Unknown fan from Arizona, Teresa S, or Andrew and Laurie from Wilsonville. Those names ring legend in the Timbers Army as the fans of the Timbers who object to the antics of section 107 (actually now sections 105 through 109). While some fans may not like our language or object to some of the actions of the group, the folks above have actually written to the Timbers or the local media to express their concerns:
http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2009/05/open_letter_to_the_timbers_arm.html - John Canzano's article after receiving an email from Andrew and Laurie
http://theoffsiderules.blogspot.com/2009/05/some-people-do-not-like-timbers-army.html - The Offside Rules talks about it.
http://theoffsiderules.blogspot.com/2009/05/timbers-army-responds-to-oregonlive.html - The response from one of our members, Finn.
I get that the Timbers Army fan experience isn't for everyone, it's a chaotic, crazy, mind blowing experience at points, and it can be the most frustrating time as well when things don't work right. I personally cringe when idiots in our section pull out our most infamous chant YSA and still do it, even after being told numerous times that the chant is dead. There's songs we sing that I choose to alter the words, mostly because I just don't like them. That's my right, and that's why our chant sheets are done in PG version and the more salty English footy version. We try and cater to all tastes as best as we can, as long as you show up and show passion for the Timbers.
And I also understand that the Timbers' fan base needs to be diverse between the hardcore and casual fans. Hardcore fans show up week in and out, buy merchandise, and live and die with the team, and they are constants. You can count on them always, but yet even the best teams in the world can't 100 percent rely on the hardcore fans to support them to survive. You have to draw in fans of all walks to watch matches, which is why the Timbers have other sections of the park and label section 107 as Timbers Supporters Section. Even the security and ushers point out to fans wandering around that this section is where the crazies hang out, so if you are easily offended, this might not be the best area to be in.
It's a balancing act for sure, but yet the team and its owner get it. Merritt Paulson realizes the vocal, organic group of TA is showing passion and commitment for the game, and MLS wants more of that, which is a big reason why we were tagged as an expansion city. I'm not going to pretend for a minute to be objective about this topic, because I love what the TA does. I've been going to Trail Blazers games for years, as well as other sporting events, and the language at PGE Park for Timbers is not any worse than I've heard there, even after being in England watching football. And while the Trail Blazers games are loud and boisterous, it's also very controlled and manipulated by the game operations, as people cheer when prompted and the environment is very scripted. There's something to the spontaneity of creating atmosphere simply from voices, instruments, and passion, and what you see on match nights is simply amazing. In talking with players this weekend at a meet and greet, they love the energy from our group, and many of them chose to come here simply because of what the TA does.
And this group means something to me because they propped me up when I lost my mom to cancer, and wasn't sure how I would deal with it all. I met my wife in the section back in 2005, and she went from being a woman hanging out with soccer fans to being my best friend to becoming my wife during a wedding last year done Timbers Army style. I've stood with these people at Habitat for Humanity working on projects, tossed teddy bears for kids, contributed to Doernbechers, marched in the Starlight parade, gave money to various causes to help others including a young cancer patient that lost her beloved Timbers memorabilia to victims of identity theft cheated by a former Timbers player. As with any group, I consider this bunch a family, and I've met some of the best people here although at times, I'm infuriated at times. But yet, that's what happens in a family. You love them no matter what.
My hope is that anyone that wants to come to Timbers matches finds their own fan experience, whether it's part of a rowdy group, sitting in the beer garden drinking a few, or sitting in a family section just watching. It's important that everyone find their place, and we respect what each other brings to the match. Personally, I wouldn't trade what the Timbers Army brings, no matter what. I'm glad that the team and its ownership get what a special commodity we have.