Football For All – Removing Borders

For the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of spending time talking to other football groups such as United Glasgow and Mount Pleasant Park for my postgrad dissertation. I’ve also spent time applying for funding and chatting with funding providers and mentors. This has allowed me space to conceptualise what we are, where we’re at and what we’re trying to achieve.                                    

‘Football For All’ was started by a few of us at Yorkshire St. Pauli primarily as a means of connecting with refugees and asylum seekers who did not have the resources to access regular structured football. Our aim was fairly a simple one; to remove the barriers to football for refugees and asylum seekers. We did this by hanging out at the PAFRAS drop-in centre and letting the service users know that if they fancied a kick-about on a Sunday we’d pick them up and provide them with kit and cover the pitch cost.

As I’ve previously said in another blog (see Here) this was never an act of charity. Instead we saw this as a form of solidarity, a form of sharing something that we love with people who don’t have the resources to access it. The idea that someone who loves football can’t access it just because they were born in another country was something that deeply frustrated us and was one of the main motivations for getting off our arses and doing something.  

We originally joined a 5-a-side league but we found this problematic on three fronts. Firstly, we were getting smashed 26-0 every week (I seem to remember our best score being a 12-7 defeat which we were all super proud of). Secondly, we grew in popularity very quickly and we had about 12 players in our squad so ensuring game time was a nightmare. Thirdly, the rampant sexism, racism and homophobia, ultra competitiveness and macho bullshit in these sorts of leagues was precisely what we were trying to stay clear of. So after a few weeks we decided we had enough people involved to do our own thing and started a regular kick-about session on a Sunday at Powerleague in Leeds. 
The aim of this was to create an environment that promoted the values and politics that for the most part appear absent in organised football. As well as breaking down barriers for refugees and asylum seekers to play football, we are also concerned with creating an alternative where people can feel relaxed and enjoy doing something that they love.
What started out as a focus primarily on refugees and asylum seekers (this focus is still absolutely fundamental) has grown to be an environment that everyone can feel comfortable in and contribute towards.

Over the past few months I’ve realised more than ever before that our ‘Football For All project’ does just as much for a lot of participants who have lived in Yorkshire all their lives as it does for refugees and asylum seekers. This is because we have created new social norms within our environment where the emphasis is not on ability instead it is on fostering friendship. This has allowed people who may have felt like their face hasn’t fit into traditional Sunday league football to be active and connect with football again. 

This may make our project sound like a bunch misfits having a kick-about. But I firmly believe that there are more ‘misfits’ like us than there are people who tick all the boxes to play regular football for a Sunday league team. In tackling racism, sexism and LGBT issues we are more representative of people who love playing football than some of the teams we played in 5-a-side leagues will ever be. 

So what now? 

Over the past few months we have grown considerably to the point where we are getting 20-30 participants on a weekly basis. We have got to the point where although we’re financially sustainable (just) we need to look at growing. We have recently teamed up with the Hamara Centre in Leeds who have provided us with some funding via the Ignite funding scheme. With Hamara we are looking at ways we can expand with a strong possibility of moving to a couple of sessions a week.

They have also provided us with a mentor who works as a youth scout for Manchester City who has an array of contacts that could help us grow. We are looking at broadening out to perhaps include educational elements like our friends at United Glasgow do. 

We believe that working with other groups and with funding co-ordinators we will be able to replicate our project and the success it has had in various other cities across the region.

However, we will always maintain the ethos we have fostered at ‘Football For All’ and it will never feel more than a bunch of mates having a kick-about. After all ‘Football For All’ doesn’t belong to a couple of us, it belongs to everyone that contributes whether it be playing on a Sunday or simply retweeting our poster from the other side of the world.

Note – there is no Football For All kick about this Sunday due to a charity match organised with Suma Co-Op, see below poster. Please come along, attend, or even join our team!  

Chris YSP

 

FCSP – The Summer Of Change

It’s rare that we actually take football seriously – in reality football is just an excuse at Magischer FC, but following the scare of last season’s relegation battle here’s a rare serious look at the squad and transfer policy of the club going into next season…

Two seasons ago I stood on the Südkurve with Nick Davidson, author of Pirates, Punks & Politics, during the first game of the season at home to 1860 Munich, and Nick said he couldn’t get excited about the current crop of players in the squad, he couldn’t feel an emotional attachment to them in the same way that he had with previous squads. It was an interesting point that looking back is very relevant. The squad at the time had gone through a transitional period, with Ebbers, Naki, Morena and Kruse amongst other familiar faces leaving the club. Players who had spent years at the club, and almost become part of the club furniture. Two years later, i still can’t help but feel there’s still that lack of identity amongst the players. A lack of a fan favourite, of a team who the fans can get excited about and can bond with. It’s even more pertinent given that Tschauner, Schachten, Daube and Thorandt have left the club this summer.

The previous ‘era’ consisting of the team that got us from the 3rd division into the Bundesliga had a huge sense of identity and character. The same just cannot be said for the squad over the past two seasons, a squad that ultimately hasn’t succeeded. It may be an impossible comparison to make, because characters like Naki, ball winning midfielders like Boll and goal scorers like Ebbers are a rare commodity. But from the outside looking in, it appears St. Pauli has lacked all of the above since they departed.

Strikers

Two years after the club decided to release Ebbers, his goals are still to be replaced. Whilst you can’t expect anyone to find the form that Ebbers had during that promotion winning season, it’s not unrealistic to expect a striker to score more than a handful of goals during a campaign. St. Pauli have an abundance of strikers – and yet they’ve been selected based on who hasn’t performed, rather than who has. Verhoek (4 goals, 1 assist) and Nöthe (5 goals, 0 assists) both failed to make their mark when played, and by the end of the season the Thy (5 goals, 3 assists) was thrown upfront. In fairness, he took his chance and scored some crucial goals, but is he a striker capable of scoring 15 goals in a season?

Then there’s Ante Budimir (4 assists, 5 yellow cards) who the club spent a considerable sum of money on, who failed to make any impression last term. The 23 year old started 10 times for St. Pauli last season, but failed to score in over 1000 minutes of football. A foot injury ruled him out towards the end of the season, and it’d be a shame to judge a young talent based on a poor season when the whole team struggled, but he is a financial gamble that hasn’t paid off for St. Pauli so far. Arguably the striker (albeit technically a right winger) who had the biggest impression for St. Pauli last year was Kyoung-Rok Choi, who scored two vital goals on his debut before picking up an injury which meant he didn’t feature for much of the remainder of the season.

The club announced today that Nöthe will leave the club by mutual termination of his contract. He leaves the club having scored 12 goals in 53 appearances. The latest in a long line of departures as the club looks to restructure the wage bill in a bid to reduce costs after a drop of around €1m in tv revenue.

St. Pauli used 32 players last season, signs of the team having far too much quantity, and a distinct lack of quality. Of the 34 games, only Lasse Sobiech started more than 30 of them (31). Dennis Daube, next on the list of starting appearances, had 27. Further to that, along with Sobiech and Daube, only Gonther (25), Thy (22), Halstenberg (20) started in 20 games or more. The problem for St. Pauli last season was not a lack of options, but if anything – too many options, with no difference in quality between those options. Tschauner or Himmelmann? Maier or Rzatkowski? Verhoek or Nothe? On their day, one could perform better than the other, but was there any real difference in terms of quality? Who would be the first names on the team sheet?

Midfielders

St. Pauli have had an abundance of midfielders over the past two seasons, but none in the mould of Boll who could break up attacks, dive in when needed and pop up with goals from midfield too. Again, it’s hard to compare everyone to Boll, but St. Pauli were so desperate for that type of player towards the end of this season that Kalla had to step in to fill the void, despite the huge number of midfielders in the squad. Tom Trybull and Michael Gorlitz have left the club without ever really make an impression, and Dennis Daube was brilliant but frustrating in equal measure.

Armando Cooper never really got a chance with only 7 sub appearances, and his most memorable moment of last season was his waving of the ‘good night white pride’ flag in front of the away end at Darmstadt. Enis Alushi played, but then didn’t play, then played, then got injured, then didn’t play, and then played again. Buchtmann missed a lot of last season through injury and if he can keep fit he’ll be a key part of the team.

Nor have St. Pauli had anyone in the same vein as a Kruse, Naki or Bruns – three vital components in the team that helped St. Pauli to the Bundesliga since they departed. No-one who can add goals from midfield on a regular basis, who can attack defenders with pace. Marc Rzatkowski has the potential to be exactly this player, but he hasn’t quite lived up to his performances at Bochum – where he got 5 goals and 11 assists in 33 games. He’s only got 5 goals and 7 assists in his 60 St. Pauli appearances. He has all the qualities to be a destructive winger, to run at people with pace, get past defenders and cross the ball. But far too often he plays infield and ineffectively.

The club is hopeful of signing Waldemar Sobota on a permanent deal, and the winger looked capable in his 10 appearances last season. The club have also signed Ryo Miyaichi from Arsenal. The winger has pace, lots of it, and will hopefully provide a danger for us in attack.

It’s important now that the club looks to sign a combative defensive midfielder. Daube, Koch, Kringe, Trybull and Gorlitz will all leave, meaning the club will be short of options in the centre of midfield.

Defenders

St. Pauli conceded 51 goals last season, worse than both Aue and Aalen who were relegated. However the defence was massively improved in the second half of the season, conceding just 15 goals in 17 games, compared to 36 in the first half of the season.

The club looks desperate to keep the services of Marcel Halstenberg despite interest from Hannover 96, and has also agreed a deal with HSV to sign Lasse Sobiech on a permanent deal. Sobiech ended the season forming a solid partnership with Sören Gonther, and with Kalla playing well at right-back it seemed a pretty settled back four. However the club does lack options if any of the above are injured. Markus Thorandt has left the club, which leaves Philip Ziereis as the only other centre back in the squad. Sebastian Schachten has also left, but the club do have both Bernd Nehrig and youngster Andrey Startsev both capable of playing right back. Daniel Buballa started the season as first choice left back but lost his place to injury, and upon his return he was preferred playing in left midfield.

Goalkeepers

Not really worthy of a discussion and not even possible to have an argument. Himmelmann finished the season as number 1 and has agreed to stay at the club, whilst Tschauner has departed. The club has Philipp Heerwagen as a back-up, too.

Conclusion

The loss of players and a reduction in the wage bill is never a positive sign at any football club from the fans perspective, however it’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Out of all the players that have left this summer, i’d argue that only Schachten and Daube will be missed. Even then, Schachten wouldn’t have started the season in the first XI as long as Halstenberg stays and Daube is hardly irreplaceable. The club had a huge number of players in the squad, almost an unmanageable amount for a manager to work with. If you had to name all 32 players used by St. Pauli last season, could you?

After a couple of seasons of change, it is important that St. Pauli re-establishes itself on the football pitch. The clubs transfer policy hasn’t worked over the past two years, and It’s vital for the club financially that it doesn’t flirt with relegation again this year. For that to happen, the club must get it right. Ewald Lienen and Thomas Meggle are the right people to do just that. Lienen got the very best out of the squad towards the end of last season, and with a goalscorer and a defensive midfielder added to the mix, i feel that it’s a squad that is more than capable of doing well next season.

Then we can all go back to the important stuff, and stop worrying about our league position.

Scott, YSP

Marathon, not a sprint.

A football season is a marathon, not a sprint. By that token, St. Pauli had stumbled out of the blocks this season, tripped over their shoe laces then started running with their shorts around their ankles up until the winter break. The gamble on appointing club legend Thomas Meggle as coach didn’t really pay off, and the appointment of 61 year old Ewald Lienen didn’t bring with it a sea change in confidence, not immediately anyway.

But under the stewardship and guidance of Lienen the club went into the final day of the season with survival a probability rather than a possibility. He’d managed to guide the team to a remarkable run of form in the second half of the season, given players a new found sense of confidence and most importantly the team were finally exactly that – a team. It meant only a wicked series of results could cause St. Pauli to be relegated automatically on the final day, although the relegation playoff was a more likely outcome. However, in a season characterised by individual errors, it would have been just like St. Pauli to make a mess of it all and fall drastically at the very last hurdle.

Continuing the marathon theme, the Sonderzug (special train) organised by the Fanladen (huge thank you as always!) is a tough endurance race. This year, the 1000+ kilometre round trip to Darmstadt was the test for those willing to put themselves through a journey that would see them leave Hamburg at 6am and return at 1am the following day. It’s the third consecutive year i’ve travelled on the Sonderzug, and i still can’t find any way in which to sum up both the amazing and hellish features of the journey. It’s brilliant, miraculous, and yet bizarre and mental all rolled into one. As summed up brilliantly by Nick in his blog post (see here):

Sonderzug is a post-apocalyptic Hogwarts Express, populated not by wizards and witches, but crammed full of punks, anarchists, ultras, skins and (social) romantics – all members of FCSP’s jumble of a leftfield football fan scene. It hurtles through the dawn towards the Armageddon of 3.Liga, seemingly fuelled by the Astra being drunk by everyone stupid enough not to have hunkered down in their compartment to grab a few hours rest. It’s Astra that seeps from every pore of those brave souls dancing in the disco carriage at 08:00, it’s spilt Astra that forms a tacky bond between your trainers and the carriage floor as you make your way to the bar. Fans bang the roof in time to cheesy Eurotrash tunes that they wouldn’t be seen dead dancing to outside of this train carriage, occasionally bursting into a defiant round of football songs. It’s not even 10:00. Sonderzug is Mad Max mixed with Waterworld, if the water were train carriages, and not, err, water. It’s the dystopian-future football movie that nobody has thought to make (yet). It’s completely insane, yet it feels like the most wonderful place in the world. 

This is half the story though. On a personal note, this meant a hell of a journey before the real journey even began! The trip from Yorkshire to Hamburg and back in order to join the Sonderzug was some sort of special journey in itself. Leaving Barnsley at 6am Saturday morning, driving up to Wakefield to pick up Luke YSP, before heading back down the M1 to Birmingham to rendezvous with Shaun. We’d done over 100 miles and it wasn’t even 9am. It was then onto the leafy suburbs of Buckingham to grab Nick with Shaun driving like Lewis Hamilton in order to ensure Nick didn’t start panicking about our departure time, and then onto Heathrow for our 13:30 flight. After a bit of a flight delay, as always on these trips, we arrived into St. Pauli 11 hours after leaving Yorkshire. Ideal preparation for a 19 hour journey the following day!

The plan upon arrival into St. Pauli was to have a quiet and sober evening ahead of the Sonderzug (wise words said before almost every St. Pauli trip, and almost never end up going according to plan), but catching up with old friends from Hamburg and other YSP members who had made the journey too meant that the beers were soon flowing and the night was passing quickly. It’s at times like this, when people come together because of Yorkshire St. Pauli, that I realise how lucky we are to have set up something so special. Joining our group were Dave and Mo – whom we had first interacted with in the early YSP days on Twitter, and who had supported us since day 1, becoming members and meeting up with us at games. Then there was Heinz and Christian – the father and son duo who introduced themselves on my first Sonderzug trip having seen the Yorkshire flag. Two years later, they are loved by everyone at YSP and are always welcoming and looking after us on our trips to St. Pauli.

After some sobering food (and more beer) in the excellent Backbord, we headed back with Christian to Heinz’s place for sleep. Unfortunately Christian very rarely sleeps, and Heinz is hardly a calming influence! Whisky was opened, more beers were drunk, and songs were sung from YouTube clips of previous Eurovision entries. I’ve no idea.

A drunken 4 hour sleep on Heinz’s sofa followed before the alarm call for the Sonderzug. Thankfully the hangover wasn’t too bad and we were all in a bizarrely buoyant mood with most of us anticipating 3 points. Tiredness does weird things to your mind, obviously! The most surreal event of the morning however, particularly given it was just after 5am, was Heinz opening his fridge. It was full. Of beer. Just beer.

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Heinz’s Fridge.
Before long we had arrived at Altona, boarded the train with all the beer from Heinz’s fridge and headed straight to the party coach, and started having the first beer of a long day. It’s 06:18am. However, the mood was somewhat different to other Sonderzug trips. It was more subdued, people clearly worried about the match and threat of relegation, which soon crept into our mindset and before long I’d resigned ourselves to a chain of results that would see St. Pauli relegated automatically. It was hard to shake that off as we approached Darmstadt, no matter how much beer was consumed.

I’ll leave the stories and wonders of the Sonderzug to those with a better memory and a greater writing ability, but 6 hours after leaving Hamburg the train pulled into Darmstadt and the 800+ St. Pauli fans descended on it, for what the local police called its ‘biggest event in 30 years’. Anyone know what happened in Darmstadt in the 80s? Answers on a postcard.

Darmstadt were on the verge of clinching promotion, a remarkable feat for a ‘small’ (media term, not ours) team that had only just come up from the 3rd division last season. It had an old school football vibe to it which makes you hark back to the days when football wasn’t a game for millionaires, but it also made you wonder how they will cope with promotion. The stadium is set in a forest, and seemingly the only pub near the stadium was a ‘beer garden’ which was more of a community cafe with some grass outside. As Nick eluded to in his blog post, i wasn’t impressed – although admittedly this was probably through lack of sleep! We avoided the huge queue that had descended on the ‘beer garden’ and decided to head to the ground two hours before kick off in the hope it would be quieter and we’d be able to get some food and drink without having to queue round the forest. The aforementioned forest was like a maze, causing comical scenes as our group tried to find any sign of the ground. I’m pretty sure some St. Pauli fans are still trying to use their orienteering skills to find the stadium now, forever lost in the forest. Food was high on the agenda for us, having not eaten since 5:30am and in need of something to offset the amount of beer drunk, but the catering inside the ground was reminiscent of that available at a local non-league side.

There was only one catering van outside the ground, and it was only selling sausage. No vegan option, no drinks. We made a group decision after a collective shrug of shoulders that there must be something better in the ground. Up we walked into the stadium, and we encountered another van. Only it was exactly the same van, with exactly the same options. Sausage or nowt, like it or lump it. Sausage it was then. Thankfully there was at least drinks available inside the ground. Expect it was more expensive to buy a coke than a beer. Go figure that one out. Take note all you European Football Weekend imposters who will no doubt be asking about the catering facilities at the Stadion am Böllenfalltor. Good luck with the maze of the forest!

To appease the EFW types though, the stadium was great, proper old school. Huge floodlights, big open terracing except for a main stand and as Nick pointed out – the TV tower stand that you got in Subuetto sets. It’s so old school that the away team bus has to pull into the stadium, onto the running track behind the goal, and drop the players off to walk down the tunnel under the main stand. Unfortunately the bus before kick-off, ruining jokes that St. Pauli had intended to park the bus all game.

In Lienen, St. Pauli have found a man that not only has decades of managerial experience, but whose personality and ethics also fits the club. His relationship with the fans speaks volumes having only been at the club since mid-December. Granted, that may be a bit of short-termism given the job he has done to date, but i think it’s a sound vote of confidence in a man who fits the profile of the club. In the 1980s, Lienen stood as a candidate for the DKP – The German Communist Party. In an interview with Zeit, Lienen was asked if he thought he belonged at St. Pauli, his response was:

“I am one of those people who believe that many things happen in life for a reason. I’m not saying that my whole life was geared to land at St. Pauli. But you could get the idea. I can identify with the club, because I support the philosophy of the club to one hundred percent” – Ewald Lienen, Zeit online.

Lienen’s passion and connection with the club was summed up pre-match, when he did his now matchday routine of warming the fans up. Fist pumping, gesturing, clapping – Lienen was getting the crowd going as if he was the capo on the terraces. How vital was that routine in keeping the fans with the players during the final months of the season?

The game itself, as i’m sure you watched, was a nervy affair. St. Pauli had little of the game, and seemed intent on nullifying the opponents. It worked for most of the game, until a free-kick seemingly (still haven’t watched a replay!) caught Himmelmann off-guard and found it’s what into the net somehow. St. Pauli struggled to do anything going forward, and the game was only going one way with 10 minutes to go. Focus then turned to the other games, with 1860 Munich and Aue both losing. But Aue made things very nervy when they pulled one back, with people in the away end desperately trying to figure out what this meant for FCSP. Suddenly a young kid to our left get very emotional and started shouting at his phone, presumably he knew another goal had gone in, and he wasn’t just been forced to read the latest Game of Thrones spoilers. Aue had equalised, which by this point no-one really knew what this meant, but it wasn’t good. The full time whistle went, and the scenes of celebration amongst the home support was a stark contrast to the sheer confusion on the fans and players of St. Pauli alike. Someone, probably Rachel Riley, finally figured out what all the results meant and calculated we were safe. Party time!

After a weird pitch invasion, some celebrating with the players and even more so Lienen, we headed back through the maze of the forest and back to the train station with a huge sense of relief. The game wasn’t great, the season hadn’t been great, but we were safe, we’d survived the marathon. Joining us on the train back was some of the players and Lienen himself, and before long we were heading back to Hamburg with another season of 2.Bundesliga ahead of us.

Party time. Shaun had transformed into ‘Disco Shaun’, Nick was chatting to everybody trying to plug his book (this may not be accurate) and Luke and Christian had discovered Champagne. Well, sparkling wine. The music was excellent as always – some proper cheesy 90s pop hits, mixed with club anthems of other German teams (no idea) and some German songs that we had no clue of the words for but we sung along anyway. Or at least we tried. Stories of the sonderzug remain on the sonderzug, but it was a brilliant trip that was summed up with Shaun almost falling down between the train and the platform as we got off the train, and then Christian almost falling asleep on the bench in Altona station.

How to summarise the trip, and the season? With some photos from the trip and a song about the new cult hero, of course.

Group photo in Darmstadt.
Group photo in Darmstadt.

Spot the ball...
Spot the ball…

Goodnight White Pride!
Goodnight White Pride!

St. Pauli parking the bus....
St. Pauli parking the bus….

Asleep. Altona. 1am.
Asleep. Altona. 1am.

Heathrow car park selfie.
Heathrow car park selfie.

You want some?
You want some?

6am trip to Darmstadt? Go on then...
6am trip to Darmstadt? Go on then…

YSP Alte Herren :D
YSP Alte Herren :D
IMG_6252

You got any?
You got any?
IMG_6249

Stag party YSP.
Stag party YSP.

Matchday 34: Spielst ganz wo anders in Liga Zwei.

St. Pauli’s empathic 5-1 victory against Bochum on matchday 33 means the club go into the final day of the season with their safety in their own hands. A win away at Darmstadt will secure 2.Bundesliga safety, but anything less could see the club relegated. Darmstadt sit second and a victory for them will ensure they’re promoted automatically ahead of Karlsruhe. In the second half of the season, primarily through the stewardship of Ewald Lienen, St. Pauli sit 5th in the form table. They’ve picked up 24 points from 16 games, have scored 22 goals and conceded just 14. Contrast that to the first half of the season, with only 3 wins from 17, 18 goals scored and 36 conceded. It’s hard to understate the job that Lienen has done from an extremely difficult situation, but it could all be for nothing if the club lose on the final day and results go against them.

For St. Pauli to be relegated automatically, each of the following must happen:

St. Pauli lose, 1860 draw or win, Aue win, and FSV Frankfurt win – unless St. Pauli lose by 4 or more goals, then an FSV Frankfurt draw would be sufficient for them to stay up on goal difference.

For St. Pauli to be finish 16th and have to play the relegation playoff:

St. Pauli draw, Greuther Furth draw, 1860 Munich win and FSV Frankfurt win.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 17.43.16

Mercifully, all 6 teams who could possibly end up finishing 16th or 17th face away ties. Here’s who they have to face:

Aue – away at FC Heidenheim 

Aue have been resurgent in recent weeks, picking up 4 wins and 2 draws in 8 matches, including vital wins against 1860 Munich and FSV Frankfurt. But they’ll need to overcome a decent FC Heidenheim who are unbeaten in 5 and who have a good home record.

FSV Frankfurt – away at Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Two teams bang out of form. After 3 straight wins after the winter break, FSV Frankfurt couldn’t have envisaged they’d be occupying 16th place. But they haven’t won since then, 11 games without a victory, and have only picked up 2 points in their last 7 games. Dusseldorf’s season has been average – 11 wins, 11 draws, 11 losses. They’ve been nothing short of terrible since the winter break, but they won 2-0 at Sandhausen last week. They’ve only won 4 of 16 home games, though…

1860 Munich – away at Karlsruhe. 

1860 picked up a vital home victory against rivals Nurnberg on matchday 33 to give them a fighting chance going into the las game of the season, but they face a Karlsruhe side who could seal automatic promotion or a playoff spot depending on results elsewhere.

Greuther Fürth – away in Leipzig.

It’s unclear from the fixture schedule who Furth will be playing, however they are pencilled in for an away trip to Leipzig against an unrecognised opponent. Only 3 teams have travelled to Leipzig and picked up 3 points in the league this season, and Furth have only 2 away wins all season, managing only 12 goals in 16 away games. However Furth have a 4 goal advantage over St. Pauli, so would need an unlikely chain of results to see them go down.

Sandhausen – away at Bochum.

A 3 point deduction a couple of weeks ago means that it is still mathematically possible for Sandhausen to be relegated on the final day. They have perhaps the easiest trip of the relegation candidates, an away trip to Bochum who sit only 1 place and 3 points above them. Sandhausen are one of the best away teams in the league this season, picking up 21 points on their travels. Bochum have been draw specialists at home this season, with 9 draws in 16 games. A point for Sandhausen will do for them, and it’d be highly unlikely for them to be relegated.

How will the events of Sunday unfold? Unfortunately the beauty of football means that we can only speculate. The head says that St. Pauli should be safe from automatic relegation at least except for an exceptional run of results, but the heart says that it would be typical St. Pauli to fuck it up from this position…

You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Eins, zwei, drei, vier… THÜMPED!

St. Pauli bounced back from an early setback yesterday to thump Bochum 5-1 at the Millerntor, but it wasn’t enough to guarantee safety going into the final day. Former FCSP loanee Michael Gregoritsch scored his 7th goal of the season in the opening minutes of the game after a very poor pass in midfield by Buchtmann. It was a disastrous start, and one that meant St. Pauli were facing down at the 3.liga.

It’s not often that St. Pauli leave you breathless, but before half time the team had turned the game on it’s head with two superbly taken goals. Lennart Thy scored a wonderful volley from inside the box. The first goal had come from a long free kick into the area, as did the second. Another free kick was floated in, flicked on, and it fell to Marcel Halstenberg at the back post to smash the ball into the net, giving them ‘keeper no chance at his near post. It was a rare glimmer of quality from St. Pauli this season.

After half time it was Buchtmann’s chance to get in on the action, making a key interception just inside the Bochum half, before running for what seemed like forever unopposed into the Bochum box and hitting his shot hard past the Bochum ‘keeper – think Michael Owen against Argentina. Beautiful.

The fourth goal said as much about Bochum as it did St. Pauli. Bochum have now conceded 55 goals this season, the highest in the 2.Bundesliga, and it’s no surprise. The passing and movement from St. Pauli was great, but Bochum’s attempt at defending makes St. Pauli look like Arsenal from the 1990s. The passing move ended with Thy alone inside the box to tap home in the easiest of fashions. Sobota came off the bench to score the fifth, picking up the ball on the edge of box and ghosting past the hapless defenders before firing home. Thumped, indeed.

Unfortunately a controversial win for 1860 Munich over Nurnberg means St. Pauli could still be relegated next weekend, which we’ll look at more over the course of the week, but they’re in a good position to save themselves after a disastrous season. Ewald Lienen, take a bow.

Credit to @PeterKeighery on Twitter for the title!

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