Our story is not unique nor is it amazing but it really is indicative of how the Timbers have continued to be a big part of the Portland community. I asked my Dad to relate his thoughts and memories of the Timbers in the 70's and I will explain how his involvement shaped my family and our love for Soccer and the Timbers.
My Dad's Story
Most folks coming to Timbers games have the impression soccer (or European Football) came to the United States sometime in the 1970's or 80's. The original heyday of American soccer was in the 1930's with the best teams coming from Missouri and cities to the East. My own first soccer game was in 1959 when I was in the sixth grade in Maryland. What I remember most about those early games was the kid who had plaster-of-Paris casts on both arms but was still allowed to play. Nobody wanted to go near him because of the pain he inflicted. Needless to say, as soon as those casts came off it was pay-back time from a lot of players.
The first Timbers team arrived in Oregon soon after my wife and I moved to the West Coast. What is imprinted on the two of us was the fervor of the fans from the outset. No one has ever really explained why 33,000 people would come out to watch a "new" sport, at least relatively new to the Northwest on the professional level. It was definitely an entertainment draw because I had to explain to one spectator why the offside call was made and to another why the clock didn't stop when the ball went out of bounds.
The individual games from that first season run together, but the fondest memories come from the intensity of the play. Of all the players Clive Charles stands out the most. Perhaps it is his name and his later resume. More likely it is the visits he and his teammates made to our emerging West Linn soccer club. We still have the picture of our second grade son Sean standing in front of a crowd of enthralled kids as Clive went through a few of the most basic elements of "the beautiful game."
We have had at least one member of our family at every home match the Timbers have ever played, and quite a few of the away games. Though the Timbers Army came later, its birth was in the enthusiasm of those early fans that carried the special ambiance that is the Timbers. The single over-arching impression that the Timbers fans have always presented is high energy and class. Little by little the "fans" have developed a knowledge of the game itself.
The professional Timbers organization would disappear for a season or two but every time the fans would provide enough support to bring them back at a higher level. RCTID
The Gates Kids' Story
I am the third child of my parents 7 children and from as early as I can remember I have been around soccer. There are pictures of each of us kids playing soccer as early as 4 years old. My brother (Who is none other than Kejsare) just below me and I have pictures of us in diapers either sleeping with a soccer ball or kicking it around. I even have a picture of the Timbers soccer camps my older brother used to attend and if you look closely you would see my younger brother and I.
My sister paved the way in soccer and played all through high school and her 4 younger brothers followed suit. Not only were we playing soccer but we were going to Timbers games. Like my dad mentions there has been a Gates at every single home game for the Timbers. I being a Ball boy of the Western Soccer League era Timbers. Even then I felt such energy in the crowds and would love to go to the games.
Even after the WSL Timbers folder and we had to wait until 2001 to see the Timbers back in action my family continued to play the sport and interact with former Timbers. Kejsare and I went to numerous University of Portland soccer camps and even played against/with current MLS players. Kejsare played for the FC Portland which was founded by Clive Charles.
When the Timbers finally took field again in 2001 my family and I bought 4 season tickets, with two in the Library and 2 in 107. At the time 107 was just a few dozen people. I can still remember the chants "Your going home in a Portland ambulance!" and some other salty ones :) My brother and I even were able to go on a FO sponsored bus ride up to Seattle to watch the Timbers take on the Sounders at Memorial stadium. We sat by Timber Jim the whole way there and got to spend the three hours just talking about anything that came to mind.
My brother and I then took 6 years before we came back due to 2 year missions and school. When we did come back we still went to the USL Timbers' games and got our MLS season tickets. When we learned the Timbers were going to have their first road game in Colorado we got all of my brothers and my mom plane tickets and had one of the best weekends ever.
For the home Opener we had 11 tickets which included all of my siblings, even my brother from Nashville, TN, and my older sister's oldest Daughter. I have taken my son to games, he is 4 in March, and when he prays he always says "bless the soccer game". I know the Timbers will continue to be a big part of the Gates family life and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I know there are so many similar stories around the Portland area and I would love to hear them!