We bumped into Ben, on his first trip over to St. Pauli, and asked him to write about his trip. We didn’t even have to supply him with Astra in exchange for the kind words, honest!
For a long time I have had an appreciation of German football, and more specifically German fan culture. Often I would watch videos of German football fans, in awe of the way they supported their teams and envious of the way they could drink and stand in their grounds. Whilst trawling the internet one day I came across a set of fans unlike any other I had seen – I was immediately drawn in by the left-wing symbolism and found myself walking round the house singing ‘Allez Allez Sankt Pauli’. As I read more into the ideals and principles of the club my affinity with FC St Pauli only grew, and I found it remarkable the way this club had inspired various fan groups such as YSP to do work helping refugees. As a supporter of Huddersfield Town I’d spent many years sampling the sanitised atmosphere of football grounds throughout England, but now I wanted to go to the Millerntor…
On the train into Hamburg I heard a familiar Yorkshire accent, and in Gary from YSP I had found my tour guide for the day! We headed to the ground for a look around, and then for my first bottle of Astra, but not before the police rounded up the Stuttgart fans they had been chasing down Budapester Strasse. From here the excitement started to build, and although I had been trying to keep it cool, I fear I may have embarrassed myself with my giddiness as I walked up the steps of the Sudkurve and out onto the terrace. I had been told to lower my expectations with regards to the atmosphere with the team languishing at the foot of the table, but it far surpassed anything you will find in England. The roar as the players entered and noise generated with the Sudkurve and Gegenderage chanting in unison was incredible. The less said about the football the better, but as an admirer of German fan culture that wasn’t the most important part of my day, I was just happy to be at this special football club.
Whilst I was in Hamburg, President Trump introduced his ‘Muslim Ban’, and whilst I felt angered and dejected by the news I also was heartened by the fans of St Pauli and their attitudes. It also got me thinking about the fan groups this great club had inspired, and the amazing work that groups like YSP do. In this current climate of prejudice and anti-immigrant sentiment, having people committed to helping refugees and countering bigotry is vital. So do yourselves a favour if you haven’t already – go and watch St Pauli, but more importantly contribute to YSP and support the work they do.