Meet the Hamburgers – Why Hamburg is the ideal destination for travelling football fans
With flights taking little more than an hour from start to finish, it will probably take you less time to reach the famed Parc des Princes than most Premier League away journeys, and with a number of low budget airlines fighting for your custom, flights probably won’t cost much more than a train ticket, either.
While German clubs may still trail behind their English and Spanish rivals in terms of revenue and competitiveness, German football fans will always top the chart for providing the greatest level of entertainment and atmosphere within their stunning football grounds.
Whether it’s at Bundesliga heavyweights Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, famed for the ‘Gelbe Wand’, or ‘Yellow Wall’ of shirts, flags and other various pieces of Dortmund merchandise, or the towering stands of second division side FC Kaiserslautern, the atmosphere at German football grounds is unrivalled within European football.
While the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true in most cases, it is surprisingly inaccurate in this one. Many would expect to pay an arm and a leg to experience an evening among the most passionate football fans on the continent, but in reality German football is also one of the cheapest leagues for match-day tickets – you could attend a Bundesliga match for as little as £12, while the cheapest of tickets for a Premier League game averages at around £29.
If you’re looking to experience a weekend of German football on the cheap, Hamburg is one of the best places you could visit. Tickets are cheap, flights are cheap, and the atmosphere is just as good, if not better, than what you would find at the Bundesliga’s top sides, such as reigning champions Bayern Munich.
Hamburger SV – Meet the extincted dinosaur
Hamburg is among the oldest of footballing cities within Germany, with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV tracing their history as far back as 1887, then known as SC Germania. The famed club, often referred to as ‘der Dinosaurier’, or ‘the Dinosaur’, have been ever-present throughout the development and growth of German football and are now the only club to have played in every season of the Bundesliga since it was founded back in 1963.
HSV play their football in the Volksparkstadion, a 57,000 capacity stadium in the city’s outskirts. With 47,000 seats, the stadium is always guaranteed to provide an incredible amount of buzz, but the very best experience is found among the 10,000 fan standing area – a practice that is unseen in England football – as the most passionate of fans sing, sway and bounce around throughout the game.
Standing sections aren’t the only thing that add to the experience of a German football ground. Germans love their beer, and while drinking is often limited, if not prohibited, inside most English grounds, visitors will have access to a beer vendor throughout the game should they fancy a tipple.
The Hamburg club might not currently be at their peak, having failed to secure a Bundesliga title since 1983, but the locals are a dedicated bunch and they stand by their club through thick and thin.
Hamburger SV’s website
FC St. Pauli – The No 1 Cult Club
Although, not everybody in Hamburg supports HSV, as they share the city with their cross-town rivals, FC St. Pauli.
Currently playing in Germany’s second tier, St. Pauli has a surprisingly large following. Their 29,546 capacity stadium is largely made up of standing areas, which holds 16,940 fans, while just 12,606 are seated, and you can expect the stadium to be packed to capacity on most match days.
With their distinct left-wing views and various other sporting teams (from rugby to chess), St. Pauli is more like a community than a club, and their hardcore supporters are bound to provide an atmosphere just as electric as their more successful city rivals.
If you’re a football fan looking for a weekend away, Hamburg is the place to go. Whichever club you decide to watch, you’re bound to leave with a footballing memory like no other, and if you’re lucky enough to catch a Hamburger Stadtderby, when the two Hamburg sides clash, you’re in for a real treat.
FC St. Pauli’s website