From The Stands: The story behind Timber Joey's log collection of scarves
Rain or shine, they sit out in Providence Park on every weekend. Wrapped around a cut of foraged Douglas Fir, Timber Joey’s scarves are a colorful highlight to every home Timbers match. But the story of how the scarves became a tradition, and why the knitwear has become so special to Joey himself, is a story yet to be told.
It all started back in 2008, when Timber Joey, known in real life as Joey Webber, took over the chainsaw-wielding and log cutting duties early in the season for the retiring Timber Jim Serrill. As Webber walked around the stadium after a Timbers goal, he entered the North End of the stadium to celebrate. A woman reached out to him with the Timbers Army “No Pity” scarf, wrapping it around his neck and encouraging him to wear it around the stadium.
“It got hard to be running around the stadium with a scarf on, so I just set it on the log,” said Webber. “From then on, people kept giving me more and more scarves.”
The tradition has grown to such a staple that Joey has recruited help from fans to help display them. Known as “Junior Joeys,” local Portland youth are selected to help Webber carry the scarves out for placement on the log as part of a program sponsored by chainsaw equipment manufacturer Oregon Chain.
Before the match, the Junior Joeys gather in the locker room to receive a pep talk from Timber Joey himself. It’s a special experience for the young fans, who get photos with Webber and a players autograph pass for after the games.
Webber keeps the scarves locked away in a locker, and has a suitcase of an estimated 100 pieces for the Junior Joeys to help choose from. There’s not a specific amount of scarves the kids help take, but rather whatever they can actually carry.
“I give them all the scarves that they can handle,” laughs Webber. “A lot of times it’s as much weight of scarves as they weigh themselves.”
All scarves are fair game for the journey to the field, with one exception.
“I have two Atticus [Lane-Dupre] scarves,” said Webber of the special edition scarf created for the memorable 2013 Make-A-Wish match against Atticus’ Green Machine side. ”One is signed by him, that one stays in my locker.”
With the Junior Joeys loaded up, Webber leads them out onto the field in front of already raucous growing Providence Park crowd. Scarves are laid out on the log, sometimes as many as 70 at a time though Webber says there’s no specific order, save for two scarves that have an emotional attachment.
Webber’s Timbers Army scarf – the very first one he was given back in 2008 – is always closest to the saw. Laid next to it is the Cascadia scarf; a white, blue and green tricolor knit that has special meaning to fans in the North End and the Cascadia Cup rivalry between Portland, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Of course, with so many scarves on hand, there are several that hold special meaning regardless of where they’re placed. If fans look for it, they should be able to spot two scarves they will recognize as important pieces of Timbers history.
“The Hartmut Bless scarf is special to me because it represents three people: [Timber] Jim, his daughter and General Howie,” explained Webber of a scarf given to him by the since deceased Timbers fan Bless who was among the founding members of the Timbers Army.
Continued Webber, “The one that matches that, the Sunshine Goal scarf, that’s a pretty special one.”
Created following Ryan Pore’s game-winning goal scored while the Timbers Army sang their traditional 80th minute “You Are My Sunshine” song in Portland’s final home match as a USL second division side, the Sunshine Goal scarf commemorated an evening that saw thousands of fans bring sunflowers into the stands and then throw them in the air in delirious celebration following the strike.
Like all things Timbers, authenticity is paramount when it comes to the scarves. Save for when heavy rain soaks them completely through, Webber tries not to wash them too frequently. Dirt, sap and sawdust all mix into the weave of each garment, letting the atmosphere and excitement of the game permeate and carry over to the next home match.
Due to the popularity of the log scarves, fans have started sending Webber examples from all around the United States. They make their way to the Timbers talisman through members of the Timbers Army, whether via trade or simply through a request to add their addition to the log.
From Alaska to Texas, to the state of New York, brigades of the Timbers Army exist in all corners of the U.S. Despite a finite amount of space, Webber never turns anyone away if they want to donate to the plethora that decorates the log.
“I like to respect everybody who has given me the scarves, to make sure they know they’re there for a long time,” said Webber.
The Portland Timbers have a storied canon of tradition that fans hold dear to their heart. That Webber has been a part of bringing a new practice to the Timbers arsenal organically stays true to the authenticity of the franchise. When scarves are laid on the log come the weekend, it’s not Timber Joey’s tradition the fans are following. Rather, it’s the fan’s desires that Webber follows, to stay true to the diehard faithful in the North End.
“It’s whatever the fans want it to be,” said Webber. “It’s their own thing, and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”