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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Morrissey - Autobiography (Book review)


Morrissey – Autobiography (A book review)



Songwriters are the poets of the modern working classes. Nothing resonates more with the soul than the moment when the thoughtful clarity of a finely crafted lyric elates such strong feelings. Morrissey has a full arsenal of those words, and it is within the confines of the written word ‘autobiography’ that he manages to develop and elaborate on the existentialist musings that have often permeated his musical life.

These rare moments when we are given pure unadulterated access into the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of an individual so far removed and so much attached to our own lives, are often for most fans, the only opportunity we’ll ever get for a real insight into the ‘das leben das anderen’, the lives of the others.  There are many things to learn, and many things to clear up from this enlightenment of one of the most well-known musical artists of the last three decades.

The most important thing that needs to be cleared up is that there will never be a Smiths reunion. THE SMITHS ARE DEAD. Forever. The haters will no doubt rejoice, and the young hipsters in their t-shirts will no doubt yearn forevermore, yet those that have read Morrissey’s account of former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce suing for royalties will no doubt understand and respect that such a reformation could not in any way take place. If they do, there will be no integrity left within the music industry. If we take Morrissey’s words at face value, then Joyce is a cunt. He wasn’t the only one in that saga though…

The vitriolic, hateful and rightfully scornful portrayal of Judge Weeks who presided over the case is a particular highlight of the book. Morrissey does not hold back in his condemnation of him and the biased, antiquated and absurd nature of the British legal system. A disdain for the British establishment and its class system has never been far off the Morrissey radar, and here he turns up the volume of jeer to unprecedented levels.

This level of hatred penetrates perfectly through the lyrics in the song ‘Irish Blood. English Heart’, with I've been dreaming of a time when…The English are sick to death of Labor… and Tories… and spit upon the name Oliver Cromwell… and denounce this royal line that still salute him.” This book reminded me how powerful this poetic punk piece is, and every time I hear it, sing it, the hairs on my back stand up. It comes as no surprise that he has abandoned the country in favour of Los Angeles.

The other cunts in the story are the NME. You already know that, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. A familiar story of slander and defamation awaits those that aren’t scared of reading all 450 pages. It’s remarkable to think how successful he has been despite the unfounded accusations and the amount he has been shunned by radio and TV promotion.

Generally, what you will find when reading this, is enjoyment in the eloquence of his execution – ordinary tales of the grind of day to day life are brought to life by his poetic words and astute analysis of a world filled with equal amounts of misery and madness.

It’s hard not to be taken in by the charm of Morrissey, the wordsmith has is way of wooing the reader into the central tensions of his life. He goes into great depth about the recent world of Morrissey and the privations of his life as a young Steven, without looking for pity or eluding a sense of privilege. Loners of the world will certainly unite and feel comfort with his feelings of inadequacies towards the mainstream culture and his detachment from others – it’s genuinely heart-warming stuff, and makes me feel better for preferring to be in solitary existence from time to time.

Whether its grim tales of school and family life in 1960’s Manchester, The Smiths period on Rough Trade Records, or the dizzy heights of Morrissey’s solo career; this book covers it all, and no doubt there is something in here for everyone, whether you are a casual or hardcore fan. Without doubt, one of the best music autobiographies I have ever read. 

©Schwarzbrennen

Monday, June 9, 2014

No updates for a while...

No updates for a while... 

Too busy with life right now... 

At the start of May was the birth of my daughter...
And now begins exam marking hell...

See you on the outside.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tunisia - The Revolution


Kairouan - The fourth holiest city in the world, and centre of theological thought in Tunisia, seems to also have a penchant for revolutionary thought.
The streets of Sousse in touristic Tunisia are full of men hanging around, stood in squares, drinking tea in cafes; trying to sell the same counterfeit goods you can find the world over.

“Hallo, wie gehts?”
“Gut.”
“Wo Kommst du?”
“Aus Gross Britannien.”
“Ja?”
“Ja!”
“So you speak English?”
“Yes I do mate”
“Ha ha ha mate”.
“What’s your name?”
“Chokri”
“Chokri?”
“Chokri, you know?”

His colleagues have to tell him whom I mean, and he starts to play the dumb villager. I shake this short rotund mans hand and casually notice the three lions badge on his shirt. Before he gets chance to cast his pitch I’m already leading the conversation. Short rotund man is one of the 18% of unemployed Tunisians, still trying to increase his chances of life survival by trying to deal with a 10% inflation of the national currency.

A t-shirt hanging up in an adjacent shop, which reads GAME OVER – Tunisian Revolution, 14th January 2011, instantly distracts me. Unfortunately it has a picture of three poster boy protestors stood in front of a flame below the text, so I’m instantly turned off.  The revolution is always a t-shirt away.

The revolution is only a billboard advertisement away
Despite my requests they have no t-shirts of Chokri Belaid – a left leaning lawyer who was leader of the opposition against the current ruling moderate Islamist party, before he was assassinated in broad daylight. I walk away, and I am instantly beckoned back over by the shop owner. He gives me a copy of a local newspaper as a memento, as it has a picture of the deceased on the back cover. He explains to me that since his death, more and more people have started to see that he was the only one speaking about the ordinary daily struggles of the common Tunisian citizen. The hopes of a revolutionary majority once again dashed by this premeditated attack.

I ask for directions to a supermarket where it is possible to buy beer. Nothings changed. 

I dragged my partner away from the resort to a second division football match featuring Ksar Hellal FC and all I got was this lousy ACAB photo. We weren't allowed into the ground as it was 'sold out'. I tried to offer the police officer some cash, and he said "revolution now, no bribes". Perhaps some things have changed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Alkaline Trio, The Murderburgers @ Leeds Metropolitan University, 19/04/2014


Alkaline Trio, The Murderburgers 

Leeds Metropolitan University, 19/04/2014


At the right place, at the right time

Another year and another Alkaline Trio tour - the band sell that many records in the UK that it has become a home from home for them - they have had that much success that (god-forbid) it even creates a surplus for them to class as an income. They’ve made it, and after 9 studio albums they are showing no signs of slowing down.

When they started back in 1996 they were just a three-piece punk-rock band practicing in a garage, in a suburb of Chicago, and who dared to sing love songs  at time when emo wasn’t cool and completely off the map. At the same time, Mike Park, had started running a DIY punk-rock label called Asian Man Records out of his garage in California. This was a match made in heaven.

Asian Man Records released an incredible amount of music in those early days, and unlike some of the more well-known punk-rock labels that only released their mates bands, or bands that already had some success on smaller labels, Mike would put out stuff that he liked, without a care for association or personal affiliation. So after hearing a demo, he takes a chance on these three kids in Chicago, puts out a few of their records and the rest is history.

Despite spending a period on a major label, the band are now putting out records on their own label Heart & Skull, which is a collaboration with Epitaph Records. And despite the glitzy heights of stardom, the band still remain true to their roots, and a few songs into the set, Matt Skiba gives a short intro about Asian Man Records, before the band launch into the opening track of their first album ‘Cringe’. It goes beyond this though…

Asian Man Records have recently released an LP by the Scottish pop-punk band The Murderburgers, which as you may know is a pretty big deal. It happended in a similar way, Mike liked what he heard and put out their record. And knowing that there was an upcoming Alkaline Trio tour and that The Murderburgers were on tour, Mike Park contacts the trio, and they agree to have the Murderburgers along with them as the second support band on their UK tour. This friend is punk rock. What a result, and a decision that pays off immediately as Alkaline Trio bassist Dan Andriano tweets following the first show:


The venue is pretty rammed by the time The Murderburgers take the stage, and they do what any sensible support band should do with a 20 minutes slot, and cram in as many songs as possible – Crammy Hard, as the band might say. Normally the sound for support bands at bigger gigs is shocking, yet tonight it was spot on, and The Murderburgers sounded as good as they have ever done. The happy pop-punk melodies, combined with subtle lyrical undertones highlighting the misery of living in Glasgow, strike a chord with recent converts, such as @Vegetauren. We were even treated to an appearance from Billy Liar, who came out mid song to use a party popper during a breakdown of one of their songs. There are often poorly chosen words to describe bands in these situations, yet on this occasion I think it’s best to say that this is meant to be.  
 
One of the joys of going to bigger gigs such as this sell out show, is that it provides an exciting bottleneck which often leads to a re-acquaintance with people whom real life interaction hasn’t taken place with for some time. Thankfully for us, some people from the Boston, Lincolnshire scene had made the journey up, and had joined us for a few jars of piss & vinegar in the Dry Dock, prior to the gig. They were on good form once again, and lived up to their reputation of piss-takers, after tactfully taking-down a guy who openly admitted to being thrown out a Limp Bizkit concert for smoking an e-cigarette. My good friend and fellow zinester Marv Gagdie was in attendance, and even though he generally hates the strands of emo and pop punk, he hit the nail on the head when he said “I’d rather choose a shit punk gig than any other type of night out, anyday”.  The oracle has spoken.

Alkaline Trio were in good form once again, and played a mixed set to try and keep everyone happy. Although I only recognised them play two songs from my favourite two albums of theirs, it didn’t matter, as Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano have two of the best voices in punk-rock, and just listening to them sing along to their pop-punk sounds was enough for me.

Mid-way through the set, I noticed that my friend @Lucy_Blu and her friends had somehow managed to get onto the stage balcony that is for backstage people, which is a perfect vantage point for checking out the band; and it’s hard not to agree with them, as they are one of the sexiest bands in middle-aged punk-rock.

 
Despite the great energy of the show, and the epic crowd sing-alongs, there was a small incident that left a sour taste. Following the brilliant ‘Dine Dine My Darling’, Matt Skiba took exception to one fans reaction to the song, and started to call him out, getting confrontational with them, and proclaiming, ‘this next songs for the rest of you in the crowd’. I think Skiba needs to deal with criticism in a better way than that immature response.

However, lets not let that take away from a magnificent night, and the fact that the popularity of The Murderburgers is on the up, and that Alkaline Trio, who have made great records such as ‘Goddamit’ and ‘This Addiction’, still have the ability to reduce grown men, who really should know better, to adulation and tears.     

© Schwarzbrennen

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Football Against Homophobia - Halil Ibrahim Dincdag


Football Against Homophobia
The case of Halil Ibrahim Dincdag

Many football fans across Europe may be aware of the recent ‘Kampa Showan’ incident in Sweden, where a famous activist, Showan Shattak, of the Football Against Homophobia campaign was hospitalised and put into a coma as a result of a far-right knife attack on a group of activists who were celebrating International Womens Day. This is a shocking event, particularly in one of the supposed most liberal countries in the world, and highlights that there is a long way to go to eradicate discrimination against other sexualities within society. This isn't the only concern at present though...

Clapton FC Ultras - leading the way in the UK in support of Kampa Showan
The Eccles & District branch of FC United of Manchester, are currently flying the flag of ‘Football Against Homophobia’ within the club ever since our alliance with the fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin that took place during a post-season tour in 2013. They are at the forefront of the campaign in Germany, and recently, some of their fans have been involved in a heart-warming story surrounding the ‘Football Against Homophobia’ campaign.

This particular case concerns Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, who is a long-standing Turkish football referee (pictured at the start of this article) that ‘came out’ back in 2009. Since then he has had his referee licence revoked, and has had to move to Istanbul to escape media attention and protect his family – although being gay is not illegal as it is in many Muslim countries, Turkish society is still strongly homophobic. Since then he has lost his job, and has been unable to referee. That is until the fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin & Rote Stern Leipzig found out about his plight.


The fans managed to make contact with Halil, and invited him to come visit them in Germany. This proved to be difficult in the land of bureaucracy, as his visa was denied several times. With many Turkish immigrants already living in Germany, the authorities are taking a hard stance on issuing visas. However, they were eventually successful, and it led to a dramatic twist in the saga.

On Tuesday, Tennis Borussia Berlin played a friendly match against Türkiyemspor, a team that started in the late 1970’s, which are supported by many Turkish immigrants living in Berlin. How apt then that Halil, in his first competitive match since his ban within Turkey five years ago, led both teams out onto the pitch with tears in his eyes, and went on to referee the match.


He has been described by the fans who arranged this trip as a great guy, very modest, yet firm, fair, and confident in his refereeing ability.  Despite all the complications he has faced since coming out, Halil claims that he doesn’t regret coming out, as he sees this battle, one in which he will be taking to the European Court of Human Rights, as something of upmost importance.

 
Yesterday he refereed his second match, Roter Stern Leipzig’s first vs. second team, which was described again as an emotional affair. In this instance, some of the Berlin fans even travelled down to Leipzig to support Halil. Who would have thought in this day and age there would be fans that can be classed as supporters of certain referees? That my friend is what we call post-modern football.  


Today, Halil Ibrahim Dincdag returned ‘home’ to Turkey to carry on his underground lifestyle, to continue with his battle to become reinstated as a referee, and to combat homophobia in football and Turkish society. Wasn’t that a great opportunity that the fans of Tebe and Roter Stern had provided for him? All of us at the FC United of Manchester Eccles & District branch wish him and all the Football Against Homophobia campaigners all the best in their struggles, and will being to look at ways in which we can support the campaign at our new home in Moston, Manchester.

© Schwarzbrennen

Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man (Review)


Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man

 Following the return of founding member, Epitaph label owner and co-songwriter, Brett Gurewitz, after the bands flirtation with the major label Atlantic, the duo of Graffin and Gurewitz have since written and recorded three albums: The Process of Belief, The Empire Strikes First, and New Maps of Hell, which have been regarded by fans and critics, and self proclaimed by the band as “The Unholy Trilogy: Part Two”; the original trilogy being: No Control, Suffer, and Against The Grain, which are known as the bands best output. Whilst the latter trilogy saw the band encapsulate the passion, energy, and conviction of their youthful punk-rock days, their latest release, a clever play on words, ‘The Dissent of Man’, represents a significant departure, coming across more as a mature rock album, something which they failed to do with the making of Into the Unknown, The New America, and No Substance. With some hit, and some miss, here is a run down of the tracks from the album:

One thing that the band have always managed to do is capture the mood of the time, and in this part of the epoch where global protest movements are making a significant return to humanities conscience, and the protestor was named Time Magazines person of the year, ‘The Dissent of Man’, with it’s front cover of an angry youth throwing an object in anger, perfectly encapsulates this period of modern history.

The album kicks off with ‘The Day The Earth Stalled’, which will no doubt ease in the casual Bad Religion listener, with a familiar fast-paced rhythm, combined with a catchy sing-along chorus, which is completed by the usual harmonious backing vocals. And then it starts to slow down, yet the lyrical content takes a classic Bad Religion trajectory.

‘Only Rain’ is a song about the rationality of atheism, a theme made prominent through singer Greg Graffin’s book ‘Anarchy Evolution’. Firstly he decries the old pre-scientific values of our ancestors by declaring, “Hey scientist please save us from our rainy days, because your counterpart in the magic arts is manufacturing judgement day”, and during the chorus lambasts the superstitious naturalists, who haven’t evolved to the scientific paradigm by declaring “rain fell like judgement, across my window pane, it felt like judgement, but it was only rain”: Here we feel Graffin being articulate, cutting, and poignant as ever.

The clever play on words returns with ‘The Resist Stance’, which, as is the case with The Day That The Earth Stalled, follows a more traditional Bad Religion song formula. It comes across as a rallying call to all those taking a stand against oppression, yet remains critical to the potential of an emerging dogma by proclaiming “the state of your resolve, makes you quickly devolve into a fundamentalist”.  Hitherto, the album stands up to the test, and then it takes a turn for the worst.

No whilst the sentiments of the collusion between church and state echoed in the ‘Wont Somebody’ are welcome, despite being somewhat worn, an amendment to the chorus provides more insight into the song; “Wont Bad Religion please come up with something, because this formula don’t seem to be impartially appealing, and all of this song puts this album down in the ratings, so a good song we’ll have to keep on waiting.”

If a single was to be penned for release from this album, in order to capture the attention of the casual alternative music listener, then ‘The Devil in Stitches’ has all the hallmarks of a radio friendly, melodic, and catchy anthem full of great chord progressions. It was very difficult to attach a specific meaning to the song; Gurewitz’s lyrics are usually not as forthright as Graffins. According to those who love their computer and regularly post on the fan site, thebrpage.net, and Mr. Brett himself, it’s a modern love story based on a biblical tale. Whether you believe in love or not, you’ll certainly enjoy this song.

The dark side to social attitudes permeates in ‘Pride and the Pallor’, which covers the idea of superstitious and irrational behaviours originating from religious beliefs, being passed down through generations, and this spiralling out of control, leading to an ironically prophetic hellish existence for the human species.   

‘Wrong Way Kids’ is a retrospective look at the Los Angeles punk-rock scene of the early 1980s, something that the band was very much involved with. The song draws parallels with ‘You Don’t Belong’, alluding to the wrong turns some people took in their lives, during the early days of punk rock. Themes of this calibre are almost inevitable for a band in their late forties, yet it is relinquished from becoming a grandeur act of self-importance by being doused with elements of humour, such as the line ” the kids today are gone away, petitioning the dust, with nobody to look up to, because they’re looking up to us””, and self-mockery, with the chorus making fun of their liberal use of ‘woahs’, goading the listener to “Singing woah, woah, wo-oo-ah”, a template copied over from their atrocious single ‘Honest Goodbye’ on their previous record.

There is a reason that so many academics are fans of the band, and this is due to Graffin’s lyrical ingenuity, often able to summarise a historical or sociological essay into a three-minute melodic harmony. ‘Meeting of the Minds’ is one of those songs, looking at the historical transformation of rational thought, starting in 325, through to Old Tennessee in the last century, and onwards to an idyllic futuristic fantasy of the intelligentsia and politicians coming together to come to the conclusion that “no longer will the market decide, what the government will provide”. Nobody can accuse them of becoming universal cynics; a healthy, radiant and optimistic outlook still remains in their old age.

‘Someone To Believe’ is about the weak willed members of society, the ones who ‘find’ God and ‘meaning’ in their life, the way in which their attitude and persona drastically change, which “feels like a spring equinox after a long winters sleep”. Imbeciles ‘awaken’ when they have someone [God] to believe. 

Throughout ‘Anarchy Evolution’, Greg Graffin argues that evolution is an anarchic process, in which the human species has no control over, and this relates to the theme of the next song ‘Avalon’. It’s about the reflective phases that humans go through in their life, and the negative impact that focussing on past regrets can have. Yet this idea is flipped into a rallying call for people to not get caught up with the minutiae of the past, and instead look to the future and create your own Avalon, a place to be comfortable with when you die. This links into the theme of the book, it’s all too easy to look back on the travesty of human existence and take on a defeatist attitude, it’s better to create something ideal for the here and now.

Bad Religion have never shied away from producing a subtle song about heartache, yet none have come across as bitter as ‘Cyanide’, a four minute epic about being apart from a loved one, or in the case of Gurewitz, is the thing he describes as missing akin to kissing cyanide, a reference to his days as a heroin user? If I long for you it will make me return and deliver me to death? The bitterness is usurped when ‘Turn Your Back On Me’ kicks in on the next track, a beautifully sad, and brooding number.

And then the overt politics is back with a vengeance with ‘Ad Hominem’, a scornful attack on the bourgeoisie who think that they are divinely better than the poor. ‘Where The Fun Is’ is not even worth mentioning and is almost inevitable that it will be featured on the soon to be released ‘Worst of Bad Religion’ CD, entitled ‘How the hell could Bad Religion get any worse?’

As a rule of thumb, Bad Religion have always closed their albums with a strong and catchy number, yet ‘I Won’t Say Anything’ breaks with that tradition, and leaves it with a flat end to the proceedings. There isn’t the usual big bang, in which we expect from our atheist peacemakers, just a steady fade away into insignificance, perhaps a suitable prelude to our own species’ existence. 

Finite - A great track that never made the album cut

The Dissent of Man is still out on Epitaph Records.

©Schwarzbrennen

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Punk Football: Falling in love (again) with FC St Pauli


Punk Football: Falling in love (again) with FC St. Pauli. A self-reflection and review of Pirates, Punks, & Politics by Nick Davidson.


Reading Nick Davidson’s ‘Pirates, Punks, & Politics’ has reminded me why I fell in love with FC St. Pauli. It was when I first read about them during my ‘Football & Society’ module taught by Adam Brown, in the second year of a Sociology degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. Funnily enough, I now stand sided by side on the terraces with Adam, as a co-owner of the Punk Football team, ‘FC United of Manchester’. FC St Pauli are probably the most famous ‘Punk Football’ team throughout the world, and there is no surprise of the effect that Nick Davidson’s book has had when it contains the by-line ‘Falling in love with a radical football club’.  


I was so enamoured by what I had read during the course that I chose the club as a focus for my 3000-word essay questioning whether regional identities in football had been eroded by the globalisation of the game. Of course, St. Pauli were a perfect choice to argue against the claim, and it was during this time I started to research more about the club through it’s fanzines, and liaising with supporters through online message boards. Following the course, FC St Pauli fell off the radar somewhat, eclipsed by my hometown clubs venture in the Champions League and upper echelons of the English Premier League.

The fire was rekindled during the World Cup of 2006 in Germany. I was on a train from Copenhagen to Koln, and I decided to break the journey up with a few hours stop off in Hamburg. Even though there was a game on, the only thing I had on my mind was going to visit the Millerntor Stadium, the home of FC St. Pauli. It was great to have a look at the concrete logo outside the ground, visit the Club Shop, and circumvent the stadium trying to peer in as much as possible.  It just so happened that the World Cup ‘Fanladen’ was situated net door, yet after a brief investigation it was too crowded and the beer too expensive. Instead I opted to watch the game inside a FC St Pauli clubhouse, amongst like-minded people, drinking beer half the price, and supporting the clubs coffers rather than the World Cups sponsors.

My first visit to a match took place in the summer of 2007, and it was documented in the first issue of my fanzine ‘Ont Road’. Here is a selection from that article:

“Thankfully I got to the ground in plenty of time, despite the late train from Dresden. I picked up my ticket from Heikko, who runs the St. Pauli fan laden, which basically keeps tickets aside for foreign fans. I had emailed him a fortnight before and he kept one aside for me. It cost only 15 euros and it was for the home stand. Unfortunately there were no tickets for the anarchist stand, so I had to settle for second best.

The ground was busy, and I treated myself to a couple of fish butties, as all I had eaten all day was a couple of croissants. Inside the ground, they were only selling local beer, named ‘Astra’ and the food outlets were all run by local businesses. I liked this. Although I wasn’t feeling 100% (due to illness), the fact that it is still legal to drink football in the stands at German football games was enough to persuade me to get a pint and watch the game. It was a blazing hot day, and here I was in the middle of the stand (yes, you could actually stand up and watch a football game!) supping a pint of beer whilst watching the teams enter the pitch.

With the amount of black clothes, leather, patches and skulls on display, it actually seemed that I was at a heavy metal concert for a moment. Songs such as ‘Come on you boys in Brown’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ were regularly sung throughout the game. St. Pauli took the lead in the first half, scoring a near post header into the goal at our side of the pitch. They held their nerve, and despite a few close moments at the end, managed to finish up victorious over FC Koblenz. It was a great feeling to sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ during the closing minutes of the game. I certainly hope to be going to watch St. Pauli again in the future.”

Thankfully I held true to my word and in 2009 I was over in Hamburg to watch neo-crust punk band Tragedy, playing on the Onkel Otto’s stage, located on the punk street behind the Reeperbahn, as part of the unofficial ‘Hafengeburstag’ celebrations. This particular part of the district is synonymous with the birth of the FC St Pauli ‘mythos’ that started back in the 1980s when the local punks from the area started to go to the matches. And that is one of the fundamental things about FC St Pauli, it’s encompasses the whole district and community – it is an extension of the local identity in the immediate area around the stadium. It’s a state of mind.

A friend of mine who is a Bohemians FC supporter was over at the same time, and he had arranged to get us some tickets for the game the following day. A 2pm kick off is way to early, especially when you have been up late drinking Astra in Onkel Ottos, only to be kicked out at 6am, and to carry on the drinking with some punks on the street you have only just met. I was a complete wreck, but in good spirits and well behaved. The festival vibes of the ‘Harbour Birthday’, and the alternative punk streets events, had permeated me. After careful investigation on the Internet it turns out the match I went to was against Mainz, and ended with a 2:0 victory to St Pauli. The atmosphere was cracking again, and I even managed to see someone score with a lob from 40 yards out, before passing out on the Gegengerade for the whole of the second half. That was just a small part of one of the craziest few days in my life, and another reason what makes St Pauli so special.

The last time I visited the stadium was during the post-season of that same year. I was in town anyway, and it perfectly so happened that they were playing a friendly against Hearts of Midlothian. This was well documented in my ‘top 10 games of all time column’ in issue 3 of Ont Road Fanzine. Here is a copy of the text:

The week before the game, there was the annual ‘Schanzefestival’ in the St Pauli district of Hamburg. It is a generic street festival, which is traditionally followed by a night of rioting from the extreme left and bored youth. During the night, the police raided the St Pauli fans bar, The Jolly Roger. They proceeded to beat up a few people and they ended up knocking one of the fans teeth out. The stadium was littered with an array of anti-police banners, and the 8000 strong crowd all gathered in the clubs car park after the game. They then proceeded to go on an ‘anti-police brutality ‘ march around the streets of Hamburg.

* This was also the first time I got to stand in the ‘Sudkurve’ section with all the Ultras. We were drinking pints in the stands, and socialising with the other fans. The match was nothing more than a backdrop. One of the bizarre rituals of the ultras was during a St Pauli corner, the fans got out their keys and started to shake them up until the ball was kicked. There was also a gadgie in a Celtic shirt singing Henrik Larrson songs throughout the game. St Pauli went on to comfortably win the game, yet on this occasion there was more at stake than the result on the field. “No justice, no peace, fuck the police”. 

After reading Nick Davidson’s book, I will make another written vow to go and see St Pauli again. Next time in Germany it will have to be an away game, and in the UK when they come for a return friendly match with FC United of Manchester, when they have moved to their new stadium in Moston.

The book itself is the most comprehensive English language book about the club, which is testament to the time and research put in by the author. It documents the history of the club, it’s relationship with the local community, the fan scene, the politics, how it came to be in its current guise, everything that makes the club unique, and it is peppered with refreshing short trip reports that the author has made to watch them.

It’s a comprehensive guide, and an essential piece of reading for anyone interested in the club, or Punk Football. I just hope that Nick and people in his position don’t give up on English football completely, substituting their youthful experiences with the modern German game. There is a new football revolution taking place in the lower echelons of the league structure with the birth of fan-owned teams, putting the power back into the fans, who are taking a post-modern approach by trying to make friends not enemies, and bringing the soul and atmosphere back into the stadiums. Perhaps the ethos and ideals that the fans at St Pauli first pioneered will eventually permeate into the structure of other clubs worldwide and lead to an increasing inter-connected community of Punk Football Clubs. 

 
Lukas Schwarzbrennan

Punk Football Nomads
International Co-ordinator, Eccles & District Branch, FC United of Manchester
Member of Yorkshire St. Pauli (http://yorkshirestpauli.com)

* Massive respect to Nick Davidson for holding true to his clubs fans beliefs and donating all the profits from his book to the 1910 FC St. Pauli Museum Fan Project. Punk Football through and through.

Buy the book here