To put it simply, two types of people live in the city of Hamburg: those with a diamond in their hearts and those with a skull on their chest. There may also be a few North German unexcited people who like one without deeply despising the other. Anyone who drives through the parts of the city that are not in the greater St. Pauli / Altona area can see the HSV flag in many front gardens and count many power boxes that have been painted with the HSV color triad of black, white and blue. FC St. Pauli is present wherever people consider football to be more than a sport, a lifestyle thing, a leisure accessory that comes with good disposition for free.

HSV fans, on the other hand, seem to be blessed with a high tolerance for pain: Even in its sixth year of membership in the second division, the club, which has long been known for chaos in the management team, continues to produce a high level of disorder on the pitch, especially at Playing away. That will also play a role.

When HSV and Pauli fans meet in everyday life, they are like friends who have decided not to talk about politics and religion at dinner. But on two days a year, keeping quiet is no longer an option, then it’s time to show your colors: brown shirt or red pants. Then it’s derby time, on this day for the 110th time (so far 69 wins for HSV, 24 for St. Pauli, 16 draws). The citizen’s pulse also rises, the pepper bag loosens the knot of his tie, the senator takes his fans’ scarf from the coat hook. FC St. Pauli, around 27,000 members and with an annual turnover of almost 62 million euros, against the Hamburg sports club, more than 100,000 members and almost 112 million euros in turnover. Totenkopf, in first place in the table before the 15th matchday, against Raute, in second place.

Hamburg, plagued by the disgrace of being the only metropolis in Europe without a first division club in men’s football, is in the floodlights of national attention for one evening. But, for all romantics, the only real derby in the country takes place here; it doesn’t exist in any other German city. Even if Union and Hertha played in the same league, no Berliner would think of calling it a derby, more like a trip abroad. In Munich there has been no competition with FC Bayern for a long time. Some more spice? The trainers, Fabian Hürzeler and Tim Walter, don’t like each other. The fans like each other even less and are therefore not served alcohol in the stadium. A huge net is stretched around the guest block to catch projectiles.

Already in the afternoon a helicopter was circling over the district, and – as if there wasn’t enough action on the Elbe – the winter edition of the Dom, the biggest fair in the city, is running right next to the Millerntorstadion. Anyone who rides the Ferris wheel can see the playing field from above. One option would be to buy many tickets at 7 euros each instead of paying the black market price for one ticket. The question is: which fans will go to the “Wilde Maus” after the game and which will go to the “Zombie” ghost train?

Anyone who has a ticket will get to the show on time, because there will be alcohol-free lighting before the game. While the players warm up, “Dirty Ol’ Town” plays over the stadium speakers, sung by the recently deceased singer Shane MacGowan, who was not at all alcohol-free. The Spanish colleague in the press box asked whether he had spelled the word “Skull” correctly, and even then he was probably surprised that so many FC St. Pauli players’ last names were “Football God”. This is what the audience shouts when the lineup is announced. And then the snow falls.

HSV is not the favorite this evening, the team is considered unsettled, the last five away games brought two points, which is far too little for a club that seems doomed to promotion. St. Pauli, on the other hand, performs like Leverkusen in the second division: football full of surprises and with success. From HSV’s point of view, it would be a good game plan to get through the first quarter of an hour unscathed. Almost works: After almost exactly 14 minutes and 48 seconds, Jackson Irvine takes a corner and pushes the ball past the defense and into the goal. The HSV players seem as dynamic as a band of snowmen. The stadium announcer then warned the home crowd to refrain from setting off pyrotechnics.

Twelve minutes later, a scene that will be seen in every breakdown show from now on: HSV goalkeeper Daniel Heuer Fernandez, who has been one of the club’s most consistent players for a long time and is actually far too good for the second division, pushes the ball to the defender Stephan Ambrosius pushes it further to teammate Guilherme Ramos, who wants to pass back to the goalkeeper, but the ball rolls towards the goal line, Heuer-Fernandez rushes, kicks – and hits the ball so that it rushes straight into the net. A goal like an accident with an e-scooter hitting a curb: as unfortunate as it is embarrassing. 2:0 St. Pauli. And HSV is once again Hamburg’s mockery club.

During the break the reporters are already talking about who will be the successor to HSV coach Tim Walter. The HSV looks like the ruins of real estate speculator René Benko, who wanted to build the Elbtower in Hafencity. Now he’s broke.

Second half, even more snow, the ball is now red and traces through the white green like a ski on an untouched slope. The HSV fans try a cover-up tactic: they set off so much pyrotechnics that the stadium announcer doesn’t stop warning them. A cloud of fog fills the stadium.

The players slide around like fifth-graders putting skates on ice for the first time. The strong FC St. Pauli doesn’t like this at all. But the battered HSV glided to equalize within a few minutes, Robert Glatzel (58th) and the otherwise largely indisposed Immanuel Pherai (60th) scored to make it 2-2. The stadium spokesman now warns fans from both camps to stop lighting the fire. He does this with a patience that only a daycare teacher would otherwise have, asking Finn-Ole to stop sticking the crayon in Hannah’s eye.

After about 75 minutes, the players seemed to have agreed to settle the matter with a snowball fight. The derby record now stands at 17 draws, St. Pauli remains first, HSV still doesn’t need a new coach, and the spectators go home to dinner, where they certainly won’t talk much about football anymore.

How was Derby? Rough!