Saturday was lovely, wasn’t it?
A group of about fifteen of us gathered for the birthday of a mutual friend. There were only three or four of us who really wanted to watch the game but, by the end of the first half, the entire group was rapt.
I stand in the North End at Jeld-Wen. There, I’m surrounded by people who are passionate and boisterous in their support of their club. They amaze me and inspire me in their love not just for their team, but in their intense civic pride and in their love toward each other.
Being among a group of people who were mostly strangers to me Saturday night was an interesting change. And watching as their attention turned from a card game to a soccer game they’d cared little about just an hour before was amazing.
So, let’s talk about “terrified.” It’s a word I used a few days ago to express my feelings as we approached the Chivas match. Terrified of so many things.
But that’s all gone.
Am I nervous? Yes. But it’s a nervousness bourne of excitement and anticipation. We’re still 48 hours away from knowing who our next opponent will be. And then we’ll be less than 72 hours from our first playoff game of the Timbers’ MLS era. This is uncharted territory.
There’s a piece out there on the net today that asks some oddly-phrased questions. Some of them are answered by local author Michael Orr.
Full disclosure: I know Michael. And I doubt that he sought to speak on behalf of the entirety of the Timbers Army, though the ESPN piece makes it seem that way.
I don’t know anyone who can speak on behalf of the entirety of the Timbers Army. I know I certainly can’t. That’s the beauty of the TA: it serves a different purpose for each of us and each of us has a voice.
Will it be less “special” if the club we support, in the city we love, wins a championship and lifts a trophy? I really don’t see how.
But Jason Davis, the author of the ESPN piece questions this.
Can the Timbers keep up their “authentic” support, support that has lasted through poor soccer and heartbreak alike, if a new wave of fans jump on board? Do the Timbers and the relationship with their fans remain “special” if people who weren’t there before MLS came calling latch onto the team?
Sweetheart, we’re already there. And we’ve flourished. From a dozen people in section 107 at then PGE Park in 2001, to 4,500 standing, chanting, cheering folks in the North End of what is now Jeld-Wen Field, the change has been, at times, overwhelming. But, because of a committed, hard-working core group of diehards, the Timbers Army has already survived its most difficult growing pains. Championship or not, little will change.
Onward, Rose City.