FC St Pauli 5 (FIVE) v 0 SC Paderborn:
Dresden to Hamburg. As the Dresden Ultras pointed out in one of their „transpis“, the River Elbe is as good a route as any for transporting…erm…objects between the two cities. Unfortunately though I paid little attention and opted to go via a few days in Holland (bumping into Boudwijn Zenden no less!). The privatised German train providers aren’t quite as reliable as the flow of the Elbe, and so on Saturday morning I found myself briefly stranded in Venlo. After a long slog up through Germany, I eventually made it for tea at Backbord, but there would be no time for Ultra BBQs or indeed free concerts. The rest of the evening was instead spent with the rest of the SPM, plus other friends in the Jolly. My mood had been darkened, with the news that Naki would not be staying at the Millerntor, but beer, good company and skins singing along to Die Kassierer, and things improved!
After a lengthy breakfast in Cafe Miller on the Sunday we made our way to the ground. It should’ve been the last game of the season, but there was still a small chance of an extension via the play-offs. Even before the kick-off, Naki’s name was already being chanted, and he was already in tears. The other St Pauli feature saying goodbye was the old Gegengerade stand which was due to be demolished after the match.
The game in the end was won at a canter. The Paderborner stood a chance of promotion too, and their fans seemed motivated enough (loud singing pre-match and a few flares). After a goal or two though, their side gave up, and we were left free to play the kind of highscoring, free flowing football rarely witnessed this season. Parallel to our own match, Düsseldorf were playing Duisburg. A win would see them through the play-offs at our expense. A draw would’ve required us to score around 10 to get a better goal difference. Realistically only them losing would’ve been enough. With Duisburg down to 10 men early, it always seemed like a long shot. This didn’t stop the crowd chanting for „only 6 more goals“, as we began to find the net. Nor did it stop a ridiculous rumour (that I obviously fell for) briefly going round that Duisburg were somehow leading 4-2! In the end though, it was clear that the play-offs would be out of reach. Instead we congratulated our resident Fortuna fan, and stuck to the usual last game of the season antics of holding our shoes in the air (how fashions change! A few years ago it was a sea of Sambas and Spezials. Now it’s all running shoes!). Naki came on towards the end, and with the last kick of the game got a goal. A nice final moment!
After the match it was time for emotional goodbyes and speeches. So many players gone. Some too early, some too late (ich sag nur der „Edeltechniker“!). Naki arguably leaves at exactly the right time. A player you could relate to and enjoy watching. He was however never one for discipline, and so I get the impression this was as good a high to be leaving on, as he would’ve got under Schubert. Perhaps it was the right time for the Gegengerade to bow out too, it’s well-earned rebellious status safely preserved. The sunken steps of the Gegengerade are where I started my days at the Millerntor and I will miss it. Whether the new stand brings with it a new „roar“, or is just a police HQ with a terrace, it will have to work hard to be a suitable replacement!