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Can Germany’s lefties launch into top tier?

In northern Germany lies a football club who do things differently. JAMES NALTON begins a regular column on St Pauli, the club who continue to make waves on and off the pitch as they look to return to the Bundesliga

IT’S been a mixed start for the Hamburg side as they embark on their seventh consecutive season in the 2 Bundesliga — German football’s second tier.

They’ve won five, lost three and drawn one, hovering between mid-table and the promotion spots. A good run would see them challenging at the top for automatic promotion, but any poor form would see them camped in the middle, looking at reaching the promotion playoff at best.

Though the team is built very much on a collective work ethic, reflecting the club’s ethos and ideals off the pitch, attacking midfielder Christopher Buchtmann has emerged as one of the stars of the side. In the four games he played at the start of the season the midfielder managed to contribute three goals and one assist.

Now 25, Buchtmann was once on the books at a number of English clubs. He spent time at the youth academies of Liverpool and Fulham, before moving back home to Germany where he eventually made his first senior appearance for FC Cologne.

St Pauli managed to sign the play-maker on a free transfer in 2012 and despite an inconsistent start he grew into the team, becoming one of the best players at the club and earning numerous contract extensions.

He has been hit by a number of injury problems and the latest one — an ankle ligament tear picked up in training — kept him out of the side for four games. He returned for the most recent game at Eintracht Braunschweig to great effect, scoring the first and assisting the second in a 2-0 win in Lower Saxony.

The club will play a friendly during the current international break, as they did earlier in the season, beating Dutch side Groningen 3-0. This latest non-competitive match could be perfect for Buchtmann to continue gaining match fitness following the injury.

Away from the pitch, the club are always concerned with matters which affect their fans and local community, and unlike other clubs these concerns aren’t limited to commercial activities and marketing. After the recent German election result, which the club say “left its mark on St Pauli,” they released a statement via their president Oke Gottlich.

“The outcome of the 2017 parliamentary election is exasperating, it being the result of many years of extreme right-wing and volkisch groundwork, in particular in structurally weak regions.

“For this reason in particular, the democratic parties and the citizens of this country are now tasked with finding common ground via the arduous yet critical path of political dialogue to ensure they are able to win people over again, both in terms of policy and substance. 

“This is the only way to put a stop to openly far-right fearmongering politics. We are all called upon to do this by this result, especially the professional clubs in the Bundesliga and the second division, they being key multipliers.”

The club return to league action on October 13, when Kaiserslautern visit the Millerntor-Stadion.


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