An outsider shocks the favorites
Union played in the 2000/01 season in the Regionalliga Nordost and had narrowly missed out on promotion the year before. The Berliners were the blatant outsiders, as they were in the entire cup competition. As a third division team, they always had home games, which was definitely an advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated, because the fan atmosphere in the Alte Försterei has always been special.
“Of course they raised the alarm and pushed the players,” says Mike Rietpietsch, describing the evening. At that time he was in the Bochum jersey on the pitch. “It was a dirty game, it was cold. The pitch wasn’t the best and there wasn’t much playing well. We had great chances early on that we couldn’t take.”
But that was by far not all, writes former stadium announcer André Rolle: “Suddenly we had pyrotechnics in the stadium. This frowned upon element of football was suddenly present in our country too.”
“The Magic of Floodlit Games”
But something else made the stadium shine that evening, remembers Sebastian Fiebrig, a Union fan from childhood who never missed his team’s cup game that season: “Anyone who has ever walked through the forest to the old forester, knows that today. But back then, this magic of floodlit games was something very unusual.”
And not just for the fans: “That was a highlight for us. I think every footballer likes to play under floodlights in the evening. It’s a special atmosphere. It’s even more fun,” says Ronny Nikol. The light poles were newly built, the prerequisite for a stadium suitable for the second division.
A flash of inspiration from the coach
Bochum originally took the lead in this game. However, the goal was not counted due to an offside situation. The minutes passed, the score was 0-0 and the game became more nervous. “As a third division team, you want to make it as difficult as possible for the first division team,” says Ernemann. “The longer the draw lasts, the easier it is to go in the right direction. We felt that. They kind of got impatient.”
The opponents had to experience that too: “It’s exactly the games in which lower-class clubs can push themselves extremely well. Union has gotten more and more upper water and we’re probably getting more and more fed up,” explains Mike Rietpietsch.
Added time had already started and Union got a free kick – a good 30 meters from the goal. The regular season was almost over, it could have been the last action. A situation in which the Union coach Georgi Wasilew took a risk and sent the actual defender Daniel Ernemann forward.
Ernemann paves the way to the cup final
“Actually, I was supposed to make it 0-0 at the back, but then the ball was played briefly to the right and hit in the middle,” remembers Ernemann, “I was just lucky, I was in the right place and hit the goal. Then he was just in there.”
In the end it was one of many small steps that would get bigger and bigger from game to game, up to the final in the Olympic Stadium. A path that is conceivable again this season, because the big top clubs have already been eliminated from the cup.
For the third time, Union is in a quarter-finals of this competition. 10,000 fans will be in the stadium against St.Pauli, similar to 21 years ago. Let’s see who will run across the lawn of the old forester’s house waving a flag on Tuesday.
Broadcast: rbb24, March 1st, 2022, 6 p.m