FC ST. PAULI
UPDATED FOR 2023-24 - JULY 2023
Founded: May 15, 1910
Club Members: 35,000
Coach: Fabian Hürzeler
Captain: Jackson Irvine
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 1
Landespokal Hamburg Winner: 4
"Fascism never again! War never again! Third Division never again!" is a Millerntor terrace chant full of conviction and self-deprecation that summarises the ethos behind St. Pauli's cult status in world football. Based near the Reeperbahn red-light district in Hamburg, the club are undistinguished in football terms - having never won a major trophy and spending much of their history deep in the shadow of Bundesliga aristocrats Hamburger SV. Off the field however, theirs is a remarkable story - adopting a vibrant fan culture based on solidarity and respect to others long before it became fashionable to do so.
St Pauli haven't always been an overtly political football club (their radicalisation is an historically recent phenomenon) and their origins can be traced back to 1899 when members of a gymnastics club called St. Pauli TV began experimenting with the game on the wide expanses of the Heiligengeistfeld. At the time, there were barely any dedicated football clubs around and it wasn't until 1907 that the group actually played their first match. As "The English Disease" slowly gained popular acceptance however amongst the German masses, St. Pauli TV joined the Kreisliga Groß-Hamburg (Alsterkreis ) in 1910 and remained a member until their expanding 'Sports and Games' section voted to break ranks from its parent association and form an entirely separate football club, thus giving birth to FC St. Pauli.
Much of the club's history has been spent leading a largely unremarkable existence in the regional leagues of Northern Germany and it wasn't until 1977 that they made their first appearance in the Bundesliga. A derby victory against Hamburger SV was the only highlight however of a despondent season that saw St. Pauli end the season rock-bottom with only 18 points. Their return to Bundesliga.2 was also a brief one as over-extension and mismanagement brought the club to the verge of bankruptcy and its playing licence was withdrawn by the DFB (German FA) in 1979. Demoted to the third-tier amateur Oberliga Nord, attendances fell and sponsors withdrew as the club's decline seemed to mirror that of the whole St. Pauli district hit hard by West Germany's economic downturn in the late-70s and early-80s. Worryingly, the far-right was also on the rise across the country and neo-Nazi hooligans began appearing on the Millerntor's terraces. But then, St. Pauli produced a fan scene like no other - a 'punk football' ideology embraced by a new generation of fans rebelling against the fascism, racism, sexism and homophobia becoming more prevalent in society. The club also welcomed those seeking an alternative to rampant commercialism in the game and, slowly but surely, matches at the Millerntor became a lot more than just about football.
Back on the pitch, fortunes went up and down as the club bounced between the top two divisions with the highlight being a 2-1 Bundesliga victory over recently crowned World Club Champions Bayern München in 2001-02. With tongue planted very firmly in cheek, St. Pauli declared themselves to be the new world champions and sold huge numbers of T-shirts emblazoned with the legend 'Weltpokalsiegerbesieger' (roughly translated as 'World Cup Winner
Pride however comes before a fall and it wasn't a surprise when St. Pauli were relegated back to Bundesliga.2 at the end of that season. No one however could have foreseen the tailspin that brought back-to-back relegations and a financial crisis that threatened the club's very existence. Relegation from the Bundesliga had considerable financial implications as players signed on top-flight wages became a burden to a club operating on a second-tier income. During the 1990s, then-chairman Heinz Weisner had bailed out St. Pauli when they'd run into financial trouble, but having run into money problems himself he'd stepped down from his role in 2000. Now, without his financial support, there was no guarantee that the club's fall from grace would end with relegation to the third-tier Regionalliga which came in 2003. Failure to provide the DFB (German FA) with the proof of funds needed (€1.95 million) to secure a playing licence for the Regionalliga meant a further demotion to the amateur Oberliga was on the cards and it would have spelt financial disaster for the club. A number of fund-raising initiatives were launched under the umbrella title 'Retterkampagne' (the Saviour Campaign) and Bayern München turned up to play a charity match (dubbed the 'Retter Finale') which raised more than €200,000. 100,000 T-Shirts bearing the club logo and the word 'Retter' were also printed which netted another €1 million. After a couple of beer campaigns ('Drink for St. Pauli' and 'Drink Astra - Save St. Pauli') and a music festival at the Millerntor, enough money had been raised to secure the licence ... and the club's future.
As the storm clouds lifted, St. Pauli regained some of their football composure and under the stewardship of club legend Holger Stanislawski made a return to the Bundesliga for a single-season cameo in 2010. Even though the adventure ended again with a last place finish and a return to Bundesliga.2, the 'Millerntor Roar' remains louder than ever - probably because supporting St. Pauli has never been about chasing glory on the pitch. It's about identity off it.
Ground Name: Millerntor Stadion
Built: 1961 - 1963
Year Opened: 1963
Renovations: 1988, 2006 - 2015
Capacity: 29,546 (16,940 standing)
Record Attendance: 29,546 (2015)
Executive Boxes: 39
Executive Box Seats: 468
Construction Costs: €33.9m
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Ernst Thalmann Straße (1946 - 1963)
Millerntor Stadion (1963 - 1970)
Wilhelm Koch Stadion (1970 - 1998) *
Millerntor Stadion (1998 - ) *
* Stadium Renamed
There's a real sense of unity between club and supporter in Germany and that sentiment probably echoes louder around the Millerntor Stadion than at just about any other ground we cover in our guides. Home games provide an outlet for people from all walks of life to come together as one; and the eclectic mix of people you'll meet here (transvestites, students, dockers, outcasts, free spirits, tourists, anarchists, artists ... even prostitutes) will be unmatched on any terrace in world football.
Standing in the shadow of a huge flak tower - an omnipresent reminder of Germany's fascist past - the Millerntor Stadion rose from the ashes of Hamburg which lay in ruins after World War 2. St. Pauli's pre-war home had been destroyed by Allied bombing but amidst the devastation, a group of fans were determined to see their club play competitive football again. With their spirit unbroken by mile-upon-mile of bombed-out streets, they mobilised to build a new stadium at Ernst Thalmann Straße next to the vast
Heiligengeistfeld. Against all the odds, given the appalling conditions and lack of infrastructure in the shattered city, the work was completed in record time and the ground was inaugurated on 17th November 1946 with a match against FC Schalke 04 (which St. Pauli won 1-0).
The fans who had worked so hard were duly rewarded for their efforts as 'their' stadium became home to the post-war Die Wunder-Elf team before welcoming Brazilian club Santos and an 18 year old Pele - star of the previous year's World Cup in Sweden - for a friendly match against a Hamburg XI in 1959. By the early 1960s however, St. Pauli were on the move again as the stadium lovingly built brick-by-brick by fans just a few years earlier was requisitioned for the 1963 International Gartenbau-Austellung (International Horticultural Exposition).
After consideration had been given to the idea of relocating to another part of Hamburg, the decision was taken to build another stadium just a few hundred yards away across the Heiligengeistfeld. Construction of the Millerntor (named after a gate in the city wall that once protected Hanseatic Hamburg) began in 1960 and it was designed to hold 32,000 with open terracing on three sides of the ground and a covered Haupttribune (main stand). It opened on time but unfortunately the builders had neglected to install drainage for the pitch and despite being one of the most modern stadiums in the country, the notorious Hamburg weather turned the playing surface into a quagmire by the end of 1961. Attempts were made to repair the sorry state of the pitch which included filling 500 large holes drilled in the pitch with sand before a match against VfV Heidelsheim in January 1962. This was repeated with equally dismal results in May of that year and led to the press referring to the club as 'Sand Pauli'. Finally, after defender Heinz Deiniger broke his ankle on the surface, the club effectively went on strike - refusing to play at the Millerntor until the drainage had been installed and the pitch repaired. The city authorities relented and after a period playing at SV Viktoria's Hoheluftstadion, the Kiezkickers returned to their revamped home which officially opened in November 1963.
In 1970, the stadium was renamed the Wilhelm Koch Stadion in honour of the club's ex-president before it transpired in 1998 that he'd been a member of the far-right NSDAP during World War 2. Espousing an emphatic anti-fascist stance, the Millerntor reverted back to its original name (St. Pauli continue to contribute to a national fund compensating Jewish people forced to work under the Nazi regime) and the club followed this up by making an unexpected but welcome promise never to sell stadium naming rights to sponsors in the future.
Talk of redevelopment was never far from the table however and in the late 1980s, just as St. Pauli were in the process of reinventing themselves as a leftist, anti-corporate club; plans were drawn up for the Millerntor to be incorporated into a new multi-sport venue called the Sport-Dome that would have also included a shopping mall, underground car park and a hotel. Unhappy at the prospect of losing the Millerntor's atmospheric terraces to the bland conformity of an all-seater arena, fans began a campaign which, added to concerns about funding and the new arena's impact on the surrounding district, forced then-club president Otto Paulick to kick the proposals into touch.
Despite a few modifications over the years and the construction of a temporary seating area above the Gegengerade in 1988, the stadium remained largely unchanged since opening and its ramshackle, outdated facilities led the DFB (German FA) to give notice that unless extensive refurbishment of the ground was carried out, the Millerntor's stadium licence would be revoked. In order to comply, St. Pauli announced a major redevelopment programme in 2006 that would see the stands gradually demolished and rebuilt over eight years.
The work got underway the following year with the Südtribüne the first to get a make-over and
its impressive glass and brick facade can be seen as you approach the ground from Budapester Straße. The vibrant red, white and brown livered stand is a lively place to be on a matchday with Ultrà Sankt Pauli leading the call and response chanting from its modest sized terrace below a tier of seating above.
The Haupttribüne (main stand) was next up a couple of years later and it's a smart single tier, all-seater affair dominated by corporate hospitality facilities. A double tier of VIP boxes (more than twice the number originally planned - much to the unease of the St. Pauli faithful) runs along the back of the stand and luxurious padded executive seats occupy much of the prime seating area between both penalty boxes as St. Pauli walk a tightrope between expanding the club and not exploiting or alienating its vibrant, very vocal core of supporters.
Corporate sales in the Hauptribüne however gave St Pauli the business model needed to redevelop the iconic yet crumbling Gegengerade (referred to by fans as 'the back straight') running the length of the pitch on the Heiligengeistfeld side of the ground. It was on this terrace that veteran punk Doc Mabuse first raised the Jolly Roger flag which became a countercultural icon and helped establish St. Pauli as a 'Kult' club. Three-quarters of the 13,000 capacity pre-fab concrete and steel stand is still taken up with terracing, and the words 'FC ST PAULI 1910 MILLERNTOR' are spelt out in white amongst the otherwise brown seats in the relatively narrow tier perched above.
The Nordtribune was the final piece of the jigsaw and is very similar in design to the Sudtribüne although the split between those watching the match on their feet and those sitting down is a more equal one. 'St. Pauli Away' is a fixture many opposition fans look for and so half of this stand is given over to visiting clubs to create a considerably sized Guest Block.
In 2012 St Pauli became the first professional club to create a creche in their stadium when it opened the 'Kita Piratenest' (Pirate's Nest) between the Südtribüne and Haupttribüne. The floodlights have been mounted on four distinctive masts above the Haupttribüne and Gegengerade, and a modern video screen
replaced the iconic manually operated old scoreboard in the south-east corner to complete the look of the stadium.
The result is a football-only venue inspired by classic British grounds, and the red brick which dominates the revamped Millerntor is reflective of the proud working class, bohemian district that the club represents. The gritty activism ingrained in its fanbase hasn't been sanitised either with the anodyne concourses found elsewhere brought to life with graffiti characters, quotes and 'punk football' slogans (“no human is illegal”, “football has no gender”) adorning the walls. The Millerntor is certainly not your average football stadium!
2022-2023: 29,357 (Bundesliga.2)
2021-2022: 18,041 (Bundesliga.2) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 22,533 (Bundesliga.2) *
2018-2019: 29,522 (Bundesliga.2)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
Given the club's enormous popularity both home and abroad (merchandise sales are greater than all but three of Germany's biggest clubs), St. Pauli tickets are extremely hard to come by with season ticket holders and club members (35,000 at the last count) hoovering up most allocations. Home games nearly always sell-out and unfortunately demand is likely to exceed supply for the foreseeable future.
If you're determined to see Hamburg's self-styled rebels in action then, as an international fan, your first move should be to drop St. Pauli's Fanladen an email and explain what you're after. Completely independent of club control, the Fanladen is probably German football's most respected fan-run organisation and is a vital point of contact for fans travelling from overseas. With any luck you'll receive that all-important ticket confirmation email and be heading to the Fanladen HQ in the Gegengerade to pick up your ticket. A small number of tickets for the South Stand terrace (Blocks A-B) also go on general sale through the club each home match - but you need to be QUICK ! Tickets (limited to one per person) will disappear before your eyes if you're not sharpish so check availability at the online shop they run with ticketing partner Eventim as soon as they are put on sale. Unless it's a match however in the early stages of the DFB-Pokal or a Testspiel (friendly), don’t be surprised to find that you're out of luck.
Since 2018-19, there has been a club-approved secondary market accessible through the ticketing website but your chances of getting your hands on a ticket through this channel must be considered somewhere between slim and zero. You could give the club a ring (+40 (0) 180 997719) or send them an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and plead your case but although the folks who run it are very helpful and will listen sympathetically, any request for tickets is still likely to be met with the same regrettable reply -"Nein. Ausverkauft. Es tut mir sehr leid".
Your only option now would be to head to the ground and ask around for people who may have a ticket they'd be willing to sell you. And if, as expected, there aren't any spares to be had then at least it's only a short walk back to the bars of The Reeperbahn where you can drown your sorrows with a few pints of Astra and tell everyone your sad tale.
If the stars do align and you have the opportunity to buy a ticket then roughly speaking, for adults, expect to pay €29 - €44 for seats, and €13 - €15 to join Ultrà Sankt Pauli on the terraces.
Information about visiting the Millerntor for fans with disabilities can be found at:
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Due to the Millerntor's location right in the heart of the Reeperbahn, St. Pauli recommend travelling to the match using public transport. If you're set on driving however, approaching Hamburg along the A7, come off at the Hamburg-Bahrenfeld exit and follow Von-Sauer Straße (B431) towards the city centre until you reach the junction with Bahrenfelder Chausse. Turn right here and follow the road as it becomes, first,
Stresemannstraße and then Neuer Pferdemarkt. Continue onto Budapester Sraße and the Millerntor Stadion will be on your left after 700 metres.
Coming from east or west along the A1, take the Centrum exit and follow the A255 towards the city centre. This road becomes the B4 and goes through a number of name changes as it passes over Billhorner Brückenstraße (Billhorner Bridge) and onto Amsinckstraße. Follow the road for about 8km (5 miles) through the Deichtor Tunnel which emerges onto Willy-Brandt Straße before becoming Ludwig-Erhard Straße. The road then becomes Budapester Straße and you'll see the ground on your right.
Parking is available on the vast Heiligengeistfeld but it will be busy so expect the usual traffic chaos on a matchday. We suggest arriving early, nominating a driver and hitting the bars and restaurants of the Reeperbahn after full-time while the crowds thin out. Much better than wasting precious lifetime queuing to get out of the car park!
Drivers should also be aware that 'Hamburg DOM' is held on the Heiligengeistfeld for 30 days three times a year (2023-24 dates: 21st Jul - 20th Aug 2023, 10th Nov - 10th Dec 2023, 22nd Mar - 21st April 2024). With over 10 million visitors annually, it's one of Europe's largest funfairs and when the circus rolls into town and the smell of cotton candy wafts in the air, there's no room left for football fans and their cars. Did we say that St. Pauli suggest making your way to the Millerntor using public transport?
The Millerntor is well connected to Hamburg's excellent public transport network but match tickets (if you're lucky enough to get one) DO NOT include the cost of ferrying you to and from the ground on a matchday.
From the Hauptbahnhof, U3 (Direction: Schlump-Barmbek) rides the elevated track along Hamburg's waterfront to the conveniently named St. Pauli U-Bahn station just a short stroll across the
Heiligengeistfeld from the ground. Away fans however are advised to jump off further along the line at Feldstraße as oppose to the St.Pauli stop - ostensibly because it's closer to the guest block in the North Stand and it will save their little legs ... although it's likely Die Bullen (the cops) appreciate any help keeping the home and away followings apart as much as possible.
Using the S-Bahn from the Hauptbahnhof or city centre stations; jump on either S1 (Direction: Wedel), the limited service S2 (Direction: Altona) or S3 (Direction: Pinneberg) and get off at Reeperbahn. Leave the station using the "Reeperbahn/Talstraße" exit and head along the Reeperbahn in the direction of Millerntorplatz. After about 300 metres turn left into Detlev Bremer Straße and then follow it all the way to the Millerntor Stadion. The walk should take you about 10 minutes or so.
From the Hauptbahnhof, Buses 36 and112 will also drop you off at the St.Pauli U-Bahn station.
You can reach the Millerntor on foot and it will take you about 45 minutes or so to cover the couple of miles from central Hamburg.
Come out of the main station, head onto Mönckebergstraße and take a right across the square in front of Hamburg's beautiful baroque Rathaus (Town Hall). Before you cross the canal on the other side of the square, turn left and follow Alter Wall for 350 metres and over the Alternwallbrücke. Continue onto Rödingsmarkt and after 100 metres, turn right onto Ludwig-Erhard Straße before following it for 2.5km (1.5 miles) as it becomes Budapester Straße. The stadium will appear on your right.
If this sounds a bit complicated, you could always use public transport and join the pre-match party outside the Millerntor instead.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Fan Shop 1
(Millerntor Stadion, Harald Stender Platz 1 20359 Hamburg: 10am-6pm, Mon-Sat)
Fan Shop 2
(Reeperbahn 63-65 20359 Hamburg; 11am-8pm, Mon-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat; 11am-6pm, Sun)
The 600sq metre '1910 - Museum for FC St. Pauli' (adults/concessions €7/€4; 3pm-7pm, Fri; 11am-7pm, Sat); 10am-3pm, Sun) on the ground floor of the Millerntor's Gegengerade was set up by fans in 2012 and traces the club's history and origins of its unique fan culture (general information about opening hours and ticket prices can be found here.
1-2 hour ' MillernTours' are conducted (in German only) by enthusiastic yet knowledgeable St. Pauli fans on non-match days (including away matches) and they'll proudly recount stories of their stadium and its unique atmosphere.
Apart from the dressing rooms, media facilities and the graffitied players' tunnel dominated by the menacing Totenkopf symbol, you'll also make a detour to the corporate hospitality boxes which seem almost obligatory in modern football stadiums. However, you should know by now that St. Pauli do things a little differently and instead of the usual swanky VIP boxes you see elsewhere, Europe's (the world's?) most noted counter-cultural club provide what are essentially fantasy man caves called 'Séparées' (a humoristic reference to the Chambres Séparées (separate rooms) used by sex workers on the Reeperbahn).
One of the Séparées is designed as an old dressing room complete with benches and lockers; and in another you get a personal beer pump and have your stadium sausage delivered on a model railway train. More controversially, in 2011, one of the executive boxes was sponsored by a Reeperbahn strip joint called 'Suzie's Show Girls' and topless dancers performed for guests during matches. Although drinking and smoking during matches is accepted in the liberal world of German football, St. Pauli's fans, many of whom have firm anti-sexist sentiments, felt that lap dancing was a red-card offence. Opposition was immediate and following a protest campaign led by fan group Socialromantiker Sankt Pauli (Social Romantics), the entertainment contract was cancelled within two years.
General information about booking a stadium tour, the guides and prices can be found here ; or take yourself around the Millerntor by viewing the 360° Virtual Tour here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
A Roman poet once said that all people need to keep them happy is "bread and circus". Entertainment is guaranteed at the Millerntor and you're also pretty well covered when it comes to finding food and drink. The edgy Reeperbahn, where the Beatles grew from boys into men, is only a long goal-kick away and many fans head to the bars and restaurants there to satisfy hunger and thirst pangs. Away from the neon-lit 'Sinful Mile', on Budapester Straße you'll find The Jolly Roger - the de facto club pub over the road from the stadium which gets very crowded on matchday but is the perfect place for cheap beer and a free chat with the pirates and punks of St Pauli.
At the Millerntor itself, fans gather for beer and bratwurst at the matchday kiosks that set up on the edge of the Heiligengeistfeld wasteland. In addition to the usual German football offerings, you'll also find a whole range of vegetarian and vegan options which led to the club being awarded the PETA Progress Award in 2010 as the "most animal friendly football stadium".
The official beer with which to wash everything down is Astra and this being St Pauli, there's absolutely no chance of a stadium pre-payment card system being put in place. The Social Romantics saw to that when the idea of replacing cash with 'stadium currency' in the Millerntor was last raised back in 2010.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: SV Werder Bremen, VfL Wolfsburg
BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Magdeburg, Eintracht Braunschweig, FC Hansa Rostock, Hamburger SV, Hannover 96, Holstein Kiel
3.LIGA: VfL Lübeck