Original Timber to be honored

Hoban was first arrival for Portland's NASL team

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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Mick Hoban was the first player to arrive in Portland in 1975 when the original Timbers entered the North American Soccer League.

At halftime of Saturday's match between the Timbers and Philadelphia, Hoban will take his place in the Timbers Ring of Honor at Providence Park.

His name joins NASL-era Timbers Clive Charles, Jimmy Conway and John Bain, along with original chain saw-wielding cheerleader "Timber Jim" Serill who are recognized along the upper rim of the stadium's north end.

"It's just overwhelming," Hoban said. "You do your work, enjoy it as you go and pretty soon 10 years go by, then 20 and 30 and now it's been almost 40 years."

A native of England, Hoban played for the Timbers from 1975-78 then retired to start the soccer division for Blue Ribbon Sports, which became Nike.

In addition to his career leading soccer divisions for major sports apparel companies, Hoban coached for the Oregon Youth Soccer Association and was a volunteer coach at the University of Portland.

Hoban was a leader in community outreach for the Timbers in the 1970s, speaking to groups and helping explain soccer to a fan base that was new to the sport.

That kind of outreach is not needed anymore, he noted. Soccer is now more deeply ingrained in greater Portland, including Southwest Washington, than Hoban said he would have imagined possible in 1975.

But at 61, Hoban continues to be a volunteer community ambassador for the Timbers MLS franchise.

"To see the team the way it is today is great validation of the work that so many people did to build the sport in this area," Hoban said.

Hoban is thrilled by the passionate fan base, and said that the club seams to be on track to becoming a marquee MLS organization on and off the field.

Hoban said he dreams even bigger for the Timbers.

In the coming decades, Hoban said, he hopes the Timbers strive to become one of the elite soccer clubs in the world.