LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Altona 93

Founder members of German FA enjoy cult status

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Promoted in 2017 to join the reserve sides of city rivals Hamburg SV and St Pauli in the fourth-flight Regionalliga Nord, Altona 93 have a status in the German game that belies their modest ranking in the league pyramid.

Formed in 1893, founding members of the German FA in 1900, hosts of the first national championship final in 1903, the de facto third club of Germany’s second largest city has tradition to go with its now considerable cult following.

Or rather cult followings. At any given home game, three clusters of Altona supporters dot the 8,000-capacity Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn. Camped in separate groups on the terraces or surrounding grass banks, long-established AFC supporters, a tribe of anarchic punks and a movement of ex-St Pauli fans are also joined by the occasional left-leaning football aficionado from Amsterdam or Dulwich.

Altona 93 match day/Jannes Hartkamp

With the G20 leaders long gone, St Pauli overly commercialised but with football still to watch, these disparate forces troop through the wrought-iron gates of the ground named after Altona’s greatest ever player, killed when defusing an Allied bomb on the banks of the Elbe in 1944.

Altona-born Adolf Jäger had joined 1893 from Union 03, another local team in Hamburg’s pioneering football scene. Several, including Altona 93, played at the Prussian military parade ground of Exezierweide. It was here that a combined Hamburg-Altona League XI took on a Danish FA XI in 1897 and won 5-0.

In 1903, Altona 93 competed in the first German Championship, losing in the semi-final to VfB Leipzig, but hosting the final. Refereeing was Franz Behr, the elder of two brothers involved in the early playing and administrative side of the home club.

Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn/Jannes Hartkamp

Jäger arrived in 1907, a Christmas holiday friendly against Dordrecht, and continued to score goals for 20 years. Earning 18 German caps, ten as captain, Jäger is thought to have hit the net 2,000 times in 700 matches, including games for North German representative XIs.

He spent most of his career at the ground that would later take his name, where Altona 93 moved from the Exezierweide in 1908.

A century later, two local football historians calculated where the Exezierweide pitch, long built over, would have been. Pinpointing the Mediadruckwerk office at Rondenbarg 6, they erected a memorial stone.

As for the Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn, in the post-Jäger era of the 1950s it would fill beyond capacity for the derby with Hamburg SV, both AFC and the 15-time Oberliga Nord champions competing at the same top regional level.

Altona 93 match day/Jannes Hartkamp

Twice AFC made the semi-final of the German Cup, taking eventual winners Karlsruhe to a replay in 1955 and losing after extra-time to later European finalists TSV München. A crowd of 15,000 squeezed into the Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn for the 1964 game.

In 1968, Altona 93 dropped out of the then second-flight Regionalliga Nord and began a slow but sorry descent to settle ever since in the fourth, fifth and even sixth tiers.

In June 2017, AFC and Eutiner SV played out a 0-0 draw at the Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn, ensuring both would be promoted from the four-team play-off for a place in the fourth-level Regionalliga Nord.

Leading the line in Altona’s bid to stay up is Afghan international striker Mustafa Hadid, at the club since 2009.

Stadium Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn has been the home of Altona 93 since 1908, making it one of the oldest German grounds in continuous operation. Equipped with a main stand during the Oberliga Nord days of the 1950s, the ground saw its wooden benches replaced by plastic bucket seating from HSV’s demolished Volksparkstadion 40 years later.

Alongside, the most vocal AFC supporters gather on the corner terrace of Meckerecke, nearest another group of home fans behind the east end. Visiting followers have now been allocated the Zeckenhügel, the grassy mound that extends along the west end.

Another narrow terrace lines the Gegengerade opposite the main stand.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

From Hamburg Hbf main train station, S-Bahn S1 runs regularly to Altona six stops away. Every other service heads on to the next stop of Bahrenfeld,

Hamburg-Bahrenfeld S-Bahn station is a 10min walk from the ground. From the slip road of Hegarstraße, head for main Friedensallee. Cross over and head right at Friesenweg. The stadium entrance is a 7-8min walk away, where Friesenweg meets Griegstraße.

Alternatively, buses 1, 150 and 250 set off from Altona station for Griegstraße five stops (8min) away on the south side of the stadium. Each route runs every 10-20mins at weekends so waiting time should be minimal.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

There’s a simple pay-on-the-day system, cash-only, from the ticket office at Griegstraße 62 that opens one hour before kick-off.

It’s €12 to sit in the main stand, €9 to stand anywhere. Reduced admission of €2-€3 is available with proof of qualification.

In the wake of the club’s promotion in 2017, online sales have been introduced.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

A regular AFC Fanshop operates at the ground on three days of the week (Mon 6pm-8pm, Wed 4pm-7pm, Thur 2pm-5pm) and on match days.

Frilly pennants, flags, shot glasses and CDs of the Altona 93 club song sit amid the merchandise.

The club’s signature shirts of black, white and red hoops, and somewhat sickly away kit of dark blue-and-pink stripes, are also available at the Barthel Armaturen store (Schnackenburgallee 16, Mon-Thur 8am-12.30pm, 1pm-4pm, Fri 8am-12.30pm, 1pm-2.30pm) the on the other side of Bahrenfeld.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for away fans and casual visitors

The only bars are at the ground itself.

Just inside the main entrance, a beer outlet has stand-up tables but little protection from the bitter wind in winter. There are a couple of other kiosks dotted around the ground.

At the far end of the Meckerecke corner terrace stands the clubhouse bar, its walls covered in pennants and framed shirts and line-ups. A reverential flag is draped around a portrait of poor old Adolf Jäger.