In this third and final part, Mike Schwartz, our American FC Nantes and Portland Timbers fan, living in Oregon, takes us into the crowd of Providence Park! It will probably remind you of our Tribune Loire…
The practice of arriving early to Providence Park for early entry into the North End predates Portland’s time in MLS. “Lineculture”, as it is known, is standard practice for thousands of Timbers Army ticket holders, and is one of the major social networking events on matchday. People queue up well over 12 hours before kickoff. It is not uncommon, especially on the eve of derby matches, for people to camp out overnight, on the sidewalk and on the plaza in front of the ground, creating a festival-like atmosphere of tents, food, card games, and impromptu pick-up games.
This is Soccer City, U.S.A, after all. You would expect fans to be passionate, to commit ample time and effort in support of their club, and to be loyal no matter the Timbers form or where they are in the table. Some may call this excessive, and it absolutely requires a number of favorable circumstances, namely a lot of free time, an understanding boss, and an incredibly understanding partner. Then again, in the TA, your boss and/or partner is likely to be camping out with you !
This all begs an important question: is all of this necessary ? The answer is “yes and no”. It is a lifestyle for those who partake, and people have become very good at it. Propane heaters, hot food, and the latest in reclining folding chair technology are not uncommon. But does this make you any more of a fan than someone who doesn’t do this at all, who doesn’t even have a Timbers Army ticket, nor do they want one ? Absolutely not.
The trinity : Team, Town, Timbers army
In Portland, we say “if you want to be Timbers Army, you are.” In Portland, we talk about the trinity of Team, Town, Timbers Army. Loving your city and your club come with no requirements, no guidelines, and no rules – love is love. Being “RCTID”, or “Rose City ‘Till I Die” has hundreds of meanings. It is often brushed aside as “melodramatic”, but in reality, it is an ode to the history of football support around the World and throughout history. This is a connection with generations of fans who have proclaimed themselves “United Till I Die”, “Villa Till I Die”, “Arsenal Till I Die”, and so on…
« Rose City Till I Die ».
But here in Portland, we’re not simply “Timbers Till I Die”, that doesn’t exist. We are “Rose City Till I Die”, and that runs deeper than 90 minutes of football, a game, a week, a season. It is about Timbers from the 70’s, like Mick Hoban and the late Clive Charles, two Englishmen who made Portland their permanent home and left indelible marks on the soccer culture of this city and region. It is about the trinity of Team, Town, and Timbers Army, about charity, volunteer work, and stewardship of the city.
The majority of what makes the Timbers community great takes place with little fanfare, with no cameras rolling, and with no scoreboard. Under the Timbers Army banner, people plant trees, renovate dilapidated playgrounds, bag groceries for the Oregon Food Bank, and march for social equality. The boys in green may win, lose, or frustratingly find a way to score four goals and still draw, but we carry on proud as ever of who we are and what we do.
The chance to watch Nantes on a Saturday morning before a Timbers match is my perfect day.
I am nearly 7,000 km from Nantes, but my passion grows stronger every day. The internet has helped, but there is also more football on television in America than there has ever been. BeIN Sport shows the weekly “Ligue 1 Show”, and three or four matches per week. The chance to watch Nantes on a Saturday morning before a Timbers match is my perfect day. I have taken the chance to introduce as many Timbers supporters to Nantes as I can, and with a popular American international like Bedoya in « jaune-et-vert », it has suddenly become easier to talk about my love of this far-away French club that nobody here had heard of until now. Through Facebook and Twitter, I have been able to connect with true nantais, and have been lucky enough even to exchange scarves! I could never ask to support two more perfect clubs, two clubs that love their city and region and who show their passion with every breath.
Allez nantais ! Onward, Rose City !
Mike Schwartz – FC Nantes supporter in Portland, Oregon, USA.
(Translated into french by Nicolas Moulins, A.N.S member and FCNexpats administrator)
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