The Millerntor Stadium: a party with a pitch
As powerful as symbols can be, at St. Pauli it goes deeper. The ideas that the pirate flag represent are also spelled out in the club’s mission statement. In 2009, they became the first club in Germany to adopt a set of guiding principles by passing a resolution the club’s AGM.These values include social responsibility and promoting the interests of members, employees, supporters and volunteers beyond the sphere of sport; tolerance and respect and social responsibility. The club is regularly involved in solidarity actions with a wide range of causes.

The club’s alternative appeal is not limited to the political realm. St. Pauli have made it their mission to turn the party at the Millerntor up to 11 whenever possible. Every time they score a goal, fans join in on a hearty “woo hoo!” to the rhythm of Blur’s “Song 2”, the iconic title tune of FIFA 98. Last year, the club’s sponsor rewarded fans for their loyalty by giving away free beer after the Buccaneers successfully avoided relegation.

It’s no wonder then that their 29,500 capacity ground is almost always full. Around half of those seats are taken by season ticket holders and the waiting list to become one is reportedly in the thousands. These numbers are well in tune with the club’s membership statistics as St. Pauli boasts 25,600 official club members as of 2018.

From the current crop of Bundesliga footballers, probably the best-known of them is Werder Bremen’s Max Kruse. The outspoken striker played 96 games for the club with 22 goals to his name between 2009 and 2012. Other successful former Buccaneers include Fin Bartels, Bastian Oczipka and Matthias Lehmann.

American soccer fans had the chance to get up close and personal with the St. Pauli experience over the summer. The Hamburg side toured the US with two fixtures on the calendar against Detroit City FC (19 May) and The Portland Timbers reserve team (22 May).

If you’d rather see them in their natural habitat, you’ll have an easy time locating their official fan shop and their stadium, all in the vicinity of Hamburg’s famous Reeperbahn, the red light district that attracts thousands of curious tourists every year.

Watching St. Pauli play in the Bundesliga 2 might require some early planning though, as their average attendances are close to capacity every season. However, their fans are known for their solidarity and a friendly query might just get you invited into the hottest party in German football.