- Mar. 5, 2012
There can only be one first goalkeeper in a club’s history - that designation belongs to Graham Brown, the Portland Timbers’ keeper in twenty-one of the twenty-two games in the debut season of 1975. Thirteen others have worn the no. 1, all goalkeepers, with only one playing more times in green and gold.
Prior to his arrival in Portland, Brown spent six years with Mansfield Town and Doncaster Rovers. On loan with the Timbers in 1975, he was one of only a few players who had not come from clubs based in the West Midlands. Despite lacking some of the famous familiarity his teammates possessed, Brown immediately gave the Timbers a dependable, often spectacular force behind the defense.
In Portland’s first ever victory, Brown held Toronto Metros-Croatia scoreless for the club’s first clean sheet. He then shut out Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Sting and Dallas Tornado over the next seven matches. During the Timbers’ seven-game winning streak, Brown allowed just five goals. By season’s end, he had given up just twenty-six goals in twenty-one appearances for Portland, helping the Timbers reach Soccer Bowl ’75.
Due to restrictions imposed after his late arrival back at Doncaster, Brown was unable to return to Portland for the 1976 season. When he did return in 1977, Mick Poole had secured the starting position and Brown was only able to appear in three matches, allowing four goals. Following the ’77 season, Brown left the NASL and played five more seasons in England with York City, Rotheram United and Mansfield Town. Ultimately, Brown wore the no. 1 twenty-four times for the Portland Timbers.
Thirty-six years after Graham Brown debuted the no. 1 shirt in Portland, Troy Perkins brought the number back with the Timbers’ return to the first division. No goalkeeper had worn the no. 1 shirt for more than Keith MacRae’s twenty games in the early 1980s. Perkins had played previously in MLS with DC United, as well as for two years in Norway with Vålerenga.
Perkins first appeared for Portland on April 23, 2011 in Los Angeles – a game better worth forgotten for Timbers fans. Yet Perkins immediately rebounded, allowing just one goal over the next four games as the Timbers recorded three clean sheets and were undefeated in that stretch. A rough spell through June and early July was rebuffed when Perkins made a dramatic and stunning kick save to deny Chicago Fire a late equalizer as Portland won its first MLS road game on July 16. After that amazing save, Perkins recorded five clean sheets over the final three months of the season, including a strong performance in the 3-0 home defeat of eventual MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy on August 3.
All told, Perkins wore the no. 1 shirt in twenty-nine league matches, already making him the club’s all-time leader in that number. At 30-years old and with a new contract signed in the offseason, Perkins is expected to continue in his role as the club’s top shot stopper for the foreseeable future.
Prior to Perkins’ arrival, Brown was surely the club’s top player in the no. 1 shirt. Now that status can be shared, though the current Timbers’ keeper is likely to surpass the original as the best wearing the famous no. 1.