I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I think most of the time they tend to be things we think we should do than things we really want to do. But I usually aim to visit one new place that I’ve never been to before within the follow twelve months, it’s something I know I want to do, and it is usually fairly achieveable.
It is also a good opportunity to catch a game or two, I wrote early in the summer about my trip to Essen and Cologne and I managed to squeeze in a trip to Hamburg just before the New Year, joined once again by Brendan, my German, football-obsessive mate.
With the German season having just finished for its winter break there wasn’t a chance to catch a game though I did want to visit the Millerntor, the stadium of FC St. Pauli, a club that may not boast an extensive trophy cabinet but one that has an international reputation as a “Kult” club and for situating progressivism at the forefront not only of its image but its day to day existence. Their stands bear slogans like “Kein Fussball den Faschisten” (No football for Fascists) and “Kein Mensch ist illegal” (No one is illegal). Their “skull and crossbones” logo has also become ubiqutious and can be spotted in the most unlikely of places. According to our guide, despite the relative size of the club St. Pauli are often in the top three or four clubs in Germany in terms of their revenue from merchandise.
St. Pauli is a quarter within the city of Hamburg, it sits close to the port on the river Elbe as well as the famous Reeperbahn home to the city’s red-light district and once home to The Beatles who performed in many of the clubs in the area. The ground is also situated right next to an enourmous, former Nazi bunker, now being turned into a luxury hotel.
The stadium is modest by some standards, the club can’t build beyond a capacity of 30,000 and they have avoided some of the soulless bowl type conventions with our tour guide noting with pride that they preferred the “English style” of four individual stands, close to the pitch. Three of the stands also feature a mix of seating and terracing with only one stand being an all-seater though they do also host a number of quite luxurious, customised corporate boxes.
Anyway here are some pics and I’d like to get back and try and catch a game here before the season ends and maybe do a double header with an Altona 93 game in the Regionalliga. And while it seems far fetched it still feels that it might be possible for League of Ireland clubs to steal a few more ideas from a club like St. Pauli and adapt them for an Irish context. Well here’s hoping.