FC Sankt Pauli – the football club in the red-light district of Hamburg; a transvestite chairman; terraces populated by punks, pimps and prostitutes; a club run by anarchists, united under the skull and crossbones flag. This is the cliché that has been lazily peddled, one which attracts clueless stag parties from the Reeperbahn to the Millerntor stadium. But it’s not the real St Pauli. In Pirates, Punks & Politics author Nick Davidson puts the record straight, intermingling the history of FC St. Pauli, and the district it represents, with an account of his own involvement with the club. Back in 2007 Davidson travelled with his father to watch his first game at the Millerntor. What he found reinforced his faith in football. This book goes beyond the stereotype to seek out the real St. Pauli – a club with a passionate, left-wing fan base that has made a stand against, fascism, racism, sexism and both in football and wider society. As the author and countless others have discovered, the Millerntor is also a place which welcomes with open arms fans seeking an alternative to the rabid commercialisation of football elsewhere, encouraging them to stay for hours after the final whistle and immerse themselves in the vibrant fan culture. Read this book and fall in love with a different kind of football.
One of the most original
Davidson's style and keen obervation make this one of the most original books on football that it has been my pleasure to read...
Read about Nick Davidson's interview on Sky Sports
...wonderfully refreshing change from some recently-published footballing tripe
Imagine you’re an established publisher of sporting books and an author arranges to meet with you to discuss his idea for a football-related tale. The omens are not good. Far too many football tomes stick to a bland, predictable template, churning out stories we’ve heard before and presenting their ‘authors’ with often cumbersome opportunities to settle old scores. Nonetheless, you welcome the author and listen politely, quietly considering the likelihood of his book’s appeal. As the meeting draws to a close, you scan your hand-written notes. The author proposes to write about an obscure German football club, relegated from the Bundesliga in 2011 and now playing in the second division, which finds itself forever in the shadow of a more famous and considerably more successful near-neighbour. The club’s recent history includes hosting the 2006 ‘FIFI World Cup’ for those nations such as Greenland and Tibet not recognised by world football’s governing body; at it’s helm is the first openly gay, transvestite president in German football; it boasts the largest number of female fans of any German club; oh, and its ‘fundamental principles’, coupled with more than a passing association with pirates, make it the most left-wing club you’re ever likely to happen upon. Fair play to Sports Books Limited for not only considering author Nick Davidson’s pitch, but publishing Pirates Punks & Politics, a wonderfully refreshing change from some recently-published footballing tripe. Davidson tells of how he fell out of love with the English game and the highly-polished, corporate image it endeavours to project and found FC St Pauli, Hamburg’s ‘other’ football club, whose ground, located in the city’s red light district, plays host to an ‘alternative’ fans scene. For ‘alternative’, read ‘passionate’. The players are an integral part of this too; you can sense the togetherness of this incredible set-up. Early in the book, Davidson describes attending a thrilling FC Pauli cup tie against Bayer Leverkusen, replete with last-gasp winner, after which the players spend quarter of an hour parading around the ground, high-fiving fans, applauding and saluting them. Davidson asks a Pauli fan whether these celebrations are due to the nature of the victory over Bundesliga opposition. “No,” she replies. “It’s like this every time we win a game.” Davidson was hooked – and so too will readers be of this outstandingly distinctive story.
A book to lift spirits, and horizons
And the book of the quarter? One to restore faith in the capacity of sport to inspire, to form a collective, to spark social change. The remarkable story of Germany’s FC St Pauli, told with energy and insight in the brand new book (the title says it all), Pirates, Punks & Politics by Nick Davidson. This is a tale, and writing, to take us back to spiky music and DIY politics that framed a long-forgotten moment of football with attitude. A book to remind us that across sport those sparks still exist, vividly illustrated by all that St Pauli fans have achieved. A book to lift spirits, and horizons, just what sport needs.
impeccably researched, brilliantly readable book
Davidson delivers an impeccably researched, brilliantly readable book that puts St Pauli in context regarding German and world football politics, the community it serves and fan group power. The reason the book is so readable is completely down to how it is structured and the style with which Davidson writes Rather than plough through the history of the club he breaks the book up perfectly, including chapters that tell his own personal journey from disillusioned Watford fan saddened by the commercialised state of English football to FC St. Pauli fan making the long top to Hamburg (or away games) a few times a season. These anecdotes aren;t in anyway self-indulgent or dull they are funny, insightful and offer excellent comparisons of a fan’s experience watching German football compared to being a supporter of an English club. Pirates, Punks & Politics to an enthralling, thought provoking book, one that I would recommend to any football fan, no matter what team they support or what country they hail from. The story alone to fascinating, the lessons are obvious and the message is urgent. Read it.
hard not to share Davidson’s obvious enthusiasm
...the essence of this book is about a rediscovered love for football, coupled with the enjoyment of sharing the experience with thousands of like minded individuals… It is hard not to share Davidson’s obvious enthusiasm for his team and the culture that they continue to embody.
This is a terrific book that appealed greatly to me as a self-confessed football hipster, but it should have a wider appeal to many a football fan either frustrated with the Premier League’s particular style of fur coat and no knickers entertainment at times, or interested in learning more about how the game is experienced elsewhere.