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)