Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart!

1.FC Nürnberg – FC St.Pauli 1-0

You see a trip to Hamburg can do that to you at the best of times but the Sonderzug, well, is a completely different matter. The Sonderzug, which translates to Special Train, has become a tradition of St. Pauli in which they celebrate the final away match of the season by hiring a train to take the fans to wherever is to be played which this year happened to be a 22hour round trip to Nuernberg in the South of Germany.
My trip started in the usual manner by getting off the S-Bahn from the airport and heading straight to Shebeen. With all the best intentions in the world I only popped in to catch the end of Saturday’s Bundesliga matches and say hello, but that ended up with me and Christoph having several ones for the road and enjoying a bit of sunshine, besides Axel had put on a special for the day. One beer for the price of two and the second was free, who could resist!!!
My plan for being a good boy and having an early night was slowly disappearing when I then made my way down to the Harbour Festival to see Glasgow’s favourite band The Wakes. I can think of many worse ways to spend a sunny Saturday evening, besides, they were on at 8 so I could still be in bed for 10.
After we seen The Wakes we walked back up to St. Pauli and paid a visit to the Jolly Roger. Any trip to Hamburg is incomplete without visiting right? And as Beate was kindly letting sleep in the spare room of her new flat for the duration of my stay the call to leave was always mine, I was the one who had to be up early! Anyone who has visited the Jolly knows how easy it is to fall in to good company and there activates the magnet that can keep you there. We found that with the Danish girls from the St Pauli bar in Copenhagen and eventually The Wakes coming back from their set at the festival. I knew then I had to get out of there as it could have been a long night so shortly after midnight I made the call I had to go.

I went back to Beate’s flat and crashed out pretty quickly, but I then awoke at about 3.30 with that horrible curse you get with you have to get up early and you are scared that you will sleep in, so never really got back to sleep before my alarm at 5.
A taxi picked me up to take me to Altona station at 5.20 so I got to there in plenty of time for the 06.10 to Nuernberg, but more importantly I still had to collect my ticket, but all of that was sorted relatively easily on my arrival.
This year I had a ticket on my own so wasn’t sitting with the other Nice Guys so I thought I’d take it easy for about the first 10 minutes of the journey and then got bored and made my way up to Carriage 10 where the first beer of the day was cracked. After a while myself, Tim and Frank ventured down to the Party Wagon to see how it was going where we met up with the Widnes lads. By 9am the carriage was already bouncing to various soft rock classics, songs from the good to the bad and to the downright ridiculous there were even ones you would be surprised you even know the words to all of which will be played over and over in my head for probably the next week until I replace them with other nonsense. At one point to get from the bar to where we were standing I had to tuck 5 beers up into my chest and make a dart across the dance floor like a NFL running-back before I got caught up in a mob jumping around to a big chorus finish to some unnamed 80s classic.
We made our way back up the carriages to the Nice Guys seats to find that the others in there had decided to freshen the place up by regurgitating peppermint schnapps on the floor to give the place a nice minty aroma, for which we thanked them by constantly berating them for the rest of the day.
We got the call that we were 10 minutes out so we started getting ready to leave the train to go to the match, for me this involved putting sun screen on, which I thought I got in my eyes, but it was something much worse! I discovered I was allergic to Nuernberg. I got the worst bout of hayfever I’ve ever had in my life which involved my eyes basically closing and me fighting to keep them open. Some would say I should have done myself a favour and kept them closed since I was going to see St. Pauli.
The Police escorted us off the train and on to an underground train which took us out to an industrial area near the stadium where they left us at a bar next to the away section. With my eyes still basically closed Janek lent me his sunglasses to provide a bit of comfort whilst Tim was helping by trying to secure me some over the counter drugs to take the allergy away, which proved a lot more difficult than it should have but I eventually got some, so come the 72nd minute of the game I could eventually see out of both eyes.

Before the match I bumped in to more familiar faces in Jimmy and the Belfast boys, who hadn’t been on the train but had made their way directly to Bavaria for the match, so we grabbed a beer and made our way up to the terracing to watch the match. The game itself was pretty uneventful with Nuernberg needing a minor miracle before the match to overtake Leipzig into the automatic promotion spots and St. Pauli out of any promotion possibilities it was end of season stuff with Leipzig winning forcing our hosts for the day to put one eye on a play off for a spot in the Bundesliga.
After the match we got our escort back to the train and as I had been keeping an eye on the Celtic score during the St. Pauli match I knew we had beaten Aberdeen so it was official we were champions. I got the bottle of champagne I picked up at the airport on my way out and celebrated the title in my own way by spraying most of it on the platform and handing it out to anyone who wanted some.
As the train was about to embark on its journey north I went back to my own seat just to let things calm down before the party started again, it happened. The combination of alcohol, sunshine, anti-histamine and mainly just being too old for this shit, I crumbled. Head went back I had myself a little siesta, cue to the photo opportunities and people popping their head in to laugh at me, revenge will be mine don’t worry!
I was awoken by Aleen from the Fanladen after being out the game for around 3hrs, but couldn’t really speak in my post comatose state but I was handed a beer and then went up to the Party Wagon. When I got there it felt like scenes from Flash Gordon, all I could hear was people saying ‘Scotty’s alive!’ In my head it sounded like Brian Blessed was saying it every time. I got over that and joined the party again and this time was good to catch up with the guys from the Millerntor Brigade. I can swear I heard Barbie Girl being played in amongst some punk classics in there.
After a long hold up on the route back due to an earlier incident on the line the train got back in to Altona at 4 in the morning, some people had to go to work shortly after, the Widnes boys had a mad dash to catch their flight at 6 I don’t envy any of them, whilst I had the luxury of a kind of lie in before I caught by flight back in the afternoon. It might take a few days for everyone on the train to recover but I’ll surely be looking forward to the announcement of the fixtures come June. With the possibility, at the time of writing, of 2 northern German teams being relegated I would really hate for next year’s train to be to Bremen or Hannover.

Nice Guys Sankt Pauli //scott

Stefan Groenveld-Blog: The Sonderzug Files 2016
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