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Hamburg ist red, not dead

Submitted by on January 17, 2011 – 12:23 pmNo Comment

There will be an indepth piece, with pictures, about the situation at St Pauli in the February issue of A fine lung. But for now, here is a piece from the FCUMAD site about St Pauli fans’ anti-commercialism protests at the weekend, including the Bring back St Pauli campaign:

What a difference a week makes. All last week I struggled. I struggled at work, I struggled to sleep. There are many things that get me down and football for me, like for a lot of people, is escapism. You’ve dragged your way through the odd crap thing at work, you’ve dragged your way through the Guardian online, reading about meddling in the education system or some poorly researched piece on fan ownership in football…
…you log on the unofficial FCUM forum to read that Manchester City Council is having to carry out major cutbacks due to lack of funding, and then you read some less than positive responses from club officials at St Pauli reacting to criticism by fans towards increasing commercialism at the club. Suddenly the Saturday escape (or Friday or Sunday or whenever Sky choose to schedule your escape for) seems to be diminished. So feeling slightly apprehensive of what might happen, but loaded down with protest banners, I made my way up to Hamburg with the St Pauli Mafia bus.

My first task of the day was to sell copies of the Zeckenbiss fanzine. Trade was better than at the last home game where it was too cold for people to want to leaf through a magazine, but still slow. What cheered me up no end though was seeing so much red on show as fans milled around outside the ground. Home-made (even more heartening than “purchased”) Jolly Rouges were everywhere to be seen, as well as spraypainted hats, hoodies, tshirts and even the odd umbrella! Stickers also seemed to be a major feature. Stickers of lifebelts, Jolly Rouges and hearts, some printed in record time, some (in the case of two friends) lovingly created with stencils, address labels lifted from the Post Office and spraycans.

The question was, would all of this craft and passion only be shown by the usual suspects, or by a wider section of the fanbase? Walking out on to the Sudkurve answered my question. Around me was a sea of red, to my right on the Gegengerade was more red, in the North Stand “Nord Support” had swapped out their brown/white, white/brown heart flags for red/black and black/red skulls, and on the Haupttribune the fans had hung a banner saying “Bring back St Pauli to me”. Before the teams came out, everyone began singing “Bring back St Pauli to me” to the tune of “My Bonnie lies over the ocean”. The whole ground, unassisted and in unison. It was a very moving moment.

The match itself also lived up to the occasion and was both exciting and with goals. In the first half, the ref incorrectly awarded a penalty to Freiburg (I thought he’d correctly spotted a “soft” handball, but replays suggested otherwise). Such was the noise, Freiburg fluffed it and Kessler saved! Minutes later, struggling striker Ebbers nodded St Pauli into the lead. A lead which was held until half time. Halftime was strangely the high point for me. Still with the red flags waving, a further banner was presented out on the Haupttribune.

Our own group mocked the recent introduction of a text message screen in the ground (since removed) by running around 15 different wallpaper banners across the part of Sudkurve where we stand in text message ticker style, and then everyone started singing. On the big screen was an advert for a DVD of the 100th Birthday Celebration Concerts at the Millerntor. The soundtrack was the St Pauli song “Das hier ist Fussball” from Thees Uhlmann. I’m a sucker for the song anyway, particularly the line “mein Schulter ist nass, durch das Nebenmanns tränen” (My shoulder is wet from the man next to me’s tears”. This time though the whole ground joined in. Halftime, nothing going on on the pitch and the place is belting out “hooray, hooray, hooray FC ST. PAULI. Würde es gehen, würde ich dich umarmen” (FC St Pauli, if it were possible, I’d hug you) like some heartbroken drunk underneath their former lover’s balcony. A real hair standing up on the back of your neck moment, close to tears.

Keen to ensure a fitting result, the team pushed for another goal. Unfortunately it was Freiburg who found it, taking a well-made chance to even things up. However before long, Asamoah had found the net and we were leading again.

A further chance for all three points came when Ebbers diverted, Solskjaer in Barcelona 99 style, a low drive up towards the top corner of the goal, sadly in this case a defender was there to make a last second clearing header. Then unfortunately the defence went to sleep and Freiburg once again equalised. St Pauli had a penalty shout turned down in the dying minutes and looked to be ready to take all three points when Asamoah tackled the defender on the edge of the Freiburg box.

Clear through on goal the ref blew, although it wasn’t clear what for and shortly afterwards blew again for full time. The point doesn’t help St Pauli’s situation hugely, still very much caught up in the relegation dogfight, however the Jolly Rouge campaign was the most important victory on the day.

After the match, a further demonstration took place with somewhere between 500 and 1000 fans braving the, now driving, rain to listen to speeches and then march through the streets of St Pauli. As with most demos I attend, I usually find myself simply meandering along chatting to friends, and this one was no different. I bumped into Dani from Football Supporters Europe, who brought me up to date on the Supporter Campaign Bulletin appeal, http://www.footballsupporterseurope.org/en/newsletter-article?id=543, more background information around St Pauli and the SozialRomantiker topic and the current situation with those Metz fans who were arrested for displaying an Anti-Nazi banner in a ground (it’s going to court – how on earth can the authorities be so stupid?!)…http://www.footballsupporterseurope.org/en/news/index.php?article=556

With my bus ready for departure, I had to leave the demo early. It remains to be seen what will now happen at the club. A strong signal was however sent. Fans of all types, of all ticket prices were unified behind the Jolly Rouge. The hope is, feedback has been given and the club will react positively. I’m certainly feeling confident. Confident that my Saturdays might be saved after all.

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