New York, Milan, Lower Briggate!

The season 2010/11 holds many memories for me, mainly as this was the season when Yorkshire St Pauli began brewing. Before then and during the first half of the season, following the Magical FC for me meant listening to Wolf Schmidt and team’s excellent AFM Radio podcasts, although not easy to follow as a non-native speaker, due to the breakneck speed of the commentary, or the occasional dodgy stream perhaps. An early home game against Hoffenheim was shown in full, but not live, on a satellite channel up at the pub at the top of the road. I managed to avoid the result and sat on a stool near the pool table to watch the game. All the way through the match three lads played pool without clocking the game, but occasionally letting off stinky farts, then inexplicably one of them pronounced on about 80 minutes, “Yeah, I know, Hoffenheim score in a minute and the win takes them up to second in the table.” Jeeezus. How did he know that and why did he fucking care? So Hoffenheim scored, 0-1 it finished and I went home wanting to stick his pool cue up his smelly arse!

Work was sending me all over the place back then and I had the privilege of travelling to New York in January 2011. I engineered my trip to be over a weekend with a St Pauli game, flew in, dropped off my bags, and then made my way to Williamsburg to watch the game with the East River Pirates. It was Freiburg at home, the Jolly Rouge game. The ERPs watch the games via St Pauli TV on a delayed stream after the game has finished. At 1-1, Gerald Asamoah headed goal wards and the stream buffered. Ten minutes later we watched the ball finally drop into the net, only for Freiburg to equalise after a few minutes. Too many Radebergers later, I took the subway back onto Manhattan, mistakenly got off Downtown, then walked about 50 blocks up Broadway at past midnight through the bright lights to my hotel in the Upper Westside, warmed by my new St Pauli Fans NYC scarf and the idea that if people can get together in New York to watch games, why can’t we in old Yorkshire?!

So to the Derby game. The Derby game. Well, it came at the climax to a purple patch of three wins on the trot, which had commentators in some unrealistic quarters mentioning Europe! I was away with work again and in a city with proper European football credentials – Milan. The Derby game passed me by, but it wasn’t my fault. One of the Milan clubs had a game that evening and there were other Italian games on too, but, having researched potential sports bars that might just be charmed by my Hugh Grant hapless Englishman impersonation to consider showing HSV v St Pauli, instead I ended up walking around Milan in the pissing rain, returning to my very basic hotel none the wiser, being kept awake all night by a school party, finding out the result only the following day by text. And what a text that was, Jack!! Derbysieg!

The purple patch didn’t last and we hurtled towards the foot of the table. At the same time the original founders of YSP found eachother and so the beginnings of our fanclub emerged. The first meeting was a false start, with many within our small gang unavailable, but five people turned out in April at the Hogshead on Lower Briggate to watch FCSP v Schalke on a screen upstairs, with Leeds Rhinos on all surrounding screens. Two sendings-off (Kalla and Bartels) plus the infamous beer-beaker hitting the linesman episode…although we lost 0-2 it was pretty eventful!

What I’d give to have Boll, Bartels, Kruse and Ebbers back now. Or Zambrano or the fabulous Bene Pliquett for that matter. But Europe was the stuff of dreams. Klassenerhalt (staying up) was the only reasonable aim. It wasn’t to be, but somehow that season spawned Yorkshire St Pauli and I’ll remember it for as long as I live.

Rob YSP

As part of his article, which was originally intended for the Weisse Rose fanzine, Rob was able to grab a word with FCSP Stalwarts Bene Pliquett and Sven Brux and was able to get their points of view on the 2010-2011 season.

Rob – Sven, why did things go the way they did when the club was looking upwards to Europe after the HSV win? What are your personal memories of the run in and the collapse towards the end of the season?

Sven – I actually don’t have any particular memories of the period between the derby win and relegation. The reason for this is simply that I had already experienced several relegations from the First Division by that stage and so it seemed to me neither unexpected nor particularly terrible. Quite the opposite actually to the relegation to the third tier in 2003, as this had many more consequences, including financial ones, for the club and colleagues. I’m involved too little in the internal procedures of a football team to comment, but the fact that nothing really functioned after Stani had announced his eventual transfer to Hoffenheim made you wonder. The debacle of the last home game against Bayern left you eventually feeling somewhere between amused and cynical, and I was happy when it was all over. The game and the season.

Introducing Benedict Pliquett, legendary St Pauli keeper, St Pauli fan, one of us and keeper of a clean sheet at the Volkspark on 16 February 2011. Bene was reserve keeper that season, but was and is St Pauli through and through. He had been previously attacked by HSV hools at a station, so it’s not surprising how much this game meant to him. The last time we interviewed Bene about that night, we had to edit his forthright and honest responses as they may have got him into some bother. If you are new to St Pauli and don’t know the full story, go google ‘Benedikt Pliquett cornerflag’. Bene, wir sind immer mit Dir!

Rob YSP – Bene, your memories please of the night of the derby victory….

Bene – After the game we drove from the stadium to our training ground at Kollaustrasse. Then my wife came into the cabin with a bottle of Champagne. We drank it there with Truller (Andre Trulsen) and Stani (Holger Stanislawski) was still there. Afterwards I went to my regular Hamburg local, where we ate something and where the game was being shown again in its entirety on tv. I was sitting next to a bloke who asked me whether I had seen the game earlier. I said to him, “No, I didn’t see it. I had to work.” Then he saw my face fade onto the screen relatively big and realised what he’d done! Later on we had a drink at the station and actually that was all, as we had the next Bundesliga game at the weekend.

Rob YSP – After the derby win some people spoke of possible UEFA qualification. That was surely unrealistic, even with that gifted team, but why do you think we went didn’t win again? Was the derby victory also the cup final and career highlight for the lads?

Bene – It’s clear that this was emotionally a highlight for many of us in the team because we had worked towards this for years. I think that the breadth of the squad was not strong enough to cancel out the injuries. Carlos Zambrano was injured and he was an enormous support. I think Bastian Oczipka was injured and he was outstanding. So we didn’t really get a foot in the door and once you are down there it gets harder and harder. Honestly, looking back I have to say that that game had so much worth for us emotionally and, well, Europa League? We were on our way there and you are right to say that it was a gifted and talented team, but Europe would have just been too much of a good thing!