Here is our first guest post on the site, explaining just what it’s like for an English football fan to experience the Millerntor.
Well first I’ll give a brief background of how 4 football fans (2x Newcastle, 1 x Forest, and 1xTranmere) ended up in the St Pauli district of Hamburg. Last Xmas my cousin changed his profile picture on a well-known social networking site. Innocent enough. When I met up with him for a random pint I quizzed him about it as he looked freezing. To cut a long story short he had randomly been invited by a friend to watch SP and was now telling me in great detail about his experience. After that I was hooked. I had always watched the Bundesliga but never had a preference of team or even heard of St Pauli. I did some research and the more I learnt the more I loved the idea of this little club tucked away in a murky part of Hamburg.
Fast forward a few months and am sat in the middle of Afghanistan contemplating the next 6 months stuck there. I needed something to take my mind off things and decided that as soon as I get back home, I will go to see St Pauli, on my own if necessary. Luckily my power of persuasion won over and ‘The Trip’ was born. This was essentially a visit to The Millerntor via Amsterdam. The actual travelling part is a different story all together but suffice to say 4 soldiers starting in Newcastle, getting a ferry to Amsterdam then the next day driving to Hamburg cooked up one hell of a time, but I digress.
So the 4 of us now have a target to set ourselves. When we get back we are all going to Hamburg. This was made easy by the fact that I have a spot on girlfriend and the other 3 got dumped in Afghan by there’s! I sorted out travel which was easy and next came the actual match. Well as am sure you’re all aware, planning to watch a game in the Bundesliga is not the easiest due to the (strangely) in-efficient way they fixtures are produced. Luckily we had a bit of time off so booked to go over the weekend that happened to be the Dresden game. Our only issue was getting tickets, which through various websites I was told would be hard. I have a few mates with German girlfriends so planned to use this in the acquisition of the tickets. I had sent an email asking the club how best I go about this to no real reply. The tickets went on sale, and then got sold just as fast. As I thought all hope was gone and the chance that we would have to turn up without any, I received an email from the club, basically asking me if I wanted any! Hell yeah I thought, and sent my address as was asked. Now being from England I thought this a bit odd, how the club sent me a confirmation email saying I had secured 5 tickets and a reservation number, no booking fee, no proof that I was even going, nothing.
So we eventually woke up on the Sunday of the game, bleary eyed after about 3 hours sleep. The other 2 lay in bed as I dragged myself and another lad up and headed to the ground with the money for the tickets, hoping I could go the ticket office and pick up the, unlikely, tickets. We approached the ground and straight away you know you’re not at English football. I don’t know how to explain it the best way though I think would just be, better. I went to the window and showed my reservation number, the woman looked, gave me an ok and printed out 5 tickets. Easy as that, unbelievable. Now, you may be thinking why we asked for 5. Originally there were 5 of us going but one lad dropped out a week to go, saying he was skint, oh how he will regret that for the rest of his life! I told the ticket office that we now only required 4, fully expecting to be charged for another ticket but instead got a simple, ok, and with that handed over the money and got the tickets. There seemed to be loads of English fans there without tickets who were being told that it was a complete sell out and there’s no way they would get in.
I had been recommended a pre match pint at the Jolly Roger, which lived up to all the hype and more. The two of us sat in there for a couple of hours (after taking various snaps of the ground) trying to drink through our hangover. I didn’t think the other two would make it after the monstrous session they had been on the night before, but with an hour to kick off the two Geordie lads walked in and settled down to enjoy a top up and some pre match banter.
As we approached our entrance we noticed there was no such turnstile system just a big queue of people casually going it, again completely different to English football when you are hounded all the way up to the ground. We went in and immediately got ourselves a pint and a bratwurst. It took us about 3 pints to realise that if we took the plastic cups back we would get 1.50 euros off our next drink! Through the game as well there would be a guy going round with a keg on his back filling up anyone’s beer so they didn’t have to leave their seat for the match…genius.
We took our seats with about 5 minutes to go until kick off, taking in the unique atmosphere at the Millerntor. There were no Dresden fans allowed at the game but a few had got in and sat trouble free amongst the St Pauli fans. The bell then started up and with that the teams came out (Hell’s Bell’s by ACDC is one of my favourite songs so I was loving this). I have never experienced an atmosphere like it, the fans behind the goal constantly jumping and singing in perfect time, led by a guy with a megaphone, never stopped. From what I remember the first half was even, with St Pauli attacking but having no final ball and Dresden looking dangerous on the counter. At half time we got the news that Gary Speed had died which added to the craziness of that weekend. The second half began much like the first, St Pauli having no final product and Dresden countering at speed. It’s with one of these counter attacks that Dresden scored, with the 20 or so fans who had got in not afraid to show what team they were there to support. A few minutes later Ebbers was introduced for the tiring Saglik and the whole game was turned around. A dangerous free kick was flicked in by Boll for 1-1 and seconds later Naki smashed an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner. 2-1 St Pauli and the place was literally bouncing. Song 2 by Blur has to be the best music to play after a goal goes in as everyone was now jumping up and down screaming the ‘wooo hooo’ part. The game was sealed with an Ebbers tap-in in the final minutes, all in all a very impressive performance and cracking advert for 2.Bundesliga. At the end of the game we were mystified as to why no one left. We stuck around and glad we did. The players did a lap of honour and acknowledged every part of the stadium, superb!
A few things that I took away from our first of hopefully many St Pauli game:
The fans never stopped singing throughout and didn’t bat an eyelid at the team going 1-0 down.
The Dresden fans being allowed to show their support hassle free.
The efficiency of getting in to the ground and getting food .
Be/.ing able to sit and watch a match and have a pint.
The rhythmic chanting of the fans as each stand sang to each other.
This isn’t a comprehensive football match report, I know. I am recounting this some months later through a very hazy memory. If anyone is thinking of going I have to say that it is something that shouldn’t be missed by any football fan. England could learn so much from the whole match day experience. After the game had finished we made the short walk back to the Reeperbahn to watch Liverpool v Man City and reflect on what had been a truly amazing day.
I am in the process of trying to arrange another trip to watch St Pauli. I still watch every game I can on the internet and bore every person I meet with the story of the trip. Hopefully promotion is achievable this season and the likes of Bayern and H$V will again been seen at the Milerntor. One thing is for sure is that this is the most unique, weird, amazing club I have ever been to and match day that I have ever witnessed.