The following is a post by Joel Vos.
Traveling support is something the Timbers Army takes pride in — and, many times, there are 107IST members across the country who help make the experience go smoothly and be a hell of a lot of fun. In some rare cases, it’s the Portland supporters at home who made a connection with another team’s supporters. The North Star Casuals, the Minneapolis/St. Paul-based regional supporters of the 107IST, have been fortunate to find the same type of friendly reception from their counterparts at the Wonderwall from Minnesota United.
To keep the pseudo-rivalry going beyond our teams on the pitch each season, the Wonderwall and the North Star Casuals have collaborated again for the second annual Flannel Cup supporters match. As a casual, fun, and light-hearted way to share our love of the sport and find creative ways to socialize and welcome opposing supporters, this year’s Cup is going to be a two-leg, hardware-at-stake set of matches. How on earth did it come to this?
The rivalry between Portland and the Twin Cities can take many forms for supporters. Despite on and off battles for “best bike-friendly city,” and fights over the most delicious and creative microbreweries, the two cities share a love of the outdoors, flannel-clad people felling trees — and a passion for soccer. With match-day animosity put aside for a few hours, the supporters for each team enjoy quite a friendly history, including joint prematch meet-ups and a few kindly, “I guess I’ll cheer for you when we don’t play each other” pleasantries.
Back in 2017, the MLS-fresh Minnesota United happened to end up with a trip to our very own Providence Park for that season’s home opener. Dating back to the 1970s, Minnesota and Portland soccer teams have had a long history of battling it out, and we'll have another round of cracking a season open in a few short days.
The Flannel Cup, designed and made by Ali Vos in 2019; courtesy of Joel Vos
The Flannel Cup, however, is a rather new tradition between us. Looking back to 2017, when a new team in the league came to Portland for a 5-1 shellacking, we saw a few great collaborations between the supporters ahead of the league debut of the Loons: a split scarf and a session of open play at Rose City Futsal.
2017 Timbers Army/Dark Clouds split scarf, via Scarfage.com
Inter-supporter match at Rose City Futsal in 2017; courtesy of Timbers Army FC Twitter
With the Timbers Army playing host to a handful of traveling Minnesota supporters in 2017, a few were lucky enough to meet Diego Valeri, who dropped by to visit with IRCO players during their practice. The casual, fun atmosphere of the game helped cement an ongoing friendly relationship with the Timbers Army and what is now the Wonderwall from Minnesota.
Fast-forward to the following 2018 season: Timbers supporter Nate Zell worked to gather supporters together for another match in Minnesota. A small group played an early friendly at La Doña Cervecería’s outdoor court in Minneapolis ahead of the Thorns’ NWSL Championship appearance, and the later MLS match. That 3v3 match planted a seed for a great idea.
In 2019 the North Star Casuals found its ranks growing, and worked hard to set up another away weekend experience. In coordination with Minnesota’s True North Elite, supporters joined in on a hot and sunny August afternoon for another 3v3 match at La Doña Cervecería. A solid mix of athletic wear, turf shoes, jeans, and even a pair of work boots made the rotation onto the field in front of a loving barrage of heckling from the gathered Minnesota supporters.
The first half was a sweat-drenched slugfest, but, in the end, a second half surge from the Timbers Army put the game away for a final score of 24 to the Wonderwall’s 16. The first annual Flannel Cup was ours! Moments after the match, plans were already rolling to make it all happen again in 2020.
Timbers Army and Wonderwall pose after the first annual Flannel Cup, courtesy of Ali Vos
Supporting our team can take many forms, and the 107IST gives us all an opportunity to join together and do amazing things in our communities and with each other. The North Star Casuals take pride in our efforts to support the Timbers when they come to town and be an excellent host for our Timbers Army family for away days. Joining in the new tradition of the Flannel Cup gives us the opportunity to spread some love to the visitors from the land of the flannel-clad lumberjack Paul Bunyan and share the welcome the True North Elite and Wonderwall provide when the Timbers Army are comin’ down the road.
This year, we're taking the Flannel Cup to a two-leg affair, with the first leg hosted at Rose City Futsal on Saturday, February 29, at 8:00 p.m. (PT). Anyone is welcome to attend the match — and if you’d like to play, you can!
Leg two will be hosted on Memorial Day weekend. If you’re coming to Minnesota and want to play, contact the North Star Casuals via:
Written by Joel Vos. A native of Minnesota who transplanted to Portland in the mid-2000s, he is one of a small handful of founding members of the North Star Casuals, the Minneapolis/St. Paul regional supporters group under the 107IST.