Now imagine: you get to work and everybody’s super nice. That never actually happens, right? It does here! Regardless of whether it’s in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Zurich, Munich, Vienna, or Berlin. Be it the apprentices or department head, a few unconventional thinkers or the whole team coming together - always super nice. Pulling together, pushing ourselves, working together to find a solution or simply searching for that damned lost booking - super nice. Summer parties, a Christmas do, and of course, soul days too - super nice. And the bosses aren’t just bosses, but role models instead - exactly, super nice. That’s what we call togetherness. This can’t be mandated from the top. Here, that’s simply how we operate.
A match lasts longer than 90 minutes
Hamburger SV against St. Pauli – the Hamburg derby. Two football clubs in one city that couldn’t be more different. The fans of both teams have their own rituals, their own meeting places and certainly their own lucky charms for the build-up to a match.
Felix and the FC St. Pauli - The Millerntor stadium calls and the whole local area follows.
It’s Friday evening, the anticipation is rising and the What’s App group is a hive of activity because we’re planning how to spend the following day. In theory this is completely unnecessary because every fan, no matter which team they’re from, probably does exactly the same every time. We definitely do at least. We meet about three hours before kick-off at the Tabak-Börse kiosk and cafe by the Grüne Jäger pub. The first Astra beer is opened and we drink a toast to a successful match. We start debating whether we can beat the other team. Unfortunately, you can’t take that granted with St. Pauli ... but over the years I have at least become fairly resilient. About one hour before the stadium opens, we switch to the Jolly Roger, the legendary fan pub right by the stadium. All the various types of fans meet here, from the bikers and Ultràs to the trendies (who will be wearing a new scarf they’ve just bought at the club shop). We open another cold drink and talk more shop.
90 minutes left until the match begins, the holy gates to the stadium open, I say hello to the steward and let him search me – you get to know them after 11 years of being a season-ticket holder. I make my way up to the southern stand and a few Ultràs are standing at the top of the stairs collecting money for the next dance. A couple of euros go into the jangling cup. We take our position in the stand, always ten metres to the left of the goal by the first metal crowd divider. We grow into a group of around 20 men. The loudspeakers are blaring out the sort of lively rock music that’s played before every game to get us in the mood.
The music is turned off with 15 minutes to go before kick-off and we start singing instead. The excitement rises, our feet get twitchy, our hands moist and our throats dry. I quickly ask my mate to bring me a beer before the whistle goes. Confetti is thrown around the entire stand in small portions. Great! Finally the chaos dance is back! :-) At the end, ‘Hells-Bells’ by AC/DC is played, the players enter the holy pitch and the whole stand goes wild. The confetti is thrown and everyone shouts the magic words: ST. PAULI, ST. PAULI, ST. PAULI! The ultimate goosebumps-maker! It must look amazing from the other stands but I’ve unfortunately got confetti stuck all over me.
And off it goes – 90 minutes of pure power and passion!
Hamburg is brown and white!
Anna and the HSV - Halftime. Changing sides
Saturday afternoon. Match day. Home game at the Hamburger Volkspark. The all-important phase begins at 12 p.m. The cliques are informed. The time and place for meeting are confirmed once again. There isn’t actually any point in doing this. It’s always the same time, same place. Always the same people. People know each other.
The S-Bahn makes its way towards the Volkspark; although there are many ways to get to the stadium. Once arrived, the first thing to do is to get a sausage and a (Holsten) beer. The lads are also there. Everyone’s got their order and we can start walking on. The ten-minute walk is part of the ritual; the shuttle buses park up on the left-hand side. Beer and sausage stands and merchandise vendors line the entire route.
Once at the stadium, the choreography of the fans is completed: they pour in from all directions in the shape of a star – from Stellingen and Eidelstedt S-Bahn stations, the green, red, grey and brown car parks and by shuttle bus. This entire influx of fans will later form a single wall of black, white and blue in the stadium. Everyone has a diamond on their chest and in their heart. But before they go up to the stands, reinforcement arrives. More beer and sausage stands are waiting in front of the stadium. The arriving shuttle buses are greeted with music and by the fans already there.
Everyone mingles. We’re all eagerly awaiting the kick-off and make our way into the ground level of the arena. Volunteers are giving out the programme. At the HSV Volksparkett (stage), the player line-up is being discussed and the next live act is waiting in the wings. From here you can get the first glimpse of the most sacred place of all – the pitch.
Everyone’s finally in their seats at the latest 20 minutes before kick-off. The tension rises and the air is filled with the unmistakable smells of the stadium. The king arrives! Lotto King Karl is slowly lifted up in front of the northern stand. ‘Hamburg meine Perle’ bellows out from the loudspeakers and simultaneously out of more than 50,000 mouths. The match is a sell-out! Everyone knows the words. Everyone sings along. This moment brings goosebumps to the skin and is unrivalled anywhere else in Germany and even the entire world.
It’s match day. The game’s beginning. The team walks out. ‘HSV, forever and ever!’ The game is on and the north stand cheers the team, followed by the south stand, the main stand and the west stand. The team gets stuck in and so does the crowd. 90 minutes of power. Passion. Emotions.
Nur der HSV! (Chanted by fans)