Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Fri 12 October 2007

Hamburg 'til I die...

Bill Shankly, one-time manager of Liverpool football club, once commented that 'football isn't a matter of life and death - it's more important than that'. It's a contentious statement, depending on your devotion to the beautiful game, but fans of SV Hamburg can now make sure their life and death is intrinsically linked to their club. Hamburg have announced plans to build a club cemetery just fifty metres away from the AOL Arena.

For the price of a season ticket, ardent Hamburg fans can now buy a plot in the new cemetery grounds which, when built, will be a fitting resting place complete with goalmouth shaped entrance, terraced surrounds and blue-and-white coloured gravestones.

It's the first time such a facility has been planned for a football club anywhere in the world that we're aware of, although here in the UK it's not unknown for fans to have their ashes scattered on the pitch of their favourite team when they die. In Germany, there is no law which allows this to happen, but once the new burial grounds have been created in a few years time, Hamburg's great and good can ensure they remain true to their club right to the very end.

"Many people think it's crazy and a strange idea," admits Christian Reichert, a member of the board of Hamburg SV. "Yes it is. But it's strange to follow your team to away games all around Europe, to Moscow or Bulgaria," he says.

"These people are strange. They supported the club all their lives and so now they can feel that after their life, it's going on," Mr Reichert adds.

Strange, but very true. So next time you're sitting in your home team's stadium thinking how they've bored you to death for the last 90 minutes, imagine what the consequences might be. A short walk out of the stadium to the afterlife, perhaps?

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