Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A whole group like these above existed , normally surviving 1-2 seasons in top flight, then returning back to second division, replaced by similar clubs. This group generally took the bottom places in the Oberliga, making life safer for the rest of top clubs. The survivor this season was 1.FC Union (Berlin) – they finished 11th on better goal-difference.

First row, from left: Karsten Heine, Klaus-Dieter Helbig, Bernd Wargos, Wolfgang Matthies, Fritz Bohla, Henry Hausler.

Middle row: Ulrich Werder, Bernd Jessa, Rainer Rohde, Ulrich Netz, Rolf Weber, Joachim Sigusch.

Top row: Dieter Wunsch, Frank Neumann, Andreas Wegener, Lutz Mockel, Lutz, Hendel, Michael Paschek, Bernd Vogel.

No even remotely recognizable names here, so just to remain in first flight was good enough. Union was relegated in 1973 and in the next three years tried to return, reaching the final round-robin tournament of the second division winners, but succeeding to secure promotional spot only in 1976. Another club of the 'unsettled' kind, but with a twist: the fate of the club was sealed shortly after the end of the Second World War, when the whole team, led by the coaching stuff, defected to West Berlin and founded... Union (Berlin). The very name was tainted ever since and the Eastern club was looked at with suspicion. On top of it, Berliners preferred to support Union and not the purely Communist clubs – no matter what league Union was playing, it had numerous supporters on the stands and one more thing the powers to be knew well was that East Berliners, having no chance to go beyond the Wall and support the 'true Berliners' club, Hertha (West Berlin), supported Union instead in spite of the very powers building walls. As a retaliation, Union was kept small and poor, unable to really compete. Just playing first division was terrific success, alas, short-lasting... Union belonged to the 'unsettled' clubs, and one other club was rapidly joining the bunch: FC Vorwarts (Frankfurt/Oder). They finished 12th and also survived, but were the very opposite of the 'anti-Communist' Union - Vorwarts belonged to the Army and not so long ago was the leading East German club. Their last title was won in 1969, when they were still stationed in Berlin. For unclear, but surely politically motivated reasons, they moved to Frankfurt/Oder and lost supremacy. By 1977 they were hitting the bottom.