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"That’s the way, aha aha, we like it!"

With 2021 gradually drawing to a close, it's time to take a look back at the last 12 months and the 19 home games contested in that time. The Boys in Brown won just three times on home soil in 2020, but this year they went into overdrive, winning 15 home games in total and eight on the trot since the return of fans to the Millerntor. An outstanding record very much to the taste of players and supporters alike.

The year began with trips to Fürth (1-2) and Würzburg (1-1), results that left the Boys in Brown floundering deep in the relegation mire. And the long hoped for upturn in fortunes again failed to materialise in the opening home game of the year when they had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Holstein Kiel despite putting in a decent performance. There was still something special about that meeting, however, as it was to prove the sole draw at the Millerntor in 2021. The Schultz XI followed up with 15 wins and just three defeats – what a record!

A 2-0 defeat of Regensburg in the second home game of the year finally brought the first three of the 46 points to be garnered at the Millerntor this year. "I always knew we had the quality," said Guido Burgstaller after the opening home win of 2021. "We've shown it often enough, but the little things have been lacking." Head coach Timo Schultz, for his part, saw the funny side: "When the final whistle went, I turned to Andreas Bornemann and said it can't be over just yet because we haven't conceded!" It had taken his charges until the final game of the first half of the season to keep a clean sheet.

For the rest of the year, however, it was a very different story. Seven of the remaining 14 home wins were achieved without conceding a goal, often in convincing fashion, as demonstrated by the 4-0 victory over Würzburg last season, the 3-0 defeat of Kiel on the opening day of the current campaign and the 4-0 drubbing of Hansa Rostock. Some games were much closer affairs, though, and remained on a knife edge until the final seconds, such as the 3-2 win over Darmstadt in February when the Boys in Brown surrendered a two-goal lead before Burgstaller grabbed a late winner. The final moments of the game had everybody's pulses racing, with Sebastian Ohlsson desperately scrambling the ball off the line before the crossbar intervened to secure a third home win in succession. Fortune really did favour the brave on that occasion.

Nine days after the thriller against Darmstadt it was time for the first of two home derbies in 2021. "I told the lads not to score the decisive goal too early," joked a buoyant Timo Schultz after the final whistle. The game appeared to be heading for a scoreless draw until Daniel-Kofi Kyereh lashed a venomous drive into the net two minutes from the end of regulation time. "I just smashed it into the net, job done," said our No17 afterwards. Imagine the scenes inside the ground had the Millerntor been packed to the rafters!

The fans may have been unable to celebrate victory with the players in early March, but the 9,292 St. Pauli supporters in a crowd of 10,003 had the opportunity to make it up for it in mid-August when the Boys in Brown beat HSV for the fourth time in five derbies in the second home game of the season. Simon Makienok was the matchwinner this time, bagging a brace in a 3-2 win. "I had goosebumps when I ran out," said Marcel Hartel, who had only recently joined the club from Arminia Bielefeld. "The way the fans carried us today was indescribable." Makienok, the two-goal hero, added: "It was a very big moment for me and an awesome game for us." Who are we to say otherwise?

In addition to that victory over our cross-city rivals, the Boys in Brown won each of the other seven games so far this term, beginning with a convincing 3-0 victory over Kiel in late July and continuing with more refreshing attacking football along the way. Among the highlights were a 4-1 defeat of FC Ingolstadt 04, the 3-0 win over Dynamo Dresden and the aforementioned 4-0 dismissal of Rostock. The final outing at the Millerntor this year was a premiere, as it was the first time a home game had kicked off at the new time of 20:30 on a Saturday night. The outcome proved the same, however, with the Schultz XI seeing off Schalke 04 by two goals to one.

In contrast, the visit of Eintracht Braunschweig in early April was the last Monday night home game for the time being. It too ended in victory, the Boys in Brown easing to a 2-0 win and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh notching what might prove to be the last ever goal scored at the Millerntor on a Monday evening. The last two goals to be scored at home in 2021 were contributed by Guido Burgstaller, who took his tally for the year to 27 with a decisive brace against former club Schalke. A perfect way to end an outstanding year at the Millerntor.

While it would be remiss of us not the mention the three defeats against VfL Bochum (2-3), SC Paderborn 07 (0-2) and Hannover 96 (1-2), of course, 15 wins out of 19 home games speak for themselves. And so we can only agree with the chant belted out by the fans every time since their return to the Millerntor: "That’s the way, aha aha, we like it!"


Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters