The Timbers Army is an independent supporters group of Portland Timbers, a football (soccer) club in Major League Soccer—the top tier of the United States soccer pyramid. Its members are known for their loud, enthusiastic support and the raucous atmosphere they create at Timbers games. Centered in section 107 of Providence Park in Portland, Oregon, the Army has grown steadily over the years to encompass much of the north end of the stadium.
The Timbers Army was founded in 2001 as the Cascade Rangers, a reference to the Cascade Range of mountains in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The group began with a group of eight people who decided to step up their support, and began congregating in section 107 (erroneously labeled on the stadium diagram to be behind the north goal) of PGE Park to create a European-style rooting section for the club, complete with drumming, flags, scarves, smoke bombs and constant chanting and cheering. By 2002, the group had changed its name to the Timbers Army in order to lose any perception of partiality toward Scottish football club Rangers and because the Timbers uniforms at the time resembled those of Rangers rival Celtic. although this perception has since changed.
As noted in a feature story on the front page of The Oregonian's Sports section in 2004, the Army had grown from a small group of dedicated fans to approximately two hundred passionate supporters. By 2005, when the Army was the subject of a cover story by Willamette Week, its game day support was estimated at over one thousand.
In 2008, the group's lobbying was credited with helping to convince the Portland City Council to approve a deal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland in 2011. The Timbers Army were named the fifth most influential Oregon sports figure in 2010 by The Oregonian, two spots ahead of Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. In the piece, sports columnist John Canzano said of the Army:
Drumming, chanting, scarf-wearing soccer supporters transformed overnight from a band of PGE Park rowdies to an effective and influential political organization. Their political clout ends up greasing the wheels on the effort to bring Major League Soccer to Portland.
The supporters group gained national exposure in 2009 when they were featured in a two-page photo spread in the July 13–20 issue of Sports Illustrated which showed Army members celebrating after the Timbers scored against Seattle Sounders FC of MLS in the third round of the 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a game they lost 2-1. In 2011, a tifo created by the Timbers Army for that game was named one of the five best tifos in MLS history—it featured a giant Timber Jim chainsawing down Seattle's Space Needle—despite the Timbers having played in the USL at the time.
The Timbers Army has a strong history and culture of vocal support. The Timbers Army have utilized chants from all over the world (ex. "Guinness Boys", "Korobeiniki"), as well as having drums and trumpets to add to the noise in addition to the inclusion of pogoing, scarf waving, and dancing to add to the effect of various chants. Timbers Army traditions are to sing the song "Portland Boys" immediately after kickoff, "Rose City 'Til I Die" when a goal is scored against the Timbers, "You Are My Sunshine" in the 80th minute, and "Can't Help Falling In Love" in the 85th minute. Various other chants are drawn from Russian, Greek, Latin American, Italian, and Arabian origins, speaking to the diversity of the section.
The group engages in a number of charitable activities, including volunteering for the Portland-based nonprofit Friends of Trees and raising money for a trust fund established for Keiana Serrill, the granddaughter of Timber Jim, the team's lumberjack mascot. Timber Jim's daughter, Hannah, was killed in an automobile accident in 2004, and in her memory, the TA has made a tradition of singing "You Are My Sunshine." Timber Jim retired in 2008, but the tradition is carried on by Jim's successor, "Timber Joey."
The Timbers Army is composed of several different subgroups. These subgroups are unique in their own fashion and consist of many different personalities. However, all subgroups fall under the Timbers Army umbrella. Many of the subgroups produce their own special apparel and other items while the proceeds go directly back to Timbers Army causes. Unlike many teams in Major League Soccer, the Timbers Army is the only recognized independent supporters group of the Portland Timbers, while many other clubs have several supporters groups. The subgroups of the Timbers Army rival the size of many other supporters groups in MLS.
- 101st Amphibious Assault
- 102nd Airborne Division
- 103rd Ballistic Unit
- 104th Charlie Company
- 105th Howitzers
- Fighting 106th
- Section 107 (unnamed for historical preservation, however sometimes referred to as "The Woodshed")
- 108th Easy Company
- 116 Ultras
- Appellation Alliance (Oregon Wine Country)
- Capitol City Company (Salem, OR)
- Eastern Bloc (East County of Portland Area)
- East Coast Platoon (East Coast of USA)
- Echo Squadron (Eugene, OR)
- Heartland Regiment (Midwest of USA)
- Jefferson Reserves (Southern Oregon)
- Northern Alliance (Vancouver, WA/SW Washington)
- NYC Loggers (New York, NY)
- Lone Star Brigade (Texas)
- Northern Scouts (Canada)
- Timbers Army: Covert Ops (Seattle)
The Timbers Army fields seven affiliated supporters teams that play in the Greater Portland Soccer District, a Portland area adult soccer league. All teams play a Spring and Fall season as well as participating in the Clive Charles Memorial North End Cup. This tournament is a point based competition between all teams with the winner going on to represent the Timbers Army against a Seattle Sounders Emerald City Supporters team in a supporters Cascadian Champions League. All players are required to be 107ist members, as well as each team performing service related to Timbers Army causes.
Timbers Army Affiliate Teams
- FC Portlandia (Division 1)
- FC Dynamo (Division 1)
- Cascade Rangers FC (Division 4)
- North End United (Division 4)
- Rose City Athletic (Division 4)
- Northern Alliance FC (Division 4)
- Old Growth FC (Over 40 Division 2)
In late August 2005, The Oregonian ran an article that criticized the Army's use of profanity in their chants. In this instance, then-General Manager Jim Taylor stated that "People should not come to a sporting event or any event and have to listen to this kind of language.... There is no explaining away the actions of that group. It's unacceptable."
Sports columnist for The Oregonian, John Canzano, received a copy of an email in May 2009 that had been sent to the Timbers front office from a family who had attended a Timbers match at PGE Park. The family, who likened the Timbers Army to hooligans in the letter, were turned off by the Army's use of foul language and called the group "a bunch of angry white guys tanked up on liquor." An email exchange between the family and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson followed, which Canzano published in his column. Paulson did not condone the profanity but did say: "the Timbers Army is far from being made up of hooligans and MLS soccer teams would be ecstatic to have a supporters groups like the TA which provides an authentic soccer ambience second to none in the US".
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