Saturday, 29 December 2012

Union in Englisch - International Fan Club for the English Speaking Unioner

The Founders

Andrew Cherrie is an Oxford United fan who spent a lot of time in Berlin when his girlfriend was in the city for a 6 month stint. He fell in love with Union.

Mark Wilson moved to Berlin just after Germany thumped England in the 2010 World Cup. He chose Union rather than Hertha, eventually traded his Sunderland season ticket for that of Union and started this blog to chart his first season as an Unioner.

Union in Englisch - how we started

Andrew approached Mark about setting up a fan club for English speakers in autumn 2012. Mark thought it was a good idea as via his blog he'd realised there was a lot of interest in Union. Not just from English speaking Berliners but from people around the globe who follow Eisern Union. It's early days but after a few beers at TeBe and a match at Union the two lads though they would give it a go.

Twitter, Facebook and Gmail

Currently you can contact us via @unioninenglisch on Twitter and via e.mail

For news, links and pictures check out our Facebook page here.


We hope to fund a half-decent website and purchase a huge flag with the proceeds of our first batch of limited edition stickers (see below).

Where we are now

We've written to the club to seek some advice on becoming an official fan club and are continuing to forge links with other relevant associations such as the Eiserne Botschafter.

Our aims

We're just two blokes who love Union who want to provide English speakers with some news and ticket information. We're keen to help people integrate and understand the rich history of the club. We're also interested in meeting fellow football fans who share our passion for 1.FC Union Berlin.


We've designed some stickers and boldly ordered 1,000. You can buy them from us using paypal. The cost is 20 stickers for £2.50 or 50 stickers for £5.00. That is inclusive of postage and packing within Europe. Please ask for a quote if you live outside Europe. 

UnioninEnglisch sticker 2012 1/1000
To secure your stickers, and a chance to win an unmissable (but for now top secret) prize, send your paypal payment to

Please select the "friends and family" option as this reduces our costs (thanks Matt!)

Friday, 28 December 2012

The Union Berlin Man Top 10 of 2012

Whilst I have created a top 10 there really is no pecking order here. I started the blog in May and it has just spiralled from there. I continue to make friends through my support of Union Berlin, and that for me, is what it is all about.

There are so many stories, comical incidents and friendships that have occurred already and we're only at the mid-point of the season.

Enjoy some of the goals and links below and of course...

10. My first Union away game on the final day of last season. Zombie Nation time!

9. Eintracht Frankfurt fans storming the away end - Union fans then applauded. Superb banner.

8.  Mattuschka's brace at St. Pauli. Two stunning strikes only beaten by him celebrating with the away fans after the game. To me, symbolic of the bond between fans and players at Union.

7. Attending a play about Union - 'Das Stück Zum Spiel'. Interview with Chris Lopatta to come in 2013. Lead actor, lifetime 'dauerkarte' holder at Union and he helped build the stadium! 

6. Braunschweig away and Nemec's second goal. A real beauty.

5. Terodde's volley against Kaiserslautern. You can find the goal within this blog piece.

4. Weihnachtssingen at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. 22,500 people. Wow. Felix from Groundhopping Etc captured the mood. Check out his Facebook page.

3. Meeting various Eiserne Botschafter members.

2. Silvio's almost comical goal when Union faced Köln & picked up a crucial first 3 points this term.

1. Standing in the freezing cold for over 4 hours to secure a ticket for the Berlin derby.  

Here's to 2013 - Eisern Union!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Eintracht Braunschweig 4:3 1. FC Union Berlin - highlights

For my match report and comment on the ongoing protests against the 'Safe Stadium Experience' check out this article

For highlights click here

If you're interested in joining an English speaking fan club then follow @unioninenglisch on Twitter.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A play about FC Union Berlin - Das Stück Zum Spiel

The Background

After stalking the Eiserne Botschafter three weeks on the bounce I think they started to feel sorry for me. There is a piece coming up on their good work in the 'winterpause' but until then you'll have to trust me. A great bunch - they are Union Ambassadors with a small museum in Köpenick and exhibition space dedicated to Union. A cultural association that the mainstream media ignore. I met them by chance, after I was kindly invited by a Swedish chap named Erik, to join him and his Swedish mates on a tour of the modern museum. Erik sang 'happy birthday' to me down the phone the first time we spoke. You just have to love the Swedes! Anyway, after my third visit to the museum, Michael suggested I head to to Köpenick to watch a play about Union. As with all things Union this season it was of course 'ausverkauft' (sold out) but he said to turn up and take the risk as where was the fun in life otherwise...

Wednesday Afternoon

I was suffering from the dreaded 'man flu' and was facing a late fitness test. Luckily, I'd been to the Stasi Archives the night before and realised, that although my German is not great, I can get by and understand enough to make an experience enjoyable. I tweeted that I'd be going to see a play about Union and to my surprise a Dutchman by the name of Kasper was interested in joining me. A fellow risk taker. Result. We met at Ostkreuz and took the S3 out to Köpenick. I'm now losing count of the amount of people I have met at the 'Crobag' at Ostkreuz. 

The Risk

Well, hardly a risk, as after walking to the venue via the Union club shop situated in the shopping centre (where I purchased a Union santa hat), we were able to procure tickets in under a minute. We nearly missed out due to the fact I was 'hob-knobbing' with Chris Lopatta (one of the actors) in the foyer. Chris is a top bloke and very down to earth - a true Unioner who has a lifetime 'dauerkarte' (season ticket) - and he's up for an interview in January when his schedule permits. I was moved that his first line was, "I've read your blog" and thankful that the next line was not, 'and it's shit!' Union are a special club with true football people at the core. Of course I can't name the goalscorers from a match against Karl Marx Stadt in 1988 but that's not what Union are about. They appreciate people trying to engage with the club and the community. They appreciate effort and a willingness to make mistakes. Just give your all. That's what they give and what they expect in return from players and supporters alike.

The Play - Das Stück Zum Spiel   

I was at home in the compact theatre, surrounded by Unioner decked out in scarves and shirts. Kasper and I managed to grab a spot that was equidistant between the stage and the bar. Kasper ensured we had a full stein for the first half. Of course, it was 45 minutes each way. Whilst most of the action took place on the stage to our right, we were also graced with a table directly in front of us which was placed in the middle of the audience. This style of theatre, where the actors roam among the audience, is a real signifier of FC Union Berlin. They are not a cliched 'people's club' - they are a people who are a club. There is a subtle difference.   

After listening to The Doors and a spot of The Clash (London Calling) the lights were dimmed and the audience were greeted to the intro to Nina Hagen's punk classic that Union come out to at every home match. It was Lopatta who expertly imitated the gravely voice (unbelievable for a man who neither drinks or smokes!) that anyone who has been to a Union game will recognise. It was a superb moment when he appeared between the curtains, adorned in a retro Union shirt, clutching the microphone and setting the tone of the evening for the 250 capacity crowd.

I'm not going to claim I understood every word or all of the nuanced gags. I understood enough for this to be up there with seeing 'Trainspotting', 'A Clockwork Orange' and 'Glengarry Glen Ross' performed live. This was theatre the way it was meant to be performed. Affordable, relaxed and without any pretension. The themes were those that any football fan or indeed family could identify with. The son coming home with a bloody nose and the mother questioning the father about what was going on. The girlfriend offering to come to a match and the boyfriend running a mile - what fun is travelling away to these strange places was the gist. A truly comic moment occurred when the  girlfriend asked the dreaded question, 'Union or me.' The next scene meant the question was left unanswered. Subtle. Even the Unioner know that there is more to life than football - but mot much more. Saying that, we were treated to a glorious line, 'Es ist nicht ein spiel, es ist mein Leben.' (It is not a game, it is my life). 

It's difficult to bring to life such a production via a blog. Especially when you're not a theatre critic. However, there were some moments of pure comedy. "Have you ever ran 30 yards after an orgasm, just for it to be celebrated with 5 other guys." The Unioner on their way to Finland via boat and camper van in 2011, as their European campaign began shortly after 9/11(the played game took place on the 12th September). If you've traveled away with a group, you'd have appreciate the bickering and throwing up!  

The play took in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s and the present day. Clearly, there were references to the DDR  days that were over my head due to my rudimentary language skills. I'll ensure I see this play again, do my research and talk to as many Unioner as possible so that I can appreciate these gags. It was a real honour to be in Köpenick to watch the play. It was first shown 6 years ago and initially the actors worked without payment. Even this year, the performers took 6 days holiday from their professional lives to stage the play.

The ending was made up of footage from years gone by. Original footage of the people of FC Union Berlin building the stadium was very moving. As were the scenes of jubilation when Union were promoted from Liga 3 to the Bundesliga 2 when playing at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark.  

Whilst the play was superb two moments for me will always stand out. The warm welcome I received from Michael (from the Eiserne Botschafters) was the first. Football clubs are about people and a sense of community. As a 'new fan' it's humbling to be treated in such a way. The second was when we left and the mutual shout of 'Eisern' between me, Lopatto and Kasper. It was a fitting finale and summed the whole evening up. EISERN!

Pictures to follow...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Eintracht Braunschweig v 1. FC Union Berlin - Preview

A brief history of Eintracht Braunschweig

Eintracht Braunschweig (or to give the sporting association its full name - Braunschweiger Turn- und Sportverein Eintracht von 1895 e.V.)  have a rich history and were one of the founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963 when they were chosen to be one of the 16 teams out of forty-six applicants, to form the league. Prior to this, they were also founding members in 1900 of the German Football Association. Furthermore, they have the honour of probably being the first place in Germany to host a football match. 

A local school teacher by the name of Konrad Koch had brought football to the town. In autumn 1874 he initiated the first game of football in Germany although Dresden has also laid claim to this accolade with reports of a game in the April of the same year. It was Koch though, who devised the rules of football in 1875 in Germany, after learning of the English game and rules that were invented by the English Football Association in 1863.

Not only do Eintracht have a rich heritage in terms of the footballing side of the game - they actually won the Championship in 1967 - but they also have an interesting past in terms of the commercialisation of football in Germany and bribery and corruption.

In terms of bribery, it was a strange case in 1971, that led to two players being suspended and 10 dismissed from the club. However, rather than being bribed to 'throw' a game the reverse occurred. The players were paid to put extra effort in! 

It was two years later, on 24th March 1973, when Braunschweig faced Schalke 04, that the club took the then controversial step of opting for shirt sponsorship. Most readers will be familiar with the brand Jägermeister. It was a move which spawned a billion pound industry globally and in 1983 the alcohol brand actually tried to change the name of the club to Eintracht Jägermeister. I'm sure there would have been some cheap puns about Eintracht 'bombing' out of the league when they faced relegation. Eventually, the shirt deal came to an end in 1987.

Can you tell this is from the 1970's? Paul Breitner shows off the liquor brand
Eintracht Braunschweig v 1. FC Union Berlin

1. FC Union Berlin face Eintracht Braunschweig on Monday night in lower Saxony. It's the last game before the winter break and the league leaders will provide the Berliners with a tough test, on what will inevitably be, a cold December evening. Snow fell in early December across most of Germany and the temperatures have rarely been above freezing. This is exactly the type of away match I love. It's being played in front of the cameras, so only the hardcore Unioner will be in attendance. Also, by German standards, the two sides are in close proximity, as it's a mere 400km round-trip to Braunschweig from Berlin. 

Whilst Everton football club may be known as the School of Science, Braunschweig can lay claim to being the City of Science, after it was named Stadt der Wissenschaft in 2007. Everton's nickname came about in 1928 when their style of play was described as 'scientific'. Braunschweig certainly looked to have nailed that scientific approach when they visited the Stadion An der Alten Försterei back in August. It was Union's first home game and the soon-to-be league leaders played a strong defensive game and picked off Union with a disputed penalty. It was standard opening day stuff - cagey and deflating after a closed season of cautious optimism. Growing up a Sunderland fan, this is feeling I am well acquainted with. 


Union entered Spieltag (match day) 19 in 5th place in the Bundesliga 2. With Union unbeaten in seven, including three straight wins, confidence should be high. This is surely the ideal time to face Braunschweig again. Terodde has found form and notched 8 goals this term. The service he received from the flanks against Kaiserslautern will be key and Union need to start with Quirring if they are to get the best out of the Union striker's aerial ability. However, the fact that  Union club captain Torsten Mattuschka is missing due to suspension, is a blow.  

Neuhaus has to decide between going 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. Union look best when attacking and are always liable to concede away from home. If he plays Nemec it will certainly be a more aggressive statement of intent. If Silvio starts he is likely to drop very deep, turning what may appear on paper two up front, to a formation with 5 in midfield.  

Union, over the course of the last 5 matches, have marginally better form than Braunschweig. The Berliners have amassed 11 points from a possible 15 whilst the league leaders have notched 10 points in that period. Only Union's 'quiet neighbours', Hertha Berlin, have a better record. They have chalked up 4 wins and a draw in the last 5 attempts. 

I'm an exponent of the 'you can prove anything with stats' line, so I have included the form table, based on the last 6 games and you'll see Union pip Hertha on goals scored according to 

The 'Formtabelle' for the Bundesliga 2 over the past 6 matches
The View from Braunschweig

First and foremost, a big thanks to Gerald for being so kind as to humour my poor German and answer a few questions about Union's opponents and league leaders, Braunschweig. 

After being promoted from the third tier Braunschweig managed a very respectable 8th place finish last season. Gerald puts this down to them having a really good team as early as 2008/9. Clearly, Braunschweig have had time to gel as a unit and as Gerald points out, "Das zahlt sich jetzt aus." It sure is paying off now, as we enter Spieltag 19, they sit a whopping 9 points above 3rd place Kaiserslautern. That's a huge lead to squander but Gerald adds that some fans were very pessimistic and feared relegation. Second season syndrome if you like. What a shock for those fans it must be, knowing that irrespective of the result against the Berliners, they'll enter the winter break in an automatic promotion spot.

Gerald cites Dennis Kruppke as his favourite player and a key man to watch on Monday night. Kruppke recently extended his contract with the club and the club captain's goal scoring record is testimony to his influence. He's scored at a ratio  of just over 1 goal in every 3 games played. An astonishing strike rate for an attacking midfielder who has played almost 150 games for the club. 

When asked if Braunschweig really can win the league Gerald points firstly to the manager, Torsten Lieberknecht, who described it as, "ein Traum." A dream it may be, but at the half way stage of the season, Braunschweig are sitting top of the pile. Gerald believes they can win the league. What is football without dreams? 

Thanks again to Gerald and good luck from match day 20 onwards! 

Gerald Fricke, Akademischer Rat an der TU Braunschweig, forscht über die Webgesellschaft und hat zuletzt den satirischen Ratgeber "Dienstanweisung Internet" veröffentlicht. Twitter: @Ballkultur

Saturday, 8 December 2012

1.FC Union Berlin 2:0 1.FC Kaiserslautern

Berlin was covered in snow and we all had Glühwein flowing through our system. The atmosphere at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on Friday night meant we didn't feel the cold. You don't when your team beats a top of the table side 2-0 and starts the second half of the season in such fashion. That's not to say the game was won easily. It wasn't. However football - this season especially for Union - is played on the margins. Tonight, Union had the 'rub of the green' with Union keeper Haas winning the plaudits for a fine display.

Nina Hagen's punk classic was belted out of the speakers a few minutes early. Usually the song, with the Union faithful singing along, greets the players. Today they came out to a capacity crowd chattering. We waved at the players. They waved back. A strange sensation at a ground that contains some of Germany's most passionate fans. The silent protest from fans is a sacrifice. The special atmosphere at Union is part of the appeal. To stay quiet for over 12 minutes was almost too much for some. Union threatened the Kaiserslautern goal early on and a Unioner was 'hushed' by his fellow fans. All in good spirit of course. Shhhhhhhh...

Banners say that after the massive silent protests, it is time for the league to initiate dialogue. The big banner is garnished by a lot of players'/coaches' quotes who express that they would never want football to be as quiet as it has been during those first 12 minutes, 12 seconds

Kaiserslautern had the touch and look of a team brimming with confidence and oozing class. However, as the old saying goes, class is permanent but form is temporary. Tonight they simply were not on form. At half-time it was a wonder Union were one nil up. Their goal coming on 43 minutes after a superb cross from Quirring that arrived on Terodde's head. The Kaiserslautern players walked off the field 2 minutes later clearly dejected. They had created some good chances and should have been going into the dressing room a goal to the good. Their manager clearly failed to lift them at half-time.

Union came out in the second half buoyed by the goal and full of self-belief. They were still making errors and the ball was not always finding its man but the energy and work rate was evident. Subsequently, it was Union who scored again after 66 minutes with Terodde increasing his tally for the season to seven. It was a superb finish as he crashed home the volley from 6 yards. He was clearly level and thus onside, with a team mate (Mattuschka?) in an offside position but not interfering with play. If the first goal had  taken the wind out of Kaiserslautern's sails then the second was an absolute wrecking ball for the dispirited southerners. 

Fan banner: "Do you think, one day there could be silence throughout the entire game?" "Certainly" (play on words in German: Sicherheit = certainty but also security)

There was no coming back from 2-0 down. The stadium was literally bouncing. The backpack beer seller was doing brisk business. We stuck to our Glühwein. The crowd roared Union home and we could still hear the supporters showing their appreciation when we were some distance from the ground. That was the last game before Christmas at home for the Berliners. A week on Monday they travel to current league leaders, Eintracht Braunschweig. The fixture is live on Sky and one UnionBerlinMan will be there. My first away game of the season with Union. There really is nothing quite like a cold Monday night in northern Germany. After this victory, I can't wait!

Many thanks to Felix from Groundhopping etc for the photographs with captions. 
Please click here to see the Union and Kaiserslautern fans protesting pre-match and some superb pictures of the game. For further info on the protest click here

Friday, 7 December 2012

Union v Bochum - Fans protest as Union force win

Another guest blog post from a new Unioner - who goes by the James Bond-esque name of 'R'. His father-in-law is a season ticket holder of 35 years. Who else was this Gooner from North-London going to support? Eisern Union!

Prior to the game I met @UnionBerlinMan at the Union museum run by the Eiserne Botschafter fan club in Kopenick, and had a coffee with a legend known as Michael. I had an all too brief look round the Museum which was lined with artifacts which demonstrated the personal pride of FCU fans. The museum is only open on match days and you can contact them via their website here to arrange a viewing with someone who can tell you about the stories behind the items. A personal favourite of @UnionBerlinMan's was when Union played in Europe and C&A made the club suits. Union had not told C&A that they already had a club badge so C&A designed one - it's awful! I know I will be going back again!

Time escaped us, so we headed to the Alte Försterei. En route through Köpenick Old Town, we were fortunate enough to witness a reenactment of the famous tale of the doppelganger of Kopenick, der Hauptmann von Kopenick or Captain of Kopenick, a man caught impersonating a Prussian military officer and as wikipedia explains, he ends up in  'the kafkaesque situation of not getting work without a residence permit, while not being able to have a residence permit without work.' Above is a clip of the golden oldies occupying themselves with satire and alcohol!

Today was the time of an anti DFB protest I'm sure readers are very familiar with. In short, the DFB are planning to regulate football stadium punters with increased searches and surveillance. (more in this here)

The 12:12 silence felt eerily profound coming from the Alte Försterei. Fans were eager to cheer on at 100 dB but diligently withheld their supporting cry's for the anticipated 12 second countdown. This was, as the FCU match report calls it: 'the calm before the storm!', see video link for the experience (sorry about the shakes!)

Union seemed to loose the possession all too quickly in the midfield in the first half. Mattuschka's first half rest was noticeable. Incidentally, over the last four of my home games, Union have tended to be successors of securing the first goal. Only to find themselves bewildered by this event and then loose their urgency in man to man defensive strategy; players have been allowed to make 10-15 yards in their half without challenge. Management might favor maintaining defensive structure over attacking the ball.

Despite the lack of defensive urgency, Union's secured a free kick in the third minute, which saw Patrick Kohlmann swing the ball in from the right hand side. With the ball allowed to cruise through the pack, Marcus Karl headed it home into the bottom left past a crumpled Bochum keeper. The goal was celebrated in silence with Union fans pumping their fists. A glorious sight.

Unfortunately, come 23 minutes we found ourselves succumbing to pressure. A pass from Christoph Dabrowski released his striker Zlatko Dedic, who grasped the first shot on goal for the visiting side and brought the score to 1 – 1, all level. There was an atmosphere of anxiety within the crowd from then on. In the 28th minute came a wake up call for Eisern as a goal was disallowed by the referee Christian Dietz, due to a foul within the ruck on the edge of the 6 yard box. Uwe Neuhaus who had spent the vast majority of the game stood up seemed to welcome the recuperative noise of the first half whistle.

Uwe must have responded constructively to the players within the 15 minute break as Union began looking composed and aggressive. Come the 52nd minute a corner was won and Kohlmann stepped up to smash it in from the right, to a free Adam Nemec, who freely headed the ball through the pack of blue and white into the left hand corner, pushing Union closer to another three points and potential 7th place. 

Aside from a Terodde shot missing the post by a hairs breadth, Union were happy to see out a 2-1 win and climb to 7th in the table. That's where they finished last year and they will be looking to improve on their home form in particular, in the second half of the season, which begins on Friday evening against Kaiserslautern.

By 'R'

You can follow R on Twitter - @robuchan1

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Stefan Nijland - The Inside Scoop

A guest post about Union's new trialist Stefan Nijland. Originally written for the Union forum I thought that this was too good not to post on the blog. Thanks Kasper!

Update: Signed for Brisbane Roar of Queensland on 29th January 2013 on a 4 month loan deal.

Some things make my heart beat faster. Last Monday, for instance, when a small web article brought my two favourite teams together. As a Wahlberliner with a warm heart for Union, I cannot let go of the team that coloured my blood green-and-white: FC Groningen from The Netherlands.

Groningen’s former player Stefan Nijland is on trial at Union for a week. This gives me the chance to write something about him. Nijland is a versatile attacking midfielder with fine technical abilities and the quality to score the occasional goal. He has a good overview of his position and the movement of the players around him. Nijland has a silky touch, a real example for every technique school.

Nijland made his professional debut for FC Groningen in 2007/2008 and made an excellent impression. His great style along with being a down-to-earth local guy made him popular in the football-mad city of Groningen. The fact that he is the son of the FC’s Managing Director did not give him any pressure of feelings of preference among the players and the fans. He really played well and very soon he came on the radar of the bigger Dutch teams.

After his first year, PSV Eindhoven bought him for a solid 4M euros. This looked like a match made in heaven, but after the transfer (quickly followed by a severe injury) his progress stopped. It seems like he made the step to the next level a bit too soon. Loan stints at Willem II and NEC brought him back between the chalk lines, but the form he showed at Groningen never returned.

He is still only 24. If he finds a warm nest and some trust to put himself into the level of play, Nijland could be a great addition to the Zweite Bundesliga and Union in particular.

Something to improve: a player in his position must have the ability to carry the team. To be a leader so to say. Nijland has given me a somewhat shy appearance over the years. Besides that, he has to improve physically. German football demands a more physical presence than the technically schooled Dutch game, and Nijland is, however 1.87m tall, but not very muscular. This has caused him some injuries over the years (although not as many as that other Groningen-born player, who is at Bayern now, you know his name).

But still, with his ball-handling qualities he will regularly bring the Union strikers in a dangerous position in front of the opposing goal. I hope he makes a good impression here, and that he lands a contract for at least this season. See you at the Alte Försterei, Stef!

Kasper Dijk (@kasperdijk)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Ohne Stimme Keine Stimmung 12:12

I'd planned to write about the protests that started this week against the DFB after Union's home game against Bochum tomorrow. However, due to a few requests, I thought I'd have a stab at a Friday lunchtime blog piece about 'Ohne Stimme Keine Stimmung'. The protest started this week and will take place again this weekend and again the following weekend. Teams will play 3 matches where the fans stay silent for the opening salvo.

A banner from one of the midweek fixtures in the Bundesliga

For some background on the DFBs proposals (The Safe Stadium Expeience) read my earlier blog post here and be sure to follow the links as those with more knowledge and better German than me have made a fine attempt at explaining some of the DFBs proposals.

In short, the DFB are looking to erode football fans basic human rights. You may be reading this thinking is this just some daft blogger trying to be controversial to get a few measly hits to his blog. I don't blame you. It sounds absurd. However, when you take time to analyse the way the DFB have manoeuvred the debate then you'll be more shocked at the stats that I can quote than the nonsense that the DFB/media/police have spouted.

So, you've read my previous post and you now know that 1. FC Union Berlin were the only club not to sign up to the DFB/DFLs charter earlier in the year. You'll also now be aware that other clubs released statements backing Union and calling for more dialogue after Union submitted a lengthy document aniliating the DFBs argument.

The next step taken by the fans was direct action. Fan representatives spoke with their clubs and some clubs joined forces with Union. Now all fans are United. United against the DFB, their top down approach and their propaganda that the stadium experience in Germany is unsafe. Go to the fan mile in Berlin. Go to Oktoberfest. All statistically more dangerous than a German football pitch. Points I'll never tire of making. The direct action has brought about the campaign, Ohne Stimme Keine Stimmung which roughly translates to 'No chanting, No atmosphere.'

The scoreboard at Dortmund during the week

On Tuesday we saw the first demonstrations by fans as part of this campaign. Fans refused to sing for the opening 12 minutes and 12 seconds of Bundesliga matches. It was a glorious spectacle to witness and that was just on TV. I can't wait to see Union fans break the silence in the 13th minute of play tomorrow. The ground will erupt. The reason for the length of the silence is that the DFB reconvene on 12th December (12.12) to discuss the next steps.

We live in a world where the state are keen to introduce new measures for 'our safety'. Whether it be full body scanners at airports, vast amounts of CCTV cameras in city centres or the ability to fully strip search away fans. We must rise up and and fight for our civil liberties. Interestingly the DFB are not even a public authority so quite where they summon the audacity for such laws is beyond most sensible people.

The police increased their man hours at games last season by 20%. Could this be a reason for more arrests. Is football getting 'more violent'. If we need to make cuts to the public sector and have less police on the street and arrests fall are we living in a safer world? Unlikely. The phrase 'you can prove anything with stats' is very apt in relation to the police and the DFB and the spin they seem to enjoy taking part in.

Again, proud to be a Unioner and proud to be part of a movement that challenges the status quo rather than just rolling over and accepting further errosions of my basic rights; right to stand, my right to have a beer and overall, my right to be free.

For a video of the midweek match at Kaiserslautern and to see the protest in action click here.

For further information in German click here.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

1. FC Union Berlin 2-2 1860 München - match report

In a week where I took in 3 matches in the capital it was pleasing to get back to my spiritual home - the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Full credit to 1860 for selling out their full allocation. It upped the dosage in terms of atmosphere and the away fans were quite rightly applauded by the Unioner before kick-off.

It was fitting that Stuff opened the scoring after putting pen to a new deal that sees his stay at Union extended until the summer of 2014. Neuhaus said of the towering defender that he is an integral part of the Union team due to his aerial ability. He demonstrated this with aplomb after Mattuschka whipped in a corner. The "baumlangen" defender rose and deftly guided the ball into the far corner. The former Palace keeper, attired in his gormless light grey tracksuit bottoms, was helpless. An unstoppable header.

Whilst Mattuschka had won the corner that led to the goal with a rasping shot that was turned wide, he found the conditions difficult today. The greasy surface meant that the ball was not glued to his right foot as usual. He was also shackled by a very combative 1860 midfield. The visitors looked sharp and dangerous on the counter-attack. Zoudin provided the highlight of the first half with a dazzling dribble through the heart of the 1860 rearguard. However, as is often the case when a player sees sight of goal after such a run, he ran out of steam and the chance came to nothing. He was starved of possession throughout the game. If Union are to get the most out of the tricky player he needs to see more of the ball.

The Unioner look on from a packed stand

After the re-start 1860 played like a team who just been told they could win the match. They looked sharp and were confident in possession. The half was a mere 6 minutes old when "Mr 1860", Benjamin Lauth scored with a tap in. The ball was worked wide and after an inviting cross was fired across the six yard box he smashed the ball home.

The team from München were in the ascendancy and it was no surprise when Union's lead went up in smoke. The goal had been coming. The ball was again worked wide and when the cross evaded all of the Union defence, Lauth notched his second. A header that Haas managed to save - unfortunately he was three yards inside his goal.

Union's lead goes up in smoke as a Pyro greets the visitors second goal

There was twenty minutes remaining and Union were facing the ignominy of a fourth home defeat this term. To put this in to context this would have meant that only second bottom Regensburg would have had a worse home record. In Union's defence two of all of these defeats have come by the odd goal. However, Union's inability to break sides down at home is very apparent.

Neuhaus made two key substitutions. Silvio was replaced by Nemec and Quirring came on for Zoudini. Silvio's first touch is a pass but he works tirelessly and is constant handful for defenders. He's a striker though and rarely looks like scoring. On far too many occasions he was playing behind Mattuschka and Terrode. Surely this is not at the instruction of Neuhaus.

Nemec provided Union with a share of the spoils. The giant Stuff once again won the aerial duel and when Király spilled the header, Nemec pounced to stab home from close range. My 3-2 prediction pre-match never looked a real possibility. It was one point gained rather than two lost was the consensus amongst the English Unioner. Neuhaus ascribed the draw to bad passing from the Berliners in his post-match press conference.

On Wednesday night (5:30pm) Union travel to Duisburg who are third from bottom. The game is a must-win for Union if they want to better their points tally and 7th place finish of last season. The game will also be notable for the 12 minutes and 12 seconds of silence that is part of a protest against the DFB and their 'secure stadiums' propaganda. A manifesto to infringe on basic human rights. I have written about this previously here.

English speaking FC Union Berlin fan club

We're in the process of setting up an English speaking, FC Union Berlin fan club. We're hoping to get expressions of interest throughout 2012/13 season and become an official fan club in time for the 2013/14 season. We wrote to the club this week and will be looking to organise a meeting (in a pub) the weekend of the Berlin derby. E-mail or tweet @unioninenglisch if you like idea or fancy coming along for a beer.

Pictures today were brought to you by the excellent Ballspanner-Unterwegs.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Hertha BSC v 1. FC Union Berlin - 20:15 Monday 11th February 2013

Updated 23rd November 2012 at 5:30pm with KO date and time

Due to the amount of correspondence I receive about the Berlin derby I decided I'd try and cover some of the main points about tickets for this fixture in a blog piece.

Image courtesy of

I want sit/stand in the away end

Unless you're a member or have a season ticket at Union this is going to be difficult. Even with a membership card you only have until Wednesday 14th November at 8pm to travel to the ticket office and you are only eligible for one ticket per person. If you are a member who lives outside Berlin you can e-mail the club. Membership is €80 per season. Details here. You get a free scarf and a few other bits and bobs - chiefly, priority for away games.

Some people on Union forums have decried the fact that the club have not moved with the times and used the internet. Perhaps I am bias but there was something about having the morning off work and standing in the cold for 4 hours. I'm not sure what that something is. The sense of achievement? If you have membership and authorise someone to use the membership card on your behalf then they can buy you a ticket. "Vollmacht" is the German word for this. There was quite a bit of this going on.

Edit: Union have sold their full allocation. Ausverkauft is the German word for this.

When is the fixture?

Sky TV have not chosen their matches for the second half of the season yet. A farcical situation of buying a ticket for a match that could be on one of 4 days across the 2nd weekend in February. Not much help for international fans flying to Berlin for the game I know - unless you fancy coming Friday until Tuesday of course.

Can you buy tickets in the Hertha end yet?

Yes you can. These have been on sale for a while now. The game sold out in 2011 so I see no reason why it won't sell out again. (Edit - less than 5,000 tickets left according to Hertha site)

The official site is here. Block K.1 or Blocks 12 - 14.2 would be a good shout if you're looking to be near the Union faithful. (Edit - no tickets now available near Union fans.)

Is it a poisonous atmosphere like at other derby matches?

Certainly not. A heavy police presence, an alcohol ban in the stadium and away fans herded into the ground like cattle - yes. Bad atmosphere - no. Such points are always subjective of course but I can only go on my own experience. I called Hertha a few days before the game, and was lucky enough to get a ticket for the 2011 derby, as some players had returned their allocation. I was in the expensive seats and a few Union fans jumped up when we scored. Some even wore colours. I would not recommend this but I hope you take my point. This is not Newcastle v Sunderland or Celtic v Rangers. I've not been to a Merseyside derby but it's probably closer to that end of the spectrum than the Manchester derby. As ever, take care.

Traveling with the Union fans to the game

I was fortunate to do this in 2011. The U2 line runs from Alexanderplatz to the Olympiastadion and the journey is very lively. Well worth doing.

Pre-match drinking

Keep an eye on the blog and I'll be covering where and when to have a pre and post-match drink.


Numerous friends have stayed here and been very impressed. A hotel style hostel. Read a few of the reviews.

Where can I party that weekend?

Check out this website from Mogli Oak. They have their finger on the pulse of what is happening each weekend.

I love Berlin and want to move to Berlin!

Do it. For more about Berlin life check out Überlin website, Slow Travel Berlin website and this guide to moving to Berlin which is also hosted by the team behind Überlin. You can ask them anything!


Picture courtesy of Groundhopping etc

Videos from the famous 1-2 win in 2011

Videos courtesy of Groundhopping etc

Monday, 5 November 2012

FC United of Manchester feature FC Union Berlin in matchday programme

Guest post from FC United of Manchester co-owner

I'm delighted to share a guest post that featured in the FC United of Manchester programme yesterday. Peter Thwaites came to Berlin and writes a superb piece on why FC Union are such a pull for English fans who rally against modern football.

About FC United of Manchester

In 2005 FC United of Manchester were formed by a group of Manchester Unites supporters. The catalyst was the Glazer family takeover. They were set up as a community club and are the antithesis to the current Manchester United business model. As the club website states, "The material theft of a Manchester institution, forcibly taken from the people of Manchester, was the tip of a pyramid of destruction, with changing kick off times for the benefit of television, soulless all-seater stadia full of 'new' supporters intent to sit back and watch rather than partake in the occasion, heavy handed stewarding and ridiculously priced tickets propping it all up. By May 2005 some supporters had had enough." You can read more about FC United of Manchester here.

Eisern Union by Peter Thwaites

Berlin has many attractions as a city - museums, nightlife, architecture, eating and drinking not to mention the immense history that hangs over it. But wherever you go in the world there is always football to experience.

Most visiting football fans, I suspect, would gravitate towards Hertha Berlin. Indeed it is worth a visit if only to see the “ground” - the iconic Olympiastadion, originally built in neoclassical style for the 1936 Berlin Olympics and, despite being refurbished in 1993, retaining much of the original architecture and stonework.

But Hertha are not the only show in town or even, in fact, the best. One Friday evening I decided to head out on the S-Bahn to Köpenick, a historic town incorporated into Berlin in 1920 and home to 1. FC Union Berlin. Whilst Berlin is viewed historically as the seat of Nazi power, it was in fact originally a Communist stronghold, particularly among the working class of Berlin. No more so than Köpenick where, on the day Hitler came to power on 30 January 1933, a red flag flew from the chimney of a brewery. The subsequent reprisal from the Nazis followed in June during the “Köpenicker Blutwoche” (week of blood) when 500 people were imprisoned and 91 murdered.

FC Union Berlin (pronounced Un-Yun) were originally a works team, metalworkers, hence the nickname "Eisern Union" (Iron Union). They play at level 2 Bundesliga and their ground is the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. No matter what name we eventually decide on for our ground in Moston, I can guarantee we will not get anything nearly as evocative as the “Stadium near the old Forester's house”! They are a fans-owned club, with a very similar ethos and outlook to FC United, particularly in their opposition to the commercialisation of football.

Köpenick turns out to enjoy a picturesque setting, indeed by a forest and on the banks of the Spree. (I later discover that you can take a boat trip out here from Treptower Park. While you’re at it, visit the fantastic Soviet War Memorial at Treptower, then enjoy a drink on the boat cruise to Köpenick before going on to an Union game – perfect day!)

I walk from the Aldstadt (old town) out to the ground. The first thing I notice is that, despite the capacity being only 17,000 or so, there seems to be a disproportionately high police presence. Union are playing Eintracht Braunschweig but I don’t know whether this is normal or whether the clubs have “previous”. There are some Eintracht fans congregating with cans bought from the garage next to the ground but they don’t seem in any way threatening. I wander around and walk into what I think is the ticket office but is actually the main reception where a nice lady directs me to the next door along.

Despite my “BBC Steps” attempt at the language the guy in the ticket office immediately spots that I’m not German, “Dutch…? Oh, English… great to have English people here!” He advises me that Block P in the main stand would be a good place to stand and sells me a ticket for €11. I didn’t know this at the time but the ground I’m about to go into was refurbished in 2009 and rebuilt by the fans. I don’t mean just through financial contributions – they actually built it! 75,000 man hours, up to 1600 different volunteers supervised by 6 professional builders and saving the club €2.5M! As I come to realise, there are fans clubs in Germany but Union really are a fans club.

So it’s a warm spring Friday evening by the forest, food stalls, drink stalls, plenty of red and white in evidence. The ground inside is very like an old English Division 3 ground but none the worse for that. It’s mainly standing with the long main stand and the area behind one of the goals being the more populated areas. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, much more down to earth than the grandeur of the Olympiastadion. Supporters stand on the terraces enjoying a beer or a fag (the attitude to smoking in Berlin is so relaxed, it’s almost compulsory). I haven’t really read up on the club at this point so I’m unprepared for what happens next.

As the teams come out, something is starting to happen over the loudspeakers and music starts to swell. Behind the goal, a huge transparent flag begins to rise, outlined with black and white images of what I presume are famous players. Then the “Union Hymn” begins. This is “Eisern Union” sung by the East German punk singer, Nina Hagen (not to be confused with Nena who sang “99 Red Balloons”). It’s a surreal mixture of hymn, anthem and heavy rock but an impressive spectacle as the whole crowd joins in.

Some other interesting banners on display; “weil das Herz weiß, was du tun musst” = “Because the heart knows you have to do” and “unsere Liebe, unsere Mannschaft, unser Stolz, unser Verein” = “our love, our team, our pride, our club”.

In the meantime, the Eintracht fans, who are penned into what is appropriately Block Z, set off around a dozen flares simultaneously to welcome their team onto the pitch. They’re completely obscured by smoke for about 5 minutes and any asthma sufferers should look away now.

The atmosphere throughout the match is very similar to what we experience at FC. The actual game itself can hardly live up to that spectacle but is enjoyable nonetheless as Union run out 1-0 winners with mazy dribbling midfielder, Chinedu Ede, catching the eye. I hope to be able to come back for their final home game (v Hansa Rostock) but unfortunately it is restricted to “members only” and is a sell-out, not to mention a 5-4 victory for Union.

There doesn’t appear to be any serious rivalry between Hertha and Union. During the time of the Berlin Wall, Hertha were in the West and Union were in the East. In the East but not of the East. When the Wall came down, one of the first things they did was to play a friendly against each other. In fact the first competitive game between the two didn’t occur until 2011 when Hertha found themselves in 2 Bundesliga, an event which is now repeated this season.

The same cannot be said of Dynamo Berlin however. If Köpenick stuck two fingers up at the Nazis, they were equally at odds with the old East German, GDR regime. FC Union’s bitter rivals were the state sponsored Dynamo Berlin who won 10 consecutive league titles between 1979-1988 due to state sponsored favouritism that extended to fixed transfers and crooked referees. However, once the Wall came down, the patronage that Dynamo had enjoyed from Erich Mielke, head of East Germany's Stasi (the secret police), could no longer help them.

If you find yourself at a football ground in Berlin, you may be taken in by the architecture and the scale and the history of the Olympiastadion but you will surely find your spiritual home closer to the house of the old forester. Eisern Union!

The matchday programme that the article featured in is handed over to the Eiserne Botschafter modern museum

English speaking FC Union Berlin fan club

We're in the process of setting up an English speaking, FC Union Berlin fan club. We're hoping to get expressions of interest throughout 2012/13 season and become an official fan club in time for the 2013/14 season. E-mail and follow our new Twitter account @unioninenglisch for more details.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Union win fans but not points against Paderborn

I met with a superb crowd before the Union v Paderborn game. There were 9 of us in total. One of the gang was Lewis, a student at the local Uni, in Berlin for 1 semester. Being a man of vast intelligence, after only a short time in the capital he tried to extend his stay by another semester. Sadly, it was not to be but he'll be in Berlin until early next year. He's seen Hertha play. Now it was Union. Read his take on Union below.

The Union atmosphere was like one I've never experienced before. Being a massive Aberdeen fan, it takes heart to admit that the home games I'm used to are pretty dull with a sporadic crowd in low voice.

At the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, it was the complete opposite. I've attended the Olympiastadion twice this season, and despite the Ostkurve 'ultras' being extremely vocal and inspiring, the fact the rest of the stadium was half empty put a slight dampener on the whole 'football experience'.

The Alte Försterei was full to the rafters, each and every fan in unison and full voice. It's just a pity the result on the pitch wasn't quite as satisfying... Despite Paderborn having their fair share of chances, Union did too and wasted them all - striker Adam Nemec was ironically cheered off by the home faithful after being substituted in the 2nd half.

The winner seemed a complete freak goal - the players and fans were as surprised as each other as the ball somehow looped over the keeper and into the net. If there is one thing Union can look at Hertha and be jealous of though, then it's a striker like Ramos who can score a goal or two.

Even so, this and the disappointing result aside, I've definitely been converted to the East side. A full terracing capacity of passionate fans in red and white, chanting their team on in between gulping down a pint of fine German beer, it genuinely is as good as it gets... If only it existed in the north-east of Scotland.

Thanks to Lewis & Felix at Groundhopping etc for the photographs.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Union Berlin huff and puff against 10 man Frankfurt

Due to making sure 15 Irish lads got in the ground OK, I took a week off blogging duties and @robinberlin kindly wrote the blog this week. As usual, he's bang on the money.

After an early season wobble Union are now looking resembling a solid resolute outfit. However, their inability to create and take chances in front of goal remains a cause for concern.

In the balmy late October sunshine, Union were lead out by the “King of St Pauli”, Thorsten Mattuschka, whose exploits in their last fixture had rescued a point away in Hamburg.

The new stand is taking shape and building work is ahead of schedule.

The fact that FSV Frankfurt were on the wrong end of a 4-0 shellacking last year was cause for optimism amongst Union fans who were keen to secure a third home win on the bounce.

After an fairly unremarkable opening ten minutes, the game turned on a decision from the referee to award a twelfth minute penalty to Union following a deliberate handball by Frankfurt defender Marc Heitmeier . For this offence he received his second yellow card and FSV were down to ten men.

Mattuschka never looked like missing and he slotted the ball home to score his third goal in two games. Happy days – the sun was out, Union had the extra man and this correspondent was looking forward to an afternoon goal fest.

Mattuschka sends the keeper the wrong way

Nothing quite rolls of the tongue like a classic footballing cliché. Italian defences are always “well very organised”, Brazil always play “samba football” and it is always, always harder to play against ten men.

This is a view I’ve never subscribed to. How can it be harder to play against a team having to compensate for having one fewer man? However, having seen Union struggle for the remaining 80 minutes against 10 men, I’ve decided that for the time being at least, all football clichés much be true.

At times it was impossible to determine which team had the extra man. Frankfurt stubbornly defended the fleeting Union attacks and then looked the more threatening going forward.

Long balls at the heart of the Union defence caused panic and resulted in yellow cards for both Union centre backs Christian Stuff (the poor man’s Per Mertesacker) and Roberto Puncec.

Before the half was out Björn Jopek was taken off. It was an afternoon of mixed emotion for Jopek. The crowd had loudly cheered the news of his contract extension, but in truth he had a bit of a shocker and was “hooked” before the half was out. I can only imagine the signing on fee must have gone to his head.

The second half plodded along and for the most part, Union were uninspired and sloppy. It felt like the international break and the early goal had taken all the sharpness and urgency out of their play.

Protest banner pointing out that Rauball (league President) has a few stains on his CV. The second anti-DFB/DFL banner to be unfurled during the game

Simple passes were being misplaced and FSV still appeared to be the most likely team to score. One ray of quality in an afternoon of mediocrity was shown by Stuff who drilled a swerving 25 yard shot onto the bar.

The game was characterised by one of its last acts. After a swift counter following an FSV attack, Union created a clear chance. Mattuschka was one on one with the keeper. Having dragged the ball on to his less favoured left foot, he shot over from 12 yards out.

Union blaze wide - again.

And that was pretty much that . 2-0 would have flattered Union, and 1-0 was probably unfair to FSV who least laid to rest the ghosts of last year’s drubbing.

Union will have to play better this weekend if they want to beat and leapfrog Paderborn.

Maybe Union should just start with 10 men…

Big thank you to Groundhoppping etc. for the photographs. Do check out the facebook page and click like. Superb Berlin photography of the beautiful game.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

FC Union Berlin respond to DFB/DFL

Clocking in at over 4,000 words nobody can accuse FC Union Berlin of a knee-jerk reaction in relation to the DFB ‘security summit’. Today, Union published a response to the summit, and through the well argued document, set out their reasoning for non-compliance with the DFB.

I tweeted a few of my favourite comments earlier today when I scanned the document.

I think it is important to know the full story. I previously blogged about it here but I was offering a view on why English fans in particular are drawn to Union. For a much deeper analysis from someone who knows much more about German football do take the time to read this blog piece by @valedave.

It was telling that Union declared on their website today that after "intensiver Diskussionen" with fan groups they had drafted this document. The fans should be at the heart of every football club. At Union the fans are largely from the local community and Union actively seek out their opinions. That is opposed to your 'fans' being a largely disparate group spread across the world and referred to as a 'market'.

I'll consider all of my tweets and the points they raise in the chronological order I made them. So, starting from the bottom...


Firstly, it's funny. Secondly, what a superb way to make a serious point and take a side-swipe at an acceptable part of German 'culture' that most people are aware of. The Oktoberfest point is clever in many ways. Primarily Oktoberfest is a tourist attraction. If you're unaware of what it is I suggest you read wikipedia. It's clearly a cash cow with drink prices increasing annually. In the last decade the average price of beer has increased by 43%. Oktoberfest is just a bit of fun though. Attending football matches though is dangerous and full of louts. The media (more of them later) lap it up and print pictures of drunk youths and scantily clad woman. Union point out, that compared to the Bundesliga, the world's largest fair is akin to a civil war zone. I've never been so can't comment. My friends have and agree it is carnage. All I can say is that fans at Union drink responsibly and it's much better value.

The fan mile

The 'fan mile' comment from Union was at first glance slightly perplexing, but when you look deeper, extremely shrewd. The 'fan mile' is always heralded by the media as a great success but Union expose the myth by noting that 99 arrests were made when Germany played Italy in Euro 2012. Has a Bundesliga game ever featured 99 arrests I wonder?

The Media

The demonisation of football fans in most countries is due to the media. I'll not waste time in covering well known examples. Suffice to say, Union make this point very well throughout their document. Ultras as the Taliban is so absurd it makes a mockery of the modern day media outlets that publish such rubbish. Again, I can only speak from experience but I have never witnessed any trouble at Union. Strangely, it is a question that I am often asked on Twitter and via my blog - I wonder why...

Social Responsibility

Social responsibility, a buzzword in the corporate world, is used often by Union throughout the lengthy submission. Ridding grounds of a standing area has had a devastating effect on the demographic of football matches in the UK. Whatever your views on stadiums and standing it is not right that local communities are priced out of watching live football. It's cheaper to watch Union than non-league football at Gateshead in the north-east of England. A damning indictment on the English game.

Union are a community club and rarely a week passes without a news story on the club website about an initiative, players attending a fan association or a youth camp. You get the picture and so do they. They know the community is their lifeblood. They invest time and money in building an association that is more than just a football team that plays 34 league fixtures a season.

The Taylor Report

All-seater stadiums are seen as the panacea by the DFB. The DFB believe that with the help of the Goddess of Universal Remedy they can cure German football of its image problems (and create lots of money). They appear blind to the fact that football changed immeasurably for fans after the introduction of all-seater stadiums in the UK. Union, in standing up to the DFB are standing up for the civil rights of every fan in Germany. Long may standing continue as it is one of the best aspects when attending a Union game. I can't imagine sitting at Union and nor can most people I speak with.

Banning orders

One of the main issues Union had with the DFB/DFL concerned banning orders. This is covered in the document but I'm not blessed with sufficient German skills to objectively comment. Luckily St Pauli have a Yorkshire Fan Club and have produced a great blog piece you can view here. David of Vale fame has also produced a very interesting and detailed blog piece here. A must read.

unsre Liebe, unsre Mannschaft, unser Stolz, unser Verein

I'm proud to have a season ticket at Union. Union have a phrase and I feel it is apt to explain it for those who are not aware of what UNVEU stands for. It means "und niemals vergessen eisern union". Nobody should ever forget 'Iron' Union for their courage in being the only club to stand up to the DFB with such eloquence. I only wish I understood every word!