Monday, December 20, 2010

Seeking the grail in Oregon Soccer History

I have been writing officially and unofficially about the history of the game in Oregon for a decade or so.  The story of soccer before the original arrival of the Portland Timbers and the subsequent ascendancy of University of Portland as a college soccer power is complicated and somewhat mysterious.   It's a detective story if you will.   Just after the turn of the Twentieth Century,  early adherents to "Association Football" played in the Portland area for a trophy which was donated by Judge Cameron,  a figure whose career has mixed characteristics.   The Cameron Cup, regardless, was the state championship trophy for many years.   As I researched the game,  I spent a fair amount of time trying to get a handle on what had happened to this fabled cup.   Without success.   It appeared to have faded into legend decades back.  And for me,  finding the Cameron Cup and figuring out what had become of it  acquired the status of 'quest'.  It was a 'grail quest' of sorts, likely doomed to endless frustration.

Imagine my amazement and excitement, then,  when I received a note that the Cameron Cup and another ancient trophy,  the Bennett Cup,  had turned up and were being returned to Oregon!    Not only that,  but there was a picture of the two included.   I was in hog heaven.  More needs to be done to trace the journey of these two trophies through the past half century.   Worth noting is that one of the early Cameron Cup winners one century ago is M.A.A.C. or the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club now known as the MAC Club.   And one of the last holders of the Cup are Club Germania,  the German social club which still exists and carries its tradition proudly.

Somewhere in today's landscape of the game,  I hope there is a place to honor and explain the Cameron Cup and the earliest origins of soccer in Oregon.  Maybe an exhibit case with facts and images in the new Key Bank Club at the Portland Timbers stadium?   

We'll see.   In the meantime the Grail quest has turned out not to be like the quest for the Hunting Beast in the Once and Future King.  King Pellinore might be disappointed but almost any "Rose City Till I Die" fan should be extremely pleased.  Our lineage is ancient.