It may turn into a magical football year in Berlin.
In mid-March, Hertha is on track for Europa League qualification, Potsdam leads the women’s league, and I got to watch Union beat Nürnberg to take the lead in Div 2 of the Bundesliga, hopefully on track for promotion to the first division.
My first visit at the Alte Försterei was wonderful. The stadium is a “pure” football stadium and most of the 22,000 tickets are for standing-only terraces.
That was the first time I’d been on such a terrace, in part because they are not very kid-friendly to visit.
It’s a totally different football experience. In Vancouver, we sit next to the “supporters’ section” in part to join in the singing, but standing terraces are all-singing and Union supporters have some good local songs that go beyond the usual “Olé, olé”. Many of these are about the stadium, actually, praising its gorgeous setting in green Köpenick.
The terraces are packed should-to-shoulder. I was surprised to see a generally older supporter crowd, though there were also plenty of hipsters sprinkled in. Lots of fan paraphernalia on display. Too bad the Berlin garbage and street cleaning company is no longer a sponsor for the club, that seemed to match the Berlin patriotism and snotty attitude well.
The play was not that great (though even Div 2 seems significantly faster than MLS), but after a very curious five minute interruption to treat an injury the ref had sustained, the Eisernen finally scored. The 1:0 victory sealed Union’s fate to lead Div 2 for the first time as celebrated by the fans in this short video.
One of the more curious aspects of the game was a Facebook post from the club that toads are migrating across the stadium grounds as it is Spring time and asking fans to watch out for them.
Sure enough, in the middle of the game, one of the ball boys jumped onto the pitch to rescue a toad that was bound to be trampled. Check the video!
— Björn Eggert (@B_eggert) 20. März 2017