The History Press, $19.99, 127 pages
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a Portland Timbers fan, and a member of the Timbers Army 107ist supporters organization. When I root, I root for the Timbers. I am old enough to remember the old Portland Timbers, and I even met the Timbers greatest ambassador Clive Charles, when he coached soccer at my school; Reynolds High School back in the mid-1980s. As such, I am precisely the person that Michael Orr’s book is written for.
Michael Orr, a Portland-area blogger/football journalist/podcaster, is one of those souls at the center of the DIY football fan culture that gives American soccer its distinctive charm. His book, The 1975 Portland Timbers: The Birth of Soccer City USA, details the 1st year of the Timbers, their formation as an expansion franchise in the rough and tumble, fly-by-night North American Soccer League (NASL), through to their appearance in Soccer Bowl ‘75, the NASL championship game.
Orr has done a significant amount of scholarship culled from player interviews, box scores and news reports. He also had terrific access to an array of personal photographs and unique mementos from ex-players and coaches. He writes in a concise, easy to follow journalistic style. His book is strongest when he discusses the day-to-day life of the players as they, and their adoptive city grew to love one another.
Soccer has always been something of a niche sport in the United States, seemingly ever-poised to grasp the zeitgeist of the average sports fan. Portland however, has embraced soccer without reservation, and to some extent, it’s because of this 1975 squad. These original Timbers were English 1st division players mainly borrowed from Wolverhampton, Aston Villa, and West Ham United. Many of them went back to England immediately following the season, but a core group remained permanently as players, coaches and ambassadors of the game fostering the growth of football here in Portland. This appealing book will make an excellent gift for anybody fascinated by the history of our beautiful Rose City, and those who love soccer in Portland especially.
Michael Orr’s blog can be found at http://maofootball.wordpress.com/
He also co-hosts a football podcast with Kelly McLain at http://nasn.tv/category/soccer-made-in-portland/