Come on, let’s go to Heerenveen

Sometime around the ending of last season, it became apparent that the FC St.Pauli will visit the SC Heerenveen for a pre-season friendly during this year’s summer break as kind of a negotiated farewell game for Henk Veerman who was signed from there last season. As our summer vacation trip wasn’t yet planned either but with the Netherlands as one of the possible destinations: all good, this would kill two birds with one stone. A stadium with a capacity for 26.100 spectators would also mean no stress to get a ticket either. Brilliant!

Explanation for our headline: German Schlager “Come on, let’s got to Amsterdam”

Holidays

So, a week of family vacation in the neighbour’s country was organised including accommodation located conveniently in a small village between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Some day trips to the surrounding cities, some time at the beach and on the way back visiting the friendly match: fantastic. 
A bit weird was the club’s “scarce” communication, especially concerning the tickets… but as stated earlier, the stadium has a capacity of more than 25.000, so getting a ticket shouldn’t be a real problem either.

Some more general bits and thoughts about the neighbouring country:

Bicycles
It should be well-known that the use of bicycles is pretty common there and besides an inner conviction to use them, this is obviously a result of an unbelievable much better organisation than in auto-friendly Germany. Almost everywhere, there are special bike paths… bullshit, bike roads! These are often separated from the roads for the cars. 
And not to mention the immense parking spots for push-bikes at central locations.

Park & Ride
Especially the city centres are not crowded by cars as this is known from Germany. Even in smaller cities parking in the central area is only possible for a fee. According to our observation, this is caused by two things:

  1. Parking in the city centre is unbelievably expensive.
  2. Park & Ride is immensely subsidised.

Okay, maybe this could also be summarised in one point only but it clearly shows the political will of having car-free cities or to offer real alternatives respectively.
Two examples: a parking spot in The Hague’s city centre costs 1,-€ for every 13 minutes. This gets expensive rather quickly, especially with certain things to get done there.
We didn’t check if this is also true for Amsterdam, but it will certainly be as expensive there. And this is where the Park & Ride alternative becomes convenient: for example, one can park at the Johan Cruijff Arena (>8.000 parking spots) and leave from there to the city centre using the metro. Usually, parking fees are 1,-€ for every 20 minutes – but with buying a metro ticket (which was 6,50€ for three passengers/both ways), the parking ticket gets subsidised and does only cost 1,-€ a day. 
(@Penny Pinchers: no, it’s not enough to simply buy the metro ticket, it has to be used also. The systems are digitally linked with each other and the subsidised parking fee will only be granted after the metro ticket is actually used for travelling back and forth to the city centre.)

Cleverly and well done – if wanted.

Apart from that: Whoever is in Amsterdam should visit the Anne Frank House. As there have been unbelievably long queues and waiting hours earlier before, the tickets are only available online nowadays. These are available for sale already months in advance, however, the day and the exact time of the planned visit also need to be announced while booking. These tickets are usually sold out 4 to 6 weeks in advance. 80% of the tickets are sold during this pre-sale, the other 20% becomes available on the respective day at 9 am. No tickets are sold at the premises.
And this is why an immense virtual crowd is gathering and queuing online every morning from 8.30 am onwards. And if you manage to queue successfully, you’ll be logged out of the queue after 20-25mins of inactivity. So, good timing is essential to get access to the tickets at 9 am.
What specifically added to our fate: We chose to pay by VISA-Card which needed authorisation via mTan using the “Verified by VISA“ function within our banking app. For certain security reasons, this payment method, however, didn’t work while using a smartphone. Instead, a computer would have done the trick, which however is usually no natural part of the equipment while travelling. 
Okay, this kept us busy for several days, eventually, we ended up having three tickets and the result was worth the effort.
If you’ll ever have the chance, go for it. There are audio guides in several languages (amongst others there was a German version), so everything is also suited for children from a certain age onwards.

SC Heerenveen – FC St.Pauli

Back to the sportive aspect and thus the ticket situation.
Already in May, the Fanladen and the ticket centre intervened at the SC Heerenveen that the agreed-on amount of tickets wouldn’t be sufficient.
“Agreed-on amount of tickets“? Yes, when negotiating the match conditions, someone signed a contract which agreed 500 tickets for the away supporters – however, looking back to it from a public angle, no one can be identified who exactly caused this mess. And no one will hardly doubt that a huge mess was caused.
500 tickets for the only “real” pre-season test aside from the training camp, additionally one of the rare occasions to see the FCSP performing internationally and furthermore the missing of a season-opening match at home which was more and more appreciated by the supporters over the last couple of years.
No ticket sale at the stadium, no chance for away supporters to legally order tickets for the home supporter’s stands – who is responsible for such conditions?

The Fanladen tried to summarize the whole mess within this and the following tweets:

Translation of the tweet: As there are apparently some uncertainties regarding the ticket situation for the match in the Netherlands: We already contacted the fan representatives of the SC Heerenveen in May and scrutinized for the frame conditions for the test match.

So, unfortunately, the situation was already challenged in May and couldn’t be solved since then. Both Fanladen and the ticket centre did their best with regard to damage limitation and organisation of the ticket shortage. However, without success. And there was barely any communication with Heerenveen as they didn’t send any update on the situation.
There was for sure enough time to solve the issue as well as enough space within the stadium, eventually, there was no sign of the real will of Heerenveen to solve the problem, for whatever reason.
500 tickets à 5,-€ – and they could have sold for sure another 1.500 or more tickets which would have fitted into the away supporter’s stand without further problems and not to mention the areas next to it.
And of these 500 tickets, only 170 tickets were freely available via the ticket centre which were logically sold out immediately.
Many who had imagined a nice tour were thus hindered to travel. 
Completely unnecessary.

And the remaining tickets were for example sold to the Dutch fan clubs for which the first match of their beloved club in their home country was for sure a particular highlight. So, best wishes to Peter (and Peter and Kaes, who did already book their vacations) of the brown-white tulips, a fan-club with many great humans, who happily and regularly travel with our club since more than 20 years already and who were certainly happy about this particular match.

Eventually, a few tickets were however sold at the stadium to the few who had travelled without a ticket so that they hadn’t to wait outside the stadium, but this was however not communicated at all by the SC Heerenveen before the match.
Whoever was responsible for this mess at our side, please learn your lesson for the future.

The official number of spectators wasn’t announced in the stadium and I could not find the exact number on the host’s website either, but while there might have been another 1.000 spots available in the away stands, in the rest of the stadium were still between 20.000 to 22.000 of the total 26.100 seats available. That’s something you don’t have to understand.

Sports wise:
A test match actually. I only have limited knowledge about football and tactics and that’s why I leave such analyses of official matches with Tim, thus I will not change this for a test match either.
To sum it up, the whole match looked quite appealing and with both halves taken together, a win for us would have been more deserved than for the others.
At the front, a bit of clout was lacking, but both Christian Conteh, as well as Aurel Loubongo-M’Boungo, definitely showcased their capabilities. To my eyes, Finn-Ole Becker was the best performing player of St. Pauli on the pitch, especially during the first half but also when he magically passed the ball to Conteh, which then lead to a penalty kick.

Highlights can be watched here:

After the match, the exits of the away stands were completely unnecessary closed for some further ten minutes – with absolutely no danger outside of the stadium, this is only hard to understand but fits perfectly to the total impression.
Some pertinent twitter accounts later shared a video which is pretending to show an attack of St. Pauli supporters against a pub in Heerenveen and which was later used as a justification for the exit closures, well hm…
It’s hard to tell anything from the video but taken into account who travelled to Heerenveen including some befriended groups, this might likely have happened.
If it was as shown: I cannot relate to that and I think this is completely unnecessary if not stupid, but most likely with 43 years of age, I am simply too old for such things. 

My beloved club: Please, also play another match in a foreign country during next year’s summer break. But please, also ensure enough ticket availability for away supporters. Thank you.

// Maik (Translated by @Parneq)

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