Friday, 27 April 2012

FC St Pauli till I die...

There’s much to be said about German football, especially when tickets cost 11 Euros (nine quid) and you can take your beer out on to the terraces. Not to forget that even in lower professional leagues German players typically remain technically gifted exponents of the game. Even in a Bundesliga 2 clash, unless you’re the hapless half-wits of Hansa Rostock, spectators are expecting to get a decent game of football to watch whilst swigging away on their Astra. And if you happen to be at the Millerntor-Stadion in Hamburg, surrounded by the nicest bunch of friendly, charming anarchists in existence, the electric atmosphere generated (along with the occasional, necessary guitar riff from the tannoy) rivals that of nearly every Championship club and the tumbleweeds rolling around their ghost-town stadiums.

I guess what I’m trying to say is FC St Pauli was the place to be on Sunday. Not Anfield, where my brother was, watching Liverpool hit the woodwork again before being undone by the defensive calamity that is Glen Johnson. Firstly, in Marius Ebbers St Pauli have a player who hits the back of the net regularly (although saying that he did also miss two sitters). Deniz Naki had a turn of pace, ability on the ball and a penchant laziness that made him an instant hero, but it was Fin Bartels who lit up the match with some mazy solo dribbles down both wings that scared the Rostock fullbacks shitless and almost produced the greatest goal I’ve witnessed at a live match. Near enough gave my eyeballs a hard-on!

Naki. Hero.

Whilst St Pauli passed the ball around with tika-taka neatness and the odd occasional hoof their opponents, Hansa Rostock (second from bottom and looking very much relegated), were utterly woeful. They had the occasional chance yet their finishing was fucking terrible, systematic of a lack of self-belief and self-confidence. And in their right back (zwei und zwanzig) I doubt I’ve seen a more tragic performance by a professional footballer. His poor movement, positional sense or ability to read Naki’s raking diagonal balls made even Glen Johnson look like a competent defender. I’m sure he was pissed. One awful touch off the bottom of his studs that went straight out for a throw-in was followed by hoots of well deserved derision.

Who knows, perhaps he would have played better if the Rostock fans were allowed into or anywhere near the stadium (doubtful though) to cheer on such hopeless twonks. There’s a bit of history here, but the more left-wing liberal elements of St Pauli don’t quite get along with the right-wing neo-Nazi elements of Rostock. Not that the St Pauli fans would ban them; many of them were out on the Reeperbahn protesting against such oppression, even though they don’t like what some core aspects of the Rostock fans stand for. Censorship is pretty much against their principles. At least that’s what I think most of the banners going round the stadium were saying (damn my piss-poor German). It’s that kind of liberal ethos that you can’t help but admire about this football club. That and the skull and crossbones emblem of course!

Join us!

St Pauli ended up deserved 3-0 winners. The battle of opposing ideologies had been won by the liberal stand-point. The fans broke into a chorus of “You’ll never walk alone” which amusingly irked the three United supporters I was with (sadly though it’s due to the clubs connection with Celtic, not Liverpool). Zwei und zwanzig was given a bit more stick. Naki ran down to our end waving the club flag, before sprinting back to his teammates; more energy than he had probably showed all game. Hero! Here’s hoping that with two games of the season left they can obtain promotion. Back next season for FC St Pauli against Hamburg SV? You bet your freaking arse…  

A quick guide for getting tickets and surviving an FC St Pauli match: 
  • Order tickets from the clubs ticket office at the following e-mail address kartencenter@fcstpau​ The staff are very helpful in explaining the process for the allocation of tickets and write in much better English than most of us are likely to compose with our bad German.   
  • Try to pick a match that is not against Hansa Rostock! Luckily once in Hamburg and frequenting the bars near the stadium, the locals informed us of the protest and/or riot that could occur with right-wing hooligans around the Reeperbahn area so that we could plan to take an alternative route to the ground on match day. Local intelligence rules.
  • Let locals in said cafes and bars know you are going to the match. They will buy you shots of Jager for coming all the way from wherever to support their team. This is just one other reason to love St Pauli. 
  • Join in once at the ground. Shouting at the referee that he needs to get his eyes tested for every decision given against St Pauli or bellowing ‘Zwei und Zwanzig ist schisse’ will get you a few chuckles and handshakes from the regular supporters. 
  • Most of all, enjoy and drink beer!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Diablo 3: Return of the workshy slacker...

Forget about Mass Effect 3 and the wanky ending everyone has been banging on about for the last couple of weeks; there are other third parts to a trilogy on the cusp of release that will show Bioware how not to fuck up a once loved franchise. I mean, some time in the future Valve will release Half-Life 3 and it will surely redefine the gaming experience as we know it. Actually, wouldn’t it be great if Half-Life 3 was released a week next Tuesday with no fanfare or advertising at all. You wake up one morning and it’s just there on Steam, waiting for you to eagerly download and continue Gordon Freeman’s escalation from theoretical physicist of some clout to the alien arse-kicking motherhumper we’ve come to love. Five years since Episode 2 is way too long a wait to experience anything as amazing as the strider/sticky bomb sequence that concludes the franchise thus far.

Wishful thinking...

So, whilst we wait until the end of eternity to hear any news about Gordon’s further adventures (anything Valve – just a note to confirm that it is being worked on will do), something else is required to make up for the bitter taste of disappointment that Mass Effect 3 has brought to the masses. Luckily enough, as Bioware floundered, Blizzard finally announced the release date for Diablo 3. Yay! May 15 is the day will be flooded with eager beavers waiting to tear the hordes of Diablo’s minions a new one with uniquely dropped weapons, carefully chosen skill trees and multiplayer mayhem.

Diablo 2 was the perfect tonic in yonder days of dial-up Internet and student idleness. It provided endless hours of monster-bashing and character building through a variety of levels that differed on each occasion you booted up the game; time much better spent than that studying malarkey. Before you knew it the best part of a week had passed to reach the heady heights of a level 77 Necro and your evening was about to be spent searching for a specialist bone wand with skill bonuses on a cow-run whilst chowing down on your tenth pot noodle of the week and slurping intently from yet another can of piss awful warm lager. Good times. It probably explains why I looked so gaunt and pasty white in my graduation photo, but that was the life of champions.

The wife already knows what to expect when I get my hands on Diablo 3 (sorry love), more so seeing as Blizzard have seemingly taken the ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken approach to the game’. Sure, it has different character classes (although the Demon Hunter appears to be a Bowazon/Assassin cross-breed), the skill tree appears to have been adapted and improved and weapon collection remains all important, but from the look of things it plays pretty much as you would expect Diablo to play (which is the key thing), just more snazzy to ensnare the current crop of conscientious students and turn them into a generation of workshy slackers. I really can’t wait.

Although the problem is I will have to wait. Release date 15 May. I fly out to Tuscany for a wedding on 17 May. Fucksticks. I’ll be at least 50 levels behind the group of monkeys I’ll be gaming with by the time I return home. It’s been a good few years waiting for Blizzard to announce Diablo 3s arrival whilst they iron out the bugs and gameplay so it can be released without needing an immediate patch (just like in the old days – release when it’s ready, not to meet some arbitrary release date with a half-broken product), which I’m immensely grateful for, but the actual release date remains an incredibly irritating bunch of arse. Fucking Fucksticks! I’ll come into it looking like a right Noob.

Anyway, the build up has started. This could be one of the best games of 2012. More details at the link below. Please Blizzard, don’t do a Bioware…