1. FC Union Berlin vector logo
About 1. FC Union Berlin vector logo
The name 1. FC Union Berlin was used by two football clubs that shared a common origin as SC Olympia 06 Oberschöneweide, founded in 1906 in the Oberschöneweide district of Berlin. The side took on the name SC Union 06 Oberschöneweide in 1910. Union was one of Berlin’s premier clubs in the interwar period, regularly winning local championships and competing at the national level, including an appearance in the 1923 German championship final which they lost 0:3 to Hamburger SV.
The club posted one more succes in 1940, when it won the Gauliga Berlin-Brandenburg.
After World War II, occupying Allied authorities ordered the dissolution of all organizations in Germany, including sports and football associations. A new club called SG Oberschöneweide was formed in late 1945 and it played in the city league organized immediately after the war. The team was relegated after a poor season, but was promoted to the newly created Oberliga Berlin (I) in 1947 as SG Union 06 Oberschöneweide and won the division title.
The club finished the 1949-1950 season in second place in Berlin and qualified to take part in the national final rounds. However, escalating Cold War tensions led Soviet authorities to refuse the team permission to travel to take part. Two Union then teams emerged as most players and coaches fled to the west in to create SC Union 06 Berlin which took part in the scheduled playoff match in Kiel against Hamburger SV, losing 0:7.
The players remaining in the east carried on as Union Oberschöneweide while a number of players who had fled to the west to form SC organized a third side called Berliner Ball Club Südost. The western team was a strong side until the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, drawing huge crowds to matches in the Olympiastadion. The division of the city led to a change of fortunes for the club which plays today in the lower divisions before meagre crowds.
The eastern branch of the club went through a number of name changes: Union Oberschöneweide (1950), BSG Motor Oberschöneweide (1951), SC Motor Berlin (1955), TSC Oberschöneweide (1957), TSC Berlin (1963) – finally becoming 1. FC Union Berlin in 1966. They became East Berlin’s most popular side and developed a bitter rivalry with Stasi-sponsored BFC Dynamo. However, they only managed a single win in the East German Cup in 1968 when they defeated FC Carl Zeiss Jena 2:1. They lost in their second cup appearance in 1986 to 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig by a score of 1:5.
After German reunification in 1990, the team continued to perform well on the field, but almost collapsed financially. They managed to hang on through some tight times and find sponsorship, but only after winning their division in both 1993 and 1994 and each time being denied a license to play in the 2.Bundesliga due to their financial problems. The club had another close brush with financial failure in 1997.
Union again came close to advancing to 2.Bundesliga in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, but were disappointed. They were finally successful in 2000-01, under Bulgarian manager Georgi Vasilev, easily winning the Regionalliga Nord (III) and moving up a division to become the city’s most popular side after the Bundesliga’s Hertha BSC Berlin. That same year they appeared in the final of the German Cup where they lost 0:2 to FC Schalke 04, and advanced as far as the second round in UEFA Cup before being put out by Bulgarian side PFC Litex Lovech. The club slipped to the Regionalliga Nord (III) in 2004-05 and then to the NOFV-Oberliga Nord (IV) in 2005-06, but has since returned to third division play after capturing the Oberliga title.