Friday, February 25, 2011

The frolics of St Pauli

Perhaps the weirdest story to hit football news wires this week occurred when nonconformist Bundesliga club St Pauli called up their 30-year old press officer for a match against Hannover. The club, long regarded as German football's coloured ewe, were forced to select Hauke Bruckner to cover their lack of fit defenders. Bruckner has a footballing pedigree, having played ten second division games eight years ago and has turned out for their Under-23's squad, will probably debut on the substitutes' bench for this weekend's Hannover fixture.

The "alternative" Hamburg club, who have this season made headlines for what can only be described as comedy gold. Although going through a losing stretch which saw them win only twice in three months, they sit fourteenth in the Bundesliga table, six points away from relegation amidst a season with a script that reads like a Carry On film. Last month midfielder Matthias Lehmann - no relation to Goalkeeper Crazy Jens - admitted to feigning being headbutted by a Gladbach opponent, which caused Brazilian midfielder Camargo to be shown a red card. He further endeared himself to Gladbach supporters by saying "Why would I ignore a golden opportunity like that when we're down 1 - 0?".

After a recent win against Koln, their goalkeeper and former Koln player Thomas Kessler said he'd be celebrating: "I'm off to pick up a few cold Astra beers from a petrol station"; this comes after a recent Bundesliga edict that lap & pole dancers should no longer be entertained in corporate boxes. Entertained? Sorry, that should read "entertainment": the club has had at least one corporate box in which dancers would strip after a St Pauli score. German authorities are also attempting to convince St Pauli to change their logo from their traditional "Jolly Rouge" emblem: a skull and crossbones on a red background.

The fans of the club have been suitably outraged by the mooted changes. St Pauli have long been regarded a working-class club and their rivalry with Hamburg is among the most passionate (read: violent) in world football. Some fans object to the league trying to run their club. Others can't fathom the lack of respect shown to St Pauli traditions. A certain percentage just like strippers.

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