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Steve Madeley's Albion tour diary

Sport | Published:

Albion's tour of the United States came to an end with an unforgettable night in Portland – and the sight of Timber Joey will live with travelling Baggies fans forever.

Albion's tour of the United States came to an end with an unforgettable night in Portland – and the sight of Timber Joey will live with travelling Baggies fans forever.

Joey is Portland Timbers' official mascot, but he has a certain edge that no-one in the Premier League can quite match.

Because Joey walks around pitchside wielding a chainsaw and slices off a log slab each time Timbers score at Jeld-Wen Field – before handing it to the lucky scorer.

Well, how else do you celebrate a goal on style?

Timber Joey, whose real name is Joey Webber, followed in the footsteps of Timber Jim - Jim Serrill -, who sliced his way through tree-trunks at the side of the pitch from 1978-82 and from 2001 until his retirement in 2007.

The sight of a man in a hard-hat bestriding the stadium revving a power tool certainly took some getting used to for the Baggies, but his presence added an extra unique element to an evening that was much more enjoyable than anyone could have imagined beforehand.

Perhaps Baggies Bird should try something similar at the Hawthorns next season, although it might take him a while to peck his way through a substantial oak.

In truth, the night would have been truly memorable even without Joey's unique method of revving up the crowd. Because Portland has embraced football like no other US city.

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A sell-out crowd of 18,627 packed into the former baseball stadium for a friendly.

And the noise created by the Timbers Army behind the goal at the north end of the ground made for an atmosphere more akin to a Champions League tie in Turkey, than a pre-season friendly in North America.

But it shouldn't have come as any surprise, given the demand for football in the Oregon city.

While New York Red Bulls struggle to give away tickets on the East Coast, Portland have 2,000 names on their season tickets waiting list.

Sadly for the home fans, Albion's impressive second half comeback ruined what was shaping up to be a perfect night all round after Seattle Sounders – their bitterest rivals – were hammered 7-0 by Manchester United.

Just one problem. The American fans still cannot get their heads around draws so, had Gabriel Tamas not struck his late winner, we would have been treated to the needless spectacle of a penalty shoot-out.

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