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 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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
2014. Many defeats, one trophy, and dozens of new friends.
FORZA YSP FC.