Portland’s professional men’s soccer team, the Timbers, win and lose with thousands of people behind them supporting them the whole way. Through any game, the team’s personal fan club, the Timber’s Army (TA), can be counted on to turn out with their scarves and flags, painting the crowd green and gold.
The TA is a volunteer-based organization that was founded in 2001 as the Cascade Rangers. The Army took up its current name in 2002. On the group’s original founder, Timber’s Army member Basil Hernandez says, “You could trace some things back to individuals like the original drawing of the TA crest or lyrics to the chants and even the initial idea of creating a supporter group to begin with, but it’s never been about the individual and that’s the way it was intended. No one person is more important that the TA as a whole.”
One of the most remarkable things about the TA and their involvement in soccer matches are the 40-60 foot wide tifo banners raised in the stadium on a complex pulley system installed by the Army. The banners take countless hours and several dozens of people to put together. “There’s a group of designers that come up with ideas either individually or collectively,” Hernandez explains. “There are always new people expressing ideas and contributing. It takes many hands and minds to take it from idea to execution and no one person takes credit. It’s a Timber’s Army effort.”
Once a season, the TA is given a chance to meet the players at the TA Barbeque, where the field is opened up to season ticket holders. There are player signings and games, and it’s one of only a few chances members of the TA get to meet the players themselves and show their appreciation through one-on-one interactions. “Our players feed off the energy we create to push themselves to their limits, so while we know can’t will them to win every match, we can be the greatest supporters the world has ever seen. […] Our goal is to be an intimidating force against the visiting team and their supporters,” Hernandez says.
Although the TA started as a small group, they have now grown to the 4000-member Timber’s Army we have today. In 2001, when the organization was founded, the team had just begun to play again as a second-division team after a few year hiatus, and soccer wasn’t quite as popular as it is now. As both the game and the TA grew more popular, the Timber’s Army began accumulating more new members through people inviting their soccer-game-virgin friends along with them. The energy created through the waving banners and loud, somehow very coherent and understandable chants is enough to compel even the most stubborn sports non-fans into watching the game intently.
And when I go! And when I go! Make sure I’m wearing green and gold! ~Timbers Army[