Showing us how to be fans
FOOTBALL, as us Brits love to remind everyone, was a British invention. Formed in the public schools, adopted by the great unwashed, moulded and transformed by decades of bickering, ideological nit-picking and debate - we’ve done a lot to form the game as it is today.
Understandably, this means we feel a certain maternal pride over it; a selfishness and unwillingness to accept football, that great British invention, may not necessarily just be “ours” anymore.
For me, this shows itself most prominently in fan culture.
Up until very recently, no one did ‘being a fan’ like the British.
We follow our teams up and down the land, support them through thick and thin…we were the envy of world when it came to supporting your team. The key word there, of course, being ‘were’. With the development of social media, online visibility and good old Sky and BT, British eyes have been opened to what the world has to offer in terms of fan culture.
The unrelenting noise of the Sudtribune, the ‘Yellow Wall’, of Borussia Dortmund. The fierce and vibrant choreography of the SuperClásico between Argentinian heavyweights Boca Juniors and River Plate. The footballing world has now opened its gates to the wider British public, and for a lot of people, myself includ- ed, the penny has dropped; has British fan culture lost its way?
On a recent trip to Germany, I was determined to visit the Millerntor-Stadion in Hamburg – the home of FC St Pauli.
For those of you unfamiliar with St Pauli, they are what’s known as a cult club.
Until the 80s, St Pauli were your typical German football team; however, due to the working class St Pauli area of Hamburg being heavily populated by society’s ‘outcasts’ – punks, anarchists, hippies, squatters, prostitutes, transvestites – this presence soon seeped onto the terraces of the Millerntor.
Suddenly, St Pauli had a heavily alternative fan base, and this wasn’t the only thing that made them stand out.
Their new supporters not only brought a sense of style to the terraces, but also hardcore left-wing views, which are still actively promoted today.
FC St Pauli are anti-homophobic, anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-sexism and as socialist as Jeremy Corbyn’s teapot – they are as much a political movement as they are a football club.
The first team wear rainbow designs on their official strip to support their anti-homophobic stance; they organised rallies, as well as launching a range of club merchandise, to