Soccer….Family Style

How I Became a Timbers Fan
April 14, 2011, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s Portland Timber home opener and it’s like old home week for me. They’re hosting the Chicago Fire, which is about as close as Des Moines gets to a local team. The referee is Riccardo Salazar, my husband’s roommate at National Referee Camp in 2000, their rookie year as National Referees. But most importantly, it’s Portland. The expansion team I’ve been most excited about coming into MLS.

I am only realizing tonight how big a Timbers fan I am. It’s a well established fact that I love a good supporters section, especially a team that has a better supporters section than their level of play. Timbers had a MLS level supporters section when they were still in the A-League. How do I know? Because my husband is an idiot.

Yep, in 2005, I was all set to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have a specific plan, but I figured….double digits, we’ll do something. Until a few months beforehand, when my husband came to me with that “I’m already in the dog house” look. My ordinarily awesome husband forgot to block his soccer schedule, and got scheduled to referee the Timbers ON OUR ANNIVERSARY. Not the same weekend. On the day. Ooohh I was pissed OFF. You do not turn down a referee assignment in the A-League, so that wasn’t an option, but I was sure as hell not spending my 10th wedding anniversary by myself.

So I went to Portland, with my referee ticket at the half line. Yee ha. Then I looked (longingly) across the stadium. It looked like the Portland fans were having a righteous good time. That’s the only invitation I need. I joined their party and was instantly in awe of this amazing supporters section. They sang, cheered, they were funny. It was great. Then they found out that I was the referee’s wife, on my wedding anniversary. They became my supporters, ripping on my husband, sharing their Timbers swag, and buying me beer. It was, by far, the best time I’ve ever had at an away game, and it wasn’t even MLS.

Now I see their supporters on the MLS broadcast, and I’m right there with them. They’ve got great tifo, they’re loud, they’ve got Timber Joey cutting off a huge chunk of log every time they score! It’s fantastic stuff. So count me in Timbers. I’ve been a supporter since May 28th, 2005.

Nashville Road Trip, Day 3
April 1, 2011, 9:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Columbus, OH, you’ve been replaced. This blog post is dedicated to the soccer people in Nashville, who just proved to me that the US can have a better home field advantage than Crew Stadium. Thanks to American Outlaws Nashville, American Outlaws reps Matt Connolly and Brian Hexsel, there were excellent night before, pre-game bar, and tailgate events. But what really made Nashville rock my world was “Big Kenny,” stadium security guy.

I was not paying attention to the time and with the added time getting the kids into rain gear, we were very late getting into the stadium. So late that the standing section was full to about halfway back. I hate sitting that far back. Seriously hate it. Like cannot stand it. People don’t sing, and it ruins my mood and I did not drive 10 hours to be a grouch at the game. The whole thing was chaos because the kids had to go to the bathroom, so we had to split up at a critical decision making point. It was insanity for a while there. This was the one time I wished we were back with our Sam’s Army friends, who would have made room for us in the front (or reminded me what it was time to get in the stadium!), but stay tuned, as usual, it all worked out for the best.

I resigned myself to the middle of the section, figuring I’d hang out by the front gate as long as they’d let me. We set up camp, and the kids and I went up front to watch the warm up and mug for the cameras. As expected, the security guys came and shooed us away right after the anthems, and I took a few deep breaths, and figured I was meant to be the song leader for the back of the pack. I got up on an aisle seat and started leading off the guys in the front. Doug was on the drum leading with me and it was fun. Aviva, Doug and I led a few chants together, which was really great, especially that catch a glimpse feeling it gave me of Aviva’s future adventures.

Security made another sweep through the section with two guards this time. As they came down the row, I stepped off my chair. The bigger guy said “Thanks” and I replied, “No problem, I’m just trying to see the song leaders in front to get the timing.” They worked their way down the aisle and by the time they were on their way back up, I was on the seat again. The other guard glared at me, and they got in a bit of a heated discussion out of my earshot, but as they approached, the big guy said “if she breaks the chair, she’ll pay for it, she knows that.” I smiled and said “Hey man, I’m just here to have a good time, I’ll buy it if I break it” as I extended my hand to shake his. The grouchy guard shoved my hand away. Hmm….a hard sell. Okay….so I said “Listen, I came here from Des Moines, I’m just here to have fun.” While grouch man grumbled, the big guy lit up “You came here all the way from Des Moines?” he said, incredulous. I laughed, “Yeah, from Des Moines, Iowa.” He said “Des Moines? Shoot! Girl, you knock yourself out. Have fun!” I have never hugged a security guard before, but at that moment, “Big Kenny” became my favorite security guard EVER.

You see, usually, security guards rule with an iron fist and a boss-man attitude. They’re in charge, and they don’t care if you’re rioting or song leading, it’s all “sit down and don’t give me a hard time.” Finally, a guard that gets that you charm more bees with honey than vinegar! The truth is, I think most ultra fans want to get along with security, as long as we can do our thing in (relative) peace.

I led a few more chants up at the top, but when my son asked if we could go down front, I jumped at the chance to take him. We spent the game mostly at the front right corner of the section, having a blast. My friend Big Kenny came down and instead of yelling at me to get out of the aisle, told the front row “Y’all need to make room for this lady, she came from Iowa.” God bless you Big Kenny, you are a prince among security guards.

We may have lost, but I’ll come back to Nashville for a game any day. Southern hospitality, a stadium that was silent when the US was scored on (that can happen??) and a crowd that really seemed to be getting into it. Nashville, I was really looking forward to seeing the game you’d put out there, and you did not disappoint. I love ya, Tennessee.

%d bloggers like this: