Fürth – SpVgg Greuther Fürth vs FC St. Pauli
Feeling a little worse for wear on Sunday, we were off to watch the St Pauli promotion charge away at Fürth. After milling around in Fürth and drinking beer during the day (as well as finding out Leicester had beaten Middlesborough on the final day of the season), we headed towards the Trolli Arena (formerly the Playmobil Stadion) to get involved once more.
The first half for St Pauli was pretty much a non-event, really. Tremendous support from the home fans, who willed their team on with a constant wall of noise and saw them go in with a 1-0 lead over the visitors at the break. Pauli were not helped by a horrific looking injury to their ‘keeper early in the first half, either, whereby he lay out cold for a minute or two, got up, bled from the mouth and then collapsed in a heap after he tried to move. He did this twice more and didn’t move at all the 3rd time – something extremely concerning to see.
In the second half, however, they were unbelievable. To this day, the second half onwards remains one of, it not my favourite, football-experience of all time. They must have been given a proper volley of verbals because after the break they managed to score 4, have 1 disallowed and generally look a much more dangerous, purposeful, inventive side every time they went forward.
Inevitably, the second half performance lifted spirits in the St Pauli ends (the entire uncovered end behind the goal and half of each side stand – awesome following) also, and I would suggest that the second half atmosphere could only have been improved by having a roof on the away end. There was mass standing in both the seated area and obviously the terrace with a real non-stop party atmosphere, accompanied by a few beer showers after the goals!
At the end of the game, it was clear that barring a miracle, St Pauli were back in the Bundesliga. What followed was a large-scale, completely mental pitch invasion which was not policed in the Nazi-like way it invariably would have been in England. It passed literally without any trouble whatsoever. The Fürth fans were very respectful towards the Pauli lot, and they even applauded the celebrations. The police, of course, were taking pictures and filming the shenanigans… on participants own phones in the goal mouth! Had that been over here, there’d have been riot police and stewards charging at fans with battons and dogs to clear the pitch, with several hundred arrests and banning orders no doubt being issued. Not here. Photos in the goal area were encouraged and the police were chatting away happily to everyone, congratulating them on the win and even having their own pictures taken inside the area.
The Pauli fans stayed on the pitch for a good 45 minutes to an hour after that game, chanting, dancing and singing, hugging each other and generally just celebrating a brilliant achievement. Of course, the players both joined in with and started the songs – most notably Deniz Naki – and there were repeated calls for the manager to make an appearance, which he did. But I do wonder if they’d have taken part in England? Perhaps not, as they’d have been immediately ushered away down the tunnel, and even widespread media condemnation of such scenes later on.
It was a brilliant way to end an awesome weekend’s football. I managed to see 3 games with a total of 12 goals in two different countries, witness a team’s promotion to the top tier, a top-tier title win and take part in a full-scale pitch invasion – all for the price of just ONE Premier League game at Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford, and I know for a fact I had a much better time in doing so. It really is a different culture and a different world on the continent, and it’s one I’d recommend any real football fan take in and experience. I’ll certainly be going back. Repeatedly.
by Jamie Treadwell
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