"1. FC Union Berlin is known for its working-class tradition and underdog status but also for its sense of solidarity and spirit of political resistance – that reaches back to the days of the divided city. And there’s always something to these labels, even if many elements of the team’s reputation have already become the stuff of myth, including the legend of the 11 locksmiths on the field and the battle cry “Eisern Union” (iron union). At 1. FC Union, every player is a soccer god. Union represents the east, too, and above all Köpenick, the city district whose sheer obstinacy was able to preserve its municipal autonomy well into the 20th century. It also stands for a deep-rooted Berlin dialect that no one on the other side of Berlin speaks anymore.
The Alte Försterei’s location at the edge of a wooded area called the Wuhlheide means that the path to each home game is part of a ritual that includes a walk through the forest. In the past, the walk back from the stadium was often the march of a losing team, sometimes even of a sorely beaten one. As the Union joke goes: “When god created the world, he spoke to the stones and said: ‘Do you want to become Unioners?’ And the stones said ‘Yes, but we’re not hard enough.’"
The article, published on The German Times, can be found here, and is authored by Annett Gröschner, a novelist and professor of journalism at the University of Arts Berlin.