Friday, July 16, 2010

The dangers of blogging and catchy titles.

I have been guilty of the worst of errors,  lazy thinking.  My last post about the "men's league" ignored the reality that there are many leagues in the Portland area whose primary players are male, as well as the fact that the league I've mostly played in,  GPSD,  is not a "men's league" by any formal designation.  There have been instances when we've played against opponents who had women in their side.  The properly corrective missive below arrived from Jevan at the Oregon Adult Soccer Association.   It's worth a read.  


I love your latest blog post “Local Men's League Championships- yesterday and today.” Well all except the headline and the opening sentence.

It’s true that at one point GPSD was the only affiliated “men’s” league in the Portland area, but I don’t think (even just including the history from the merging of Rose City and Portland leagues in GPSD) that it’s ever been THE men’s soccer league in the Portland area. Back in the old days GPSD even affiliated separately as Rose City and Portland leagues until (I think) the late 80’s or early 90’s, so the “District” was in fact, two leagues, neither of which could lay claim to be THE league.

Old-timers often refer to GPSD as “the men’s league” and NUWS as “the Women’s league”, I cringe each and every time I hear either of those things – we have more or less eradicated those terms at least at the OASA Board level.

From OASA’s perspective, we don’t even have Men’s leagues, women’s leagues, etc. We affiliate a soccer league and they are free to offer whatever soccer they wish. OPSL affiliated as a break off from GPSD, so initially they offered Men’s premier division, but they have added women’s, over 30, 6-a-side, and are talking about other things. I could cite other examples.

I’d even argue that GPSD is not a men’s league (the league has no gender restriction), but rather an open soccer league populated primarily by men.

NUWS has some claim to being A women’s league since they do have a gender rule (In Oregon we have not yet had the gender identity issues that California soccer has had, but that’s another story), but they certainly are not THE Women’s league, not even the affiliated Portland area women’s league.

Without counting the many Portland area unaffiliated leagues that have men’s play (I know of four large ones), I stuck this on letterhead so I had a list to refer to, the Portland area affiliated leagues that offer men’s play are Eastside United, George Beck, GPSD, Legacy, OPSL & OSCL.

GPSD THE Men’s league? Not now, probably not ever.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Local Men's League Championships- yesterday and today.

In the earlier days of the Men's soccer league,  say from the late Seventies when the Portland Park Bureau stimulated a growth spurt  until about a dozen years ago,  there was one playing season.  It started in the fall and trudged deep into the mucky month of December at times.
The season was split with a break over the holidays,  and recommenced after the first of the year.   As you can see from the accompanying cover of the 1994 Championship program,  that led to the championship games being held in the spring following a season of about eighteen games. 

I can't think back on those years without a shout out to the memory of Ted Zyelinske who was the dynamo behind much of men's league soccer in Portland.   It was largely due to Ted's efforts that there were soccer programs for the championships.  Each team got its picture and record included.   Not only that but the championship games were played at PGE Park...then called Civic Stadium.  I remember how vast the old, artificial turf field seemed in the couple of times I had the honor of being out there.  (Our team had a talented forward by the name of Alex Addy who scored a record 36 goals in one season.  The rest of us just tried to get him the ball.)  And there was no friction to speak of,  so the ball would shoot off into the distance.   Ted was a tireless promoter of the local men's game.  He was cheerful,  knew everyone,  sold ideas and advertising and sponsorships.   A Brazilian by birth,  Ted's playing days were ended early by an injury but as a result,  his efforts made the local game an excellent experience.  Sadly,  he died in 1995 at the age of 59, suffering a heart attack while visiting family in Brazil.

In more recent years,  the heavy demand for field use by a variety of other sports like lacrosse and ultimate frisbee coupled with the massive growth of youth soccer led to changes in how the men's league unfolded.   No longer did the season run into December nor start in January.  No more games with snow encrusting the ground or a layer of water over ice. ( In this picture,  Brian Porter of SJO Irregulars battles for the ball in a 1978 match.)
Instead,  there are now 2.5 seasons.  The League sponsors a short season in January on artificial turf fields.  The primary league season consists of ten games starting in September and ending before Thanksgiving.   And a secondary,  Spring-Summer season unrolls with ten games between April and July.   That season has just ended,  and I'm sad to say that no FC77 Club team made it to the top of the heap yet,  though our Over40 First Division team,  FC77 PBR has a showdown coming up next week.   There are playoff matches over several divisions with the results being posted on the GPSD website.   

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vicente del Bosque- Conductor de la orquestra de Espana. World Cup

"And when you have order talent presents itself better."   I saw this quote from del Bosque,  the manager of the Spanish national team, last week.  In my mind that sums up the team's play.  Yesterday's game was fine with me though there were a few moments that had me gnashing my teeth.   I would have been happy regardless of the outcome.  But was happy Spain won.  And that Iniesta was clearly onside on the replay.   A disputed goal would have been horrible.  Back to del Bosque.  His Wikipedia biography says he was born in December of 1950.  He's a year younger than I am.  Amazing.

I haven't heard anyone else comment on this, but if my calculation is correct the World Cup has changed continents, Europe and South America,  in alternate series ever since 1962 following Brazil's back-to-back wins.  That is until this Copa when Europe won in succession to Europe.   Of course, this presupposes that England is willing to be part of Europe.  Otherwise it's only a forty year pattern and not near a half century.   I don't know that this has any significance,  unless it's part of a conspiracy by the powers behind FIFA to make certain no one feels left out.  Naw, that didn't make sense even when I said it.   

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Portland Oregon: more than a century of soccer traditions

Yesterday I happened across a copy of the Portland Mercury folded open to an article entitled "Who Cares About Soccer?" with a subtitle purporting to present information about "Portland Soccer: Where it is, where it began, and where it's going?"   Reading it over I give credit to the writer for coming up with some solid general background on the early years of the game in the US,  the generic 'ethnic teams' in the early part of the Twentieth Century story,  and then the Portland Timbers and their impact on the local game.  Entwined with that was the story about Title IX and its legal enfranchisement of girls' sport on a footing equal to that of boys which then led to an explosion of youth soccer because the equipment costs were low and lots of players were involved.  My personal version of that was the Custer Bulldogs, a team formed for seventh graders at St. Clare's school in southwest who had no soccer program.  One of the other big selling points for youth soccer at the time was the a particular size or physique wasn't really necessary.  Kids of all size and differing skills could succeed.   And the quality of volunteer coaching was a complete match.
But back to the core of what I felt reading the Mercury article.   Soccer's staying power or legitimacy in Portland or anywhere else in the US isn't an issue.  Isn't even worth discussing.  

Soccer has been played in Portland for at least 110 years based on what we know.  The earliest records unearthed show Portland Municipal Judge Cameron donating a cup that bore his name for the State Championship apparently won in 1902 and 1903 by the “Winged A's” of the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC). Which gives special irony to the Timbers' present digs in the shadow of today's MAC Club. The game in Portland has always included an international connection as well. The Portland champions, Peninsula, opened the 1920 season with an exhibition against English sailors from the British freighter, M. de Larinaga, which was loading flour at the Harbor Wall.  The Cameron Cup was still being awarded to teams as the late as the 1930s as best I can tell. 
Judge Cameron and his somewhat shady standing in Portland is available for those who are interested.  
The general unfolding of soccer in Portland through the Twenties and the Thirties did indeed parallel what was happening on the East Coast with the formation of the ASL and big corporate underwriting.  Slate just featured this interesting article on the subject.  But it seemed to have little effect on the West Coast. The east was a long and very expensive trip away.  And the east coast teams probably were dismissive of frontiersmen who happened to play.    The game in Portland continued to be centered around athletic clubs like the MAC Club and Portland Cricket Club, the ethnic associations but also educational institutions like the state's colleges. And then there were teams with names like Oceanic of less apparent origin.  Germania,  Clan McLeay,  and the Sellwood Soccer club were notable and found their way regularly into the newspapers.  And the play was regional.  Every year there was  competition throughout the Pacific Northwest for a regional cup. 
It was in the late Twenties and the Thirties that Hugh Templeton and his brother starred for Sellwood and other select teams.   On the field with them were other names more familiar to Portland history like Tom Moyer.  Hugh was proud of the club he belonged to and of their achievements.  And he and his family kept records of those days, a scrapbook which provides an invaluable window into soccer in Portland.   

On May 12th, 1934 a letter was sent to Hugh from H. J. Pallont (I believe that is correct)  reading, "You have been selected on the list of players to represent Oregon in the Canadian Soccer Championship game to be played at the Stadium on Wednesday June 13th,  kickoff 3PM."
The letter continues with details of player meetings, training quarters, and with an invitation to Templeton and his wife to attend a dance and social hosted by the Canadian Legion.   

One of the most compelling items in the scrapbook to me is a photo of the Sellwood Soccer Team in their striped jerseys posing as the Champions of the Rose City League in 1931-32.  The inscription reads that in addition to being champions, they are winners of the Meier & Frank and Burnett Cups, and runners up for the Oregon State Cup.   Two cup trophies and an inscribed plaque with laurel leaves are in the grassy foreground.   Prizes of local soccer history long gone missing, I suspect.   ( Another reason for soccer enthusiasts to work with the Oregon Historical Society to create an archive of soccer's history, curated by professionals, for future generations.)
There are four men in the picture who are wearing suits.  And who appear to be older by a fair bit.   The crew in uniform,  including their keeper in a white shirt in front, total thirteen.  None of your modern squads carrying a roster of eighteen.   

In that photo,  they smile out at us from eighty years past, young men now likely all departed.  They have a look that anyone who's played the game knows: satisfaction and confidence.  Not cocky.  Squinting slightly in the sunlight.  Glad of their wins and achievements,  but more,  glad that they had the chance to lace on their boots and play.   And glad they will get to go again.   

Coming-  The effect of WW II on the game. Rebirth in the postwar years.  Keepers of the flame.  Lost treasures:what happened to the Cameron Cup?   Heroes of soccer in the old days and not so long ago.  Jim Gorsek.  Ted 
Zyelinske,  Club Germania, Andy Clark.  And more. Because the Game is and always will be true PDX.