Thomas Meggle is a German former professional Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga player for Hansa Rostock, 1860 Munich and most notably St. Pauli. After his playing career, he managed St. Pauli on two separate occasions after which he became their sporting director. Thomas is a part of the German consortium of investors “DAFC Fussball GmBH” taking a seat on the DAFC Board of Directors as DAFC`s Sporting Director. He is looking forward to Friday night’s friendly between Dunfermline Athletic and FC St Pauli and he gave some background as to how it all came about:-
“When I was the managing director at St Pauli we started to consider how we could arrange, maybe after a season, to fly over to Scotland to come here for our huge fan base here in the UK. The Advisory Board have links to Glasgow and have very good relationships so when I jumped in here with our group we started discussing again the possibility of playing a game here in Scotland.
“It became a bit more realistic at the beginning of the year when I started speaking to the Sporting Director to see if it would be fine for him to come over. When I got the yes tick I started speaking to the commercial guys at the club and it was easy for them to commit to coming over because they have the time in pre season to play a friendly match and visit their community here in the UK.
“It is not just a match for the Scottish fans here in Dunfermline, there are a couple of fans groups in England and I guess from Manchester. I’m really excited to host them all here, I hope that we have a great football atmosphere here on Friday and I hope that it will be a great football festival.
“I have no direct involvement with St Pauli but I have a good relationship with all of the Advisory Board members, in Germany we call it the Präsidium – it is like the board. I am happy to host and they are all asking me questions and they are excited to come.”
When asked if he had warned James and Dave what to expect from St Pauli, Thomas was quite clear that he was not going to raise the subject.
“I don’t want to create a fear. I watched their games last season and they played unbelievably good, unbelievably well. I have never seen a St Pauli team in the last twenty years that played such good football. They changed their manager and they won ten games in a row.
“From the World Cup break until the end of the season they won 12 or 13 matches, they had two defeats and two or three draws for an unbelievable number of points. They played so well in my opinion, so that’s the reason why I have not spoken about the game to James.”
St Pauli was founded in 1910 and originally it was only the second club in Hamburg. Thomas explained:-
“It is like a regional club in Hamburg based in St Pauli which is the port region with bars, pubs, red light district and things like that. They played mostly in the highest league before Bundesliga was founded but they played second and third tier in Germany until promoted in the seventies or eighties. Then it was only a football club.
“There is a street in St Pauli which is called Hafenstrasse. It is a street at the port where the houses were empty and Hamburg struggled to find apartments. Left wing people demonstrated against the quality of houses and fought with the police, it was like a war situation at this time in Hamburg on the Hafenstrasse. It was ridiculous because they fought from Monday to Saturday and took Sunday off.
“The demonstrators went to the stadium of St Pauli so that is the reason why St Pauli from an unpolitical football club became a football club with policy. Beside the stadium there is a large car park where four times a year they hold a big fun fair. One of the shops sold a flag with the skull (and crossed bones) and one of the demonstrators just bought this and brought it into the stadium. That is the reason why the skull is now part of St Pauli. This is the connection to the policy.
“It started with the demonstrations against the housing policy in Hamburg, occupying the houses and fighting with the police on the street. That was the reason why the policy is part of the club.”
St Pauli has a large following in the UK but Thomas was unsure why.
“In Germany St Pauli is known as everybody’s second team. Everybody supports a football club but if you ask fans from Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich, which one is your second favourite club then it is always St Pauli.
“I do not know why there are so many supporters in the UK. Maybe it is a question of the attitude of left wing policies of St Pauli, maybe that is the reason. They try to fight for the rights of community clubs.
“St Pauli is not known for their travelling away fans but St Pauli has a huge fan base all over Germany. If for example, you play in south Germany the fans from the south of Germany will visit the games. The Ultra group will travel but that is it.
“The away stand on Friday is sold out and I know of people from Hamburg who are coming over but most of the fans will come from the UK.”