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[FM20] Rising Above The Past - An 1. FC Union Berlin Journey

1. FC Union Berlin are a club just promoted to the Bundesliga, with a passionate, anti-establishment fan base. This story follows the club and various interesting characters around it.
Started on 30 May 2020 by Zed
Latest Reply on 5 August 2020 by ScottT
Get in! A massive result against Leipzig that I'm sure brought great delight to Union supporters and the wider footballing community, even. A decent start that the supporters will be proud of.
What a way to get the season underway with getting the better of Leipzig. Dortmund was always going to be tough and I'm sure there will be a few more results like that on the way to dominating the German division in the future
Superb and a memorable victory against Leipzig - what a start to life at the top! As for Dortmund, it can be almost impossible to handle Haaland.
A huge result against Leipzig to kick off the season and despite the loss to Dortmund, you can be pretty happy with cup progression and four points from a tough opening month.
To get 4 points from these 3 matches is great as Leipzig are one of the best teams in the division! First matches against the giants in the Bundesliga will be tough, so prepare. Staying up is the most important thing now.
Tango: yeah it was to be expected against the Norwegian wonderkid. And indeed, tradition beats commerce!
ScottT: I'm sure all Leipzig-hating football fans (a.k.a. everyone) was happy that day ;)
tedbro20: exactly. This first season is purely about consolidating our BL-position and building from there.
Jack: couldn't have wished for a better start! :)
TheLFCFan: wasn't that pleased after such an iffy game against Eichstätt, but when it was followed up by a win against Leipzig, I had already forgotten ;)
OneMoreGame: exactly, that's basically the only goal this season!

Union Communications Team | September 2019

September kicked off with an international break meaning we had to wait for Union for two long weeks. After that, we were rewarded with two home games and an away game against Bayer Leverkusen in the remainder of September. Another challenging but exciting trio of Bundesliga matches for FCU!

Union started September with a home game against Werder Bremen. Before the match, FCU were in thirteenth place with four points, looking to move ahead of Werder who were fifth in the table with six points.

Urs Fischer seems to have found his favourite eleven as he selected the same eleven names as the match before. Despite that, Union were in disarray in the first half, and found themselves 1-0 behind after only 14 minutes as Maximilian Eggestein beat Gikiewicz at the far post.

Whatever Urs Fischer said at half-time to motivate the boys, seemed to have worked though. 2 minutes after stepping back on the pitch, Sebastian Andersson rounded off a perfect Union counter, and Union were level again. Following this goal, FCU seemed to have regained their confidence, and took control over the match.

The second half saw Werder totally overloaded by an reinvigorated Union. However, Union did not seem capable to turn this dominance into a goal. Until the 95th minute. Defensive midfielder Manuel Schmiedebach joined a last-gasp attack, and managed to outwit all eight players Werder had in their own box, including goalkeeper Pavlenka, and scoring a dramatic last-minute winner for Union. 3 very deserved points after a good match!

A week later, Union faced a difficult opponent on the other side of the country: Bayer Leverkusen. Special trains were chartered for our fans as they made a 1200km round trip to attend the match in Leverkusen. Still, about 3000 fans made this trip to support the team.

Union started the match with a new face in the starting line-up: Dutch winger Sheraldo Becker, who replaced the injured Akaki Gogia. However, the explosive Becker could not give FCU the upper hand in a first half that was controlled by Bayer. Fortunately, die Werkself did not convert any of the chances they created.

In the second half, Union remained on the back foot as Bayer grew ever-more dominant. After 84 minutes, Volland finally broke down Union’s disciplined defence and scored the 1-0. Shortly after that, our left-winger Marius Bülter picked up a second yellow and had to take an early shower.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Volland added another in extra time, ensuring FCU went home empty-handed. With 25 shots for Bayer against a meagre 9 for Union, it was a deserved loss for Fischer’s men against the Bosz Babes.

On the sixth matchday of the season, Union faced Eintracht Frankfurt at home. Although Frankfurt had reached the Europa League the year before, they were struggling this campaign, and found themselves in the relegation zone after five matches. A perfect opportunity for Union to pick up another three points?

Frankfurt had different plans though, and went 1-0 up through a good goal by André Silva within a minute. In the period after this, Eintracht had multiple chances to take a 2-0 lead, but did not use them. Central defender Marvin Friedrich punished the away team for their inefficiency by scoring the 1-1 a few minutes before Halbzeit.

The second half saw a better performance from Union, as they limited Eintracht’s chances while creating more chances themselves. Anthony Ujah – who got the nod over Andersson as Union’s striker – repaid his manager’s faith by scoring a dramatic 85th-minute winner. An der alten Försterei exploded, and Ujah celebrated his winner with the ecstatic fans by climbing onto the fencing of the stadium’s terraces.

The mood in the Union camp is good following these six points from three matches, and the bond between fans and players seems as good as ever. With Union sitting comfortably above the relegation zone, having collected ten points from six matches, one can only be pleased with the first two months of this season. Hopefully this form continues into October!

Plenty of emotions left for the last minutes there

Excellent results altogether, keep up the good work
An extremely positive month there. Twice, Union were able to turn the game on its head in order to claim three points. In the game against Leverkusen, they remained stern and difficult to break-down until the final ten minutes and that's a real testament against one of the elite sides in the Bundesliga.
Ujah <3! You're doing extremely well already this season, and I'm sure the fans are full of belief at the moment :D Keep up the good work man, may this form continue for a while yet!
Seems to be a squad that like to come from behind! Another good month in the battle against relegation and with this form you certainly seem good to stay out of any real trouble!
Another good couple of results in there. If this form keeps up then you will be safely away from the relegation spots
King of the comebacks! Great 6 points and moving forward, away from relegation zone!
Everyone: pretty good month indeed, in which the team showed it doesn't ever give up! Also pretty content with the way we held off Leverkusen until the very end.

Peter Huth | BZ Sports Editor | September 2019

Our sports reporter in the field has obtained breaking information: BFC Dynamo ultras have broken into the stadium of 1. FC Union Berlin last night, and stolen important club artefacts, among which Union’s only major trophy: the GDR Pokal (the cup tournament of former East Germany). Learn more about the context of this vicious act below.

Only two days ago, Union celebrated a dramatic 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. The recently promoted outfit from Köpenick were in seventh heaven after an excellent start to the Bundesliga: Urs Fischer’s team were comfortably in mid-table with 10 points from 6 games. It seems this was not sitting well with cross-city rivals BFC Dynamo.

BFC Dynamo are an infamous club from East Berlin. Founded in 1966 – the same year as Union Berlin – the club was effectively run by Erich Mielke, the head of the secret service of socialist East Germany; the Stasi. Mielke loved football, and saw a successful football league as a cornerstone of his socialist state. He made sure that Dynamo, through intimidation and bribing, won every league title from 1979 to 1988.

This is the period where the rivalry between Union and Dynamo materialised. Dynamo would win 19 of its 21 matches against Union during this decade-long reign over the Oberliga, often owing these wins to dubious refereeing decisions. Not only did Dynamo become a force on the field, the club’s hooligan scene also became famous off it. BFC hooligans developed a reputation for being extremely organised in their violence against fans of other teams – often Union were the target of the most brutal escapades.

BFC Dynamo hooligans on the terraces in East Germany

After East Germany collapsed, so did its secret service with Mielke at the head. This meant that Dynamo no longer profited off of his influence in “helping” the team when it was behind. Come 2004, Dynamo were in the fifth division of German football. Attendances of the club had also dwindled, from around 10.000 in their East German glory days to 1000 or so.

However, one part of the club remained nearly intact: its violent fan scene. Despite the on-field results, the off-field violence remained, often saved up for matches against old enemies or rivals from better times. FC Union are one of those rivals. When Dynamo faced Union shortly after German reunification, Dynamo hooligans stormed the home block, armed with police sticks, and started attacking unsuspecting Unioner.

Now, after a long period of tense armistice between the two old rivals, Dynamo seem to want to continue the Berlin gang war. Despite not physically hurting fans like in times of old, this attack on Dynamo might be the most painful yet for Union. Our sources tell us Dynamo ultras have forcefully broken into offices of An der alten Försterei, stealing the famous GDR Pokal that Union won in 1968. The GDR Pokal was East Germany’s main cup tournament, and it is Union’s only major honour.

Furthermore, original founding documents and personal property of club employees such as laptops and even personal portraits were stolen in this brutal act of football hooliganism. The words “Mielke ist unser Führer” (Mielke is our Führer) were spraypainted in dark red – the colour of Dynamo’s shirts – on the walls of the club fan shop, where more vandalisation had taken place the night before. This, and more internal evidence, has given the police enough reason to conclude this was an act committed by BFC Dynamo hooligans.

Union club representatives have indicated that they are appalled and shocked by the “unacceptable acts of violence committed by these hooligans” and that “any individuals with knowledge about the whereabouts of these important club artefacts should contact the police; they can handle this better than us.”

To be continued…

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