Some nights you just know you will never forget. They leave the hairs on the back of your neck on end as you remember that feeling. Monday night will go down as one of those nights for many St. Pauli fans. Especially when it was so soon after the horror show of a gutless 0-4 defeat; a defeat that almost broke the relationship between the Ultras and other sections of the support base. This was different.
It is easy to draw comparisons between last seasons defeat; the atmosphere around the district was different in the morning. As I sauntered from coffees and catch ups with Scott (formerly YSP) and Andy who had started attending MSP screenings you could almost forget the game was on. Over lunch conversations of the HSV planned march from the park in Schanze through to BudapesterStraße and up the away end started too change that. Discussions of expectations of the yielded one unified wish – a good fighting performance. A draw would be ideal.
Before the gates opened, the stadium was brimming with fans. Many chose to arrive early knowing there would be increased checks. The conversations set to the backdrop of the whirring police helicopter keeping watch from above. Rising the steps of the Sudkurve, a sea of flashing blue lights lined the streets around the ground and signs of smoke bombs from the HSV corteo could be seen in the distance. As the terraces filled, early signs that the famous Millerntor under lights atmosphere was building. Anyone who has experienced a night game know the volume usually goes to 11. Could we push that further?
What was interesting would be to see what the club did to welcome the opposition. Those who have never been may be shocked to see the opposition’s anthem played before the teams are announced. Last year the 1979 cheesy pop hit “Wer Ist Deutsche Meister” was played after FCSP fans adapted it to mock HSV. This time, the more traditional anthem was played, accompanied by jeers and whistles. These continued through the announcement of the opposition, pausing for a ripple of applause when Bakery Jatta was announced, but intensifying when the return of Jeremy Dudziak to Millerntor, albeit as a sub.
As Das Herz Von Sankt Pauli rang out the Ultra’s choreo started to unfurl, calling out the local police as well as the opposition with a well worked piece of a hand where the fingers retracted, leaving only the middle extended. The previously faint smell of weed soon turned into a hotbox under the cloth, a decent nerve settler really. As it disappeared down to the bottom, brown and white flags previously handed out were waved furiously for the opening minutes. Aux Armes rang out loud after kick off and the Boys in Brown flew out the blocks.
All early signs were positive. St. Pauli players fought for every scrap and moved with pace. Østigard had a free header in the box, but couldn’t control it into the top corner and Big Marvin Knoll had a super long range effort saved. The anticipation this built added to the atmosphere. The fans sensed there was a chance, that their volume was intimidating the opposition. At points, I felt the Sudkurve physically shake under the weight of the bouncing support. When Diamantakos bundled the ball in on the 18th minute there was a very brief intake of breath followed by a roar which would have been heard across the city. An absolute hug a stranger moment. So much so I ended up no where near where I had started. Finding my way back, one of the PRSP guys had found a mobile phone which had ended up on the floor in the melee which was thankfully quickly returned to its owner.
HSV started to grow into the game for the rest of the half and Jatta had the ball in the goal via a defender just before half time. However, before he played his ball it was over the line. Relief, of sorts. But this is St. Pauli, and going in 1-0 up when you could have had a couple more goals is usually a sign you will lose 1-2.
The second half started with a bang. Literally. Pyro started in by both sets of Ultras lit the night. The PA almost restarted “Antifa Hooligans” as the nine minute light show went on. The customary “Pyro is Forbidden” was wasted on the audience. HSV were due to kick off. Maybe it stalled them, because while they came out stronger it seemed frustrated. Hearts entered mouths as Hinterseer was faced with an open goal. His miss kick looped the ball onto the roof of the net. Maybe this was to be our night.
If anything, the second goal just added to the tension. Magsicher Mats and his quick free kick to Big Marv caused chaos in the HSV box and Van Dongelen bundled the ball into the bottom corner, right in front of a baying Sudkurve. The pyro lit up, arms were flung everywhere. If this was filmed on a phone in Britain someone would have tweeted it with the caption “Limbs” or “Scenes.” But even now, as the volume continued to increase, there was still that nagging FCSP doubt in the back of everyone’s minds. The next half an hour would raise the heart rate.
In the balmy evening the Sudkurve pogoed itself into a sweat. Pulses hit overdrive when Hanik put the ball in Himmelmann’s net. Pyro started to light up the Gasteblock until… Laughter. The linesman’s flag was up. They were off side. Every second now became excruciating. Every time a Brown shirt battled for the ball, the crowd willed them harder. It felt like there was one massive racing heartbeat in key with the Ultra’s drum. St. Pauli looked to capitalise as HSV looked to stretch more and more for something from the game. Buballa had a chance well saved by brave goalkeeping, Mats had a thunderous strike turned onto the post. The board when up and a repeated murmur of “Drei minuten” could be heard. We can’t fuck this up now, can we?
There was a brief pause, a moment of consfusion. Some pyro entered the field from the HSV fans. The referee appeared to consider his options for an age. The next second, it’s over! The Millerntor Roar was back!
I asked, once, who the next Fussballgot might be. In my mind, there is only one. Mats Moller Daehli! His celebration, charging in front of the Gegengerade pounding his chest, kissing his badge epitomised the performance. The passion he unleashed in that moment of celebration a just reward for his, and the rest of the squads fighting performance. He was greeted with a huge embrace by Andre Trulsen, and I remain convinced had Truller not intervened Mats would be circling the Millerntor as you read this.
The fans and the players seemed for the first time since Ewald left the coaches box truly united. They circled the pitch in the customary manner, but taking particular care to really savour every cheer from every section. Especially in the Sudkurve, where the party appeared to never cease. Beautiful moments included Diamantakos handing his shirt to the Capo to distribute to the crowd (Knoll would later do the same after completing an interview). But the crowning moment, when you couldn’t love those guys any more than you already did came when they retrieved the “Hamburg ist Braun Weiss” banner from the Ultras and danced with it. Then as if they knew what we were thinking, they turned to the Hauptribune and kept circling to reveal it to the remaining away fans. The continued to face North before circling to the Gegengerade and back south. Then the man to bring it back was Jan Philipp Kalla, who we know will have savoured his 20 minute stint.
Through the night celebrations continued. The district truly came to life as every Kiosk, every bar and every street was packed with fans, drinking, smoking celebrating. Repeated chants of “Derbyseiger, Derbyseiger HEY HEY” christened every newly opened bottle. This is truly a night St. Pauli would never forget. Or maybe those who were still in the Jolly Roger at 7am, they would never remember.
It is in the history books now, and in the course of the season the win will probably mean more to us than a defeat to them. Likelihood is they get promoted this season. But this may be the most cathartic win for a long time. The fight shown by the whole squad, the passion in victory and the unity with the fans. HSV can go up. We’ll keep being the best!