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Kultklub aus Köpenick: Das ist der 1. FC Union Berlin

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Kultklub aus Köpenick: Das ist der 1. FC Union Berlin

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:30 pm

FC Bayern have played continuously in the Bundesliga since 1965. Over those 55 years, 53 clubs have visited FCB. But one club the record champions have never faced in a competitive match, including outside the Bundesliga, is FC Union Berlin. That changes on Saturday (kick-off 15.30 CET) when Bayern meet die Eisernen (the Irons) and the nickname for Union, who are anything but a normal club.

FC Union Berlin started out as SC Union Oberschöneweide, who were champions of Berlin several times at the start of the 20th century. In 1923 they were runners-up in the German championship. After the Second World War, the club split into an east and west section. There were numerous restructurings and changes of name. FC Union Berlin was founded in 1966 during the Cold War. In their first year they were promoted to the East German Oberliga. The club was relegated and promoted four times.

After reunification, the Berliners qualified for the second division both in 1992/93 as well as 1993/94. Due to a forged bank guarantee and a mountain of debt, the DFB (German FA) twice refused to issue a licence to play professional football. In spite of an economic battle to survive in the 1990s, the 2000/01 season saw promotion to the Regional League North East – and even progress to the final of the DFB Cup.

They lost 2-0 to Schalke 04 but, as the Royal Blues were already qualified for the Champions League due to their position in the Bundesliga, Union took part in the UEFA Cup as losing finalists – and managed to reach the second round.After three years in the second division, Union went down to the Oberliga and only returned to the second tier in 2009/10. They were in the second division for ten years before achieving the long-awaited promotion to the Bundesliga after a successful play-off against VfB Stuttgart in the summer.

People are proud of their history in the east of Berlin. During the GDR times, Union was considered to be an anti-Stasi club, a refuge for dissenters. That made die Eisernen the antithesis to Dynamo Berlin, the other big club in the east of the city. Union were the underdogs. That was the case before the Second World War in the shadow of the big neighbours Hertha Berlin and has continued till today. The history has brought an enormous sense of solidarity within the club. Union is a workers’ club. A lot of fans, but also several players, used to work in the factories and industrial area in the district of Köpenick.

The Stadion an der Alten Försterei, rebuilt with the help of fans in 2008/2009, has a special atmosphere. The home team seldom if ever gets booed. As demonstrated by campaigns such as fans bringing photos of deceased relatives to the stadium for the first Bundesliga home game, the traditional Christmas carol singing and an enormous commitment to the local community: Union is a special club.

Where the call of Eisern Union and the nickname die Eisernen comes from is not fully clear. According to legend, a brewer's drayman rose from his seat during a game against Hertha in the 1930s and called out, "You have to be iron! Iron!" More and more fans joined in until finally the whole stand got behind their team with shouts of ‘Eisern Union’. That battlecry continues to this day, and is the basis for the mascot Ritter Keule, "a truly iron knight with a courageous heart."

Driven on by their fans, they now face the challenge of the Bundesliga. The squad coached by Urs Fischer was strengthened with the addition of experienced players including Christian Gentner, Neven Subotic and Anthony Ujah. Die Eisernen have made a decent start to their mission of staying up with seven points from the first eight games and they are currently fourteenth in the table. The newcomers caused a stir on Matchday 3 when they beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in front of their own fans. Union Berlin know how to upset big teams and travel to the Allianz Arena fully motivated. "We'll be frothing at the mouth when we go to Munich," said defender Keven Schlotterbeck on bundesliga.de.
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