Interviews: Meet Yorkshire St. Pauli!

Posted: January 20, 2014 by FCSP Athens South End Scum in Interviews
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Winterbreak, time has come once more for the “traditional” interview with another FCSP Fan Club around the globe. This time we’re back with a “special” issue! Why “special”? Because Yorkshire St. Pauli IS a special Fan Club. A club, almost coeval with the lazy Scum bastards, which managed, in less than 3 years, to become one of the more unique (in terms of attitude, away from any type of club “stereotypes”), active, massive and respected (to those “involved”) Fan Club. We, as Scum, know it just fine, we already have our YSP membership 🙂 In case you don’t, have a look at the following interview (kindly and patiently answered by Scott – thanks mate!) to find out for yourselves!

An impressive pile of achievements for a relatively new fan group, aged less than 3 years! Strong in numbers, a NICE venue, an excellent e-fanzine along with a consistent strong presence on the FCSP www, a lot of hard solidarity work (we prefer the term “solidarity” instead of “charity”), almost constant presence at the games and LOTS OF FUN, with shit varying from establishing SOMETHING LIKE a 5×5 football team to Andy Warhol (ha ha, no!) BANANA parties!  Let’s break it to pieces starting from the very beginning. How did this YSP thing began, in the first place?

Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind couple of years! The original idea behind the fanclub came from Rob, who was really our founding member. He’d noticed that a fair number of people from Yorkshire on the ‘St. Pauli UK’ forum (which we have to thank for bringing us together in the first place!) and tried to organise a meeting. The idea was just to watch a game, and the fanclub was never really discussed. The first meeting was for the now infamous game against Schalke, when the defeat was overshadowed by a fan throwing a plastic mug which hit the linesman. I couldn’t make it to the pub to watch the game in Leeds, but from my (very vague!) memory I think a couple of people turned up to watch the game. Further discussions then started on the UK forum and another meeting was organised for Friday 13th!

It’s been a bit of a myth of YSP that 6 of us founded the group, during a cold Friday evening sat outside the Wetherspoon’s pub at Leeds train station. That was until a few months ago when Luke pointed out to me that he had infact had to cancel at the last minute and never turned up to the meeting, therefore there was only 5 of us! However, Luke was there in spirit and was the official unofficial sixth member. The remaining 5 sat and talked through what we wanted from a group, which was simple really – to find a nice, suitable venue that reflected the values of St. Pauli, where we could watch games and hopefully meet up with other St. Pauli fans. We quickly found our venue (originally, ‘The Well’ which has since closed, so we are now located at ‘Wharf Chambers’ in Leeds city centre – a co-op club with a great ethos) and sent our fanclub registration to the club, and we were sorted.

We then set-up on social media and got a website, which was a fantastic way of introducing ourselves and welcoming other fans to the group. We quickly found other fans from Yorkshire, as well as gaining members from all over the world (including Athens!) who wanted to support us and be part of the group. We now hold screenings of St. Pauli games every few weeks, with attendances between 15-30 people. The success of our screenings and the amount of members we have (now over 70) has taken us by complete surprise – we fully expected it to be 6 of us stood in a pub watching on a small tv, which we’d have been happy with!

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A club that has started getting big in terms both of people and activity. How all this work is organized? Are the “usual” 4-5 people running for everybody, all involved in anything or some kind of most solid organization with teams of work? How decisions are made within YSP?

There’s no serious organisation to the group in terms of how it is run. Projects like our upcoming ANTIRA tournament have been organised by our members who have volunteered to help, which is a great way of working. People can be involved as much or as little as they want to be. We’re always looking for more people to get involved, particularly as the fanclub has grown into writing fanzines, regular website publishing, solidarity work and other projects too!

The group seems to run by itself, without any need for regular meetings and discussions. Any major decisions are voted on by our members, to ensure everyone can have a say in the way the fanclub is run. We also set-up a committee for the rare occasions when quick and important decisions need to be made, or matters need to be discussed confidentially. But we’ve only had to use this once, and hopefully we won’t have to for a long time!

What’s the procedure of becoming YSP member and what does it mean becoming one? What are the rules inside YSP?

There’s no official procedure – anyone can become a member as long as you agree with our ethos, namely against discrimination, racism, sexism. We use the constitution outlined by the fanclubsprecherrat as a guideline to members, which can be read on our website (here: http://yorkshirestpauli.com/constitution/) . If people agree to the constitution, then they are welcome to register as a member – regardless of where you are based. Membership is a minimum of £3 for the season, and can be paid at one of our meetings or via paypal to our email address (info@yorkshirestpauli.com). Importantly, £2 from each membership fee goes to local Leeds charity – PAFRAS (Positive Action For Refugees And Asylum Seekers).  Through donations, including members who have paid more than the minimum £3, we have raised over £200 from membership fees this season – which has been paid to the charity to help them continue their excellent work. To find out more about PAFRAS, see here: http://www.pafras.org.uk

The YSP crew paying respect to the local Stonehenge!

The YSP crew paying respect to the FCSP “Stonehenge”!

Weiße Rose: been reading this from day one and has come a long way since then. Can you tell as a few things about the ‘zine?

Thanks for always reading it! Weisse Rose started in November 2011, about 6 months after the fanclub started. I noticed that we had quite a few members who didn’t live locally, so couldn’t make it to our screenings to meet other members or to watch games and catch up with the news. So I decided to write a brief newsletter, with the help of some of our other members, as a way of sharing the news of St. Pauli in an English language format. It was originally just sent to members, but after getting a few requests for it on social media we eventually published the first edition online. It was 4 pages, very basic layout and just a bit of fun really!
The name was pretty important though, suggested by one of our founding members – Rob. Ever read our fanzine and wondered where the name came from? Well, on one level it is the German translation of “white rose”, the recognised emblem of Yorkshire. Pretty apt, I reckon. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll discover a more significant meaning.

In the early 1940s a group of Munich University students highly critical of the Nazi regime, influenced by their professor, formed under the name “Weisse Rose”. Despite facing certain death if caught by the authorities, during 1942/3 they managed to distribute leaflets slamming the Hitler regime and its policies of tyranny and mass murder. Not only did they leaflet locally, but their network managed to smuggle leaflets to several German cities. Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf also scrawled the words “Freedom” and “Down with Hitler” on various Munich buildings in 1942.

These were all acts of incredible bravery and defiance at a time when all resistance to the Nazi regime would have been brutally snuffed out. Their activities were eventually spotted at the university and the Gestapo arrested the group’s key members. The leaders of the group, siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl, plus Christoph Probst, were tried for political offenses against the Nazi state on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason and were executed that same day. In the months that followed, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf and Professor Kurt Huber were also sent to the guillotine.

Two years later Hans Leipelt received the death sentence for his involvement in distributing the leaflets in Hamburg. was smuggled to the Allies, who air- dropped millions of copies across Germany. Weisse Rose members have since become icons in Germany and in one of those otherwise awful populist votes, viewers of ZDF voted the Scholls into fourth place in the list of most important Germans of all time, ahead of Bach, Goethe, Gutenberg, Bismarck and Einstein.

Their resistance was certainly not futile and in our own little way we are remembering the group, their bravery and their sacrifice here at YSP.

The newsletter was being released monthly, and as the months passed we started getting more ambitious with it. We had surprisingly good feedback from people online, and it soon developed into something bigger than what we could call a ‘newsletter’. Soon we were liaising with the club for interviews, something which we’d never have dreamed of! It eventually got so big that I couldn’t physically publish it every month, as it now takes 2-3 weeks of preparation to get it published. So now we aim to publish it every couple of months, but with more pages! Importantly, it’s still free too. Next big plan is to get a few copies printed so it can be read in the Fanladen, Jolly Roger etc.

The next issue is due out in the next couple of weeks by the way, so keep an eye on our website for that…

What’s this story with PAFRAS, started last year?

The PAFRAS connection started following discussions with our members about our membership fee at the end of last season. We have a vote at the end of each season to set the membership fee, amongst other things. In 2011/12 when we started the fee was £5, which was simply because we thought we wouldn’t get many members. In 12/13 we decided it should be a nominal £1 as we’d made plenty of money to cover running costs for the fanclub (website, fanclub registration etc) from the previous year. We could afford to do the same again this year, but then it was suggested that we should increase the membership fee and give some of the fee to a charity.

This was voted in by our members, and the membership fee was changed to £3, of which £2 of that goes to PAFRAS. The £3 was also a minimum, and we welcomed any further donations from our members. Our members have been excellent in supporting the idea, and membership fees alone have raised over £200 for PAFRAS. We’ve also organised other events and donations, so I think we’ve raised over £1000 in total so far this season, plus more in food and clothing donations.

To give you a brief background on PAFRAS (Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers), they are a local charity that offer various forms of support to their clients. They run a drop-in centre every Thursday, which not only offers a hot meal to everyone who attends, but also has various agencies available to offer advice – such as legal assistance or medical advice.  Having attended the drop-in centre, it’s also a great place for people to interact and meet others. There’s even a pool table which sees some serious competition!

YSP football

YSP football squad warming up 🙂

…AND an Anti Racist tournament, coming up on 23/2???

Yeah! It’s something I’ve wanted to organise for months having attended some great ANTIRA tournaments in the previous 12 months. As a group, we’ve started playing football (pretty badly – still without a competitive victory!) in the past year, just as a social event. It’s been really enjoyable, and in the past few months we’ve progressed this. When we linked up with PAFRAS in the summer, we felt it was important not just to offer financial support, but also to welcome clients from PAFRAS into our group. But we also realised that watching some (very average) second division German football may not have a great appeal! However playing football does, and so a few months ago we contacted some local football venues to see if they could offer us a discounted price to help us organise football matches between ourselves and people from PAFRAS. We could afford to subsidise some of the cost, but pitch hire is very expensive over here!

Thankfully the response we had from one particular company, PowerLeague Leeds Central, was very positive and welcoming. They gave us a generous discount that allows us to ensure that all refugees and asylum seekers play for free. The staff have also been great, and hopefully our football antics will grow!

So, onto our tournament! Having had the idea to organise something for a few months, I decided to pursue it when one of our members, Nick Davidson, confirmed his book would be published in February and he wanted to do something about his book at one of our screenings. So we picked a weekend, invited some great ANTIRA groups, and decided to organise the football tournament and the book event in one big weekend!

On Saturday 22nd February, we will host an evening at the Brudenell. From 7.30pm we’ll have a talk from Nick Davidson on his latest book, ‘Pirates, Punks & Politics’, which details a history of the club as well as accounting his own involvement with the club. This will be followed by a short talk from United Glasgow Football Club on the excellent work they are doing in Glasgow.
On Sunday we will host our first ever football tournament! Starting at Power League Leeds in Leeds city centre from 12pm on Sunday 23rd February, with teams including FC Kolektivo Victoria, United Glasgow, The 1 in 12 Club Bradford. We’ll also have a Yorkshire St. Pauli team, as well as a team made up of St. Pauli fans from elsewhere!

We want to extend the invite to all St. Pauli fans to attend the weekend and play football if you wish. If you are interested in playing football, please send us an email to info@yorkshirestpauli.com and we will provide further information.

After the football tournament on Sunday, we will welcome teams back to Wharf Chambers to watch a delayed screening of the earlier game between Dynamo Dresden and St. Pauli from 4.45pm.

FCSP action inside Wharf Chambers

FCSP action inside Wharf Chambers

A typical FCSP matchday for YSP?

Messing around with internet connections buffering, trying to avoid the score and sometimes playing some footy! In a nutshell.

Local football / local squads: I suppose that a part of YSP follows/supports local squads. Has there ever been any kind of problems regarding local football rivalries?

None at all, thankfully! There’s a huge variety of teams followed amongst our members, but I think most of our members aren’t too bothered by English football anymore – many are fed up of the English football culture (high prices, poor attendances, terrible atmospheres!) and we all have a common love of FCSP so I can’t ever imagine it’d cause any problems.

Are you in contact / doing things together with other FCSP fan groups in the UK?

Through the joys of the internet, we do have occasional contact with other fan groups – but we’ve not had any joint events yet. Hopefully we’ll get a good turnout from other FCSP fan groups at our football tournament and we can organise more events in future though.

A huge thanks to the magnificent Scum for the questions and their continued support and solidarity since we began! Forza FCSP Athens Scum.

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