Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


September 2015

Sunday, November 4, 2012

FC St Pauli (Germany)

FC St Pauli are a football club based in the St Pauli district of Hamburg in Germany. The club were formed on the 15th May 1910, beginning life as St Pauli TV playing in local regional football and playing matches at Heiligengeistfeld, which is next to the current home stadium.

In 1924 the present title was taken up, with the team still competing regionally, winning an occasional promotion and suffering relegations. In 1946, the club built its own stadium in the corner between Glacischaussee and Budapester Strasse. The following year while members of Oberliga-Nord, St Pauli reached the semi finals of the national rounds before losing to 1FC Nuremberg.

In 1961 construction on a new home ground Millerntor-Stadion began, while in 1963 saw the re-organisation of German football with the formation of the professional national Bundesliga. St Pauli found themselves in the second tier Regionalliga Nord. The club suffered disappointments in 1964, 1966, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974 when the team finished champions or runners-up, but failed to reach the Bundesliga after losing in the play offs.

In 1974 2 Bundesliga was formed with St Pauli become members. In 1977 they finally reached the top flight, although their spell lasted just one season. Worse was to follow as the club were close to bankruptcy and denied a license, meaning relegation down to Oberliga Nord. In 1984 they had recovered sufficiently to win a place in 2 Bundesliga.

In the mid 80's St Pauli began to appeal to fans as a 'Kult Club', using its base near to the docks and the famous Reeperbahn nightlife location to attract fans, as the decade started with crowds of around 1,600 at Millerntor. Left wing politics and anti fascism with punk music were preferred by fans as the scull and crossbones flag was adopted. This fitted in well with the population of the surrounding area, as support rapidly grew.

The team were relegated back to the Oberliga in 1985, but went straight back up at the end of the following campaign. By 1988 they were back in the Bundesliga for a three year spell, before going back down to the second tier. A further top flight spell was played out between 1995 and 1997. Work on Millerntor commenced to deal with the increased demands and the side responded with another single season spell in 1 Bundesliga for the 2001-02 season, where the TV money was squandered on under performing players.

Another relegation and financial crisis in 2003, led to much needed fundraising and a benefit game against Bayern Munich. The fans introduced charity initiatives to children in poorer countries, while continuing to create a party atmosphere on matchdays. The team reached the DFB Pokal (German FA Cup) semi final in 2006, before Bayern Munich ended any dreams of silverware. 

Promotion back to 2 Bundesliga was achieved in 2007, and three years later St Pauli won promotion to 1 Bundesliga. During the 2010-11 season St Pauli beat local rivals SV Hamburg in their away match with a Gerald Asamoah goal, but it was to end in vain as the team were once again relegated at the end of the season.

FC St Pauli will play in 2 Bundesliga in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

FC St Pauli 3 Dynamo Dresden 2 (Sunday 28th October 2012) 2 Bundesliga (att: 21,045)

I was in Hamburg on day three of four of a solo adventure around Germany, taking in as much football and socialising as possible. I had already been to see games in Cologne and Gelsenkirchen and then a local game in the city at US Paloma on arrival that morning.

I realised that tickets at Millerntor-Stadion were hard to come by, but by using the foreign fans email service on the club website, I had managed to obtain a seat for Euro 50. This seemed rather expensive for second division football, but I was advised on the forum I use for groundhopping, that it was as good as I would get. I simply had to turn up with my reservation email and pay on the day, which I thought to be very trusting.

I left my morning game early as I wanted to ensure my ticket was still there. I got off the U3 train at St Pauli station and was met at the top of the stairs by the beginning of construction of Hamburg Dom (funfair) on the large Heiligengeistfeld, meaning dodging around caravans and steelwork. Near Millerntor the scene was confused, not helped as the Back Straight stand was in a state of semi completion. Lots of fans held signs up which appealed for the purchase of a match ticket. My advance purchase was definitely necessary.

I found the ticket office at the rear of the South Stand after assistance from a steward. The gent behind the counter was helpful and friendly and I was soon on my way. I bought a scarf for Andy Crossland and then attempted to find my way in. To be honest, the arrangements were a bit of a shambles but eventually I found the correct gate, and after a quick search I was inside thirty minutes before the 1.30 kick off.

The concourse had art galleries along the walls. Some concessions sold fish in bread, which related to local culinary choices. I was pleased to see that the club hadn't adopted the stadium card system, and that I was able to purchase from the outlets with cold hard cash. I bought a sausage, which came with a small piece of bread and a Holsten beer. I was eager to locate my seat, but I was most concerned that I couldn't find the corresponding entrance. I went up the stairs and in and asked another steward. I had to walk along the front and then up to the leather business seats. Happy with my location, I went for a refill before the teams came out.

My seat was at the end of the middle third, nearest to the extremely feisty eastern away fans. Millerntor was creating an incredible atmosphere. I was in the Main Tribune. This was a raised single tier of seating with a raised level of lounge seats at the rear for corporate clients. This joined up with an area of corporate boxes, offices and the changing rooms to my right with the South Stand which had standing at the front and then seating and more exclusive seating and boxes. Opposite the Back Straight only had a reduced capacity in the large terracing at the front, with portable TV gantries restricting the amount of fans. The seating deck at the rear and the roof were still awaiting completion. Finally to the left was the North Stand. This was the oldest construction at the stadium, even though it looked semi temporary on its scaffolding frames. There was standing at the front and seats at the rear. The away section contained 2,155 Dresdeners.

The home fans, predominantly in the South Stand terracing, played with rainbow balloons to show their portrayed tolerance to all and flew banners while making a real noise, to which the Dynamo fans reacted with their Capo's at the front orchestrating them. The teams emerged to the sound of ACDC's Hell's Bells booming out over the PA's.

To see the build up, go to:


Kick off was delayed as the linesman and several stewards attempted to disentangle all the streamers and toilet rolls that had been thrown on from the home fans in the South Stand. I was sat next to a most helpful gent with a good command of English, who was keen to chat once he'd heard of my exploits. We were both a little taken aback as all hell was being let loose in the away section. Dresden fans were trying to scale the fences and looking for a real go with the police, while a gate at the front was kicked open. It transpired than a banner had been taken from the fencing and confiscated. Someone with half a brain decided to throw it back, which was met with applause and a complete change in temperature. The fans got right behind their team instead.

Dynamo went one up as their fine flying French winger Idir Ouali finished off a fine move past the rather static St Pauli defence. It was two after twenty eight minutes after Mickael Pote scored unmarked as once again the home team looked as though they'd been out the night before in the nearby Reeperbahn. The home fans were not particularly amused, but gradually their team awoke. Fabian Boll turned and fired home to reduce the deficit a minute before the break.

I had a wander about before returning to my comfy seat and to enjoy a fine fight back from the self proclaimed 'Die Freibeuter der Liga', meaning Buccaneers of the League. Christopher Avevor headed St Pauli level from a corner within four minutes of the re-start and then seven minutes later a lovely Boll pass set the good run from Daniel Ginczek through to finish to complete the turn around, and delight the coach Michael Frontzeck.

After that the home side saw out the game with relative ease. I said my goodbye and exited out near the players tunnel. I had a laugh at a sign under the stand under the club crest which read, 'Non Established Since 1910'. All day I hardly saw any fans under sixteen. It really was a place for the sixteen to fifty age group.

I had been told of a football pub to try, in the hope of catching the end of the Merseyside derby, but could only see the Jolly Roger fan pub, where celebrations were in full swing. I headed down some side streets to try and find a bar showing the game, but settled on popping inside St Pauli Eck on Hein-Hoyer-Strasse, which I found appropriate for a Yorkshireman. I settled with a bottle of Astra local beer and asked if I was OK to sit at a table where one bloke was perched, who I thought had been to the game.

The conversation wasn't going too far, but I didn't think I'd done anything too wrong, when he started muttering expletives. Some more men came in and joined us. I tried to be polite as ever and in time I was accepted. I popped outside to see a cavalcade of police vehicles that I'd not seen after a match in years in the UK. I said my goodbyes on good terms after another bottle having being told that migrants from the east were a major problem in the city regarding jobs and financial earnings, and found myself on a still light Reeperbahn to catch the train back to the Hauptbahnof (central station) to pick up my bag and book into the Hotel Lumen am Hauptbanhof for a siesta.

I went out and got off near the town hall, but found the town to be quiet, so I had a walk and then a train ride. I walked up the Reeperbahn. Now I'm a well travelled man and pretty broad minded at that, but I found this a bit too oppressive. I was been physically grabbed, which I neither like or trust by the ladies, who were obviously not looking to discuss Kevin Keegan's spell at the Volkspark or Georg Albertz time at Ibrox. I walked round the corner to Budapester Strasse and past Millerntor to the Jolly Roger. I decided to give it a punt and initially I was really impressed by the buzz of the place and the superb music being played by Chrischian and his Alcoholic Nightmare night. 

At that point I was obviously being spoken about as I wasn't in filthy jeans or t shirts with a scull and crossbones or declaring that I demanded a class war. I think it was suspected that I was some kind of infiltrator. I was maybe trying too hard to mix in. As soon as I spoke in English with someone I was excepted - by some anyway. I wasn't going to shift. After all, this was meant to be the fans who lauded tolerance? Maybe just if you agreed with them?

Chrischian knew his place, and stopped playing when brief highlights of the afternoon game was shown on the TV. There were stickers all over the walls as well as mementoes from other clubs from around the world, mainly Celtic. It wasn't unlike the old Tunnel Club in Scarborough. It wasn't a football club, it was a style of life. I ended the evening chatting to two Borrusia Moenchengladbach fans who lived locally and had just returned from seeing their side come from two down to win three two at Hanover. 

I walked back to the underground and passed an old boy on his bike who seemed to be celebrating the afternoon win, judging by his riding inabilities. 

The following day I returned to buy Carl Ellis a shirt at the club shop. The corner of the ground by the Back Straight was open, so I got some better photos. I was amazed at the prices in the shop, which was like a punk boutique complete with dog wandering about and assistant looking like a member of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. A playing shirt was Euro 60. So much for the club of the working class!

I wandered away, still largely unconvinced, putting it down to an age thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment