Football, fuckin football. Imagine not being into it – those poor, poor half-alive bastards.
This is so true for the most time of the year – I basically don’t live from month to month, week to week or day to day (weekend to weekend if something at all), but from match to match. I live quite a few miles away from the home of my club. My club – this is the start of everything. Finding YOUR club. Well, it’s more or less letting your club find you but this is a different story.
Once you found your club, that’s something that will stay. Boys and girls will step in and out of your life, friends may stay or go, relationships of all kinds will develope, evolve and finally be kept or torn away, but this one thing will stay through all your life, your high times and your lower ones, through the difficulties and the times of „just living your life“ – and this one thing is your club.
It found me quite late, to be honest. I am 20 years old now and got into all this mess at the age of 14, if I’m not entirely mistaken. At that time I understood the basic concept of how football works, even offside!, without being attached to any particular team, when we started watching football again. My parents never influenced me in any way concerning football, because my mother basically is a „Klopp-Fan“ and my dad likes „good football“, this means Bayern München, while defying to be called a „Bayern-Fan“. So … a pretty football neutral territory at home. This has changed a lot since I got to watch football every weekend, but again, this is a different story for a different time. Going on with my rant now.
The FC St. Pauli just boarded the Bundesliga again after a horrific trip down to the unsteady waters of Germany’s lower leagues and it reached my attention. If I try to define WHY it stood out, I will most definitely fail as I do always, but I know of quite a bunch of people who aren’t able to explain why they became fan of their respective club as well, so I’ll leave it at that. The one thing I do remember is, that I thought „hey, they are different than all the others“ and this thought prevailed. Today I know what makes the difference, I learned to love it. I really do. Of course it’s not this „blind love“-thing, I still challenge some actions or campaigns, but those are the absolute minority and mostly it will be a little part of it – sometimes even just a particular word or maybe a phrase, that makes me deny it (the latest example was a phrase that was used in the eighties somewhen and that was used now again, but it was simply deplaced in a time like ours today). But the basic things and actions the club stands for were adapted by me. I started to live it.
A few days ago, a very dear friend of mine and I started talking about how the choice of a club may change you and he said something, that really made me smile and I actually had to agree without hesitation: „A club may change you, but mostly it will enforce the principles you already supported. You already supported those things, but now you’re living them.“
This is as true as it gets for me. I’ve always denied homophobia, xenophobia, facism, racism – but through my club I learned to speak up against it – loudly. This is one thing – out of many, of course – that I absolute love, adore, appreciate about my club: you will never walk – err stand up alone against those things. There will be others standing at your side and shouting even louder and this often gives me the strength and confidence to speak up against it.
Well, I drifted away again, so back to the topic: I described why I love my club so much, just in a few words and I missed quite a few reasons, but explaining this is not the intention of this text, the suffering part is.
There are some clubs, who might let their fans suffer a little less than the FC St. Pauli does. But this is part of why we’re loving it, right? We don’t want to win every match – well, basically we would like to, but this is not the club we love. We’re living from match to match – winning it or losing it, we’re even celebrating a completely undeserved win, because winning is rarer than it might be for other clubs. The whole time of me being a „fan“, a supporter of the magic club from Hamburg, it’s been a struggle. We were struggling to stay in the Bundesliga and we failed, then we struggled to return to it and we failed, we struggled to stay in the second and we managed to stay somehow, afterwards we struggled to get back up to the first – and failed again … you see where this is going. Did you notice how I always used „we“ throughout the whole text? I know some people don’t like this „we“ thing, but I do. It’s my team, the other fans and me. We are all one part – except for those stupid idiots, who always forget the „we“ and prefer the „they“ once it does not work out the way they want to see it, again, different story – of this mess or victory. The fans are a massive part of what happens on the pitch if you ask for my opinion, I strongly believe that they are able to make the difference in an undecided match and this is one reason why I’ll always give everything I have as soon as I stand in the stadium – my voice, my jumps and all of my heart, if necessary. We all win together and we all fail together.
I love this strange feeling of company, a feeling you get amongst mostly total strangers. We all become one brown-white mass, singing, shouting, jumping, dancing, crying and failing together. All together. Not a couple of individuals, standing around unintendedly in the same spot. We all have this one goal to reach, literally.
This is another part of the reasons, why it would never come to my mind to „change“ my club – if that’s possible, at all. I probably would not be able to stop following my club. I would catch myself reading their news, checking the results and most definitely would stay awake for the matches like I used to during my time in Canada, if the reason to abandon my club would be a move to a different country. It just became a huge part of me. Of my personality. Of my life. A part that simply cannot be erased with one easy swift.
I like to see it like some kind of relationship, but stronger somehow. I’m still young and I never experienced such a strong relationship you think will last forever, so forgive me, if I’m stepping on some feet with this thesis.
This view on my love to my club might be caused by the mantra I already used quite a few times in this text: You do not change your club. You celebrate and mourn with it. You are never alone.
This special relationship can be like the most romantic thing ever. (Ok, stop here: My definition of „romantic“ might be slightly different, from what most girls say. Forget flowers, valentines day and overly expensive chocolate, that doesn’t even taste good. Romantic is standing, fighting and celebrating together, for me. No exceptions. It’s the little things, not buying roses once a year – basically because I would forget when it’s Valentines Day, to be honest.)
The little things you love, when you’re in a relationship with a football club can be quite different from match to match: It may be a pretty lucky or well-deserved win, but it also can be the attitude of the team on the pitch – for example when you’re facing a way better opponent, but they still fight, run and believe in themselves during the whole match, even if it will be lost nonetheless. Those are the little things that keep you sane in a relationship with football.
There are – as in all relationships – some difficulties, though, that have to be faced. It may be compared to the little big fights you have with your partner, but you simply can’t discuss them, fight over them and become reconciled again afterwards. Your football club is not up for discussions. That is the hardest part for a person like me, striking for a quarrel and in need of harmony at all times, because I can’t fight with my club. The club will always be there, I might be shouting at it, cussing it and sometimes even feel a slighest faint of hatred, when the disbelief over a ridiculously lost match (yesterday!) weighs out every other thing. For me, all this is based in feeling helpless.
Helpless? Oh yes. I am living almost 500km away from the club of my life (haha <3), the away matches are mostly the ones, I attend. I feel comfortable as soon as I reach the opponent’s stadium, the other away supporters and the „home fans“ shouting at us. I can’t attend all the matches, though, so it’s limited to a few matches a year, but distances are not the major problem – we drove to Munich, which was actually farther than driving to a home match, so that’s no excuse that’s still valid for me.
Being at home and watching the game on my couch (I can’t add the verb „sitting“ here, because during a match I’m most seldomly sitting at all: standing, jumping, crouching and shivering would be more accurate), makes me feel as helpless as it gets. It’s not like the feeling I have at the stadiums, shouting and cussing and shouting and singing and shouting again. Being at the stadium, I feel useful. At least a tiny little bit. I like to imagine being one of those voices that are pushing those eleven guys on the pitch a little bit further, making this final step and maybe changing the standings of the match. I really like this thought, being one part of the mass, which makes the difference in the end. As I said: I strongly believe in the power of the fans and their support. I’ve seen matches, where I can’t help but feel like the fans did make the difference and I’ve been a part of it. That’s a thing I simply love.
But sitting at home and shouting at the TV does not make any difference. It just makes you feel helpless when nothing works out on the pitch. And even more if that one final pass works out and you fall behind. Like yesterday. I won’t write any more about this god damn match, because it would make me get angry in a way, I don’t want to express through words. It would be mostly swearing. A little try of comforting Robin, but mostly it would be swear words. I don’t know that many, so that would be a repetition of the same words and curses over and over again. Don’t misunderstand me – mistakes happen, sometimes you just don’t hit the ball where you intend to, it’s not like I’m cussing Robin, not at all. Mistakes are the human’s biggest strength, well, no, actually it’s learning from mistakes, but let us just put this all together. What keeps getting me furious is HOW we lost a match, that was ours before, and a massive part is that we keep losing matches like this: dominating, playing really decent football and finally losing because of bad luck, the god of football being a fuckin asshole or individual mistakes. Again – no offense to Robin, it’s the frequency of losing games like this, that drives me nuts.
This is the hardest part of a relationship with football. I still get absolutely furious when I think of yesterday’s match and I can’t help it. My dad used the „It’s only football“ phrases today and I really was struggling not to shout back „IT’S FAR MORE THAN FOOTBALL!“. No. It’s not „only football“. It will never be once you really, really got attached to your club. It’s a part of your life. A lifestyle maybe. But it’s not only football.
Football affects me – a lot. I’m a quite hot-headed, impulsive and especially emotional kind of person. If we win – like we did in Braunschweig – I will be unbearably happy, the grin engraved to my face and mentioning the win whenever I can.
It’s the same principle when we lost. There are some losses, you can live with, though – playing well although the opponent is clearly stronger might be one of the things that make a loss acceptable. But there are some, you simply can’t accept, you can’t get over and especially you CAN’T LIVE WITH.
Those losses affect me a lot more. Yesterday for example, I couldn’t bear my own presence afterwards. I wasn’t able to lie around and watch some Netflix or something like that, because I would be have wondering about the match ALL THE TIME. I can’t leave it behind. I will be swearing, cussing, even crying hours after the match. There haven’t been many games that made me cry (I recall crying like the little girl I was after the match against Italy in 2006, though), but yesterday’s was one of them. I simply couldn’t believe what just had happened.
But – those games are part of being a fan, of supporting your club. It’s not easy, definitely not, but it’s part of the game. It’s not always easy in an relationship either. But as soon as I’ll be standing amongst all these others, who are in a (sometimes a little abusive) relationship with their team, and celebrating a massive, unexpected, extremely well-deserved win again – all this pain will be forgotten again. Ok, maybe not forgotten, but overcome.
The time for such a massive win would be pretty good in Karlsruhe, don’t you think?
Waiting for that win. Still loving St. Pauli. Still loving Ewald & the team. Still loving fuckin football.