1 then click here to do so.

In June, our ‘Football For All’ kickabouts had started to gain momentum, and word had spread across the internet about the initiative. We were contacted by ‘Football Beyond Borders’ (http://www.footballbeyondborders.org) who were due to embark on a tour of the UK, and asked if we fancied organising an event as part of their tour. A mini tournament was arranged which also involved teams from the Archway Project in Leeds (http://archwayleeds.blogspot.co.uk/) and Republica Internationale – a socialist football team based in Leeds. The event was a huge success, with Football Beyond Borders dominating the competition and picking up the trophy.

The winners - Football Beyond Borders.
The winners – Football Beyond Borders.

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The next event on the rather busy YSP FC calendar was the Leeds No Borders party in the park event. A lovely sunny day meant we put the jumpers down for goalposts and played football for hours. This was proper park footy, avoiding dog shit, molehills and kids trying to nick your ball. There was also no nets, so you had to run a mile for the ball when you scored. Great fun for 5 minutes, and then it becomes a pain in the arse. In June we also used the power of social media to ask people to send in any bits of old footy kit they no longer wanted so we could supply these to the refugees and asylum seekers attending our weekly kickabout. As you can see from the below picture, we now have an eclectic range of footy shirts!

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July saw the big event of the year. The Summer ANTIRA. On the back of the success of our first one in February (success off the pitch at least), we teamed up with Republica to host a joint event together at Leeds Caribbean Cricket Club. Unfortunately the winner’s from February, United Glasgow FC, couldn’t make the long trip down to Yorkshire, so the title was well and truly up for grabs! The draw for the tournament had already been made in the week leading up to the event, and the tournament would be split into two after the initial group phases. With 8 teams split into 2 groups, the teams who finish 1st and 2nd in each group would go into the ‘higher’ knockout tournament, and the teams who finish 3rd and 4th would compete in the ‘lower’ knockout tournament. The format means that every team, regardless of ability, have something to play for at the end of the day and each team plays an equal amount of games.

The Yorkshire St. Pauli FC players had been divided into two teams, and were joined by teams from Republica, Bradford’s 1 in 12, Leeds Anti-Fascist Network, Mount Pleasant from Sheffield, FCKV from Leicester and Leeds Caribbean Cricket Club. The day was too eventful to put all the detail in here, but you can read all about it in the report here. But it was a great day, with teams interacting and socialising, and football played in a friendly and uncompetitive manner – exactly what YSP FC are all about.

The lasting memories of the day will be two things. Firstly, YSP FC 1 had been knocked out in the semi finals of the lower trophy, and were now involved in the third placed playoff against Leeds Anti-Fascist Network. YSP FC 1 took an early lead against the Leeds Anti-Fascist Network before controversy ensued. With only a few minutes on the clock, YSP FC 1 had been awarded a corner and goalkeeper Tom Leak had left his goal with reckless abandon to go up for the corner. Sensibly, striker Chris Webster had seen the danger and stood in the goal to cover for his goalkeeper. But LAFN counter-attacked from the corner and Tom Leak was stranded. Chris Webster blocked a goal-bound shot with his arm, which the referee didn’t see! (Note – the referee was a Yorkshire St. Pauli member…) Chris owned up to it and advised it should be a free-kick, and the referee having been told what happened took the decision to send him off! In what was possibly an ANTIRA football tournament first, someone had actually been sent off. Tom Leak wasn’t happy with the decision and berated the referee, and almost found himself sent off too! Somehow though, YSP FC 1 held on to claim their first victory of the tournament in the most bizarre fashion.

Secondly, YSP FC 2 had found themselves in the higher trophy competition having finishing 2nd in the group on goal difference having won 1 and lost 2 matches. The team finally expected to be hammered in the semi finals, so decided to adopt a cautious approach. By cautious, we meant a proper cynically defensive, everyone in defence and don’t concede a goal approach. This was fair enough given the opposition was the 1 in 12 club, who were yet to concede a goal or drop a point. The plan got off to a better start than the YSP team could have imagined, scoring a goal in the opening stages of the game. The battle lines were drawn, it was now attack against defence. Unconfirmed Opta stats show that 1 in 12 had 95% of possession during the game, but the YSP FC 2 defence were standing up to most things, and when they weren’t, Lee in goal was stopping everything thrown at him. Clearances were being put into the car park or onto the dual carriageway on Scott Hall Road as the game reached the final minutes, and YSP FC 2 player Fuzz had to be substituted after an accidental head collision leaving him with a nasty swollen eye. It was backs to the wall stuff from YSP and long throw-ins and corners were pumped into the box, and they were desperate. So desperate that the YSP goalkeeper Lee took a goal kick in the final moments of the game that cleared the opposition crossbar. Cynical, but effective.It was the last highlight of the game, and YSP FC 2 had somehow beaten the unbeatable 1 in 12 and reached the final.

You can listen to Rob from Yorkshire St. Pauli providing full match commentary on the game using the link below:

https://soundcloud.com/yorkshirestpauli/yspfc2-vs-1in12-semi-final

Having beaten Goliath in the semi finals, it seemed Goliath had done what every kid did during a fight – told on his older, taller brother to deal with you. YSP FC 2 faced Mount Pleasant FC, who were still to concede a goal and had already beaten YSP FC 2 by a single goal in the group stages. The tactics of YSP FC 2 remained the same – somehow score, somehow defend and don’t concede. Forget parking the bus, this was a convoy of HGV lorries in front of the goal. A couple minutes into the game and central defender Scott went on what can only be described as a mesmerising run down the wing. The run had caused so much confusion in the Mount Pleasant defence that the resulting cross towards the back post was turned into the goal by a Mount Pleasant player. Mount Pleasant played some great football to try and get back into the game, and YSP FC 2 were sitting deeper and deeper in the final minutes.

"Defend, park the bus, 110%, don't concede, nick a goal..."
“Defend, park the bus, 110%, don’t concede, nick a goal…”
YSP FC 2 and the parked bus against 1 in 12 in the final stages.
YSP FC 2 and the parked bus against 1 in 12 in the final stages.

It seemed an equaliser was only a matter of time, and in the final minute their goalkeeper came forward for a corner and had a great chance to equalise but the chance was missed. The final whistle was blown and somehow YSP FC 2 had won. Scenes of jubilation, shock and general bewilderment followed. After finishing last in almost everything we do and just having fun finishing last, we’d finally found something to put in the YSP trophy cabinet we’d bought on Gumtree years ago when all this started.

Two years previously, we’d played in our first tournament held by FC FC Kolektivo Victoria, and we were thumped in every game. Our record in most games since has been along the same lines. But in recent months we’ve had great fun with our ‘Football For All’ initiative, which is essentially a weekly kickabout session open to everyone and we invited refugees and asylum seekers to play for free. The sessions have been a huge success, and more than anything we’ve built a fantastic group of friends with a real team and community spirit. In many ways, it echoes the spirit of St. Pauli. Our victory was a success for everything we’ve built in the last few months, and everyone who has helped us.

Group photo.
Group photo.
YSP FC.
YSP FC.

The summer months brought plenty of sunshine for our ‘Football For All’ kickabouts, which were still going strong. If you’ve never been along to our kickabouts and you fancy playing, just turn up and do so. In recent months we’ve welcomed loads of newcomers, and everyone is welcoming and friendly. We’re a big group of friends, and everyone is welcome to turn up and play. We have about 3 bags of kit to ensure we can provide for everyone, so if you’re short of kit or boots, turn up anyway and we’ll kit you out if possible. We ask players to contribute a suggested donation of £3 per week to cover pitch hire, but we don’t demand this, if you can’t afford to pay you’re still more than welcome to play. This is less of a competitive 7 a side match and more of a school lunchtime kickabout! We play most weeks (if we ever aren’t playing we will post this on our social media accounts) and it’s every Sunday, 2pm at Powerleague Leeds Central on Wellington Bridge Street, which is just off Kirkstall Road.

The final event of the year was a friendly match against Sheffield Shamrock Celtic Supporters Club, who got in contact with us and arranged to come down to Powerleague and have a match. Sheffield Shamrock CSC were victors in a very good game, and it was good to continue the link between St. Pauli and Celtic supporters.

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2014. Many defeats, one trophy, and dozens of new friends. 

FORZA YSP FC.

Yorkshire St. Pauli FC – A year of success. Part 1.

2014 wasn’t a year of footballing success for St. Pauli. A year which started with the club in the midst of an unexpected promotion chase ended with the club planning for the realistic possibility of relegation to the third tier. However, it wasn’t all bad. Yorkshire St. Pauli FC started the year with the intention of using football as a means of further strengthening the links we had already formed between Yorkshire St. Pauli and local refugee charity PAFRAS.

Consensus amongst members was that if we turned our irregular football kickabouts into weekly sessions and publicised them at PAFRAS drop-in centres that we’d gain some interest.

In February we hosted our first ANTIRA football tournament, inspired by those we’d attended in previous years.

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Having never won a competitive (or otherwise) fixture prior to the tournament, any points picked up were to be considered a success amongst the YSP ranks! It was somewhat of a surprise then when Team 1 won 9-3 in the opening game and followed this up with a 6-2 victory in the second game. Bemused looks were aplenty. However Team 1 struggled against better opposition and got knocked out in the semi finals of the higher trophy. Elsewhere, Team 2 had also picked up a victory in their group, and qualified for the lower trophy where they reached the final before being beaten 8-3 by Nick’s AllStars. The higher trophy was deservedly won by United Glasgow. It was a great weekend amongst teams with similar principles and ethos to ours, and we vowed to do it again later in the year.

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Buoyed by some decent results in the tournament, YSP FC got ideas well and truly above their stations and decided to enter a competitive 5-a-side league at Powerleague. Oops…

The end of March saw our first league fixture, a 9-3 defeat against a very kind but ruthless opponent!  The results didn’t get any better, however the main result was that the team had featured 8 refugees & asylum seekers from PAFRAS in the 6 games we’d played and we now had enough players to field a full 11-a-side team! Unfortunately the last game of the season ended on a sour note, with the team we were playing seemingly intent on injuring our players rather than scoring goals. The opening moments of the game saw a tackle on one of our players which was not dissimilar to the foul by ‘Wacko’ in Mike Bassett’s opening game as England manager. For those unfamiliar with the film, skip to 21:25 on the clip here.

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Entering the league had caused us a problem – not the results or some of the teams thinking they were playing in the Premiership, but an influx of people wanting to play for the team. With a squad of 12, it was no longer feasible to field a 5 a side team. Nor was it much fun losing comprehensively each week.

Another problem we’d encountered was not having enough kit. Inviting service users from PAFRAS meant we had to ensure we could provide for them. FC St. Pauli donated us some kit, and our members and followers on social media donated kit. We also received donations which allowed us to buy other bits of kit we needed, and soon enough we had 3 bags of kit we needed to find space for!

With increased interest, a group discussion decided that we should continue playing every week but we should play amongst ourselves and welcome more people to join us for a friendly kick about in an uncompetitive setting. The idea of our ‘Football For All’ initiative was born. It was a simple idea – book a pitch for 2pm every Sunday, publicise it and ask people to pay a suggested donation of £3 if they could afford to do so. Here’s a photo which summarises the first event…

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Attendances each Sunday seemed to double, with new faces being welcomed both from PAFRAS and also from people who had just heard about the initiative on social media and wanted to get involved. The original 6/7 of us who were keen to play football regularly had been joined by another 15-20 people keen on the idea of what we were trying to achieve. Success.

Part 2 later in the week will cover the rest of the year, involving a Football Beyond Borders tournament, the second ever YSP ANTIRA tournament and a friendly with a Celtic Supporters Club.

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