Officially speaking: Aue is a district. Since January 1st 2019, the village of 16,000 from the Saxon area of Erzgebirgskreis has belonged to the large district town of Aue-Bad Schlema, which is itself a part of the Silberberg league of cities. The city (or town) lies in the trough of the Zwickau valley and was self-sufficient for centuries thanks to the mining and production of iron, silver and tin ores. Later, mechanical engineering and textile processing became more prominent in the region, and after WWII, uranium deposits ensured economic prosperity. Since reunification, however, Aue has had to contend with negative migration from the valley to bigger cities, with more than a fifth of the 20,000 inhabitants who once lived there moving out of the mining town.
“The power in the shafts”: This slogan is apparent to any and every visitor of Aue, as seen most evidently when away fans pass under the motorway on their way to the Erzgebirgsstadion. That the home of FCE has more seats (16,485) than Aue has inhabitants (16,012, as of December 2017), is remarkable in itself. Since the most recent renovation work, the Erzgebirgsstadion has provided the standard of stadium that long-standing fans of the “Veilchen (Violets)” had wished for for years, with adjustments to the stadium structure added such as a roof going all the way round the stands. Before the Erzgebirgsstadion, Aue played in the Städtisches Stadion Aue, which was priorly called Otto-Grotewohl-Stadion until 1950. The stadium held up to 25,000 spectators.
HISTORY FROM THE EAST
„Aue, immer wieder Aue, immer wieder Wismut Aue“ (“Aue, again and again Aue, again and again Bismuth (a chemical element) Aue”). Thus goes the team’s principal song’s chorus, sung every game with gusto by the thousands and thousands of violet-clad fans. FC Erzgebirge Aue has existed in its current form since January 14th 1990. The team beforehand in Aue, BSG Wismut Aue, the chant a homage to their old name, had existed under a variety of different names: founded as BSG Pneumatik Aue in 1949 before continuing as BSG Zentra Wismut Aue a year later, BSG Wismut Aue first came into existence under the aforementioned name in 1951, and continued to play for four decades in the top-tier GDR Oberliga, the East Germany equivalent to the West German Bundesliga. They did have one more name change, entering the league as SC Wismut Karl-Marx-Stadt between 1954 and 1963. No team played in the GDR Oberliga as much as the Aue/Karl-Marx-Stadt side of the mid 20th Century.
THE GOLDEN AGE
Aue was able to win the league in the first season of the GDR Oberliga, a newly founded league in the aftermath of WWII. The side’s heyday was certainly in the fifties, when BSG Wismut won the league four times (1955, 1956, 1957 and1959) and won the FDGB Pokal in the 1954/55 season. In 1959, they reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, no mean feat.
THE HEAD COACH
The ex-German international Dirk Schuster (four caps for the GDR, three for the unified German team) forged his career as a tough defender, playing for 1. FC Magdeburg, Eintracht Braunschweig, Karlsruher SC and 1. FC Köln, amongst others. As a coach he managed to lead SV Darmstadt 98 to back to back promotions from 3. Liga to the Bundesliga from 2013-15; a feat made even more astounding when you consider the season before Darmstadt’s promotion from 3. Liga- they should have technically been relegated down to the fourth-tier Regionalliga Südwest after finishing in the 3. Liga relegation places in the 2012/13 season, only to be saved from relegation when great rivals Offenbach were unable to gain the correct license to stay in 3. Liga, and so were relegated instead of Darmstadt. That period with Darmstadt enabled Schuster to win German Coach of the Year in the year that Darmstadt 98 played their first season in the Bundesliga for 33 years. Alas, since then, he hasn’t had as much luck. His stint at FC Augsburg in 2016 barely lasted six months and a subsequent return to Darmstadt in December 2017, where he’d made his name as a coach, also fell short of expectations, the ex-international leaving by mutual consent in February 2019. Born in Karl-Marx-Stadt, he has now been in charge of FCE since 26th August this year, replacing Daniel Meyer.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Violets and VfL have faced one another 19 times so far, and the record favours the Blau-Weißen slightly; ten wins for Bochum, three draws and nine Aue wins. Anne Castroper has traditionally been a difficult hunting ground for Saturday’s guests, Aue still searching for their first three points in Bochum. VfL vs Aue in December 2011 also produced VfL’s largest ever victory, celebrating a 6-0 victory. Last season witnessed last-second winners in both fixtures; Tom Weilandt hitting the winner for the Blau-Weißen to secure a 2-1 victory in Bochum, whilst in the return fixture Aue’s Dimitrij Nazarov scored a last-minute penalty to snatch all three points for FCE in a 3-2 victory, a goal that ended Bochum’s eight-match unbeaten run against the Violets.
THE STATE OF PLAY
Aue is undoubtedly the surprise package of this season. The Saxons are fourth in the league, a mere three points behind hot-favourites for promotion VfB Stuttgart. Last weekend they earned a valuable 3-1 victory at home against FC St. Pauli, with strikers Florian Krüger and Pascal Testroet on the scoresheet. Dimitrij Nazarov also scored another penalty, his 17th penalty conversion out of 18 attempts across his career. Aue is unbeaten in three games (one win and two draws) since Fortuna Düsseldorf dumped them out of the cup with a 2-1 win and Dirk Schuster’s former club Darmstadt surprisingly secured a 1-0 win. “We deserve to be where we are in the league”, insisted centre-back Sören Gonther, before adding: “We are just happy to get three points closer to 40 points, every time we win.” Erzgebirge won’t hear anything on the subject of promotion possibilities. Not yet anyway.