A Trip Across The Country: Part 1: The Background
I hope you enjoy my 3 part series about my journey to see the Portland Timbers play at Jeld Wen Field.
I’ve been a Portland Timbers fan for about three years now and yet I have never stepped foot in Oregon. I was born and raised in Texas and have always been an avid soccer fan. The year before the Timbers went to MLS, I was looking at the lower divisions of soccer in America and came across this team that had a massive amount of fans and yet they weren’t even in MLS. I started looking more into the Portland Timbers and reading about the history of the club and about the Timbers Army. I began to really get drawn into the team with a leading scorer named Bright Dike and a massive “army” screaming the entire game. My first Timbers game I watched was livestreamed and late in the game, I hear an old country tune that my great-grandmother used to sing for me. “You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine,” rang out over the speaker system in my room. I was in awe of these people who were screaming “Let’s Go Freaking Mental” a couple of seconds ago, now singing an old hymn. I began asking questions and that’s when I found out the reason behind “You Are My Sunshine” being sung at Timbers games.
The original mascot for the Timbers was a man by the name of Timber Jim. He is now honored in the Portland Timbers Ring of Honor along Clive Charles and Jimmy Conway, but he is the reason for the song. After a couple of hours of searching a user on the message board “Soccer City USA” posted this:
“Timber Jim’s daughter, Hannah, was killed in an automobile accident in 2004, and in her memory, the Timber’s Army has made a tradition of singing “You Are My Sunshine,” in the 80th minute of every game.”
When I read this, I immediately began to tear up. I fell instantly in love with the team and have been a fan ever since. I had a chance to witness the most famous goal in Timbers history via livestream. It’s been referred to as the Sunflower Goal and the story is pure magic behind it. The Timbers’ last game before moving up to MLS was against the Puerto Rico Islanders. Everyone was told to dress in their Sunday best. Sunflowers were handed out and, like every game, the Timbers Army sung You Are My Sunshine. In the middle of singing it, Ryan Pore scored the Portland Timber’s goal of the year to lift the Timbers over the Islanders in their last ever USL game. The next year, Portland moved up to MLS and I now began following Major League Soccer for the first time ever.
In February, me and a fellow Portland Timbers fan that lived in San Antonio, Texas decided to start planning a trip to Portland for a Timbers game. I work at a church full-time and finding games that would allow me to be back in town by Sunday morning were often tough. My friend, Collin, found a game that was on a Friday night against Colorado and began immediately looking for flight information for the two of us. One big problem we feared were the fact that Timbers Army tickets were very hard to come by. If you want to be a Season Ticket Holder for the Portland Timbers, you had to wait in line behind 7,000 other interested individuals.
After posting on a Timbers message board called “Soccer City USA” I got an immediate response. The tickets were sent to me, along with a “You Are My Sunshine” scarf, the story behind the scarf is the reason why I’m a Timbers fan in the first place (see the bottom of this article for the full story), a personalized letter, and all day Tri Met passes for the bus and rail lines for game day. Now to find a way to get to Portland and a place to stay as well.
Collin’s wife had a cousin that lived in Portland and we were lucky enough to stay with them in the city but the issue with getting to Portland was still around. We had been saving up for several months and June came around. I was working all month at a camp and we were hoping for round trip tickets for under $300. I got a call right around Memorial Day and Collin said the plane tickets were $495. I feared that we wouldn’t be able to make the game at all. I couldn’t afford that at the time and I became worried. A couple of weeks passed and I get another call. Tickets were in the upper $200′s for round trip. We bought them immediately and our trip was set. We found out several days later that the tickets shot back up the $400 and, to my knowledge, never went back down. Our plan from then on out was to save as much money as possible and spend whatever we could at the merchandise van, where you could only buy certain things that you wouldn’t be able to buy online such as a No Pity scarf.
These next few days, you will learn about my story of how I flew halfway across the country and spent nearly $1,000 just to see two of the worst teams in the MLS play each other. I hope that this story makes you want to support your team no matter where you’re at and how well they’re playing.