There is always a kind of state of emergency in St. Pauli, because that is in the nature of the district. It’s rough, it’s honest, it’s nonconformist. And it’s wild. Once a year, according to the second division calendar, there is a particularly loud bang in St. Pauli: That is when Hamburger SV is a guest, who is still considered by all Paulians to be a jaded representative of the German football upper class, although he already is stuck in the House of Commons for half a decade.
On Friday it was that time again, FC St. Pauli against HSV, underdog against establishment. As is so often the case in the Hamburg city derby, there were two duels that were fought out. The first game on the pitch, St. Pauli won 3-0. Well deserved, as one has to say, although no one in the Hanseatic city should be astonished anymore. St. Pauli has accumulated a great deal of city derby expertise in recent years, which consists in particular of inflicting sporting humiliations on the once great rival. So also this time.
But there was also the duel before and after the football game, which somehow also belongs to the supporting program at Hamburg derbies. Before kick-off, 3,500 HSV fans from Altona made their way to Hamburg’s Millerntor Stadium, home of FC St. Pauli. As always, they were accompanied by a large contingent of police, and several armored special vehicles were stationed around the neighborhood. What should probably insinuate: Better safe than sorry.
After the police operation, FC St. Pauli raised the question of proportionality
However, events that took place before the game on Friday and were shared in video snippets on social networks indicate that so much state power on display does not necessarily have to have a de-escalating effect: police officers in dark uniforms can be seen, some St Pinning Pauli fans to the ground and hitting them, in one case with his elbow on the head. According to the police, around 150 to 200 St. Pauli fans, some of whom were masked, tried to approach the HSV fan march. Certainly not with peaceful intentions. However, the use of such harsh methods raises “the urgent question of proportionality”, as FC St. Pauli put it in a communiqué. Those responsible for the neighborhood club were still cautious on Friday and referred to the unclear facts.
“These videos never look nice,” said police spokeswoman Sandra Levgrün of the German Press Agency. “But no colleague does that for fun!” According to Levgrün, it was a “targeted action” by the St. Pauli fans. The police operation prevented “the HSV fans from being massively attacked”. However, several eyewitness reports from St. Pauli fans cast doubt on the police’s official version. Accordingly, the supporters had withdrawn early because the HSV fan march had been sealed off by several hundreds. But instead of letting go, according to the St. Pauli fans, the police came at high speed and acted very aggressively. There should also have been encirclement of individuals. The police announced via Twitterthat the question of the proportionality of the use will be examined. Several St. Pauli fans were taken into custody on Friday.
It remains to be clarified what happened in detail and whether the tough course of action taken by the officials was legitimate in view of the dangerous situation. On the other hand, there was little doubt: The Kiezkicker were a deserved derby winner. And they are, at least as far as the direct duels are concerned, now the clear number one in the city. Since HSV graced the second division with its presence, St. Pauli has won five out of nine games – and always in a similar way: The Paulians were well prepared again on Friday for what HSV had planned on the pitch. They showed humility before the task without having too much respect for the opponent. And they put a lot of physical effort into every minute of the game.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” said St. Pauli coach Timo Schultz
“We executed our plan and put on a show for the fans,” said St. Pauli midfielder Jackson Irvine. Only a minority of the 30,000 spectators in the Millerntor Stadium probably had a different opinion, they were very likely dressed in HSV fan paraphernalia. The home team defended cleverly and robustly in a five-man chain, which the St. Pauli coach Timo Schultz had practiced especially for the derby, and they lurked for mistakes like those that the HSV defense made after less than half an hour. A high ball from the Paulians was enough to set off a long chain of mistakes in the opposition, at the end of which HSV captain Sebastian Schonlau committed a clumsy foul and was sent off the field for emergency braking.
“That was the crucial scene,” said HSV coach Tim Walter. And he was very right about that: Apart from a quarter-hour urge phase, HSV did little after that. The Kiezkicker carefully dealt with the exhausted opponent and only took the lead after a header by Eric Smith (61st), before Marcel Hartel (74th) and David Otto (89th) scored their goals for the 3-0 final score and thus ensuring the clearest inner-city conditions for 62 years. “Today everything was good from us, from A to Z,” said St. Pauli coach Timo Schultz. “It’s an indescribable feeling to celebrate the derby victory together with the fans after the game.”
Indeed, for all Paulians, this would have been a good day to celebrate. On Hamburg’s Reeperbahn, which is usually the place for derby festivities, the mood at night was rather depressed and chilled. The reason: At a late hour there were about as many police forces as there were fans.