Thursday, March 10, 2011

CSI:Oregon's Cameron Cup examined

long wave UV examination of the
Bennett Cup.
The Bennett Cup is more
mysterious.  who was bennett?
Not too many months past, I wrote in astonished glee of the recovery of the Cameron Cup,  Oregon's oldest soccer artifact dating back one hundred years.   Judge George Cameron, scion of that Scottish clan's Portland branch, donated the cup as the trophy for competition in Association Football here in Portland.  For decades small plaques added to the cup's base recorded the outcomes of pitch battles between teams like Sellwood and Clan McLeay and Longview and MAAC.  At some point in the late 70s or early 80s,  the cup and the competition with which it had been associated disappeared and there was no clear trace of the story behind the judge's bequest nor behind what had happened with the cup itself.   
In late 2010, however,  Roger Hamilton, president of the State Adult Soccer Association and longtime player and supporter of the game,  received a phone call from Washington asking if he was interested in getting back two 'old trophies' which had been residing in attic storage up north.   Happily,  Roger took the time to go on a voyage of discover  to retrieve the cups.   Lo and behold,  one of them was the Cameron Cup.  The other was the Bennett Cup,  a trophy noted in newspaper articles from the early 30s but without clear understanding of which competition it was the prize.  

the cameron cup- a century of oregon soccer

To make a long story short,  I was privileged to accompany Roger to meet with Tom Fuller,  a professional conservator this week to have the two cups examined.   Conservators are the people in the museum world who do the CSI work,  looking at objects in great detail with many tools and sharp observational skills so as to decipher details about their composition, their stories, as well as what might be done to preserve their authentic character and extend their lives.   Fuller,  who donated his time while in town on a project for the Oregon Historical Society, looked both cups over in great detail and was able to suggest likely answers to basic questions about the evolution of the cups--such as whether the bases were originally attached or added later.  And noting that the small metal tags denoting which teams won the cup in which years had at some points been moved around the base,  possibly to make room for other additions.

Those small tags chronicle an Oregon soccer legacy which extends all the way back to at least 1910 when the cup was presented to what was, at the time,  the League in Portland.   Team names are engraved into those tags and into history as result. The most recent are from the 1960s.  One conclusion from our discussion tonight was to take the time to catalogue those names and try to create a timeline of champion soccer teams in our city during that century gone by.  Amateur teams that is.  The guys who put their boots on and went out in the winter mud to 'have a try'.   

The Bennett Cup is fascinating in a different way.  Its provenance isn't quite as clear though it shows up in team photos of league winner as far back as the beginning of the 30s.  And it's not clear what the competition was that earned the Bennett Cup.  The globe is inscribed "PSFA  Second Series" which one assumes means the "Portland Soccer Football Association" .  But does "second series" mean the second division?  Evidence suggests that there weren't enough teams playing for there to be two divisions.   I think it more likely that there were two legs to the season, and that the Cameron was given for the first and the Bennett for the second.  We also don't know at all who "Bennett" was.   Or when the trophy was created.    

I leave these mysteries for another day.  Enough that the Cameron and Bennett are back in safe hands and that we know for a certainty.  When you say "Rose City Til I Die." these days you are echoing a tradition in the game that goes back at least one hundred years.   I'd like to know whether the Seattle Sounders can claim a soccer tradition that has roots this deep.  

closeup of the cup. "Portland Association Football"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Where do you go for news on the Cascadia Summit?

I have been encouraged by The Oregonian's coverage of the many unfolding facets of the Portland Timbers' nascent season in MLS.   But there are still occasional bumps in the road,  needless bumps.  The Timbers played a round robin tournament this past weekend--everyone knows that I imagine.  The teams included the Timbers' archrivals,  the Whitecaps and the Sounders.  Our crew stunned the Seattleites Friday night with a 2-0 loss.  And on Saturday,  tied the Caps in a game that was described in the paper as 'lackluster' at times.  Not to quibble,  that was still not bad news.  But the round robin didn't end there.  It finished with the Caps playing the Sounders on Sunday.   With a win and a tie,  the Timbers would be the winners of the tournament or at least tie for the lead.  And the close of the story would say something about the directions and relative readiness of the these three fierce competitors. 
So it was that I looked through the Monday morning sports section to find out what had happened. As far as I could tell,  not even the Sunday result was listed.  Maybe I'm an oddity but I suspect there were other people looking for a story on the close that round robin.  But I guess it wasn't considered worth covering since the Timbers weren't actually playing.  Which leads me to think that our local press still doesn't quite get how saturating the interest in all things Timber related can be,  even the outcomes of matches they don't play in.
If you click on the subject line for this post,  you can find out what happened at that Sunday game. As reported in the Winnipeg press.   Ironic.