With hardly any on-field success, massive city rivals (Hamburg), no big-name
players of note, but a large, passionate support base, this German team is
the archetypal cult club.
How many other clubs have a nickname like 'The Anarchists', come out
to AC/DC's Hells' Bells and still use a manual scoreboard, rather than an
electronic one ? This is what makes St Pauli unique.
If St Pauli fans were asked to describe themselves they would probably say they were
anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-commercialism, anti-everything,
Yep, you don't find many St Pauli fans sat on their own in the corner during the office
party. Not that they'd work in an office - they're more likely to work in a tattoo
studio, a bar, or an old record shop.
But it wasn't always this way - before the 80's they were just another lower
league club, who'd reached the promised land of the Bundesliga only once and
had nearly been declared bankrupt. However, in the 80's the club started to turn
their location near to Hamburg's famous Reeperbahn to their advantage.
The Reeperbahn is basically a massive street, home to the city's night-life
and red-light district - packed full of strip clubs, smoky bars, tattoo parlours,
and sex shops, a bit like
Blackpool promenade on acid, in a city.
With Hamburg SV based on the outskirts of the city, St Pauli started to focus
on itself as the 'real' city club. And it began to work...
A scene started to develop at the club's home games - they
became 'an event', something not to be missed.
From playing in front of only
a few thousand people, the players started to find themselves running out
to nearly 20,000 supporters. And they were radical too - they banned any
shows of right-wing activities, banners or chants, they created a new club logo - the
skull and crossbones, and they actively developed rivalries with any clubs who's fans they
considered to be right-wing.
The changes had an effect on the pitch as well, from struggling in the lower reaches
of the regional leagues, they hauled themselves up to the Bundesliga, before yo-yoing
between the top 2 leagues.
St Pauli have now become an internationally known club, a global
symbol for punks and left-wing culture with fan clubs all over the world.