Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unraveling the mystery "These Lads Really Know How to Kick It Around"

The Oregonian Sport Section, sometime in the latter part of 1935,  featured a picture of the Sellwood soccer team, arms folded and smiling confidently, in a parklike setting.   At their feet were ranged two trophies and a ball.  Until this week,  I couldn't venture an opinion about those trophies.  Today I can say with certainty that the Cameron Cup,  Oregon's oldest known soccer artifact, sits on the left at the feet of T. Watson and the Bennett Cup, a second ancient icon of our game, sits at the feet of R. Watson.  The crew from Sellwood,  including the ever-affable Hugh Templeton, were getting ready to face off against German Sports at Sellwood Park. 

The match had been called off at the half four weeks earlier when one of the German players, Gus Moessner, had died during the game.  The German Sports were ahead by two goals when the match had been stopped, but Sellwood was confident after having beaten the Germans three times in league play.   

At stake in the match was the Oregon State Cup annual fixture.   

Most notable to me, though, was the presence of those two trophies, icons of our state's soccer heritage going back almost to the turn of the Twentieth Century. The Cameron Cup, only recovered in the last few weeks after being out of sight for decades,  symbolizes our sport's earliest competitions.   And to see these photos recalls many threads of continuity between past and present.

Earlier today,  I had an exhilarating phone conversation with a descendant of Judge Cameron,  who created the Cameron Cup at the beginning of the 20th Century.  She is eager to share family history about the Judge and also about her ancestors who played for Portland's Scottish sides ninety or so years ago.  

So more is to come. Like the unfolding of a Chinese puzzle the unraveling of history no one remembered provides opportunities to recognize that we are part of a grand and long tradition.  

John Rooney is reported to have signed with MLS and is available.

John Rooney's name is either a blessing or a curse, I suspect.  On different days.   He's the mercurial Wayne's brother and is either not quite the talent his brother is reputed to be, or is a talent in his own right but is beset by unrealistic expectations because of his brother, or his brother is not quite the talent he's cracked up to be and so John's shortcomings are really not that big a deal.   Regardless, the youngster with the big name has been in the Pacific NW training and visiting teams like the Sounders and the Timbers since last fall.   This past week there was a small piece in the paper.  (It's almost always a small piece in the paper.) that John has signed for MLS and will be available.

As a member of the Ould Guard of Portland Timbers supporters,  I find myself wondering about the calculations which might go on in the strategy room of the PTFC leadership.  If the young Rooney has any talent at all and can play decently at this level,  with the special seasoning of some 'heart',  would he be a marquee draw out of curiousity as much as anything else?  If he has no talent at all,  it's hard to believe the team would bother with him.   Gavin Wilkinson comes across as a very practical man, not unsympathetic,  but not given to flights of fancy with the club's money and limited roster slots.  Not to mention the rest of the leadership. All give evidence of a very carefully calculated decisionmaking process. And I applaud them for that.

Wil be interesting to see where the youngster lands.   Regardless,  it's got to be a hard road getting respect when your brother's Wayne Rooney.