Halfway round the world for HSV
There was a special guest at the final home game of the calendar year, with Alex travelling all the way from Sydney for his first time on the Nordtribüne.
4:30am in Sydney and the alarm goes off. Yet Alex Staats doesn’t have a morning shift or indeed have to get up for university for another few hours at least. As the TV flickers on and the Volksparkstadion comes into view for Hamburger SV’s Friday night kick-off against VfL Bochum, it immediately becomes clear the reason why Alex gets up in the middle of the night to watch his beloved Hamburg.
'I've supported HSV as long as I can remember'
Alex explains: “My grandparents moved to Australia from Hamburg after the end of the Second World War and brought their love for Hamburger SV with them. My mum grew up as a keen supporter and impressed the importance of Hamburg to me from a young age. Whenever I go over to see my grandma at the weekend, I always let her know how Hamburg have played in the game I watched overnight or really early that morning.”
Yet the family connection is not the only reason why Alex goes to such lengths to support his beloved team: “I think having roots in Hamburg certainly played a part in why I became a Hamburg fan in the first place. But the club has such a pull even in somewhere as far away as Australia. Whilst I was growing up watching players like van Nistelrooy and van der Vaart in the famous blue, white and black certainly were instrumental in turning me into an avid fan, whilst the Volksparkstadion and particularly the Nordtribüne is always something I’ve been fascinated with.”
Having caught the eye of the Hamburg media team whilst flying the flag for HSV in Australia, when Alex got in touch to say that he was heading over to Hamburg, the wheels were set in motion to make the trip one that the young Australian would never forget. The Sydney native was perhaps a tad underprepared for the Hamburg weather, turning up to Thursday’s training session in just a Hamburg shirt and jumper as the mercury touched 0. Having secured a jacket, Alex was able to meet coaching and playing staff alike as training finished, getting a few photos with the players for his collection as well as a number of signatures on his Australia flag. The icing on the cake was still to come with Alex’s favourite player Rick van Drongelen springing a surprise, as the vice-captain handed over his matchworn jersey from the Rothosen’s cup game against Chemnitz earlier in the season, much to Alex’s obvious delight. “I was pretty speechless when Rick handed over the jersey, he’s been one of my favourite players for a long time and it’s going to be a dream having his matchworn shirt hanging up on my wall back home.”
'Disappointing result but memories to last a lifetime'
Despite having been to Hamburg twice before to visit relatives, the trips to Germany had never quite coincided with a Hamburg home game, meaning that Friday night’s showdown with 1. FC Heidenheim was Alex’s first game at the Volksparkstadion. Having taken part in the matchday stadium tour, he was keen to make the most of the experience, and was invited pitchside to watch the team warm up before scurrying off to take his place in the standing section of the Nordtribüne, a moment he had been dreaming of since planning the trip. “The atmosphere was incredible and everything I had thought it would be. The result on the pitch wasn’t the one we were hoping for but that’s the way it goes sometimes in football. It takes nothing away from my experience, I’ve had such a great time in Hamburg. Taking home Rick’s matchworn jersey and standing in the Nordtribüne are memories I will hold for a long time.”
Alex is using the time in Europe wisely, to visit Hamburg’s close friends FC Copenhagen, who are playing against rivals Malmö in the Europa League on Thursday, to round off a memorable trip to the northern hemisphere. Thanks to Alex for coming all the way to Hamburg and spreading the message of the Raute to as many people as possible down under! We hope to see you again at the Volksparkstadion soon!