Punk Football:Union Berlin-East Berlin’s cult club

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Berlin,the capital of Germany and once upon a time ago during the Cold War between the USA and the USSR the most divided city in Europe and probably the world,a symbol of political division between East and West,Communism and Democracy,Totalitarianism and Freedom,after the victory of the West in the Cold War and the reunification of Germany,became the capital of Germany.When it comes to football everyone knows about Hertha Berlin which is based in West Berlin and during the Cold War was a fixture in the Bundesliga,the same can be said of lesser known clubs from the West Berlin like Tasmania Berlin which was by far the worst ever club to participate in the Bundesliga which spent a single season there and the same can be said for Blau-Weiss Berlin which spent a single season in Germany’s top flight in the 1980s,while Tennis Borussia Berlin spent in total two seasons before going down into lower division and into the wilderness where they are ever since.A more different situation is in East Berlin,from that part comes the record champion of the Dynamo Berlin which was sponsored by the notorious Stasi and which dominated the DDR-Oberliga from the late 1970s up until the late 1980s and there is their rival and one of the rare cult clubs from the former Iron Curtain which gained a huge cult following in recent years-Union Berlin.Born in 1966 after a number of name changes in the Obershoneweide district of Berlin,during the era of Communist East Germany had very few success,most notably in 1968 they won the FDGB-Pokal which was the East German Cup and it was founded by East Germany’s major trade union,while when it came to league competition in Eastern Germany,the Eiserne yo-yoed between the DDR-Oberliga and the 2nd division DDR-Liga and lived in the shadows of the Stasi sponsored Dynamo Berlin.That would change after the reunification of Germany in 1990 with Dynamo Berlin collapsing into lower divisions of German football and the Eiserne experiencing success besides the club was in the late 1990s they came close to financial collapse but nevertheless they have saved themselves and in 2001 they made a surprising run to the DFB Pokal final where they lost against Schalke 04,but it would take another eight years to acieve the dream to reach the 2.Bundesliga when they did in May 2009 when the achieved promotion from the 3.Liga to the 2.Bundesliga and they have become a stable club ever since and are trying to make inroads for a promotion to the Bundesliga as the first club from East Berlin.In all these years the Eiserne have built a loyal and fantastic fanbase which made them the 2nd most popular club in the city,but also they began to attract cult following from across the world.Most notably they built a unique club culture among its fanbase in the city.In 2008 due to a lack of money for rebuilding their Alte Försterei stadium which in that period had to go under extensive renovations,the club’s fans took over the action and rebuilt the club stadium by themselves and by 2013 the Alte Försterei stadium was rebuilt and renovated with the club board selling the stadium to its own fans,also 50% of the club is owned by the fans.Another action took place in 2004 when the club had to raise 2 million Euros to stay financially alfoat and fans started a campaign called Bleed For Union where they successfully raised money to keep the club financially healthy.But most notably the Eiserne and its fans are known across the world for singing Chistmas carols every year inside the stadium.During the Winter break which in German football starts a few days before Christmas Day,on Christmas Eve thousands of fans gather inside the Alte Försterei stadium where they sing for 90 minutes Christmas carols and provide a unique stadium amtosphere not seen in other parts of the football world.Especially the Eiserne have a unique bond with St.Pauli,the cult club from Hamburg and their matches are a display of friendship between Germany’s cult clubs besides they have rarely won any trophies,but nevertheless have a passionate and loyal fanbase which reaches worldwide audience.East Berlin was under Communist totalitarianism during the Cold War but that didn’t stop the creation and the development one of Germany’s cult clubs which after the Berlin Wall came down and with a success on the field combined with loyal fans and a unique club culture has given Union Berlin as a cult phenomena.If you plan to visit Berlin,make sure to go to the Eastern part of the city and the first things you will hear on a weekend matchday is the chant “Eiserne Union” and you will know that it is the chant of East Berlin’s cult phenomena-Union Berlin.

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