An der alten Försterei

There are not many clubs from the East of Germany who currently play or formerly played in the Bundesliga. The division of the country into FRG (BRD) and GDR (DDR) for some decades still today shapes the scoreboard of the first German soccer league. Since 2016 the artificial club RB Leipzig which is a marketing vehicle for an energy drink producer is present, formerly Hansa Rostock, Energie Cottbus und Dynamo Dresden were there (all of them clubs only few people in the West could relate to). But things are getting better: since 2019 the 1. FC Union Berlin is inside the league. And its story reads like a miracle or fairytale.

The club was founded in 1966 in the area of Köpenick in the East of Berlin, the history of predecessors goes back even to 1906. In 2008 the club made the step from the third to the second league and stayed there for a decade. And in 2019 they arrived in the Bundesliga and steadily climbed up: #11, #7, #5 and after this day – #4, a place qualifying them for the international Champions League. A very seldom success story. And even though they’ve got a strange knight as their mascot (Ritter Keule) and the fans scream the rather frumpy slogan Eisern Union, it is a club you can easily have sympathies for.

The club plays at the Stadion an der alten Försterei (Stadium at the old forester’s house), a rather small stadium with only space for 22,000 supporters. It is special in many ways, like that there is a large percentage of stands and not so many seats as in other stadiums. In 2008 the stadium was rebuilt and as the club didn’t have much money the fans helped: 2,000 of them worked 140,000 hours for free to complete the work. I think this is something that really connects you to your club!

‘I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.’

― Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch; inscription on the outside of the Stadion an der alten Försterei

Getting a ticket for the away team area of the match between Union Berlin and my SV Werder Bremen was always a problem since 2019: there are not too many tickets available and everybody wanted to go to East Berlin. In 2023 I managed to get one and was really happy. In the end we lost against Union, but it was a great party. And as it was the final match of the season there was also a concert of the bands Kapella Petra and Milliarden in front of the stadium. A nice day in the capital city. 😉 Köpenick is in the Southeast of Berlin and quite for away from the city center. But you can access the stadium easily by tramway, bus or S-Bahn. Guest fans most often take the S-Bahn 47 to Spindlersfeld (change to this line from the circle line at Hermannstraße).

1. FC Union Berlin
Stadion an der alten Försterei
An der Wuhlheide 263
12555 Berlin

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