The heat of the Providence Park and folklore of its fans have attracted the attention of fans middle world on the Portland Timbers, holders of the MLS Cup 2015. “Cookies” cut with a chainsaw by Timber Joey after every goal of the Timbers become a cult also in Italy and the team from Oregon can also count on as sympathizers in our Country, very it is owed it to the experience of typhus that the Timbers Army knows how to give to whom bewares the game of the stage and to whom is home. Behind the most beautiful supporters has been considered, that to be taken from example, from the same players of the MLS, there is so much passion and a lot of job as Christopher Tschirley, head ultras of the Timbers Army (TA) from seven years, told us in exclusive.
Please, introduce yourself and describe in few words your supporter club
My Name is Christopher Tschirley, I have been standing with the Timbers Army for 10 years and have been a capo for the past 7 years. I am also a member of the 107IST, the nonprofit member supported organisation that deals with the day to day needs of coordinating a supporters group such as the Timbers Army. The TA is an open volunteer driven group for all people that love the Timbers, our motto has always been “if you want to be TA, then you already are”, however, the 107IST takes that one step further for people who want to pay dues that go to paying for tifo displays, organising away travel and coordinating our charitable endeavors.
How do you prepare for the matches?
That is a very broad question that means different things to different people. For the more causal supporters among us that may mean meeting some friends before games and having a few drinks and laughs together and getting ready to sing for 2 hours. For those of us that are involved in the game day operations that may mean volunteering to help coordinate ticket exchange at our Fanladen, helping with sales of our merchandise, or going into the stadium hours early to help set up flags, drums and any tifo prep we may have planned for that day. There are lots of working parts to our group and everyone does their part to keep the whole machine running.
We know distances between the teams are enormous. Do you always follow the Timbers on away games?
HA! Yes, supporting your team away in the US is a daunting task, and to be honest besides having been to Seattle and Vancouver away many times, I have never been to another away game besides those, as being a teacher it is hard to get the time off or be able to afford lat minute travel. Just to give your readers an idea of the distances involved, our shortest away day is Seattle, which is the same as travelling by car from Rome to Florence. Our farthest away day is Orlando which is a 6.5 hour flight (4000km), which is still a little more than flying from Lisbon to Moscow.
Explain the meaning of you motto “NO PITY”
Very simply: “Senza Pieta”. When you step into our stadium as an opponent you will get no pity for the full time you are out on the pitch, whether warming up, playing or shaking hands. And especially if you are perceived as diving! “There’s no pity in the Rose City!”
Cascadia Rivalry: why there’s such an “hate” between the 3 teams? It’s only a geographical matter or there’s somithing behind? Who do you hate the most? SEA or VAN and why?
The Cascadia rivalry is certainly due in part to proximity; regional/local rivalries in the US flourish because of the vast distances that all sports teams have to deal with when playing other teams. However, the sports rivalry generally and the soccer rivalry specifically between Portland and Seattle goes back decades to the days of NASL (North American Soccer League). The Timbers were first founded in 1975 with the Sounders having started a year earlier and ever since the first home game against them there has been a huge rivalry. Both teams were part of the USL/A-League (American Serie B) before they were chosen to be part of MLS and so far as soccer rivalries go ours is one of the longest standing ones in the US. There is no one thing that caused us to ‘hate’ each other, brothers and sisters often have rivalries based on love and hate, it is not much different between Cascadians. As you can see I have failed to mention Vancouver up to this point, and that is mainly because although we see them as Cascadian rivals, they are more like the friendly cousins that come to visit and with whom you exchange a few barbs back and forth and then have a good laugh. We love visiting Vancouver and they love visiting us and we both love shitting on Seattle! But once we are in Civic Stadium: “NO PITY!”
Timber Joey is a strong part of your heritage. What does it mean “be a timber” for you?
Logging and Lumberjacks are indeed a strong part of Oregon’s heritage, though a diminishing one since the growing awareness of its environmental effects started taking hold in the 70’s. The name Timbers simply refers to the end product that comes from processing trees after they have been cut down (timber products), although it obviously brings to mind our past as lumberjacks. Timber Jim was the the perfect embodiment of that heritage and was our first mascot, and our first volunteer. He attended games back in the 70’s and eventually asked the Timbers management if he could bring a chainsaw to the games to rev and make noise to get the crowd going. Although hesitant at first, management eventually relented once he assured them that the chainsaw would have no chain on it and would just be used to make noise. And so was born our original supporter, banging drums, revving his chainsaw, leading some chants and ultimately introducing one of our oldest traditions, the ritual of cutting a slab of wood off a log for each of our home goals
Can you explain the history to the Italian fans behind “You are my sunshine”? The song you chant every 80th minute on home games
The story behind why we sing “You Are My Sunshine” every 80th minute is one that every old school Timbers Army member holds dear to their heart, even those who weren’t there for it yet such as myself. It is a story that goes to the root of what it means to be not only TA but specifically what it means to be a supporter of your team and town. It was August 2004 and it was Timber Jim’s first game back after the tragic loss of his daughter in a car accident. She was survived by her own daughter, Jim’s grand daughter, 3 years old at the time. The game was an important one as a win would clinch the regular season title for the Timbers, yet everyone was aware of the tragic backdrop to the game. Around the 80th minute Timber Jim climbed onto the platform in front of the TA with his granddaughter and started singing You Are My Sunshine, his daughter’s favourite song, and the whole TA (probably no more than 100 people) joined in. As they stood there singing, crying and wrapped up in a wave of emotion the Timbers scored the go ahead goal – and our first Sunshine goal as we call them) right in front of them and thus was born our tradition of singing that song every game at the 80th minute.
What do you think about MLS expansion?
I can’t speak for all the TA – and really no supporters group ever has one uniform opinion – but I would say that from my part I’d say that we welcome expansion up to a point. Too many new teams to quickly is not good for a league, but it is also obvious that for a country like the US 20 teams is just too few and the need to expand beyond that has happened in every other sport here. I think MLS has done well so far trying to balance the rising interest in investing in this league with not diluting the talent pool too much. But in order to attract real stars in their prime to the US it is necessary to dramatically raise the salary cap of the league or we will continue to lose good mid level players to other leagues that can afford to pay them what they deserve.
Tell us one thing to convince us to come to Jeld-Wen Field instead to another football ground in the US.
Well our Civic Stadium – sponsors come and go – is a jewel in and of itself, built originally in 1927 and gone through various renovations it is a beautiful classic stadium right in the heart of the city, and in that bowl every gamevday we put on one of the best displays – literally and figuratively – in MLS. If you come to visit us and sing along you will get to be part of many more moments such as these: