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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

1.FC Union Berlin

1.FC Union Berlin 0 Holstein Kiel 2
Regionalliga Nord
Alte Försterei Stadion, Berlin-Köpenick, Germany

Alte Försterei Stadion

A forest setting, at sundown, in a crumbling stadium, with a boisterous and very loud six thousand plus crowd, a fracas between the police and the visiting fans just after the break and a corking goal from a free-kick to settle this German Regionalliga match. What a way to end another most enjoyable day in Berlin.

A forty minute U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (local railway) trip south east out of Berlin takes me into what was formerly East Germany and the suburb of Köpenick. The origins of 1.FC Union Berlin, the name the club has carried since 1966, date back to the beginning of the last century. At one time the club drew huge crowds, across the city at the Olympiastadion, but now relies on the support of the relatively meagre crowds that turn out to watch Regionalliga Nord action (the 3rd level of German football). Union did reach the final of the German Cup as recently as 2001 and also made a relatively successful appearance in the UEFA Cup in 2001-02 when they reached the second round. More details of which can be found here.

With a squat all-seater stand along one touchline, the remaining three sides of the Alte Försterei Stadion are all terraced. While the popular end appeared to be in good order the remaining two sides were crumbling affairs that would not get a license from the relevant authorities for any level of football back in the UK. But the atmosphere created by the fans standing on them was pretty special, and noisy, for a crowd of just 6,000 (the total capacity is 18,100).

Hooliganism is still very much an issue in the Bundesrepublik, particular amongst the followers of teams from the east, and a ruck between away fans and riot helmetted police bore witness to this shortly after the half-time interval. A huge plume of smoke billowed out from the “Gäste” section – a flare or large firework perhaps – and the police moved in to remove the offending fans, sparking a melle.

The game itself wasn’t too much to write home about with very little in the way of goalmouth action apart from the two goals. A side footed effort after 63 minutes, following a break down the right, put Holstein Kiel ahead, and matters were settled at two-nil from a rocket of a free kick taken from a good twenty-five yards out with just six minutes to go. Watch a game at the Alte Försterei if you can. It’s a must for REAL football fans.

A panoramic view of proceedings can be found here (one of my better one's I would humbly suggest) and the official website of 1.FC Union Berlin here.

Match Number: 1364

posted by chevblue at 8:21 pm






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