Book of the week: Pirates, Punks & Politics by Nick Davidson

 

“Never again fascism! Never again war! Never again the Third Division!” is not a chant you are likely to hear at any League ground in Britain, but its pawky humour encapsulates the unique atmosphere of the Millerntor Stadion in Hamburg, home to FC St Pauli, a club who triumphantly give the lie to every tired cliché about Germans, and German football.

Nick Davidson had been a lifelong Watford supporter, but became disillusioned with the commercialisation and hype of the Premier League/Sky era. He initially turned to non-League football, joining the committee of a local club, but soon tired of the petty politicking and minuscule crowds. Having read an article about St Pauli, he travelled to a home game and was instantly smitten.

What is it that makes St Pauli so different? The fans. An eclectic mix of anarchists, left-wingers, punks and people who just like to party, they welcome outsiders and, however serious their political views, they know how to have fun; win or lose, they’re on the booze, with an occasional toke thrown in.

Davidson describes his happy bemusement at that first game back in 2007, as the beer flowed on the terraces and complete strangers, many wearing the club’s trademark skull-and-crossbones insignia, made a point of befriending him. Since then he has frequently made the 800-mile round trip from England. While he is not totally misty-eyed, acknowledging that the club, currently in the second division of the Bundesliga, have had their share of hooligan incidents, he revels in their unique culture.

You don’t have to share Davidson’s politics to enjoy this passionate, partisan account of how he fell back in love with football, and it’s hard to disagree with his view that, in an era when the top-flight game is perceived to be selling its soul, we need clubs like St Pauli.

Published in paperback by SportsBooks, £8.99

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue