Bundesliga Rivalries: Hamburg SV – St. Pauli

We continue our series on Bundesliga grudge-matches with a look at Sunday’s upcoming fixture between Hamburger SV and city-rivals FC St. Pauli at the Imtech Arena.
 Hamburg is a famous port city in northern Germany, the second largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.  A city with a lengthy history, it was a key member of the Hanseatic League that promoted trade in medieval times and a free imperial city in the days of the Holy Roman Empire.  Hamburg’s rich history includes not only being the birthplace of famed composer Johannes Brahms but was also, 100 years later, the city where four English lads honed their musical skills in dockside nightclubs before taking the world by storm and dominating the pop charts as the Beatles.

Hamburg is also home to two famous football clubs, Hamburger SV and the St. Pauli football clubs.  HSV is known for its Champions League title in 1982-1983 and its six German club championships since 1922, and has built a reputation over the years as a high-quality club.  St. Pauli’s world-wide popularity hasn’t necessarily flowered from their on-field play, which has seen them usually competing in 2. Bundesliga and lower divisions of German football.  In the 1980s the St. Pauli organization took a stance against the nationalistic-based hooliganism that was threatening the popularity of the sport, banning any related activities in their stadium.  The club also embraced its red-light district stadium location and turned themselves into a haven of tolerance and heavy metal rock that gave them a cult following around the world.

Not that tolerance is the soup du jour when HSV and St. Pauli meet.  Last year, when a group of St. Pauli fans arrived at the train station after a long ride from Freiburg to Hamburg last year, rival HSV fans greeted them by throwing bottles and other objects at them. The derby for the domination of Hamburg is, according to the German police, the derby that breeds the most violence in German football.

The history
St. Pauli and Hamburg have seldom played in the same league. Before the Bundesliga was founded in 1963, the teams met each other sporadically. All the matches before the Second World War were won by the biggest Hamburg club, the HSV. However, this changed dramatically with the post-war development of St. Pauli’s “Wunderelf” (translation: wonder eleven),. Suddenly the two Hamburg sides were eye to eye, playing on the same level. The Buccaneers first big success against their arch rivals came in 1947, when St. Pauli secured the Hamburg championship against their rivals. The intense rivalry of the fans goes back to that time.

The 1950’s saw Hamburg again winning almost all the matches. St. Pauli’s most memorable performance came in the next decade, when the team won 4-1 against the HSV in 1960. The teams went in different directions when the Bundesliga was founded in 1963, Hamburg moving upwards, St.Pauli moving downwards. Relatively few matches have been played between the sides since 1963. Almost all of them were won by the dinosaur of the league, the HSV. The Bundesliga matches of the 90’s and 00’s ended mostly in favor of the HSV, but the intense rivalry from the olden days came clearly to light when the two sides played each other.

The stats
There haven’t been many matches between the sides in the Bundesliga, since St. Pauli have mainly played in the 2. Bundesliga. The stats are currently showing 8 victories for Hamburger SV, 1 for St. Pauli and 6 draws. As one would expect, the goal difference is strongly in favor the Hamburger SV, 29:13.

This Sunday’s match
The Hamburger SV comes into Sunday’s derby off of two unconvincing 1-0 victories and whopping defeat against “Der Club” from Nürnberg. Armin Veh’s men have had trouble creating chances upfront, and their defensive efforts have been weakened by the long injury list in defense.  Hamburg’s disappointing season has been underscored lately by the controversy involving their Dutch star forward Ruud van Nistrelrooy, who was insistent on returning to Real Madrid this January, which Hamburg wouldn’t allow.  Hamburg are within shouting distance of a European berth for next season, but need to rebound from last week’s loss
For St. Pauli, the 2nd half of the season has started with two 2-2 draws and a 3-0 thrashing of Cologne. The chances for a victory for the ‘buccaneers of the league’ over their arch-rivals have seldom been better, as they have discovered the ability to score goals after having the accumulated the lowest total of goals during the season’s first half.  A victory for a resurgent FC St. Pauli led Coach Holger Stanislawski by veteran Gerald Asamoah would be their first Bundesliga victory against the HSV for 34 years.

This mini series will return prior to the MatchDay 23 ‘Nord derby’ between Hamburger SV and SV Werder Bremen.  Also see Niklas’ norwegian musings for an upcoming feature on St. Pauli  http://norwegianmusings.wordpress.com/

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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