Just over a year ago, Yorkshire St. Pauli played football for the first time. I use the term played in the loosest fashion, as our mishmash of players kicked and chased a ball for a while until we got bored. That’s what football is about, isn’t it?
But through our rather poor attempts at playing football, we’ve being in touch with some excellent football teams, who run their teams in a manner in which all football should be played – welcoming everyone, without discrimination. Two major influences on our early exploration into football were Republica Internationale – a socialist football club based in Leeds who have been around since history books began, and Leicester side FC Kolektivo Victoria (FCKV for ease of typing!) – who we had met through the joys of social media, following their great work and excellent match reports on Facebook! In 2013 we played in football tournaments organised by the teams above, and saw what a great occasion they are (despite YSP FC only winning one competitive fixture in the calendar year!).
One of the main things we’ve learnt from teams we’ve met during these tournaments is how football can be a great tool for bringing people together, and in recent months we have furthered our link with leeds based charity PAFRAS (Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers) to provide regular football sessions in which we welcome clients from PAFRAS to play football with us for free. At this point we should thank our venue, ‘Powerleague Leeds’, for their support over the past few months – in allowing us to provide subsidised football for refugees and asylum seekers at our sessions. We’ve welcomed about 15 clients from PAFRAS in recent months, and as the word spreads about the initiative we will hopefully welcome even more.
Anyway, that’s a bit of background as to how this tournament came about. Having seen the successes of the tournaments we’d taken part in during 2013, we wanted to organise our own and welcome the teams we’d met to Yorkshire. It was a pipe dream for several months, until we heard about the upcoming release of a book by one of our members, Nick Davidson, titled ‘Pirates, Punks & Politics’. The book details Nick’s personal experiences watching St. Pauli over the last few seasons, as well as explaining the history behind the club. As part of the launch of the book Nick asked if he could do a launch event in Leeds with our members, which was a great excuse to make a weekend full of plans. Suddenly the pipe dream to organise a football tournament became a reality, with plans afoot for an ‘ANTIRA weekend’ of events – the book launch, a football tournament and if the fixture’s fell kindly maybe a chance to watch a St. Pauli game too!
We wanted to invite those teams who had welcomed us previously, so invites were sent to FCKV and Republica, as well as the Leeds Anti-Fascist Network and Bradford’s 1 in 12 club, whom we had met at previous tournaments. We also invited United Glasgow FC – who we had met during our first organised YSP trip to St. Pauli in October last year. United Glasgow were formed in 2011 to provide a point of regular, structured football for those who might find themselves excluded. Back in October last year they made the trip to St. Pauli as part of the ‘International Refugee Summit’, and took part in a match against the Lampedusa refugees in Hamburg. Their ethos is a glowing example of the social work that can be done through football, and it was a pleasure to be able to be able to welcome them to Yorkshire.
With other teams compromising of Yorkshire St. Pauli members and a team made up of refugees and asylum seekers from our PAFRAS the final slot was taken by Nick and his best mate Shaun under the name ‘Nick’s All-Stars’. The team’s were set, and when the fixtures were released we decided upon the weekend of the 22nd February.
The first event of the weekend was the launch of ‘Pirates, Punks & Politics’, with a night planned at Leeds social club ‘The Brudenell’. After watching a documentary on St. Pauli and it’s fans and a brief interlude for people to go to the bar or listen to The Nolan’s ‘i’m in the mood for dancing’, it was time for the main event. Like any good main event, we had a warm-up act. Unfortunately, our warm-up act forgot the punchline to his main joke, as can be witnessed here:
After the warm-up act had laughed so hard he could no longer continue, it was time for the increasingly nervous Nick to take centre stage – with a handful of notes to get him through the speech. I’m sure Nick has had many sleepless nights in the build up to the book and the book launch – but Nick’s talk about the book was detailed, accurate, passionate and from the heart, very much like the book itself. Nick spoke for 45 minutes on the history behind the book, the experience of writing the book, and the help he got from those around the club in doing so. He then took some questions from an engaged crowd, keen to delve into Nick’s knowledge of the club and the community it represents – and also the challenges that the club faces in the future.
For those who couldn’t make the event, we filmed it. The ‘highlights’ are 30 minutes long, and are well worth watching for those with an interest in St. Pauli and the book Nick has written. The video is below:
Pirates, Punks & Politics can be bought direct from the publisher here.
After the Q&A session Nick signed books and people eventually retired to bed – no doubt in eager anticipation of the football the following day. Nick also used the book signing to recruit for his All-Star team for the footy tournament – with the astute signings of two young university students who would not only provide a bit of pace to the All-Star line-up, but they also brought the Leeds Italian Society kit with them!
Thankfully the rain had held off on the morning of the footy tournament, and the teams arrived ahead of kick-off at 12pm. The tournament itself was designed in the same manner of the tournaments we had entered previously. Essentially the two teams are divided into 2 groups of 4. The teams who finished 1st and 2nd in each group go into the ‘higher knockout’ rounds, and the teams who finished 3rd and 4th in each group go into a separate knockout tournament. Each knockout tournament then has semi-finals, a third/fourth place playoff and a final. The format of the competition in this manner is excellent – as it means all teams play at least 5 games, and the teams who finish bottom of the groups (usually YSP!) can still compete for a trophy at the end. The draw had taken place in a professional manner the night before – using a hat nicked from the audience, some pieces of paper and a rather unorganised team of delegates to administer the draw. The draw had being lucky to YSP FC, avoiding the big names of tournament favourites United Glasgow, Nick’s All-Stars, Republica and 1-in-12 who had been drawn together in the ‘group of death’. In the ‘what dreams are made of’ group were YSP FC, PAFRAS, Leeds Anti-Fascist Network and FCKV.
The tournament itself was too hectic to give you a run-down of each match, but the league tables finished like this:
Yorkshire St. Pauli had overachieved thanks to two new signings make their debuts, but the format of the group meant we’d have to face the winners of Group B in the semis – United Glasgow. The game was one-sided in all honesty, and the talent in the United Glasgow ranks was clear to see. The 8-1 scoreline was completely representative of the game itself, and it could have been more! The other semi-final was a bit closer, with FCKV beating 1-in-12 6-2 to progress to a final against United Glasgow.
In the lower tournament, PAFRAS were doing us proud! A 5-2 victory over Republica had earned them a place in the final against Nick’s Allstars, who were donning the blue kit of the Leeds Italian Society and had beaten Leeds Anti-Facist Network 9-2 in their semi final match.
YSP FC’s good form had come to a halt though, and we lost the 3rd place playoff against the 1-in-12 team. In the other game, Republica beat Leeds Anti-Facists to secure 3rd place in the lower trophy.
It had all come down to the finals to determine the winner’s of the first ever Yorkshire St. Pauli ANTIRA tournament. In the lower final Nick’s All-Stars hadn’t read the script, and they produced a clinical display to deny PAFRAS their first trophy, running out 8-3 winners to pick up the first trophy shared between Buckinghamshire, Birmingham and the Leeds Italian Society.
Then the two teams yet to drop a point came head to head – United Glasgow against FCKV. Our official score card doesn’t show the final score, but the rumour is that United Glasgow won 8-3 to claim the YSP ANTIRA Higher Trophy.
The tournament had been played in great spirits, and even ran to schedule! It was a pleasure to welcome the teams, and we hope to have a bigger and even better tournament in the Summer to build on the success of this one.
After the tournament we welcomed people back to Wharf Chambers to watch a delayed screening of the game between St. Pauli and Dynamo Dresden. St. Pauli never win in Dresden, so we were all set for St. Pauli to spoil the weekend. Thankfully, they maintained their excellent away from and comfortably beat Dresden to end the weekend on a high in front of a packed crowd at Wharf Chambers.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us for the weekend, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. The spirit of St. Pauli – bringing people together.