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Union Berlin fans have made a name for themselves as some of the most creative supporters in German football. Their club reaching the Bundesliga for the first time ever would do them justice, argues DW’s Felix Tamsut.
"The Bundesliga is within reach for us," Union Berlin fans were singing before the game. Quite a change from their famous banner from two years ago that read, somewhat sarcastically: "Crap, we're getting promoted!"
About 4,000 fans are estimated to have traveled the 1,200-kilometer (700-mile) roundtrip for the relegation game 2-2 draw at VfB Stuttgart. On a Thursday evening.
This is hardly a one-off occurrence. Just last Sunday, as the Berlin side played its final 2. Bundesliga match of the season, more than 7,000 fans traveled to the other side of the country to see Union take on VfL Bochum. Despite just missing out on automatic promotion, the singing simply didn't stop, resulting in the players coming over to shake the fans' hands and thank them for their support. "Never give up and believe in yourselves,” said the slogan that could be read both in front of the away end and on most fans' shirts.
Whatever the result of the return leg at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei, Union Berlin's fans have been proving time and time again why they're among the most impressive sets of supporters German football has to offer.
Their devoted following has made a name for itself across Germany. Whenever Union are in town, big numbers of people are expected. Their creative choreographies, fan marches and traditional approach to football support have all become part of the club's trademark.
It's a result of years of work done at the club in order to engage with their match-going fans, creating an image of a club that's a football romantic's dream. No wonder many football fans from the UK attend their games week in week out.
In times when football seems to be getting further removed from the fans in the stands, Union's approach has been refreshing. Their rather alternative take on supporter engagement and interaction with a club's active fan groups are bucking the trend.
"Our time will come, you will all see, Union Berlin will be in the top level," the song continues. After their team's 2-2 draw at Stuttgart's Mercedes Benz Arena, promotion feels closer than ever.
There's only the small matter of the players coming up with the goods in front of home support on Monday. Their fans have certainly earned it.