It’s 3am on a Monday morning and my alarm is going off this doesn’t happen very often and when it does it means a long day ahead.
This time tho it feels different yes its going to be a long day but it’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for so long and it was finally here, today I was finally going to the Millerntor for my first match and under the flood lights too.
After getting ready I check my bag for what must be the umpteenth time looking for the essentials oh and my passport. I head for the car and on my way to start my trip well after realising I forgot something and have to turn round to pick it up.
Lets try this again everything is there and I’m off this time I have everything and with Joy Division soothingly pouring out of the car stereo I pick up Chris, Luke and David, they pile in the car after Chris and Luke decide who’s sitting in the front seat we are on our way to Manchester airport.
We park up and head up into the terminal once through security we bump into Mick and meet up with Scott, Nerissa and her dad, we aren’t waiting to long till we board the plane and that’s it next stop Hamburg.
After a smooth flight and playing a bit too much football manager we land in a grey and misty Hamburg and its time to explore after a second breakfast.
The group meets up and we head to Hamburg central station and look for food, I still can’t work out if a burrito for breakfast is a good or a bad thing.
We made our way over to St Pauli where we everyone went their own way either for a kip more food, sight-seeing or to hotels, since this was my first visit to the city I decided on some sightseeing and made my way to the Elb Tunnel with Scott, Nerissa and her dad, I know walking through a tunnel probably doesn’t sound like the first thing you do when you get to a new city but I was just intrigued and for pictures I’d seen just looked architecturally interesting.
From there I head on to the squats on Hafenstrabe and the surrounding area to get and idea of the history of the Pauli district. It’s great to see some beautiful street art and political flyers, banners and gig posters covering the area and the feeling of community around the streets.
It was finally time to make my way to the Millerntor to meet up with the others, possibly like a lot of others when ever I’m in a new city I get excited to visit a new football ground but this one felt different as it is one I had built up for quite a while.
As I walked up from the Reeperbahn I was greeted with the sight of a huge Ferris wheel that dominates my view as I turn the corner.
I make my way past the Dom and turn right to finally hit the homestretch and there it is at the end of the lane, to some its just another football ground to other it might not be the same any more given the recent building work and changes to the stands, but for me it was fantastic I’m greeted by the sight of the Gengengerade and the Sudkurve.
The TV trucks parked under the scoreboard nestled between the piece of art that adorn the end of each stand.I meet the rest of the group in the bar on the Sudkurve for a drink and to plan the rest of the time leading up to kick off.
As the hours pass one thing I notice is how many people are at the ground early coming in and out of the club shop and the Fanlanden of which I was one.
With an Hour or so before kick of to go Scott, Chris, Luke and myself are lucky enough to meet up with Dave Doughman the man in charge of the new music school based at the ground to look around the set up and tell us a bit more about what they are doing and how he would like to move the school forward and hope to open it up to local refugees in the area who might be interested in playing music or to those that had to give up as they left their homes.
The room is one of the VIP boxes at the top of the Sudkurve and has a great view overlooking the pitch the ground.
The entire room is sound proofed with instruments, and amps fill the room and walls strewn with gig posters.
We make our way back out to meet the rest of the group, as we walk around the ground looking for people the community spirit of the club really does stand out as people stop greet each other and catch up on more than one occasion the others bump into some one they know from another supporters group or previous trips, I am Introduced to various people but as its been at least week since our trip (I’m pretty slow at writing this up) I only remember Mo off the top of my head.
The atmosphere is building with flares going off and everyone in good mood, it seems like the match itself could just be an added bonus of a night of catching up with friends, but there was one topic that seemed to be on the top of everyone list and that was would Ewald still be in charge the next day if the result didn’t go the teams way.
Its time to make our way into the ground and join those already slowly making their way through the turnstiles, this is it finally I get to step into the terraces.We find a spot between the goal and the right hand corner flag as the teams are warming up, its great to finally be on a proper standing terrace again the last time was probably the mid 90’s while watching my hometown club Scarborough play some glorious division three football.
It’s a nice crisp night the pitch looks in great condition as it draped in the light spilling from the floodlights above. There is something about a game under the flood lights that just seems to give it that extra special feel, the ground is heaving both sets of fans have their banners and flags on display. The travelling Nuremberg fans are in good voice and then the Bells chime and the roar goes up, the teams make their way of the tunnel to our left bits of shredded newspaper are trough in the air the shouts of ‘St Pauli’, applause and cheering ring out around the ground but it seems the biggest cheer is reserved for Ewald. The teams line up in the now customary way and the hand shakes commence followed by the last minute team talks and then kick off.
The ultras line the front of the Sudkurve 3 or 4 of the at different intervals each with a loud hailer leading the crowd in songs, the same seems to be happening in the Gengengerade. I’ll admit I found it hard to keep up with some of the songs and must have mumbled my way through quite a few of the bits I didn’t understand but I didn’t care it was so infectious and to be apart of it finally.
The match it’s self seemed to start positively with Miayichi making some good runs at the defence but then Nuremberg started to take control cutting through the midfield like it wasn’t there and looking much the better team. The team preserved and started to claw their way back into the game and took the lead 1-0 St Pauli the ground went up in a euphoric cheer, my first game and the boys in brown were in lead it was amazing it all just felt right standing singing under the floodlights the team pushed on, but much like the rest of the season so far the defensive frailties that followed the team reared itself again and Nuremberg were level. As the game moved in to the second half the team improved and started to settle creating a few chances but still lacking in the middle of the pitch, they just needed that one play to take control there and have the confidence to dictate the rhythm of play.
Towards the end of the game there was a chance to take all three points with a ball over the top and a clean through on goal but it wasn’t to be and the game ends 1-1, possibly the most deserved result but you can see how upset the players and it looks like they are coming off the pitch to a loss. The is a sudden feeling of uncertainty in the air as the players make their way to thank the fans along with the manager who seems to have such a connection with the fans and understands the club shaking hands and thanking the ultras one by one. As the players and coaching staff make their way along the front of the stand the songs and chants in support of the team go up again and with that both the fans and players head for the exits.
As we leave the ground the surrounding area is still packed with fans going over the game and contemplating what could happen over night and any potential anouncements of changes in staff at the club.
We all head back to the bar and carry on talking about the game and the trip I also get to know some of the others who are with us better such as the renowned Christian who I met earlier in the day but have heard many stories about and of course Luke and myself discussing the important to of which wrestler has the best entrance music, which may also lead to another article.
As I have now had a week or so to reflect on the trip and my first game all I can say is that I can’t wait to be back and to meet and get to know more of the people linked with other supporters groups as well as more of the YSP group.
Just want to say thanks to Scott, Chris, Luke, David, Nerissa + her dad, Mick, Gary, Jo, Chris, and everyone else I met and helped make my first trip one to remember.
Forza St Pauli.