We know why we stand here…

Non-established since Friday 13th (piece translated from the article that originally appeared in the March Übersteiger)  

Here in Leeds in the north of England up to 40 people sit (and stand!) every other week in a politically left oasis (Wharf Chambers Workers’ Co-operative Club) in the middle of town to watch together German second division games. Sometimes a brown and white dog called “Pauli” comes too! On the wall hang hand-made banners with mottos like “Yorkshire ist braun-weiss” or the symbol of the International Brigades. Yorkshire St Pauli has its own website, our members engage in social media and we are proud to produce a monthly English language fanzine called “Weisse Rose”, which you can download as a PDF free of charge. You can also buy YSP T-shirts on the internet! None of this existed two years ago, however. So how did it all begin?

My own personal interest in FC St Pauli goes back to the beginning of the 90s. As a German language student I found copies of the legendary “Millerntor Roar” fanzine (the predecessor of the Übersteiger) in the Leeds indie record shop, Jumbo, which still exists today (and hasn’t changed a bit!). But in those days it was impossible to follow the German second division and so St Pauli remained just a point of fan culture interest to me.

A fan club in Yorkshire – how did that come about?

Then at the beginning of the century I finally visited the Millerntor. It was February….in the snow…..on the old ‘Nordkurve’ terrace (with no roof and lots of mud!)….surrounded by punks and just about every other tribe of the alternative scene. I asked myself why it had taken me so long! On revisiting the ground, even the newly built stadium, I experienced finally feeling at home in a football stadium. It is all about the people and the people at St Pauli are wonderful. But surely I was the only St Pauli fan in Yorkshire? Fast forward to 2010, to the Garforth Music Festival. In the schoolyard of our local school there is a festival every summer, where in the past we’ve enjoyed the likes of Billy Bragg, Chumbawamba and punk heroes the Buzzcocks. I sat, dressed in St Pauli tee-shirt on a grass slope with my family. Suddenly someone approached me…wearing a brown Stani tee! I would never be alone again!

It was Mick, a train driver, who had clicked around on anarchist websites and found St Pauli. On the forum site, stpaulifansuk.forumup.co.uk I asked whether there were other St Pauli fans in Yorkshire. There were more than a few of us! Then I got to know Ian. He had found St Pauli at the end of the 80s in the Elfmeter fanzine (a UK fanzine about German football from the 80s and 90s that included contributions from yours truly) and, during a school exchange in the southwest around 1991, he had managed to see the game between VfB Stuttgart and St Pauli. Since then Ian had witnessed about 13 FCSP games in the flesh (13 defeats!). So we had found our lucky charm! The first attempted meeting (Ian, myself and three friends) took place in a pub in the centre of Leeds. We watched the first division game between FCSP and Schalke live on tv in the corner, but the rest of the pub was watching a Leeds Rugby League match on various screens (Leeds has been a regular Rugby League world club champion).

Of course, St Pauli lost (thanks Ian!) in the infamous game of the thrown beer beaker!! However, on the internet forum things progressed quickly and on Friday 13 May 2011 a few of us met outside a pub at Leeds station. I was there, our train driver Mick too. We got to know Scott, who had discovered FC St Pauli during a weekend Bundesliga trip to the Rhein/Ruhr region. As an additional Sunday game he went along to Rot-Weiss Oberhausen vs St Pauli and it was love at first sight!

Then there was George, a tattoo-ed hardcore punk fan, who regularly visits the Millerntor and owns a skull and crossbones tattoo, who had got to know the club through the punk scene and who had celebrated his 40th birthday in the middle of the Südkurve (still find it hard to believe that George is over 40!). And Steve, drummer with The Dauntless Elite, who had come into contact with St Pauli fans from punk bands during his life in the music scene. And Luke, an ‘A’ Level student, who had seen the jolly roger flag at a Gaslight Anthem concert….and the rest is history.

Although they weren’t at the meeting Vanessa and Dom were involved from the beginning. They had spotted “St Pauli Fans Gegen Rechts” stickers in Supamolly (excellent Friedrichshain alternative hang-out) during Vanessa’s birthday trip to Berlin. They then (like Luke) researched the club, and by 2009 they had already enjoyed a game at the Millerntor.

And that’s just the beginning

So there we were, about 9 people interested in forming an official fanclub in Yorkshire! For me it would have been enough (punk rock style) to just once watch a game together in a Leeds pub. But then we found our first meeting point – “The Well” – a punk club that was sadly closed by the end of our first season. But we at YSP don’t give up! Mick managed to find the wonderful “Wharf Chambers”, where there exists the real DIY atmosphere of the alternative scene. Sam Smiths beer waits behind the bar, the games are shown on a large projector screen and here in our lefty oasis FCSP owns the hearts of a small corner of northern England. And we already have more than 70 members!

You can read the full version of this article in our free “Weisse Rose” fanzine, available here: https://yorkshirestpauli.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/weisse-rose-june-13.pdf