Rather, my last words on Boyd as a Timber. This world is a strange and confusing place. Somehow, I imagine he’ll find his way into this blog again sometime in the future, be it from Greece or Norway or, God willing, from back at Ibrox.
Before this lament starts, I want to thank all of you who’ve sent condolence messages. I know it’s utterly ridiculous to be getting condolences over anything other than, say, a death, but I’ve been touched by the number of you who’ve emailed, who’ve texted, who’ve Tweeted and Facebooked words of encouragement and concern. You all are a special breed and I’m grateful for our acquaintance.
I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot over the last year since Kris Boyd’s signing with the Timbers. I’ve learned about rivalries, about politics in soccer (both on the field and off), about completely losing oneself in the game. I’ve suffered through hours and hours of Scottish footy podcasts and BBCSportsound and read thousands of words on the administration of Rangers. I’ve learned to hate Neil Lennon and love Kenny Shiels and Ally McCoist and Lee Mcculloch. I’ve made some interesting friends in some rather unexpected places.
And most of that I owe to Kris Boyd.
I’ll admit it: I knew next to nothing about him when he was signed. I knew his name. I knew he was a big deal – mostly because for me, as someone who doesn’t (or didn’t) follow much international soccer, that I recognized his name at all was an indication that he was a big deal.
So, I did what everyone else was doing: I went to Youtube.
I fell in love. Wholeheartedly, unabashedly in love. This was The Guy. The one to carry this team forward, to carry all of us forward. We were going to win the league.
I was there for the first press conference, Kris’ introduction to Portland. I stood behind Joanne when she scarfed him. He looked tired and, I daresay, a bit overwhelmed. But, despite being shy, he was gracious with our assembled crazy though I still have absolutely no idea what he said. None whatsoever.
And I was there for that first goal in the preseason. And it was beautiful. And I screamed myself hoarse.
And I was there for the first goal that counted, in the home opener against Philly. My friend Duncan was standing next to me when it came. I’m fairly certain I bruised his arm and blew out his ear drum.
I ordered a Scottish flag from Amazon. It went on its flagpole the day of the LA match when that spectacular goal was called back.
That flag, that ridiculous flag. I carried it to every match from then on. For Boyd, for Smith, for Spenny.
I debated over whether I should take it with me to the Cal FC match. I left it in the car when I went to meet Timber Jim for a pre-match beer. “Go get it,” he told me. And I did. And I held it aloft when the horn player played Taps.
And I had it with me in the front row of 204 for the Seattle match two weeks later. We can mark that on the calendar as another game this year when I had to apologize to the kids sitting near me for my behavior. Thankfully, they were kids I knew.
Things unraveled from there. I still have a hard time sorting through what it was that really happened. The team wasn’t playing as one, but the overall record wasn’t much different than the year before. We hadn’t lost much ground, but the tide was rising and change was on the horizon. Feel free to insert more tired cliches here if you’d like.
And then Spenny was gone and Boyd was pissed and I found my voice.
That, my friends, is Boyd’s legacy in Portland. He’s gone but, because of him, you’re stuck with me.
That, and this:
So, in the off chance that my words find their way to Glasgow: thank you, Kris. You inadvertently made me a blogger. You gave me words to write and lead me to a bigger audience than I ever imagined I’d find. For that, I will forever be grateful.