Tuesday, March 15, 2022

 In mid-February, I received email from the staff at Oregon Adult Soccer Association.  Anne Braghero, a longtime friend and soccer player, let me know that a woman had left materials she had found in her uncle Eric Nelson's effects while cleaning out his house after his passing.  Becca, the OASA Office Manager, had talked with her and had agreed to take them.  The photos and paper documents were brief snapshots from the Vikings soccer team which had played in the Portland Soccer League beginning in the 1920s. 

I was very excited to see this material. I knew of the team from the Cameron Cup championship lists and news clippings, but I had never seen anything with more detail.  The photo above is a team photo, likely from 1928.  The woman's uncle, Eric Nelson, is standing, second from left. I am struck by the very makeshift appearance of the goal around them.  Also notable is that some of the players have a beverage in hand--some things don't change.  And I wonder if the small item on the ground on the right might be a trophy?  Or just another bottle.  

Another item was a hand drawn 'game program' from Sunday October 7, 1928.  It is entitled Jays Soccer Sheet and pictures  a Viking facing a Scotsman on the cover with "Welcome Vikings" as a title and a subscript reading "worthy foemen".  The Longview Lumber Barons were hosting the Vikings side.

Players and positions on the roster sheet to the left also include captions and comments from the writer.  Two hand drawn ads-one from a jeweler and one from a plumber adorn the inside cover.  The flavor with which it is done reminds me very much of the 'home made' character of my early years in the Portland soccer league.  

Also included in the materials were several Viking Soccer Club membership cards for the year 1929 signed by president Arthur Harold.  I note that his name doesn't appear on the player roster nor are there substitutes listed.  The  Timber Barons were the Cameron Cup winners from the 1925-26 season until the 1928-29 season when they were bested by the German Sport Club for a year.  The Vikings came back to take the cup in 1931-32.  They made their last appearance as Cup winners in 1955-56.

The "season" for the Portland Soccer League appears to have been the one we started with in the late 70s.  September - March with a break over the holidays. Of course, all games were played on grass fields which had little grass by the end of the season. Other notable teams during these years included the Camerons (Judge Cameron's select side), Sellwood ( for whom Hugh Templeton played), Germania, Clan Macleay, Peninsula, National FC, Pacific Dept Store, Portland Scottish.   There were also Rosebuds who may have hailed from Olympia and White Heathers.   

I began to look for material documenting the period of soccer in Portland before the '75 Timbers somewhere back in the 80s.  As a history fan I was sure the game must have been played.  Thus these materials on Eric Nelson and Vikings. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Silent No More

I have been happily busy for the past few years with playing soccer myself,  working at Leach Botanical Garden, a job I am privileged to have and enjoy, and practicing the art of being a Grampa. Along with many other activities. 

Recently, however, I was contacted by the Oregon Adult Soccer Association staff to let me know that a woman had dropped off ephemeral artifacts from the Vikings Soccer Club which had been active in the sport since the 1920s, a hundred years ago. I was also contacted in regard to the transfer of the Cameron and Bennett trophies to the Oregon Historical Society by the family of Roger Hamilton, a longtime champion of the sport. These two legendary cups in Portland's soccer history had turned up through Roger's efforts in 2010.  I was privileged at the time to meet with him as he had them examined for authenticity by an expert. 

These two events reminded me that the historical part of the game deserves documentation as we march further into the era of MLS and the Portland Timbers.  I dusted off my log-in file and resolved to get back to posting about that distant past.   Excellent and knowledgeable writers are already covering the sport at the professional level and the game is thriving as participation grows in weekly pickup games by the dozen around the city.  (I am a participant in "kickarounds" each week which draw between twenty and forty players most of whom are over the age of 60. 

So here it is--a rejuvenated Sodden Pitch, a virtual square of white space upon which I can write anything I desire.  I promise to stay on topic and hope to provide interest and value for those who believe that institutions need roots and traditions and talismans.  

FC77 Older Nicks - O65 Division 2021

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.