Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You Cannot Stop Us. We Are the Rose City.

Over at Soccer City USA there are numerous threads saying all the things I would say here: we are bursting with pride and love for our team. Of course we are sad to have lost the semifinal match against Atlanta, but we are not disappointed in the Timbers one bit. These are tears of joy, not anger or frustration. There is so much eloquence and emotion over there that my own contribution here seems almost superfluous, but here goes.

I won't try to recap the grueling match, which you can read about here, or rehash complaints against the refereeing. I want to try to remember what it was like:

As the boys in green, subdued, paid their final respects of the 2007 season to the North End supporters, the defiant chant arose: We're gonna win the league! We're gonna win the league! I don't know how, I don't know when! We're gonna win the league! (Next year!) I sang along until my voice broke and I had to focus on blinking back tears, because we won't be back to watch them win next year. Oh, I can't complain: we'll be seeing lots of football elsewhere, the Hammers and Barca and St. Pauli and plenty more, but our hearts will be back in PGE Park and we will be following the Timbers as closely as we can.

The mood at the wake after the match was one of melancholy defiance, punctuated by bagpipers. And then the players arrived. I saw Tommy Potl wander in, followed by Lawrence Olum, Scot Thompson. Something like half the team showed up. A beautiful end to a beautiful season, and we knew then it was time to go, so we finished our pints, shook hands with Olum and thanked him, and left. For the first time in weeks, on the way home, no one stopped us or shouted from cars to find out the score, as though the city already knew its summer love affair with the Timbers had come to an end.

What an amazing showing from the Portland fans! There are so many people who have worked so very hard over the years to make the experience of attending a Timbers game what it is--most visibly, those who dream up and then make into reality those mad displays of tifo, those who turn up early to hang banners and haul flags and other paraphernalia back and forth from the Bullpen, and the capos, who spend much of the game with their backs to the action on the pitch in order to perform the often thankless but crucial task of keeping a rowdy crowd of drunks* in full voice and on tune. Even when they are sometimes rowdy and drunk themselves.

I went to my first Timbers game in, I think, 2003, when I bought a GA ticket and slouched into a seat in 207 and witnessed a small but spirited party erupt in the section below. I never imagined then, and I did not imagine even at the start of this season, that I would eventually see seven or eight or nine sections in PGE Park standing and singing for an entire game. That I would see the entire west side of the stadium on their feet. And here is what I thought, at the close of the brilliant, beautiful, 2007 season: we have done what naysayers around the world did not believe could be done. Here in the United States, we have taught one another, and we have taught Portland, how to attend a football match. We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.**

Finally, I have no idea if any players for the Timbers have ever seen or are even aware that this blog exists, but if any ever stumble across this: thank you for bringing us so much joy this season. Much love to you all.

More here:
The saddest photo you've ever seen
More pictures from Allison Andrews
KPTV video of Monday night Gavin Wilkinson interview
Oregonian piece on who's signed for 2008 thus far
Scot Thompson in the Tribune: "I love this team to death."
Forgot to post this the other day: Josh Wicks is USL First Division Keeper of the Year
Timbers among nominees for USL First Division Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, and Coach of the Year
You Tube highlight reel of the 2007 season

*Disclaimer: Rowdy crowd of drunks is an exaggeration used for purposes of humor. I am well aware that not only is the entire North End not a bunch of drunks, but that some faithful followers of the Timbers are a good fifteen or more years away from legal drinking age.
**Sorry. Geek alert.


Lucas said...

Thanks for posting the Gavin video, I hadn't seen it. Now I'm crying at work. RCTID

Lynda said...

I know, I've been crying off and on for two days. I cried when I saw the picture of Josh alone on the pitch, when I started reading the threads on the board Monday morning, when I started collecting links and writing this post.

Who knew there were so many sobbing sentimentalists in the fierce Timbers Army?

Zach Dundas said...

I can't think of another city where a blog post on the end of the soccer season would contain a sly Serenity reference. And that is what makes Portland the greatest city in America.

Lynda said...

Heh. I just couldn't help myself.