Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Don Younger-In Memoriam

Long ago in Portland there was little in the way of beer,  little in the way of cool districts,  no McMenamins or other brewpubs, and very very little sympathy for or interest in that sport called soccer.   What there was, however, was a place called The Horsebrass Pub on SE Belmont street.  A place which evoked every imaginable sensation that would warm the hearts of an Anglophile.   Don Younger,  independent and single-minded publican,  had managed to create something magic with his pub.   
Sadly, I read the news today oh boy,  and part of it was the announcement that Don had passed on.  Which made me sad for both his passing and the loss of his friends and family but also for the loss of a time in Portland that is unlikely to be repeated.  Rightly,  Younger is honored and mourned for the nurturing and support he provided to people in the nascent brewing industry.  And for his quirky but authentic approach to the Horsebrass, a Portland institution.
What might go unsaid in other settings though is that Don was one of the people who helped the birth of broad interest in soccer in our city.   The pub sponsored teams,  the best known of which  I believe was Rangers.   On the east wall just near the dart boards,  a framed photo still hangs of the Old Nicks Horsebrass team which rang up some metal in the 80s.   I don't know whether Don liked the game itself all that much or saw it as an essential outcropping of the pub life which he was working to create.  Regardless,  he gave it his support.   I remember well going to the Horsebrass on a weekend morning with family to have a good English breakfast and to watch a tape or limited access broadcast of the FA Cup final on the telly.    
Those are good and genuine memories.  I was lucky to be part of it all.   And I'm sad today that Don is no longer with us.  But I hope his memory will be part of our stories for years to come.

A Thrill of Recognition

Okay it's a small thing, but I was reading the Timbers Notebook this past week and saw the small print notice announcing the division alignments in the coming MLS season.   In the West I noted that competitors included our boys, the Portland Timbers,  Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, and the San Jose Earthquake.   All of them teams who struggled for the title back in the 70s NASL.  Brings back memories of an extraordinary time when most of us were just discovering soccer.  Who would have thought that we'd be gearing up thirty some years later to go to battle under the same banners and wearing the same colors (sorta).  As I say,  I felt a thrill.