In preparation for my first visit to Union Berlin’s Alte Försterei, the stadium that was literally built by fans, I’ve been listening diligently to the excellent Union podcast, Textilvergehen, and following reporting about the club. When I read that Union would have a test match against a storied lower-division club in a nearby stadium, I decided that would be even better preparation. The match was against Hertha03 Zehlendorf, not the Hertha, but a well-known Berlin club, nevertheless. Former youth players include Pierre “Litti” Littbarski, and the Kovac brothers.
— Julian Dierkes (@Schaumkroenchen) 15. März 2017
Yes, there really was something of the romantic village pitch to the whole event. Cold, crisp weather, Bratwurst and beer stands, 1,200 spectators. The Hertha03 players were obviously very keen, Union played a set of 2nd-stringers with some of the first team players also getting minutes. Great commentary by older Union fans.
Union dominated the first half and managed one goal. Unfortunately, a completely surprising own goal. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a striker score more calmly.
The Union side that played was surprisingly small in midfield and attack, also not noticeably quick.
That lack of speed took its toll in the second half when the highly motivated amateurs turned on the afterburners in some quick counter attacks, walking away with a victory over the 2. Bundesliga team in the end.
And along, Union’s well-known coach Jens Keller, was quietly watching from a folding chair on the sideline.