The Portland Timbers community lost a foundational member of the club recently with the passing of Don Pollock.
Pollock was one of the original investors and owners in Oregon Soccer, Inc. (OSI), the holding company begun in 1974 as the ownership group that established the Portland Timbers of the then-North American Soccer League.
One of 60 different investors in OSI, Pollock was heavily involved in the club’s early years, which saw his role range from serving as a host family for some of the first players to arrive in the Rose City in 1975 to joining head coaches on trips to London – checkbook in hand – to sign new players.
Graham Brown, fresh from England to be a Timbers goalkeeper ahead of the team's first season, remembers Pollock welcoming him into his home.
“Gail [Pollock’s wife] and Don were my sponsors at the Timbers in 1975,” he said. “They were the most wonderful couple – so kind and generous. I am privileged to have known them along with their family. I have brilliant memories of the magic times we spent together.
“I am so happy that the Timbers were so successful for Gail and Don and the club’s supporters."
Elected club vice president in 1976 by the OSI board, Pollock was elevated to club president in late 1978. His early tenure was quickly met with challenges as the NASL players looked to strike ahead of the 1979 season. Pollock continued good relations with the squad and worked to advocate the players’ position with the league.
In an article from The Oregonian in April of that year, forward Willie Anderson said of Pollock, “If every owner in the league was like Don Pollock, we wouldn’t have to be going through all this. He’s a tremendous guy.”
Pollock also helped lead the eventual sale of the team from OSI to Harry Merlo of the Louisiana-Pacific lumber company in the fall of 1979.
Mick Hoban, a Timbers Ring of Honor member who played during the team’s NASL era, believed Pollock helped set some of the key standards that the club still believes in today.
“Don was a kind and generous man,” he said. “Along with his wife Gail, he epitomized the club’s founding values of inclusivity, accessibility and community.”
Pollock’s importance in setting the foundation for the Timbers and Soccer City, USA was essential. His sporting legacy was further cemented as a 2019 inductee into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame as an owner alongside the 1975 Timbers.
Noleen Conway, widow of Timbers Ring of Honor member Jimmy Conway, says Pollack is one of the key reasons the Timbers were created almost 50 years ago.
“Don was a visionary,” she said. “A good friend that will be missed, but never forgotten."