The roar of the crowd. The electricity in the stadium air.
These are familiar to former Portland Timbers player Mick Hoban.
On Saturday night as the Timbers played the Philadelphia Union to a dramatic 1-1 draw, and as Hoban was inducted into the club’s Ring of Honor in a special halftime ceremony, there was another recognizable element.
“It was wet,” he said with a laugh. “It was like the opening game in 1975.”
Hoban, the first player signed by the then-North American Soccer League Portland Timbers in the mid 1970s, played 65 career games in the Rose City and was part of the team that went to Soccer Bowl '75.
On this rainy night in front of a sellout crowd, Hoban joined former Timbers greats John Bain, Clive Charles, Jimmy Conway and club icon Jim “Timber Jim” Serrill as the only members to be inducted into the ring.
“It’s great to join such great players, better players than I was and to be thought of in the same sentence as Clive and Jimmy and Timber Jim means a lot to me,” said Hoban.
A native of Tipton, England, Hoban began his career with Aston Villa before coming over to the United States. Following his playing days, he was one of the first employees of Blue Ribbon Sports—now known as Nike—and later worked for soccer sports company Umbro as well as starting a soccer consulting firm with current U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Warren Mersereau.
A stalwart volunteer in the Portland area, Hoban became one of the Timbers first club ambassadors when the team made the jump to Major League Soccer in 2011. He is a frequent contributor to community projects around the region and a steady presence in the club's community outreach through Stand Together.
For someone so involved in the community, Hoban's induction into the Ring of Honor has also become a way for him to connect with old friends from his playing days and beyond.
“I’ve heard from many of my old teammates that have wished me well and who keep up the friendship for our generation of players,” he said.
But after a lifetime of soccer memories originating both on and off the pitch and from around the world, Saturday's recognition in front of thousands of fans at Providence Park was clearly one that ranks among Hoban’s favorites.
“It has to be my greatest,” he said. “I did play for my country when I was a kid, that was a big deal, signing my first professional contract, playing against Pele, playing for the Timbers. There’s many sort of individual highlights, but this one really says you’ve done something for a period of time. [That you’ve had a] sustained excellence over a period of time and for me, quite frankly, it’s a lot to do with what I did off the field. I never was the best player, on this team or any team I played for professionally. I was a good professional, but I also felt that we had to go out to promote this sport and that’s what we did and we did it very well.”