Stories and pictures of the beautiful game.
FC Erzgebirge Aue vs. 1. FC Union Berlin 3:2 (2:2)
April 6, 2014 | attendance: 12,000 | pictures
“So when does the season start?” I ask our host, owner of a small bed & breakfast at the edge of a forest on top of a hill with a beautiful view down into the valley, green hills rolling as far as the eye can see. And very quiet; we’re the only guests this weekend – hence my question.
Apparently tourist season starts in winter, when the Christmas markets open, and lasts until the snow melts. People come to the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) to ski and buy the famous intricate wood carvings (mostly for Christmas), but they don’t seem to know that it would also be a pretty and relaxing place to visit come spring, summer or fall.
The Erzgebirge is located in the Eastern part of Germany and borders the Czech Republic. If you don’t want to exhaust yourself getting from A to B, you’d best explore it by car. Park anywhere and you’ll find a hilly forest to roam; most likely you’ll walk next to a small creek peacefully gurgling its way downward. Hardly another soul will cross your path; that’s the best thing about it!
Of course, our host felt differently about the lack of people – it appears that business could be better. He gets the odd backpacker, and apparently football brings some tourists to the region as well. One of the flags lazily flapping in the soft breeze bears the crest of local team, FC Erzgebirge Aue.
FC Erzgebirge Aue
Mining was a big deal for a long time but now only plays a minor role in the region’s economy. Two crossed hammers were part of the club’s crest until 1990, and you still sometimes see the old version of the crest around. Just like many GDR teams, the club name changed a few times. The one that still sticks around is BSG Wismut Aue (they were called that between 1963 and 1990) and the corresponding chant goes: “Zwei gekreuzte Hämmer, und ein großes W – das ist Wismut Aue, uns’re BSG” (Two crossed hammers and a capital W – that’s Wismut Aue, our club). The fans also still sing songs about when their club won championships, though their three GDR-league titles date back to 1956, 1957 and 1959 (as SC Wismut Karl-Marx-Stadt).
Aue were GDR Oberliga (first league) regulars but played a number of years in third league after Germany’s reunification. In 2004, they were promoted to second league and managed to stay there for five seasons. After two years of 3. Liga they returned to 2. Bundesliga in 2010 and will most likely enter their next five-year streak come 2014/15.
FC Erzgebirge Aue are a down-to-earth club and manage to survive on a tight budget. The area has little infrastructure and Aue’s total population is only slightly above the stadium’s capacity. The Sparkassen-Erzgebirgsstadion offers space for 15,690, their average league attendance in recent years is a bit over 9,000.
Erzgebirgsstadion and match vs. Union Berlin
This old-school stadium with an open curva and partly unroofed terracing at each end gives visitors a great view of the breathtaking mountains surrounding the valley where the stadium is located. Freeloaders also have the option of enjoying the match from the nearby slopes – and they do.
The stadium has a running track which puts a distance between match and crowd, but it doesn’t hurt the atmosphere. During the game vs. 1. FC Union Berlin there were 12,000 people in attendance (about 3,000 away fans) who turned it into a heated cauldron from the start. The sounds reverberated nicely off the mountains and echoed across the entire city.
Granted, the course of the match did help the atmosphere: the home team dominated. Although they first conceded a goal on a questionable penalty call, they made up for it by scoring two within minutes. Union equalized before half-time, but Aue eventually scored the winner on another penalty in the second half. The win puts them well ahead of the relegation zone, which means there will be plenty of 2. Bundesliga in the Erzgebige for a while.
I recommend checking it out some time – the view, the stadium, the floodlights and the area will make it worth your while.
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