Sunday, November 12, 2017

Old Nicks Celebrate - November 5, 2017

Old Nicks gathered almost our entire team for a match against Rodders on a gray and blowy Sunday morning. The game went well for a change.  We almost never win on the Clackamas Community College field which is legendary for its 15 degree slope,  cow pasture grass,  and small size.  This day we were energized though and we won 2-0,  good goals both.  
Pinger and Bergenser have been running low level gambling operations related to the Timbers win totals, away win totals, and similar important reckonings and post-game had been designated as the moment to disclose the winners,  so all were primed to gather for bier and brats near the field.  

Front row-from the left. Robert Rivera,Geoffrey Pagen, John Mayfield, Mike Calder, Dr. Don Makande, Roy Thompson, John Russell, Jack Hevel, Pat McCormick, Tim Leslie.
Back Row-Mgr. Porter, Lyle McBride, Glenn Fithian-Barrett,Steve Pinger, Kim Bergenser, Jeff Heilman, Jim Hilliker, Al Gerritsen, Bruce Barclay, Kaiser Siddiqui, Rich Black, Jim Brinkman.
Sadly absent-Mark Vogel and Rock Courter.   Crew are wearing the new 40th Year kit.

Mgr Porter was tasked to bring a bbq which he did, transporting the propane tank in his child safety seat.  Bergenser was tasked with bringing the brats.  Others brought german style salads, chips, and garnishes.  The gathering place was on the Oregon City banks of the Clackamas River where the Trolley Trail passes on its way south.  Google maps calls the place Funkity Parking, and it was indeed fun.  Kim and Pinger ceremonially presented the 'caps'.  One, the wooden spoon cap was for getting spanked I think.  The contestant who fared the worst.   The other was the Cap Man cap which was won by Al Gerritsen who did not show for the ceremony and thereby the item was entrusted to the Mgr.  

 As with most social activities involving the Nicks (and some of their partners as well) there was cheerful conversation on many topics--our team has a wide-ranging interest and opinion in almost everything.  The discourse was fueled from the Bier Wagen with Glenn's famous five taps flowing profusely.  

Happily, the sun shone and the temperatures were warm for November.  Occasional runners and dog walkers passed by,  trying not to seem too curious about the gaggle of old men in funny hats.  Also fortuitously, we were not visited by the police or other official personages.  

The day unfolded just as everyone had hoped.  We were grateful to be there,  to share the company and to have played soccer.   Sometime later,  however,  we were all stunned and saddened to learn that Kim Bergenser's wife, Mary,  had passed away just about the time Kim was heading to visit her.  She was receiving treatment at OHSU and sudden complications took her unexpectedly.  The loss was a sharp reminder of our fragility as humans,  of how blessed we are to be part of this group who can share life,  however it unfolds.  

Dr. Makande closes out the ceremony with a Haka dance from his traveling road show. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Celebrating in our 40th year

On July 22, 2017, FC77 gathered at the Montessori Sun School field at SE 148th just south of Division,  a pitch that has been the closest thing our club has known as a 'home' in our years playing the game. We came together on the occasion of the annual Athletic Cup, an annual gathering of club players, their families, and various other friends and opponents and people who wandered by and were interested.   The potluck, with an 'all comers' pickup game for young and old along with somewhat regular raffle of entertaining soccer items, has drawn from 40 to 60 folks, particularly since Montessori Field became our home pitch. 

This year is the 40th year since the original players in the club first started out as a pickup team in the Portland Parks summer league of 1977 playing under the banner of SJO Irregulars.  A highlight of the event was the unveiling of the 40th year badge,  selected from club member designs.   The six teams of FC77 were all represented at the event-  Old Nicks, Newcastle, Hibernians, Rangers, Bollocks and PBR.   

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The best, most passionate soccer happens in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup

In the round of sixteen, it's not unusual for MLS sides to face off against an occasional upstart from USL or even lower divisions.  The Lamar Hunt Open Cup is notable in encouraging hopeful teams in the wide universe of American soccer to take a run at glory.  In this 2017 campaign,  the FC Cincinnati vs Chicago Fire match in the round of 16 was a bright moment supporting that concept.  After defeating the Columbus Crew in an earlier round,  Cincinnati stepped onto the field against one of MLS's hottest sides.  Chicago Fire are running hot in the MLS table atop the Eastern division. And they met their match in the Cincinnati team led by keeper Mitch Hildebrandt.   The game went to PKs and the Cincinnati side came out the victors.   The win puts them up against the other Cinderella team, Miami FC.  And at least one non-MLS team will advance to the next round after.  

I think this is a great tradition.  Worthy of our staunch support.  Soccer like many other sports has been enriched by the successes of unheralded champions.  If that ever stops,  the game will suffer.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

As a followup to my earlier post about Marco Farfan  there’s been a long tradition of soccer players coming out of Portland's eastside.   While  East Portland (folding in Gresham and Troutdale and Fairview)  has only a quarter of the city's population, homegrown players joining the Timbers' ranks have often come from this economically challenged part of our community.   
In addition to Farfan,  at least two other soccer notables have come out of Centennial High School.  The school, opened in Oregon's centennial celebration of Statehood,  has been the alma mater of notables in other competitive arenas.  U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, for example, is an Eagle. 
Going back to soccer though, Scott Benedetti is a great example. Playing at University of Portland in the 80s,  Benedetti made his mark coming out of FCPortland, an organizational attempt to build a sustainable soccer organization in our region which continues to this day. He played for the reincarnated Portland Timbers of the late 80s and closed his career with the team at the beginning of the 21st Century.    
Another soccer notable who came from the same East Portland background was Josh Cameron who graduated from Centennial High School and played for the Portland Timbers.
Other local players pulled on a Portland Timbers jersey from other parts of the metropolitan area over the years, but this cluster of Centennial High School standouts is a reminder that the oft-neglected East County has much to contribute to Portland Pride and RCTID.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A homegrown Portland Timbers defender from East County!

Marco Farfan is an extraordinary figure in Portland's soccer history.  Starting this year with the Timbers' first team at left back, a position woefully hard to fill after the departure of Jorge Villapa˜na for Liga MX,  Farfan has been a solid performer-settled, smart, and unintimidated by the exalted setting.   What is most extraordinary is that he is only 18 and is still attending Centennial High School when he's not battling opposing players in the MLS.

Farfan is not the first professional Timbers' recruit from East County.  Scott Benedetti played at Centennial HS in the 80s, graduated to University of Portland and then joined the semi-pro FC Portland team going on to play for the resurgent Timbers and the Colorado Rapids in the USL.

Farfan has the potential, in my opinion, to be one of the best left backs ever for the Timbers, but also to become a standout on the US National team.  This profile suggests what a wonderful, ordinary kid he is,  despite his extraordinary talent.

You heard it here--maybe not first but early.   He could be great.   And that's a shout out for all the people of East Portland who often feel like they are deeply undervalued.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Barcelona Comeback v PSG not quite legendary.

Barcelona comes back to beat Paris St. Germain in Champions League play. The Catalonian side had gone down an extraordinary 0-4 in the first leg of their matchup with PSG.  This week they returned to Camp Nou for the second leg and pulled out a 6-1 win to advance on aggregate.  I tuned in to the replay because I love to see Barca at their best and I had heard about the result on 'the feed'.  

I was ready for a legendary comeback game.  And who doesn't love a comeback?  Not to mention that it's unheard of to comeback from a four point away deficit and win.  Has almost....well never...happened.  When all was said and done,  I was less than happy.  I had seen some wonderful and passionate play.  But the Spanish side won on the strength of two penalty kicks.   The first, in my opinion, came off a completely dubious call.  Neymar went down because of the trajectory of the falling PSG defender who was already in mid-collapse before Neymar even got close.  The second penalty was less clear but not a hard foul.  Either way,  the resolution of this game was not legendary in my opinion.   

I wish that it had been.  And I'm happy to see Barca go forward.  There will not be many more chances for this particular crew,  who are pretty legendary,  to make their mark on soccer history.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Underdog Lincoln City sets mark in FA Cup win.

I don't really have to write a thing.   The BBC report says it all.  Underdogs have been known to bite.  That's why we love them.   This is a happy day for all the little guys with heart out there.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Old Nicks- Winter Season 2017

FC77 Old Nicks- Winter Season 2017
Winter season in the GPSD- week one.  Old Nicks and Pierres gathered their forces in the gray morning of January 7. When the winter season was first started, it would begin sometime in February or maybe March.  For some unknown reason we are now starting as soon after the new year as is physically possible. Most of our crew are philosophical about it.  It could be worse.  There might be no winter season.  Life has mysteries and we're all old enough and crotchety,  so we don't worry too much about solving things that don't make sense.  For me and Mike Calder (our keeper in orange) this is a landmark.  We are setting forth on our 40th year playing together.  Something I never expected. 

There aren't many times we've played in freezing weather,  much less with the temperature bouncing around 26 degrees.   As the team manager I'd been trying to keep an eye on the weather projections--the micro forecast for the field in Gladstone suggested that if the match started at 10am we would just skirt the arrival of freezing rain and/or snow.  I was concerned though about whether people would be able to get home safely from the field--so I was also monitoring TripCheck which showed red lines and crash symbols inching north on I5.  At 10am they were just barely to Salem.  The game started off with a ragged ebb and flow, both teams showing the effect of the  holiday break.  
Pierres takes a corner kick. Nicks position themselves to defend
Pierres dominated as the minutes passed, largely because their passing was more accurate. They had runs at our line using their speed on the left. We were confined to counterattacking which was not very effective without numbers up. Before too long, a bobbled ball went in our goal-our guys said it was deflected in. We went to the restart and the game sawed back and forth. Notably the wind picked up and flakes of dry snow began whirling around the shivering subs on the sideline. 

The play wasn't pretty, at least not most of the time.  Glenn took a knock and came off for a short break.  He trundled back on the field and flew through the opponents despite toppling over on a couple of occasions.  And we had opportunities though we didn't make as much of them as we would have liked.  A brace of shots wound off away from goal instead of curling the other way.  And the snow continued to fall. 

In the second half we ate a penalty kick given when Roy marked a Pierres attacker into the box with what seemed shoulder to shoulder pressure. The ref disagreed. Simon put the ball perfectly in the bottom of the left corner giving Mike no chance at it and we were down two.

View from the peanut gallery. Brink is cheerful.

Tim Leslie wonders when he can get back on the field. Standing on the sidelines is beaucoup cold. 

We took the ball to Pierres goalmouth more than once but John Lape stopped our attacks. Oddly, the sun broke through overhead late in the game despite the continuing snowfall.  Perhaps that was the trigger for the change in momentum.  Or perhaps it was that Nicks had lots of subs and Pierres did not.  Regardless,  the runs at their goal increased in number and the quality of the attacks improved.  Nicks strung together several series of passes up the left side which would have made us the dominant team in the match if we could have done it consistently.   We always have something to aspire to. Nicks were on the hunt.  Eventually a series of passes up the right side put the ball at Glenn's feet---he ran at the far post drawing defenders and put a perfectly placed, low, crisp ball across the face.   Kaiser was hanging just deep enough in the box to gather the ball and deliver it into the net with a clinician's touch.  Cheers rang out on the sidelines and Nicks went hot for the ball after the restart, but it was not to be.  The equalizer didn't come.  

Regardless, the game was one for the record books.  Coldest temperature played by the oldest?  Or just a record that the full complement of Nicks turned out in  such miserable weather to play together with good cheer and sheer joy at being able to be there.   Even Jack Hevel, who's been nursing a nasty achilles issue for some months, showed up with the intent of 'warming up' with the guys.  That was obviously something for another day.  

There were standout moments all around the pitch.  Russ had a breakaway and could have scored.  The center defense-John, Vogel and Roberto- didn't give up much.  The outside backs--Roy, Al and Tim managed the wily forwards and between the two squads, Pierres had few opportunities to move the ball down the wing and then back in to provide shooting opportunities.  We had them pegged.  The strong attacking play from the outside mids- Rock and Rich and Russ- kept Pierres off balance.   And Kaiser, Kim and Pinger provided real pressure and threats.  Kim had some stellar play in the first half.  And Kaiser was ready and making runs, more as the game progressed. 

Maybe the best thing about the game was that it started the Nicks on the sidelines talking about games from our long ago past that were battled out on snow and ice.  Sliding through mud puddles at Alberta Park against Team Nigeria.  Playing at Glenhaven with such a stiff wind from the northeast that the opposing keeper kicked a clearing ball which was taken by the wind to sail over his head and into goal giving us the victory.  Slogging through ankle deep mud with a substrate of ice at the old Delta Park fields,  ripe with the scent of something that might have been fertilizer.  Marching out the lines at Lents Park so that we could tell where the field was and actually have a game. 

This game goes with all those.  This game means a lot to me just because I was there with forty years of friendship and camaraderie and great stories.  Wouldn't be possible--even remotely--without the Nicks.  (And I am sad that McCormick, McBride, Makande, Heilman, Hilliker, Pagen, Osborn and Nicks past weren't there with us.)

Glenn had an amazing game despite being 'gimped'.

Kaiser scored our goal on a beautiful cross from Glenn.

The Jackster was designated photog and took this selfie.