Birmingham Boys in Brown are a band of Villa and Blues fans who
also support German Regional League team FC St Pauli. Taking their
name from the distinctive colours of the Hamburg club, the fans
have organised a punk benefit gig to raise money for the financially
event is headlined by punk band Gold Blade and takes place at the
Royal George Pub in Digbeth, on 20 November 2004.
Boys in Brown at Hamburg docks.
how exactly did the Birmingham Boys in Brown form? James Brennan
always known about this mysterious bunch of dockers, prostitutes,
punks, anarchists and intellectuals who regularly pack a dilapidated
ground in Hamburg docks. A couple of our friends went over and an
early evening stroll to the Reeperbahn took them past the Millerntor,
the home of FC St Pauli. As they were passing they thought they
would pop in for a couple of sherberts in the interests of Anglo-German
never made their destination that night as they were distracted
by the heady brew of a punk jukebox and a warm welcome from a bunch
of supporters who shared their view of fan culture and the modern
game. To this day, there is the corner of a Hamburg bar that will
forever be Brummie."
Millerntor Staduim, Hamburg
those two fans came back to Birmingham, evangelical to the cause,
more fans joined them on the next trip, leading to a fully fledged
supporters club to be formed.
kind of evolved across the course of several trips to Hamburg. A
couple of seasons ago we wanted to secure tickets for the massive
derby between St Pauli and SV Hamburg. To make sure we got them,
we convinced the club that
we were an official supporters' club in England. It grew from there."
As the word spread, more and more Villa and Blues fans joined the
Birmingham Boys in Brown.
"It's roughly 50/50 Villa/Blues, so there's always plenty of
lively debate on the plane. A
and a Reading fan have also hitched a ride, albeit a rough one."
St Pauli are certainly a unique club with a distinctive character
and set of fans.
many clubs in the world have a transvestite President? Or a team
photo with players in handcuffs? St Pauli are unique because they
embrace all that is different. They celebrate freedom. And they
welcome just about anybody who shares their ethos and who wants
to have a good time. Their liberal, anti-establishment stance is
appealing because it reflects all that has gone missing from English
St Pauli fans
St Pauli match can be like a scene from Mad Max. There are all kinds
of oddballs there. But you get a good mix of people from all walks
of life. At one match we spotted a 7-foot skinhead in a Villa away
shirt circa 1994. We introduced ourselves and met up for a drink
after the game. It's often the little things that make the difference.
Like 20,000 people rattling their keys every time there is a corner.
Why? Apparently 'it puts the players off'."
recent years FC St Pauli have found themselves in financial trouble.
successive relegations from the top division to the regional leagues
have left them on the brink of bankruptcy.
schemes have been used to raise money for the club, such as a 'Drink
for St Pauli' campaign on the Reeperbahn and a huge fundraising
gig headlined by Norwegian band Turbonegro in the stadium.
Birmingham Boys in Brown approached Gold Blade and asked them if
they wanted to play a gig. Gold Blade Frontman John Robb was only
too happy to get involved.
Pauli are a legend. They are run by anarchists. Their logo is a
skull and crossbones and they play in the red light area of Hamburg
which is full of squats, brilliant bars a 24/7 nightlife. Unlike
the UK, the bars play all kinds of music from punk rock to jazz
northern soul and its a great example of what a great weekend out
is really about. Its sleazy, edgy and the team sort of sums this
"They used to be in the Bundesliga (top division) but are now
in division 3 and really struggling so we are proud to play a benefit
and raise a lot of money for them."
the Blues, Villa and St Pauli fans have a lot in common in terms
of their support for their respective clubs, there are still many
cultural differences between the two sets of fans as James tells
only German most of us know has been picked up from various special
interest videos and magazines. Luckily, the majority of our German
cousins know good English, which presumably they picked up from
the Archers on Radio 4.
Boys in Brown on the Reeperbahn
time, we encountered a rather bizarre scene in a bar just off the
Reeperbahn. As the bar got busier and busier, one of the locals
advised us that we might like to move on because they were about
to play German music for the rest of the night. Intrigued, we stayed,
and it was fantastic. It's the first time any of us had ever heard
an 'oom-pah' version of the disco classic 'I Will Survive'."
well as organising the benefit concert, the Birmingham Boys in Brown
have also produced a fanzine called 'Brown Sauce'.
we wanted to produce something we could take away with us to St
Pauli matches - something we could all contribute to and enjoy on
the journey, but also something we could give to other St Pauli
fans in Germany.
"We came up with the name 'Brown Sauce' because St Pauli play
in brown and the fanzine will hopefully be a bit, erm, saucy. Of
course, the Birmingham connection is very strongly reflected in
the title, with its reference to B6's third most famous export (after
Aston Villa and Black Sabbath) - HP Sauce.
'zine is dedicated to St Pauli, Hamburg, Villa, Blues, terrace culture,
music and generally having a laugh. Like St Pauli - anything goes."
takes place at the Royal George in Digbeth, Birmingham, on 20th
November 2004. Doors open at around 7pm and entry is £6 on
Bands playing are Gold
Blade, Eastfield, The Blunts and The People's Republic of Mercia.
Everyone there will receive a free copy of
Brown Sauce fanzine.
more information or to book tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org.